While the Holy Bull might have been the first major Derby season starter, one cannot look back on yesterday and say that it was not the
beginning, of what looks to be, a very promising Kentucky Derby prep season.
Racing from New York, to Florida, to California, stakes
races delivered us new favorites and there were even a few unexpected maiden
and allowance winners that stamped themselves as legit. But who was the best
of them all?
Florida, while not pegged as a major Derby prep site this
weekend, still offered up two very exciting prospects in Verrazano and Forty
pressured a brutal pace, in his first time trying the mile
distance, battling just off a 22.94 quarter and a 45.45 half mile. He cruised
up on the outside Gunderman, taking the lead with a quarter mile left and drew
off, to win by over 16 lengths, in the easiest of victories. The final time,
a scorching 1.34.8, was not half bad for a colt making only his second career
may have lost the Hutcheson yesterday, but
anyone scouting for potential Derby horses could see that this was a horse who
needed much more than seven furlongs. He came charging like a locomotive at the
end of the race, narrowly missing the winner. He, like Verrazano, is trained by
Pletcher, who seems to unveil a star every weekend. It should be interesting to
see where he points these two next.
In New York, two Pletcher horses, again emerged victorious.
The first was Kentucky Oaks contender, Princess of Sylmar
. Riding a hot streak
of three consecutive wins, the filly had no trouble extending her streak to
four. It was impress, it was dominant, everything you want to see. The time was
slow, but seeing as how she wasn’t even pressing the top two for most of the
race, one cannot blame the slow pace and resulting final time on her. What one
can say, and notice is that she ran each quarter faster than the next, not a
very common thing in dirt racing.
The second Pletcher trainee would be hard pressed to outdo
his stablemate, but Revolutionary
did just that. Stuck on the rail, blocked in
traffic, forced to wait for room, and he still exploded like a keg of dynamite,
dodging and weaving his way through traffic to nab the victory by a neck.
Again, the time was nothing special, but considering he never got to run until
the last 1/16th
of a mile, he ran a pretty darn good race.
Last, but certainly not least, we saw a Flashback
brilliance. Looking like the opposite of his older sister, Zazu who tended to
lay farther off the pace, Flashback took the lead in the four horse Robert B.
Lewis and never looked back. He was pressured by He’s Had Enough, a much more
experienced foe, and instead of folding he repelled his opponent, to romp by
over 6 lengths.
From start to finish, from east to west, stars strutted their
stuff for the nation to see, but who was the best? Was it the brave
Revolutionary? The brilliant Verrazano? How about the unlucky Forty Tales? Or
was it the flashy, Baffert trained grey? With such performances all over the
country, only one thing is certain….Brian Zipse will not have an easy time of
choosing his Star of the Week.