Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 9

March 23rd, 2020

Here is our 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.


The postponement of the Kentucky Derby (G1) from May 2 to Sept. 5 could put many late-maturing colts into contention for the coveted race, with Cezanne among the most notable.

Sold for $3.65 million as a 2-year-old, Cezanne was in training with Bob Baffert last summer, but went to the sideline after seven workouts and didn’t return to the work tab until Jan. 31. Since then the well-bred son of Curlin has cranked out six workouts at Los Alamitos, including 5 furlongs in a bullet :59.60 March 4.

Produced by the Bernardini mare Achieving, Cezanne is bred top and bottom to excel over classic distances and could develop into a late-summer star, along the lines of Arrogate and West Coast, two 3-year-old champions conditioned by Baffert.

Major Fed

The runner-up in the second division of the Risen Star (G2), Major Fed had a tough trip in the Louisiana Derby (G2) on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Normally a mid-pack closer, the Greg Foley-trained colt broke slowly, dropped back to last early on, and trailed the field by a dozen lengths. A slow pace allowed the frontrunners to dominate, so under the circumstances, Major Fed ran a game race to rally wide in the stretch and finish fourth. He was only beaten 4 3/4 lengths and performed clearly best among the late runners, which suggests he could have finished closer with a clean break.

Don’t count out this son of Ghostzapper just yet.

Ny Traffic

Louisiana Derby winner Wells Bayou is receiving plenty of accolades for his gate-to-wire victory, but Ny Traffic ran almost as well in defeat.

After he tracked fractions of :23.56, :48.00, and 1:12.42, Ny Traffic raced a bit greenly in the homestretch. He ducked outward and lost some ground, before he straightened out and re-rallied to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths. The closing fractions were strong, and it’s possible Ny Traffic would have run down the winner if he’d stayed a little more focused down the lane.

Ny Traffic previously finished a game third in the second division of the Risen Star (G2), so with 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points, there’s a good chance th Saffie Joseph-trained son of Cross Traffic has already secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

Now Ny Traffic just needs time to mature and improve his focus, and the postponement of the Derby to Sepy. 5 should only help.