Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers
The 2014 Kentucky Derby Trail will heat up this weekend on the left coast as a talented and promising field of seven will take center stage in the Robert B. Lewis (Gr. II). Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I have a feeling this is going to be a key race moving forward. This field has a ton of potential, in my opinion, and I really look forward to seeing how this plays out. Two years ago this race served as I’ll Have Another’s coming out party, as he blew up the tote at over 40/1. I will never forget the way he looked in the post parade that day. He looked like a man amongst boys. He was on everyone’s radar after his score in this race and we all know what he went on to do. This year’s edition has the same vibe to me in the sense that I have a feeling it will be someone’s coming out party. I will be watching this race very closely as I believe there is some real talent here. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the pace and get to know the field…
Pace – I found the pace to be very tricky to get a good handle on. I believe Chitu will be on the lead, but I’m not sure who is going to go with him. Home Run Kitten has speed, but he’s trying dirt and winners for the first time. El Nino Terrible broke his maiden gate to wire, but that was on an easy lead and he really slowed the pace down. Diamond Bachelor and Midnight Hawk like to be close, but I have a feeling they are going to be pressing the pace today. As you see I think this is a tricky pace scenario. I have a feeling someone will go with Chitu and I think our winner comes from a pressing or stalking position.
Candy Boy – I think this John Sadler colt has a definite shot to win. HRN’s own Brian Zipse wrote a piece on him this week and I think his assessment was spot on. That middle move he made in his first start verses winners in the Cashcall Futurity was real nice. I like the fact the Gary Stevens stays on, and if he is ready to fire off the bench, he definitely has a chance to win. I view him as a contender.
Diamond Bachelor – The big question with this colt is can he handle the dirt. His first try was on the main in the BC Juvenile and he was a non factor. He was wide into the first turn that day and never did any real running. I am not willing to write him off just yet after that effort. That was a tall task for your first shot on the dirt. I really liked his first three starts, albeit they were on the turf, but I thought he looked like an absolute beast. He is a physical specimen. He has been working nice on the dirt for his 2014 debut and I am very intrigued to see him run. I am willing to give him another shot and I think he is a contender in here. If he can sit off the pace he has a shot to win in my opinion. I am going to give him a chance.
Midnight Hawk – I am torn on this guy. On one hand I wasn’t that impressed with his last. He only beat three horses and while getting a perfect trip. The performance didn’t wow me at all. On the other hand, on paper he looks like an improving colt that may run even better today. He could win, but he will do it without me today. I can’t argue too much with you if you like him, but I’m willing to take a shot against today. I do not think the pace favors him and as I have said earlier he only beat three other foes in the Sham. I am against, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.
Home Run Kitten – This is a lot to ask this cat. It will be his first start on dirt, verses winners, and going long. I just can’t envision it happening for him this afternoon.
Cool Samurai – I was kind of torn on this one. I think he will be coming late, but ultimately I will limit his use to underneath in the exotics. I just feel like this is his first start verse winners and this field is pretty legit. If I had a chance to spread this leg in multi-race wagers I would possibly think about including him if I could afford it. The pace is tricky and has the possibility of getting hot. It would not be a total shocker if he pulled off the upset under that scenario. I look forward to seeing him run.
El Nino Terrible – I don’t give this colt much of a shot. This is his first start verses winners and in his maiden breaking score he got a soft, easy lead and wired the field. I cannot see him getting that trip today so I will have to pass.
Chitu – I see this colt on the lead. The big question for him then is can he blow the doors off this field? I am going to say no. This is his first time routing and I expect him to face some pressure up front. Now I can’t say I would be shocked if he won, he has been working lights out for this and he is trained by Baffert. I will be watching him closely, but I will side against today on the basis of pace and that he trying two turns for the first time.
The Play – I am going to take a shot this race with Candy Boy and Diamond Bachelor. I will key them in an exacta with Midnight Hawk, Cool Samurai, and Chitu in the back.
After what I thought was a disappointing Sham, I feel like this race really made up for it. There are quite a few interesting horses in here that I think have potential. I looking forward to seeing how Diamond Bachelor handles dirt, how Candy Boy looks in his comeback, and how Cool Samurai and Chitu handle their stakes debuts. I think we will also get a good gage on how good Midnight Hawk is. And while I am against him today I am curious to see how he handles himself. I will be watching this race very closely and will have my post race thoughts sometime early next week. Enjoy the race, folks. I have a feeling we will be talking about a few of these colts come the first Saturday in May.