Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 67
You think Kentucky Derby winners always come from the usual faces and the places? Mine That Bird’s shocking win less than two years ago should have gone a long way in dispelling that myth. In my quest to uncover every possible stone and to look into each and every corner, I have headed east to the inner track that hosts Aqueduct’s winter racing. It is there I found an interesting Derby prospect in Toby’s Corner.
When last seen, the son of Bellamy Road rallied from last to swoop by the entire field in scoring a two length victory in the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes. Ridden by Eddie Castro, it was a visually impressive victory over the favorite J J’s Lucky Train. I know what you are thinking, he won a stakes race at Aqueduct, in the winter, big deal. Those horses never are factors come spring. Not so fast my friends, the Whirlaway in its 32 years of existence has already produced such crackerjacks as Noble Nashua (1981), Prairie Bayou (1993) and Haynesfield (2009).
Can Toby’s Corner join that elite company? Maybe, the potential would seem to be there. Owned by Diane Cotter, Toby resides in the barn of top trainer Graham Motion. Best known for training turf horses like Better Talk Now and Film Maker, I feel confident in Motion’s ability to have a horse fit for the ten furlong Kentucky Derby, if the horse has the talent to compete.
Breeding wise, Toby’s Corner is a bit of a fascination. Without much speed himself, he is by a brilliant but lightly raced Kentucky Derby favorite in Bellamy Road. Interestingly, his broodmare sire, Mister Frisky, was also full of speed and went off favored in the Kentucky Derby. While neither his sire nor broodmare sire ran their best on the First Saturday in May, they both won plenty around two-turns. Getting back to his performances so far on the track, Toby’s Corner has done little wrong to date.
After finishing third in a sloppy debut sprint at Delaware Park, the chestnut colt has rattled off three straight victories. His second and final start as a juvenile was a 10 ¾ length maiden romp and he followed that with a facile win in an optional claimer. Both of those were at one mile at Laurel Park. In the Whirlaway, he repeated his modus operandi by falling well off the pace, before making a strong move around the turn, and finishing full of run. While impressive, it is time for him to prove himself against better horses.
His first big test should be at hand Saturday in the Gotham Stakes. Back at Aqueduct from his Fair Hill base, Toby’s Corner is slated to face off against some heavy hitters and promising colts. Stay Thirsty, from the Todd Pletcher barn, looms the favorite, while others like Preachintothedevil, Monzon, and Nacho Saint also should be well supported.
Can Toby handle this bunch? Only time will tell, but remember you never know from what corner a new Derby contender will come from … perhaps a Toby’s Corner?
Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA