While we wait for more two-year-old racing to start, Brisnet.com pedigree handicapper and blogger Doug Salvatore will profile each of the expected Kentucky Derby starters in terms of classic breeding and current form/speed.
Form: The expected favorite for the Derby, California Chrome is a winner of four consecutive Southern California stakes races, each one coming by more than five lengths. This California-bred colt has absolutely destroyed open competition in his two most recent starts. Indeed, He was taken in hand late while winning both the Grade 2 San Felipe and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in his two most recent starts.
Pedigree: California Chrome is sired by Lucky Pulpit, who stands for just $2,500. His dam Love The Chase was a very moderate performer who competed for an $8,000 maiden claiming tag on three different occasions, and never succeeded in beating winners. California Chrome’s second dam wasn’t much race horse herself. Even while competing at Charles Town, she needed several tries to break her maiden. You have to love an underdog type horse like California Chrome.
Speed: He is the only horse who owns three different triple digit Brisnet.com Speed Ratings, the best of which a 106 for his Santa Anita Derby romp.
Red Flags: Has had poor breaks in two of his last five starts. If he breaks like that in a 20-horse field loaded with early speed and tactical speed types, it will be devastating to his chances. The last time he was defeated, California Chrome hopped at the start and was away slowly, while breaking from an inside post. Chrome didn’t appreciate the kickback that day, and his tactical speed couldn’t get him a suitable position because horses were able to cross and clear on him. He was unable to mount a rally over a speed favoring track, and finished sixth, but beaten only three lengths against a moderate group of Cal Bred stakes horses.
While it’s true that California Chrome usually breaks fine, and actually broke exceptionally well in the San Felipe, the start is especially important for him. This is not a horse who is used to eating a face full of dirt, but he might be fine with taking the kickback if he’s able to get away cleanly and ease into it.
Vicar’s In Trouble:
Form: A wire-to-wire winner of the Louisiana Derby by three and a half lengths, Vicar’s In Trouble did it while setting a fast early pace. Indeed, BRIS assigned the ‘second call’ E2 Pace Rating of +10 for the Louisiana Derby, indicating that it was a race run fast early and slow late. The good news? Early speed horses rarely perform well in races run that way. The bad news? The pace in the Kentucky Derby should be even faster, the distance will be a furlong longer, and he will need to carry more weight. If Vicar’s In Trouble was tiring so much late in his brave Louisiana Derby win, he will be exhausted in the stretch at Churchill Downs.
Pedigree: Vicar’s In Trouble is sired by Into Mischief, the same sire of Goldencents and Vyjack. He is out of a Vicar mare who was primarily a sprinter. This is a good miler pedigree — but certainly not a distance pedigree.
Speed: Vicar’s In Trouble was assigned a career best 104 Brisnet.com Speed Rating last out. He broke his maiden with a dazzling 103 Rating while sprinting six furlongs over a wet track.
Red Flags: Tactical versatility is the biggest one. They tried to rate him in the Risen Star stakes, and he could only manage a third place finish beaten five and half lengths as the 2/1 favorite. This horse has a sprinter/miler pedigree and has been more successful as a free running speed horse.
Dance With Fate:
Form: In his most recent start, Dance With Fate won the Blue Grass Stakes with a nice wide sweeping move. However, that was a race that was +13 at the first call. In other words, it was run fast early and slow late, a race shape that generally favors closers.
While it’s true that the Kentucky Derby is generally run with the same type of race shape, the problem is that Dance With Fate has better form on synthetic tracks than dirt. Indeed, in Dance With Fate’s only two career dirt tries, he had hot paces in both races, and gave ground through the stretch in both of them.
Pedigree: Dance With Fate is sired by Two Step Salsa, a horse who won six career races. Four of them on synthetic tracks in Southern California and two on dirt in Dubai. His dam Flirting With Fate was a Charles Town horse who needed a few tries to break her maiden there. This is also a humble, miler type pedigree.
Speed: Dance With Fate has never run a triple digit Brisnet.com Speed Rating. His best was a 99 when winning the Blue Grass last out.
Red Flags: His dirt form. While he’s only raced twice on dirt, both of those performances were uninspiring. He’s demonstrated a much better closing punch on synthetic surfaces and turf. And even on his best surfaces, he’s yet to run a fast speed figure.
