Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 19

June 8th, 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.

Dieu du Vin

The winner of the Cattleya Sho in November, Dieu du Vin has earned 10 qualification points on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, which places him fourth on the leaderboard.

A minor setback prevented this well-bred son of Declaration of War from securing Derby qualification points during the winter, but he recently returned to action in the 1,600-meter Seiryu S. at Tokyo Racecourse, where he produced a well-timed rally between runners to win by a neck in 1:36.20.

The extension of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby will provide Dieu du Vin additional opportunities to move up the leaderboard and qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

Trained by Yukihiro Kato, best known for his fine work with the Group 1-winning dirt star Nonkono Yume, Dieu du Vin is likely to target the June 21 Unicorn (G3) at Tokyo. Victory in the 1,600-meter race would secure Dieu du Vin an additional 40 qualification points.

Full Flat

Though Full Flat has yet to earn any Kentucky Derby qualification points, this Triple Crown nominee has shown promise against quality competition.

A Kentucky-bred son of Speightstown, Full Flat finished fifth in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), then traveled to Saudi Arabia for the rich Saudi Derby, which he dominated by 2 1/2 lengths, after he pressed the pace under jockey Yutaka Take.

Full Flat will need to keep progressing if he is going to challenge the best U.S. sophomores on the first Saturday in September, but his victory in the Saudi Derby was a step in the right direction.

A showdown with Dieu du Vin in the Unicorn could be next on the horizon.

Strategy Map

This exciting son of Deep Impact is an interesting newcomer on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby scene. After he finished an unremarkable ninth in his debut on turf, Strategy Map transitioned to dirt May 10 at Tokyo Racecourse and dominated a 1,600-meter maiden race by 3 1/2 lengths.

Strategy Map’s final time of 1:38.50 wasn’t remarkable, but the way he achieved it was eye-catching. On the turn for home, Strategy Map had just one runner beaten and trailed the leaders by at least a dozen lengths. Victory appeared unlikely, but Strategy Map sprinted home the final 600 meters in :35.40 (1.5 seconds faster than any other runner) to win with authority.

Such a strong finishing fraction is impressive for a dirt race, so Strategy Map warrants following, should his connections make the stretch-running colt a late nominee to the Triple Crown series.