In the final weekend of major preps for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, Danza sprung a huge upset at Oaklawn Park in the Arkansas Derby, and Dance With Fate waltzed by his rivals to take down the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Both winners won convincingly, but I am not so sure they have what it takes to take down the big one. Here are some thoughts on your winners and other horses that may be in the gate at Churchill Downs come May 3rd….
Heading into this race I thought Danza had no shot at all. This was to be his first time going two turns and he had only boasted a maiden win on his resume, and that was at 5 ½ furlongs at Belmont back in July. I tossed him immediately, as it appears most did, and he blew up the tote at 41/1.
Danza – This Todd Pletcher bomb received a perfect trip and ride. He broke well leaving the gate and received a nice inside trip into the first turn. Rounding the turn and down the backstretch he enjoyed a perfect trip two-three off the dueling pace setters through decent fractions. He made his move rounding the far turn and entering the stretch a hole opened on the inside and he darted through. In the lane he drifted a touch, but held them all off for a nice score. Moving forward I am not too high on his chances in Kentucky. He received a perfect trip against what now looks like a suspect field. I will limit his use to underneath, if at all, in the Derby I believe.
Ride On Curlin – This colt took a good bump at the start, but recovered just fine and went three-four wide into the clubhouse turn. He stalked the pace down the back stretch while about six lengths off the lead. Rounding the far turn, he started making his move and was about eight wide entering the stretch. He closed alright, while getting up for the place, but he never threatened the winner. As for his chances in Louisville, see above. I may include him underneath, but I do not like his chances of winning.
Tapiture – As I suspected, I do not think this colt wants any part of 1 1/8th or longer. He will not be on any of my tickets if he is indeed in the gate for the Derby. In this race, he broke well and then went about four wide into the first turn. He stalked the pace down the backstretch while three wide and about four lengths off the pace. He made a threatening move rounding the turn and entered the stretch five wide. He flattened out quickly though as he was a bit erratic in the lane and looked like a horse who could not handle the distance. He is a complete toss in Kentucky for me.
I do not think we saw the Kentucky Derby winner in the Arkansas Derby. If I use any of them at all, it would be Danza and Ride On Curlin, and the most I can endorse them is by using them to round out a Tri or Super.
The Blue Grass Stakes
I have been a Dance With Fate fan for quite some time and I was very happy to see him score his first grade one victory as he rolled by his rivals in the stretch in the Blue Grass. While his status for the Derby is still undecided, and he does appear to have more of a turf and synthetic build, I would really like to see him in the gate in Louisville. He is very talented and he does own a second place finish in a grade 1 on dirt in the Frontrunner. I think it’s worth a shot. Moving forward to Kentucky, here are some thoughts on the winner and others who may be in the gate for the Derby….
Dance With Fate – Your eventual winner broke well and went about five wide into the clubhouse turn. Once on the backstretch he stalked a quick pace about two wide while six lengths off the lead. Around the far turn he started revving up and made his move. He entered the stretch six wide and mowed down his rivals for a convincing score. As I stated a moment ago, I am a fan of this horse and I think he could definitely make some noise in the Derby. I am not saying I endorse him on the win end, but I think he is talented and could be an interesting longshot, who could definitely hit the board.
Medal Count – This Dale Romans’ charge was coming back off of a week’s rest after a convincing victory in the grade 3 Transylvania and I thought he ran well. He broke fine from the outside in the thirteen hole and went about five-six wide into the first turn. He was racing three wide down the backstretch while six off the pace. He made his move rounding the turn, and in my opinion he may have moved a touch soon, not that it would have mattered though as he was definitely second best on this day. All in all though, I thought he closed well and I think he possibly has a shot at hitting the board on Derby day. I do worry about him coming back on three weeks rest though after running twice in seven days. Dale Romans knows how to get horses to run well in Triple Crown races though and he may really spice up the Tri or Super. I am going to watch his preparation closely leading up to the big one.
Harry’s Holiday – If he ends up in the field for the Derby he is a complete toss for me. In this race he broke well, but was in tight right after the break and into the first turn while inside pressing the pace. Down the backstretch he was still in tight and appeared he couldn’t keep up with the swift early pace and then he just dropped out of it. I wasn’t impressed at all and feel he will be outclassed in the Derby. He will not be on any of my tickets at all.
Vinceremos – It appears this guy either hated synthetics or he was outclassed. It is possibly a combination of both. Regardless, I want no part of him on Derby day. In the Blue Grass he broke well and went about six wide into the clubhouse turn. Down the backstretch he was about four wide and four off the pace. He was asked for his run around the far turn and had absolutely nothing to give and he dropped out of it quickly. If he ends up making the cut in Louisville he is a complete toss for me.
The only two I want in Kentucky is Dance With Fate and Medal Count. I am not sold on their chances of winning, but I believe both could very well hit the board. I will especially keep a close eye on Dance With Fate. I believe he is very talented and could be a longshot who has a chance on the win end.