Form: In his most recent start, Wicked Strong won the Wood Memorial by three and a half widening lengths. Indeed, the two best races of his life have come going nine furlongs on the Aqueduct main track. I defy anyone to go watch a replay of the Remsen and tell me that Wicked Strong was not the best horse that day. In a race run at an absolute crawl early, Wicked Strong finished best of all and almost ran down the celebrated favorites Honor Code and Cairo Prince. Intense Holiday, who has demonstrated good form in Louisiana this winter was fourth.
Pedigree: By Hard Spun out of a Charismatic mare, Wicked Strong has an excellent distance pedigree. Indeed, the sire of Wicked Strong was a game second in the Kentucky Derby and his damsire won it. What’s more, his second dam is sired by Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval.
Speed: Wicked Strong ran a career best 103 Brisnet.com Speed Rating in the Wood Memorial last time out.
Red Flags: He didn’t acclimate well in Florida. Bettors were left scratching their heads after he barely lifted a hoof in a 15 length drubbing at 4/1 odds in the Holy Bull. He returned in an entry level allowance race, and ran much improved, while finishing fourth. Next out Florida Derby winner Constitution set an easy and unpressured pace in that allowance race, and Wicked Strong ran better than given credit for. However, it is a little disconcerting that he turned in a non-effort the first time he shipped out of New York.
Form: Brought an undefeated record into the Wood Memorial and ran a game race to outfinish Social Inclusion for second place. Three of his five career wins have come against New York bred competition, his two open wins came at the expense of fellow New York bred Uncle Sigh. This is a very nice, honest horse who has shown a little bit of tactical versatility against softer competition.
Pedigree: Samraat is by Noble’s Causeway, out of an Indian Charlie mare who broke her maiden for a high-priced tag at Gulfstream. His second dam Brighter Than Gold was a hopeless racer, who was once trounced for a $2,500 claiming tag in an N3L race at Mountaineer Park. In fact, she was dismissed at over 100/1 odds on multiple occasions, in cheap claiming races at Thistle Downs. This is yet another humble pedigree, that has a miler look to it.
Speed: As consistent as they come. He’s run four consecutive 99 Brisnet.com Speed Ratings.
Red Flags: He’s never run a triple digit BRIS speed figure, and he’s never faced a whole lot of adversity from a trip standpoint. It’s hard to imagine where the needed improvement will come from.
Form: The most shocking performance of this years Kentucky Derby prep season was unquestionably turned in by Danza in the Arkansas Derby. He rocketed up the rail and powered home to a sparkling win by almost five lengths at 41/1 odds. Indeed, Danza’s final time of 1:49.68 was only 0.13 seconds slower than Will Take Charge needed to win a roughly run edition of the Oaklawn Park Handicap one race earlier. Lightly raced Danza has only routed once in his career, and the result was the best performance turned in by any horse in a Derby prep run east of the Rockies.
Pedigree: Danza is sired by the closing sprinter Street Boss. His dam Champagne Royale was a nice plodding router at Hastings Park throughout her racing career. This is a half sibling to Majestic Harbor, who just won the 12 furlong Grade 3 Tokyo City on dirt, at Santa Anita, a few weeks ago. Majestic Harbor is sired by Rockport Harbor.
This is another fairly humble pedigree, but there is big-time stamina through Danza’s tail-female family.
Speed: He ran a 104 Brisnet.com Speed Ratings in the Arkansas Derby.
Red Flags: His trainer Todd Pletcher is 1-for-56 lifetime in all races at Churchill Downs at distances of ten furlongs or further. That stat includes a 1-for-38 record in the Kentucky Derby and an 0-for-18 record in all other races. Other than that, I don’t see any knock to him that has much merit. Yes, you only have one route race to go on, but it was a dynamite performance over an Oaklawn Park surface that plays for similar to Churchill Downs dirt surface.
Form: A winner of the Rebel two starts back, Hoppertunity was very soundly beaten by California Chrome in a good grinding effort in the Santa Anita Derby. This unraced juvenile is travel tested and has a very ideal running style for a race like the Derby, with its expected fast pace.
Pedigree: By Any Given Saturday, out of an Unaccounted For mare, this is one of my favorite pedigrees of any horse in the race. It’s a very route oriented pedigree on both the top and bottom. Hoppertunity’s a half sister Executiveprivilege, who was a great second to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Executiveprivilege is sired by First Samurai, who was more precocious and speedy than Any Given Saturday.
