It seems as though we are in the infancy of a budding rivalry, as Samraat and Uncle Sigh threw down yet again in the Aqueduct stretch and put on another showstopper in the Gotham. In Trouble, coming in off of a layoff, crashed the party this time, as we had ourselves an exhilarating three horse battle down to the line. The valiant winner, Samraat, came out on top and boosted his record to a perfect five for five in the process. While the race itself was pure entertainment, and I do think this was a nice field with potential, as far as seeing a legit 2014 Kentucky Derby contender, I am not one hundred percent sold just yet. Here are my views on the field and what to expect down the line…
Samraat – This NY-bred colt kept his perfect record intact, and in my opinion, must be taken seriously from here on out. I have been torn on how I feel about it him up until this point, and while I am not completely sold just yet, I will be watching him like a hawk starting now. In the Gotham, he went about four wide into the first turn and then settled into a pressing position while three wide down the back stretch. He was about two lengths off the pace setter, who set pretty average fractions the whole way, while in between horses for most of the back stretch. He made his move rounding the turn, raced three wide into the stretch, and wore down his two stubborn foes from the outside. He may not be flashy, but he keeps grinding out victories in these prep races. He must be respected and I can’t wait to see his next race to hopefully form a more solid opinion of him. He has my full attention now.
Uncle Sigh – This colt either has to either hope for a better draw outside of his rival Samraat, or he has to hit the road to get away from him altogether. In this race he was a little head strong into the first turn, where he was about three wide, then settled nicely into a perfect pressing position through average fractions the rest of the way. As they rounded the turn for home he seemed to be in trouble. Samraat was right on top of him to the outside, and the pace setter, In Trouble, still had some left and was fighting on gamely from his inside. He was in a tough spot between a pair of game horses the whole stretch and did well to fight on for second. I am kind of in the same boat I was with him after the Withers. I am not too high on him, but I’m not ready to completely rule him out either. I hope I learn more about him next time out. He will remain on the back burner for now.
In Trouble – I thought this was a fine race considering it was his first start since September and his first time going two turns. It was a lot to ask, but I thought he ran well. He broke sharp from the rail and was a little rank into the first turn, but settled nicely after that while setting the pace from the inside through average fractions. Uncle Sigh hounded him the whole way around the track, and turning for home I knew In Trouble was in trouble. To his credit, he fought on gamely as Samraat and Uncle Sigh were bearing down on him through the entire stretch drive. Ultimately he came up a touch short while finishing third, but I think this was a fine 2014 bow and I think he has a right to improve off of it. I look forward to his next race, and if he does indeed improve, he may be a serious horse ready to peak come the first Saturday in May.
Financial Mogul – I was disappointed with this effort. I thought he was going to run better and I found no real excuse. He had a nice inside stalking trip, but when the real running began he never threatened. I was not impressed and I believe I will pass on him in the future.
Harpoon – I was against him going into this as I thought he would get a wide trip. I must admit though, when two horses scratched out of this I thought his chances of getting a wide trip decreased, and his chances of winning increased. I was wrong on both accounts. He raced about four wide into the first turn, then sat a stalking trip about four wide his whole journey. He never looked like a winner and I was not impressed with his effort. I believe he would really have to improve to become a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender.
Extrasexyhippzster – Was he outclassed in here? Or was his poor showing the result of a rough trip? That is a tough question to answer, but I am leaning towards giving him another shot. He was bumped by the winner at the start and never looked comfortable after that. He was last early as a result of his troubled start, then pulled himself up into a stalking position while rank on the backstretch, but ultimately ran out of gas for the stretch drive. Depending on where he runs back, and if the price is right, I think he deserves another shot. It will be interesting to see where his connections point him next out. We never had a chance to find out what he is really made of in the Gotham. If he drops in class I would definitely bet him. If he returns in another prep race I think he is worth a long look and may be worth.
Down the line, I expect that most of this field will have one more prep before the Derby. For that, I am grateful because I am still really up in the air on quite a few of them from this race. I hope that their next start, at 1 1/8th miles, will provide the clarity I need and remove any doubts that I have about them moving forward. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of quite a few of them from this race and I think that this was a field with potential, but if we are looking for the Derby winner here, nothing I saw totally convinced me from the Gotham.