Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 16

May 18th, 2020

A weekly look at under-the-radar 3-year-olds who could step up and make an impact on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

Casino Grande

Undefeated in two starts for trainer Christophe Clement, Casino Grande has done nothing wrong and appears to have a bright future. The Calumet Farm homebred flashed significant talent in his debut over 7 furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs, where he carved out splits of :22.69 and :45.66 and kicked clear to score by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:22.98.

Casino Grande then stretched out to a mile for an optional-claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park, where he showed a new dimension. He stalked fractions of :23.55 and :46.03, then powered clear in the stretch to stop the clock in 1:36.57 and prevail by 3 1/4 lengths.

A son of Cairo Prince, out of the Tapit mare Selective, Casino Grande is bred to excel running long and could show further improvement around two turns. That’s a scary proposition, considering the quality of competition he defeated at Gulfstream. Among his beaten rivals were runaway maiden winner Extraordinary and Gotham (G3) runner-up Untitled.

Double Crown

Can Double Crown vie for the Triple Crown? Only time will tell, but this promising colt is heading in the right direction. Bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Rebecca Davis, Double Crown showed tenacity in his debut sprinting 6 furlongs at Laurel Park in September, when he rallied gamely down the stretch to win by a neck in the respectable time of 1:10.18.

After time off over the winter, Double Crown returned in a 6-furlong allowance sprint April 26 at Gulfstream, where a loose horse caused interference down the backstretch and compromised Double Crown’s chances. Nevertheless, the son of Bourbon Courage rallied down the lane to finish second by a length and gained four lengths in the final quarter-mile.

With that comeback effort under his belt, Double Crown took a step forward in Gulfstream’s Roar S. at 6 1/2 furlongs. After he settled right behind fractions of :22.39 and :45.19, Double Crown swept to the front in the stretch and outdueled 2019 Champagne (G1) runner-up Green Light Go to win by half-length in 1:16.57.

It’s unclear how far Double Crown will want to run, but Bourbon Courage placed in three Grade 1 races at a mile or farther, so there’s hope for Double Crown stretching out in distance.

Double Crown has the raw talent to be a star for trainer Kathy Ritvo and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, the same team behind 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man.