Speed: Hoppertunity ran a career best Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 100 last time out when second to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby.
Red Flags: The so-called Apollo curse applies here since he was unraced as a juvenile, but Hoppertunity has already competed in four route races this year, three of which at the Graded Stakes level. This horse has become more professional with each start, and he has an ideal grinding running style. There’s no ‘reset’ button to him. He’s a great candidate to keep driving and see out the distance, and that makes at least a must-use on all exotic tickets. The most genuine knock on him I see is his ability. He doesn’t have real impressive speed figures. He hasn’t had any real tough trips. He’s just a pretty good horse who happens to have the right type of running style.
Form: Intense Holiday is the only horse you’ll find among this year’s Derby prospects who has made six or more starts in Graded Stakes route races. He’s a throwback in that regard, and he’s certainly provided handicappers with plenty of route form to asses him with.
In his most recent start, Intense Holiday was a soundly beaten second in the Louisiana Derby as the 9/5 favorite. The BRIS pace figures suggest that he may have been taken out of his game on that day.
As you can see by the Early Pace ratings, Intense Holiday was positioned much closer than usual, to an early pace rated much faster than he had seen in his previous starts. Indeed, Intense Holiday was always close to the pace and made an eye catching turn move to confront pacesetter Vicar’s In Trouble. However, as he entered the stretch, Intense Holiday was out of gas and ducked in to the rail. Even stern left-handed whipping by Mike Smith didn’t help much, as you can see on this time-specific clip (YouTube link).
In order for Intense Holiday to be a factor in the Kentucky Derby, he needs to be taken back early and make one clean run. He tried to run a very enterprising race in the Louisiana Derby, and he still was good enough to finish second despite diving in to the rail in the stretch and finishing like a drunken sailor.
Pedigree: A son of Harlan’s Holiday out of a well bred mare who never hit the board in five career starts. Intense Holiday brought $380,000 as a yearling, and was the most expensive of 70 Harlan’s Holiday yearlings offered at public auction in 2012. That fact is a great compliment to his looks and conformation. Intense Holiday has had only one sibling to race, and she is a Forestry filly who sold for just $18,000 as a yearling and is winless in seven career starts, failing for $7,500 maiden claiming tags at Turfway Park and Presque Isle Downs.
Speed: Despite his stretch antics, Intense Holiday ran a career best Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 100 in the Louisiana Derby. He also ran a 99 while winning the Risen Star by closing wide into a slow pace.
Red Flags: I don’t mind that he finished punch drunk in the Louisiana Derby and came home empty in the stretch. I’ve seen many horses with a similar running style, and even less ability come into the Kentucky Derby off of a similar looking final prep, and run extremely well. The biggest concern I have is that he’s never run a speed figure faster than 100 and trainer Todd Pletcher is 1-for-56 lifetime in all races at Churchill Downs at distances of ten furlongs or further.
Form: In his most recent start, Wildcat Red finished second beaten a neck to Constitution in the Florida Derby. Had he won, he’d have pulled off a sweep of the Hutcheson, Fountain of Youth, and Florida Derby. Something that hasn’t been done since two-year-old champion Fly So Free last did it in 1991.
Pedigree: This is quite an interesting pedigree. His sire D’ Wildcat was a brilliant sprinter who failed in all four career route attempts. However, his dam Racene was a stoutly bred deep closer who once won at ten furlongs. Indeed, Racene is sired by Miner’s Mark, a horse who outdueled Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair to capture the Jockey Club Gold Cup at a mile and a quarter. Wildcat Red’s pedigree is slanted to extreme speed on top and extreme stamina on bottom.
Speed: Wildcat Red owns a career best Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 100. That came in his Fountain of Youth victory.
Red Flags: Tactical versatility. He’s been on the pace in all of his route attempts. There are several other expected pace rivals in the Derby, and Wildcat Red has never run a speed figure faster than 100 in spots where his good early speed is far more advantageous than it will be in this spot.
We Miss Artie:
Form: This synthetic track specialist captured the Spiral by a nose with a last gasp lunge in the final stride. He wasn’t exactly flattered when the second, third, and fourth place finishers of the Spiral stakes came back to finish 13th, 10th, and 8th in the Blue Grass Stakes. All of them were defeated at least 12 lengths by the mighty Dance With Fate. To the credit of We Miss Artie, he is a Grade 1 winner, but that win came over Keeneland’s Polytrack. His dirt form is quite mediocre. Indeed, he was beaten 17 lengths in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in his most recent dirt start.
