Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Make no mistake about it, the Louisiana Derby was a key race. Since the Fair Grounds biggie was run back on March 30, the top four finishers have each come back with an excellent effort. Looking back at the best overall Kentucky Derby prep of 2013 (yes, I say that even though it did not include Orb), it was Revolutionary who outfought Mylute in an exciting stretch duel, with Departing and Golden Soul a little farther back in third and fourth. Now let’s take a look how each fared in their next race.
Golden Soul - Sent off at odds of nearly 35-1, Golden Soul was not supposed to run as well on the first Saturday in May as he did. That is exactly why they run the race, though, and the Dallas Stewart charge, who closed strongly to be fourth at the Fair Grounds, parlayed that good late run with another one in Louisville. This time on the rail for most of the way, the son of Perfect Soul made a big move on the turn, shifted well off the rail early in the lane, and kept coming to snare second place money in the Kentucky Derby, a length clear of the horse that beat him in the Louisiana Derby.
Revolutionary - No, my top pick for the Derby did not win, but the son of War Pass accounted well of himself with a strong rally from 18th place on the backstretch to get to third on the wire. Borel avoided much of the trouble down on the rail, and only had to slightly wait on the turn and do a little weaving in the stretch. A strong performance and a strong gallop out after the wire, make many believe that Revolutionary will be a very live horse come Belmont Stakes day.
Mylute - Turns out becoming the first female rider to win the Kentucky Derby was far from a pipedream. Way back off a fast early pace for the first three-quarters of a mile, Mylute began picking off horses on the far outside. Easy to watch the yellow silks through the Churchill Downs slop, Rosie Napravnik and Mylute kept coming the entire way, and were just a whisker short of giving the Louisiana Derby runners a 2-3-4 finish in the Run for the Roses. The problem for him was he followed Orb most of the way, and simply was not quite as good.
And finally, there is Departing - Unlike the other three, he did not parlay his good run in New Orleans into a start in the 139th edition of the Kentucky Derby. Instead, the lightly raced gelded son of War Front continued his rapid development with an impressive score in the Illinois Derby. The easy win against the big field at Hawthorne, was completed despite an outside post position and a wide trip. It was another solid performance for the Al Stall runner in only his fifth lifetime start and it points him out as a real deal horse on the improve.
What does all this mean as we begin down Orb’s potential Triple Crown path? As it was in the Kentucky Derby, look for the Louisiana Derby crew to continue to be front and center among Orb’s most difficult competition. Revolutionary and Golden Soul will take a breather and look to test the big horse in the Belmont, while Mylute may well wheel right back and see if he can do even better in the Preakness than his 3 ½ length defeat on Saturday.But in the big picture at Baltimore, it may be Departing, the lightly raced and talented Claiborne runner who has the best chance of knocking off Orb. The results of the Derby only flattered and confirmed his place among the best of this crop, and the little bit extra rest he gets from the Illinois Derby as opposed to the Kentucky Derby, may well become a big deal when the real running begins in 12 days. It will not be easy to beat the Derby winner in the Preakness 2013, but Departing is one new shooter with a big chance.