Photo: SV Photography
Going into this weekend’s action on the 2014 Kentucky Derby Trail I was not too keyed up about either race. The Withers only had a six horse field and the Sam F. Davis field seemed to have a lot to prove. Well, despite these perceived shortcomings, both definitely provided some very exciting racing, and rousing stretch runs. The Withers treated us to a stirring stretch duel between a pair of New York-breds while down in Tampa, the Sam F. Davis offered up an exhilarating four horse finish. While both races were definitely thrilling, I am not so sure how thrilled I am moving forward. Here’s my take on what to expect in the future…
As I’ve said earlier, and in my previous blog handicapping the race, I was not too excited about this field. I thought any one of them had a chance to win it. I will say I was wrong about the winner, Samraat, I was against him and he did prove me wrong with a nice win. This was essentially just a two horse race between the winner and runner-up, Uncle Sigh, doing battle the whole way around the track. I think both of them are pretty nice horses. Here are my key takeaways from the race.
Samraat – I was wrong about him. I was against him as I thought his last was a little bit dressed up as he earned a big Beyer fig on an off track with an easy lead. In this race he broke well then conceded the lead to Uncle Sigh. He stayed glued to that foe while closely pressing from the outside through decent fractions. He then battled in the lane and eventually wore down that same foe for a nice win. If there is a knock on him from this race it is that he did not swap leads in the lane. As we move forward on the Derby Trail I am not sure what I am going to do with him. This was a fine win, but I wasn’t too impressed. It turned into a match race essentially as no one else really showed up and he definitely had a positional advantage the whole way around the track. I will put him on the back burner eagerly awaiting his next race.
Uncle Sigh – I thought this guy ran a pretty nice race while getting hounded the whole way by the eventual winner. He set pretty decent fractions with Samraat never far from him and he fought on pretty gamely in the lane while second best. I didn’t envision him on the lead when I was handicapping this race, I actually thought he would be where Samraat was pressing, and I believe that may have cost him the race. Maybe if he broke outside of Samraat things would have played out differently, who knows. Regardless, this was a pretty nice effort. I consider him in the same boat as Samraat moving forward. I am not too high on him, but I’m not ready to give up on him just yet either.
Scotland – I have a feeling I am going to keep chasing this maiden until he gets a clean trip. He had a tough break in this race while getting pinched at the start and then having to check. Once again he looked rank going through the first quarter while he raced at the back of the pack. He did do a little bit of running late while getting up for the show, but he never threatened the top two at all. I will have to pass on him moving forward if he stays on the Derby Trail. If they drop him down though, that’s a different story. He is probably a definite single in the maiden ranks.
Classic Giacnroll – This colt stalked from fourth and never really did any running. I was not impressed at all. I don’t think I will be backing him on the Derby Trail at this time.
Moving forward I will keep my eye on Samraat and Uncle Sigh. I am not too high on either, although I think they are both pretty cool horses. I look forward to seeing their next races and how they progress out of this.
The Sam F. Davis
Heading into this race we knew most of the contestants had a lot of questions to answer. A lot of them were trying dirt, winners, or two turns for the first time. I believe it showed during the race as I found it to be a pretty strangely run contest. The winner, Vinceremos, had an interesting trip and I thought he was finished at the quarter pole. Here is my take on him and a few others moving ahead…
Vinceremos – This colt had a bizarre trip. He broke well and was up on the pace pressing average fractions from the inside. He was arguing for the lead with Cousin Stephen and he appeared to be put away by that foe going around the turn while dropping back to fourth. Then as they entered the stretch the rail opened up and he went through with a burst. Once he hit the lead he then idled letting his foes catch up. Once they caught up and he looked like he was about to be passed, he dug in and spurted away and was almost nipped at the wire by his stable mate. If you watch him in the lane it was a text book case of a horse hitting the front then idling. Moving forward I am not sure what to do with this guy. He is a very quirky individual. With that said, he is also a gritty colt too. He needs to get his head right though if he wants to make some noise on the Derby Trail. He got away with it with this field, I don’t think he will in the next. Regardless, I find him interesting and if he gets his mind right he definitely has the talent. I will keep my eye on him.
Harpoon – This Pletcher charge may be the one we want moving forward. He stalked an average pace in this race from about 2 to 3 lengths back. He dropped back a little more around the turn then was forced pretty wide while entering the stretch. He was closing well in the lane, although he did not swap leads, and he just missed catching the winner. If he had indeed swapped leads I believe he would have cruised right by for the win. This was his first start around two turns and he has a right to improve moving forward. I am not too high on him, but he is worth keeping an eye on.
Cousin Stephen – This colt cannot be trusted at this time. He looked like a winner around the turn, but then he went a little wide into the stretch allowing Vinceremos to slide right through on the rail. I didn’t like him going into this race and I sure do not like him coming out of it. I will pass on him in the future, I believe.
Noble Cornerstone – This colt left his race in the gate as they say. He was acting poorly pre-race and it really showed. He broke awkwardly and never did any real running. Going into this race I thought he had the best shot of winning. He had shown talent in his first two starts and was proven going two turns with a nice showing in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park. Moving forward he may definitely be worth another look. Just make sure you watch how he is behaving in the paddock and post parade. If he is acting right, and the price is right, I would think about forgiving him.
This race doesn’t seem like it will be a strong race moving forward, but you never know. I am interested in seeing the next starts of Harpoon, Noble Cornerstone, and Vinceremos. Harpoon has a right to improve, and he will definitely have to do so if he wants to stay on the trail. I am hoping we can draw a line through this race for Noble Cornerstone and that in his next start he behaves himself. And as for Vinceremos, if he can get his mind right he could be dangerous in the future. And if he doesn’t, he has a flare for the dramatic and should put on a good show for us.