Pedigree: Sired by grass specialist Artie Schiller, and out of the grass specialist mare Athena’s Gift. We Miss Artie is bred for turf on top and bottom. Indeed, even his second dam Russian Bride moved up a lot on grass. She captured her first grass try at 27/1 odds and never missed the board in four career turf starts.
Speed: We Miss Artie has never run a Brisnet.com Speed Rating better than a 94, and his best Speed Rating on dirt is just an 88.
Red Flags: They’re countless. Unless Polytrack is installed at Churchill Downs in the next two weeks, or the Derby is moved to the grass course, I can’t imagine We Miss Artie being any kind of factor at all. There are a few people on Twitter who portend that he is an Animal Kingdom or Dullahan type horse. Perhaps the result of last Saturday’s Blue Grass did enough to dispel such a notion.
Ride On Curlin:
Form: Winless in six career stakes attempts, five of which at the Graded Stakes level, Ride On Curlin has at least been a dependable piece getter. In his four most recent graded stakes tries, he’s been second or third each time at odds of 7-, 11-, 8-, and 17-to-1 starting with the most recent Arkansas Derby.
In that Arkansas Derby, Ride On Curlin was a “one-paced” second behind startling winner Danza. Perhaps the most exciting thing about Ride On Curlin is that he’s reuniting with Racing Hall of Fame and three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel, though his presence attracts unsophisticated money bet in the straight (win, place, and show) pools.
Pedigree: By Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin, the bottom of Ride On Curlin’s pedigree is very speed and precocity oriented. His dam Magical Ride was such a dazzling debut winner going five furlongs at Belmont, that she was bet to 4/5 favoritism in a Grade 2 at Saratoga in only her second career start. She faded to third that day, and was still bet to 6/5 favoritism in the Grade 1 Matron in career start number three. Magical Ride again let down her backers and finished a dull fifth in the Matron, only beating one horse. Ride On Curlin’s second dam is the very talented Test winner Victory Ride. She was a tremendously exciting Rusty Arnold sprinter who slayed the mighty Xtra Heat at seven furlongs. However, she wasn’t nearly as successful routing and all of her best performances came in the first four starts of her career.
Speed: Ride On Curlin’s career best Brisnet.com Speed Rating is a 102 and it came in a 5 ½-furlong maiden race at Ellis Park. He ran a 99 in the Arkansas Derby last time out for the second-best number of his career and tops as a three-year-old.
Red Flags: The fact that he’s winless in six career stakes tries and has never run a triple digit Brisnet.com Speed Rating beyond 5 ½ furlongs. This horse does at least have some underneath appeal in exotic wagers, and especially if the track is wet. His sire Curlin loved the slop. He’s bred well for the slop on the bottom, and no one rides a sloppy Churchill Downs track better than Borel.
Form: As a two-year-old, this exciting Baffert colt posted the outright fastest quarter mile at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March two-year-olds in training sale. Ocala’s most outstanding two-year-old sale, OBS March. Here’s a video clip of a young Chitu drilling a quarter mile in 20.60 seconds.
This promising colt is three-for-four lifetime, his only defeat was a hard-fought second to Candy Boy in the Grade 2 Bob Lewis while making his first route attempt. Most recently, Chitu captured the Sunland Derby drawing away, over stablemate Midnight Hawk and the once highly regarded Commissioner.
Pedigree: Much like with Wildcat Red, this pedigree is extremely speed-oriented on top and very stamina laden on the bottom. Chitu’s sire Henny Hughes was a precocious sprinter/miler. Henny Hughes mostly sires precocious sprinter/miler types, though his best daughter Beholder has certainly proven worthy beyond a mile. Still, it is the bottom of Chitu’s pedigree that is most interesting. His dam Sea Gift is a daughter of the great dirt stamina influence A. P. Indy. She was owned by Godolphin and only raced one time, winning her career debut in Great Britain at the distance of ten furlongs. Chitu’s second dam Ocean Queen was undefeated in her four career route attempts, all of which on grass. She even captured a Graded 3 stakes over males at nine furlongs.
Speed: Chitu ran a career Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 103 in his Sunland Derby victory.
Red Flags: Tactical versatility. Chitu has never demonstrated the ability to come from off the pace. His razor sharp speed is much more of an asset in his prior races than it will be in a speed laden race like the Kentucky Derby. There are a lot of other quick horses in this race, and anytime you have a 20 horse field, some riders are going to be forced to use their horses early in order to gain a suitable position.
Form: An impressive winner of the Southwest, Tapiture was also a good second in the Rebel. In his most recent start, he was taken back further than ever before in the Arkansas Derby, and almost instantly got very rank and seemed to hate taking the dirt in his face. Joel Rosario immediately hit the panic button and steered Tapiture out as wide as possible through the first turn. Rosario was able to get him out in the clear, but Taptiure had to endure a very wide trip on both turns after getting very rank through the early stages. That proved way too much adversity in what was a swiftly run Arkansas Derby from a final time standpoint.
Pedigree: Tapiture is sired by Tapit, and is out of an Olympio mare who was a deep closing sprinter. The second dam of Tapiture was also a deep closing sprinter type. Taptiure’s full siblings Retap and Remit were both minor stakes winning miler types.
Speed: Tapiture has twice run a 99 Brisnet.com Speed Rating but has yet to eclipse the triple-digit mark.
Red Flags: His professionalism. They experimented with his running style and tried to take him back in the Arkansas Derby. As soon as he started taking kickback he got very rank and was fighting the stout restraint jockey Joel Rosario put him under. Even on his best day, when he had a perfect up-close trip and romped to victory in the Southwest Stakes, Tapiture was drifting and running erratically. This is a good horse, and I believe he ran sneaky well in his Arkansas Derby prep. I just don’t trust him in a race like the Derby.
General a Rod:
Form: This Mike Maker-trained colt kicked off a good winter campaign with a win in the Gulfstream Derby over Wildcat Red before a second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth and a third-place finish in the Florida Derby. He’s an honest sort who has never been worse than third and has demonstrated tactical versatility.
Pedigree: Sired by the precocious Roman Ruler, he usually gets sprinter/miler types. General a Rod is out of a Dynaformer mare who competed entirely in turf and synthetic races. Second dam Buckeye Search was by speed influence Meadowlake, and she was a good honest racer who competed in some top level races, including a fourth place finish in the Test stakes.
Speed: General a Rod owns a career best Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 100, which he ran in the Fountain of Youth.
Red Flags: He’s a horse with good tactical speed who always gives a good account of himself. However, he would need a breakthrough performance to contend. This isn’t an easy horse to knock, but he certainly will need to work out a good trip and take a big step forward just to contend.
Form: His turf and synthetic form is excellent. Medal Count made his three-year-old debut a winning one by rallying into the teeth of a -26 second call pace, to impressively take a turf allowance event at Gulfstream. In a span of eight days, he ran two good races over the Polytrack at Keeneland, culminating with a second place finish in the Blue Grass. However, his dirt form is mediocre. He won a Maiden event at Ellis Park, over a bad field, that was originally scheduled for the turf. The second place finisher finally broke his maiden for a claiming tag after numerous defeats. Medal Count was nowhere to be found in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, after being inexplicably close to a fast early pace. In the Fountain of Youth, Medal Count enjoyed a perfect trip and was still crushed by almost 10 lengths. Closer Top Billing went by him with total ease, and he could not even fend off the plodder East Hall for fourth. East Hall is winless in five starts this year, and returned to finish eight beaten a dozen lengths when unable to rally in the Tampa Derby next out.
Pedigree: By a son of excellent stamina influence Dynaformer. Medal Count’s Dam was a nice confirmed sprinter trained by Richard Mandella. Medal Count is a half sister to Garden District, a Pletcher-trained filly who broke her maiden going just 4.5 furlongs at Keeneland, and captured the six-furlong Churchill Downs Debutante stakes over the great Rachel Alexandra.
Speed: Medal Count ran a career-best Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 97 in the Blue Grass.
Red Flags: His dirt form is atrocious. All indications are that he’s training well at Churchill Downs, but it’s very hard to ignore the fact that’s he struggled badly on dirt in prior races. This isn’t an Animal Kingdom type case, where a horse is training well at Churchill, and has never competed on dirt before.
Form: Was beaten by California Chrome with devastating ease in the Santa Anita Derby last time out. He scored a determined win in the Grade 2 Bob Lewis two starts back. His two-year-old season culminated with a distant second place finish in the Cash Call Futurity behind Shared Belief, after making a gigantic premature move.
