12 months ago to the day, the Kentucky Derby trail began in earnest when a full field of sophomore colts competed in a one mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park. The winner that day was a son of Giant’s Causeway. Perhaps you’ve heard of him, his name being Eskendereya. Flash forward a year and Gulfstream came back with the same race today. While assuming that any horse comes out of it with near the talent of Eskendereya, would be a longshot, but it has produced another good looking winner. Breaking a half-step slow from the rail, Black N Beauty rushed up to take command early and then confidently repelled each threat to his front running victory. On the wire, the dark bay colt was 2 ½ lengths clear of his closest competition, and completed the distance in 1:37.48.
Black N Beauty is an Ontario bred son of Devil His Due out of the Boston Harbor mare, Harbor Girl. Trained by Dale Romans for Zayat Stables, the bargain basement yearling purchase, has shown marked improvement with each of his four starts. After running fourth in a key maiden race for a debut, Black N Beauty returned to give the much talked about Brethren all he wanted in a 1:08 4/5 slugfest in October. Leaving the Big Apple turned his fortune, as he rolled home in a Churchill Downs maiden by 2 3/4 lengths in his next start. Today’s win brought his record to 4-2-1-0, which coincidently is the exact same record Eskendereya left January 7th with last year.
As you all know, Eskendereya won the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial by a combined 18 ¼ lengths in his next two starts, before being injured and retired before he could run as a Kentucky Derby favorite. Trainer Dale Romans does not plan on following the same conservative trail with Black N Beauty as Todd Pletcher chose for his star last year. The trainer, who hit the board in all three triple crown races last year with Paddy O’Prado and then First Dude, is looking to bring today’s winner back in three weeks time for the Holy Bull Stakes. Expected entrants for the grade 3 test include one of the best juveniles in 2010, Boys at Tosconova, so it should prove to be a major test.
We should find out more soon on the ability of Black N Beauty to become a real Derby threat, but the first shot on the 2011 trail was officially fired today. Do I think Black N Beauty has a big future in front of him? Let’s just say he has moved right to the top of my list. The top of my Queen’s Plate list, that is.