Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 5

February 24th, 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.

Attachment Rate

It’s safe to say trainer Dale Romans has Attachment Rate heading in the right direction. A Virginia-bred son of Hard Spun, out of an Afleet Alex mare, Attachment Rate was beaten against tough company in his first two starts sprinting, but relished the opportunity to stretch out over a mile Feb. 15 at Gulfstream Park.

With jockey Luis Saez in the saddle, Attachment Rate settled behind fast fractions of :21.34 and :44.05, then swooped past the leaders and pulled clear decisively to win by 6 1/4 lengths in 1:35.03 for a mile. His fast final time translated to a 101 Brisnet Speed rating, so the sky is the limit for this improving colt.

Cafe Pharoah

A versatile son of American Pharoah, Cafe Pharoah has shown a world of potential racing on dirt in Japan. He led all the way to win his debut going 1,800 meters at Nakayama, where he scored by 10 lengths, then overcame a slow start to rally from dead last and comfortably win the 1,600-meter Hyacinth S. at Tokyo Racecourse.

Cafe Pharoah showed an excellent turn of foot in the Hyacinth, when he sprinted the final 600 meters in :35.20, and his ability to win with multiple running styles is a major asset. He has vaulted to the top of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard and might be Japan’s best Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful to date.

Gouverneur Morris

The runner-up in the 2019 Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Gouverneur Morris quietly returned to action Feb. 14 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Favored at 1-2 in a 1-mile and 40-yard allowance race, Gouverneur Morris flashed speed in his first start since October, tracked the pace, and edged clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths. His final time of 1:38.88 missed the track record by just 0.02 seconds and translated to a 94 Brisnet Speed rating.

Gouverneur Morris defeated quality competition. Runner-up Untitled and third-place finisher Letmeno have both hit the board in graded stakes company. Trainer Todd Pletcher plans to run Gouverneur Morris once more before the Derby, which sets the gray son of Constitution up for a peak effort on the first Saturday in May.