Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 11
It’s been seven years since Smarty Jones thrilled
racing fans with wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, before tasting
defeat for the first time in the late stages of the Belmont Stakes. That
spring, Smarty traveled down the Arkansas path on his way to Louisville,
including wins in the Southwest, and Arkansas Derby. This year it is
Archarcharch who hopes to parlay victories in both of those races into a big
win on the first Saturday in May. There are many reasons to believe that the
son of Arch may be up to the task.
Distance should not be a problem. Archarcharch by Arch,
out of Woodman’s Dancer, by Woodman has stamina all over his pedigree. Notably his sire, despite being very
lightly raced, was able to account for the Super Derby back when it was still a
1 ¼ mile race. We all know what Arch’s most famous son, Blame was able to
accomplish, with the monumental victory in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. A
race that was run at the same track and distance of the Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile
on the female side of the family Archarcharch also comes from hearty stock. His
broodmare sire, Woodman, was a champion runner in Ireland, but had much success as a sire in
the American Classics. His son Hansel won both the Preakness and Belmont on his
way to an Eclipse Award, and another son, Timber County, won both the Breeder’s
Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs and the Preakness
the following year.
While Archarcharch is currently on the
lose-win-lose-win pattern so far in his six race career, he appears to be
coming to Kentucky in marvelous form. His last race, the Arkansas Derby, was
big in that it may have been the best of all the Derby preps. While Nehro was
getting to him late, it would be easy to argue that rider Jon Court made a
perfectly timed move to win. It is also worth noting that Nehro made little if
any ground up on the winner from the eighth pole to the sixteenth pole. This
could become vital in the Derby when the race if often won by horses who can
make things happen on the far turn.
Certainly Archarcharch would seem to be this type of
horse. He can come from well behind when the pace is hot, but he is tractable
enough to lay closer when the early fractions are slower. In all of his races,
he has demonstrated the ability to accelerate on the backstretch to put himself
in position on the turn. Even in his most recent loss, a 3rd place
finish in the Rebel Stakes, Archarcharch demonstrated the ability to put
himself in great position on the turn. The loose on the lead The Factor was way
too strong that day, but Archarcharch ran on well, just missing 2nd
place. In his Oaklawn preps, the Jinks Fires trained colt also got a good deal
of experience in big fields and starting from various places in the starting gate.
All of this should have him well prepared for the 20 horse craziness he will
face in the Derby.
He also should be well prepared by his connections.
Trainer Jinks Fires and jockey Jon Court are long time fixtures on Kentucky race
tracks. While collecting solid numbers
over the years, neither man has had a horse like Archarcharch before, and neither
have won anything like the run for the roses before. Fires is known as one of
the sports’ good guys, and his connection and loyalty to Court runs deeper than
just business. As the son-in-law of the trainer, Court is poised to keep the
mount on the stable star who he has ridden in all six starts, but don’t think
he is not worthy. The 31 year veteran is nothing but solid in the saddle, and
is very deserving of riding in the Derby for the first time in his career.
Solid connections, excellent form and experience, and
breeding that suggests success at the distance. Yes folks, Archarcharch has as
much going for him as any horse that will step into this year’s Kentucky Derby