Pedigree: Sire Candy Ride was a freakishly talented South American import. He was very successful in America for Ron McAnally. He demolished the field in the Pacific Classic at ten furlongs on dirt in what would be the final start of his career. However, his offspring tend to handle synthetic surfaces a bit better than dirt. Candy Boy’s dam She’s An Eleven won both of her races in two-turn dirt events. She was an even money favorite in the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan, but was well beaten.
Speed: His career best Brisnet.com Speed Rating is only a 97.
Red Flags: His ability. He’s never run very fast figures. He was bet to 5/2 odds and blown off the track in the Santa Anita by California Chrome. The reported plan to change his tactics and the expected hot pace could improve him, but he’s got a long way to go.
Form: Was outgamed by Saamrat in both the Withers and Gotham. Last time out, he blew the break in the Wood Memorial and was never able to recover after the poor start forced him to attempt to change tactics.
Pedigree: Sire Indian Charlie was a brilliant colt who suffered his only career defeat was third in the Kentucky Derby as the favorite. He gets pigeonholed as a sprinter/miler sire, but he does get good routers when bred to mares with distance pedigrees. There is a lot of endurance through the female family of Uncle Sigh. His unraced dam is by Pine Bluff out of an A. P. Indy mare, they were the third place finisher and winner of the 1992 Belmont Stakes, respectively. Uncle Sigh is a half to Percussion, he finished second in the Grade 2 Brooklyn at 12 furlongs.
Speed: Uncle Sigh owns a career top Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 99.
Red Flags: Is 0-for-3 head-to-head against Saamrat and he was unable to make any impression in the Wood Memorial after a poor break forced him to change tactics.
Form: Stopped in the Blue Grass Stakes last time out, when finishing dead last while beaten 28 lengths. He was a soundly beaten second by Ring Weekend in the Tampa Derby two back. His lone stakes win coming when he won the Sam Davis by a nose.
Pedigree: Sired by hot young sire Pioneerof the Nile. His dam Kettle’s Sister was a very mediocre racer. This horse comes from the tail female family of the great sprinter Safely Kept.
Speed: Vinceremos owns a career top Brisnet.com Speed Rating of just 93.
Red Flags: His ability. He’s one of the slowest horses in the race on figures. It’s hard to imagine he will be competitive unless he is somehow able to make a magical form reversal.
Form: Like Vinceremos before him, he was also defeated by 28 lengths in the Blue Grass. Two starts back, he was a game second beaten just a nose by We Miss Artie in the Spiral. Solitary Ranger beat him by almost ten lengths in a minor stakes race at Turfway three starts back.
Pedigree: Sired by Harlan’s Holiday. The dam of Harry’s Holiday is an Orientate sired, unraced half sister to Beholder and Into Mischief.
Speed: Harry’s Holiday owns a career best Brisnet.com Speed Rating of 95. That figure came sprinting on the Polytrack at Turfway.
Red Flags: His ability. He’s another one that would need a dramatic form reversal just to be competitive.
Form: A maiden winner at Churchill Downs to end his two-year-old season, Commanding Curve made his three-year-old debut in a tough edition of the Risen Star Stakes and ran evenly. In his most recent start, Commanding Curve finished third in the Louisiana Derby, but he benefited from a pace that was +10 at the second call.
Trainer Dallas Stewart has had great success in the big races at Churchill Downs with these plodding type of horses. Indeed, the Stewart trained Lemons Forever captured the 2006 Kentucky Oaks in last-to-first fashion as by far the longest shot in the field at 47/1 odds. In last years Kentucky Derby, the hapless plodder Golden Soul slugged home to finish second at 34/1 odds.
Pedigree: Commanding Curve is sired by a Pletcher trained horse named Master Command. A son of A. P. Indy, Master Command was a stone-cold dirt router who did his best work at nine furlongs. The dam of Commanding Curve was a speedball sprinter trained by Bob Baffert. She never won past six furlongs. This pedigree is stamina on top, and speed on the bottom.
Speed: Commanding Curve ran a career top 98 Speed figure last time out.
Red Flags: I suppose it’s not easy to knock any longshot who is a Dallas Stewart trained plodder, and will be making his third start off the layoff in the Derby. However, other horses with his running style offer far more appeal.