It happens every single year, people see a hot new closer
running on late to just barely miss, and then go hog wild over him. For
this year’s Derby, that horse’s name would be Nehro. The son of Mineshaft ran
some bang up races in the Louisiana Derby and Arkansas Derby, just barely
missing each time to Pants on Fire and Archarcharch.
There is no doubt the colt is talented and if moved at the
right time, could have a very potent closing kick. He has proven that he
belongs with the big boys in each of his last two starts. In his stakes debut
he took down the Risen Star hero, Mucho Macho Man, and was just held off by the
gritty warrior, Pants On Fire. In the Arkansas Derby he made a late move to close like a freight train, only losing by a quickly diminishing head. In
that race he finished in front of The Factor, Sway Away, and JP’s Gusto just to
name a few. However despite these very encouraging efforts I do not see him
taking the Run for the Roses.
Nehro, unlike many in the Derby field, just put things
together three races ago. He ran huge to break his maiden and then ran huge in
both of his Derby preps. At first glance I can see how fans would see an upside
to this colt, but looking closer I see more negatives than positives if he goes
to the Derby. His inexperience would be one of those negatives. Not many horses
that are just beginning to put things together can string together as many strong
efforts as Nehro. In the last six weeks he has run some extremely strong races,
which is impressive to say the least, but I believe asking him to run a fourth
in, arguably, America’s most dangerous and challenging race is too much to ask.
The Kentucky Derby is not a race to be taken lightly. It can
take a promising horse and sling them to the sidelines for the rest of the
year. In recent years the only two colts were able to go into the Derby with little
experience and foundation and come out in one piece. Those colts would be Curlin and Big Brown.
Both were freaks of nature. The latter got lucky enough to encounter almost no
trouble in the race, while Curlin played bumper cars and still got up for
third. Could Nehro be a freak like these two? It’s possible, but the chances of
him being of their caliber are unlikely.
Another negative is that he is a dead closer. Only three
dead closers won the Kentucky Derby in the last decade and they were
Giacomo, Street Sense, and Mine That Bird. Two of those horses were lucky enough
to have Calvin "Bo-rail" aboard, and it can be argued that without him, neither
of them would have won. Instead we may have seen Hard Spun lead the race wire
to wire and Pioneerofthe Nile, a stalker, win in a thriller. In order to have a
good shot, Nehro would also need a hot pace, and with the recent defections of
horses like The Factor, JP’s Gusto, and Flashpoint, the likelihood of the pace
coming close to what it has been in recent years is very slim.
I am not saying Nehro is a bad horse, in fact he holds a
great deal of promise. But, as a Derby candidate I do not see him being able to overcome all that is stacked against him.