Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Blackberry Wine aging finely

January 19, 2020 09:08am
Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Blackberry Wine aging finely
Photo: Hodges Photography

In what may prove to be a key allowance race Saturday at Fair Grounds, all eyes — and much of the betting public’s money — were on the duo of local maiden winner Digital and Chestertown, a $2 million New York-bred from the Steve Asmussen barn.

Then Calumet Farm homebred Blackberry Wine shot out to the lead and never quite relented, putting himself on the 2020 Kentucky Derby Radar, which seeks to identify the type of prospects we’ll see down the line in prep races.

A son of Oxbow trained by Joe Sharp, Blackberry Wine likely punched his ticket to the Feb. 15 Risen Star Stakes (G2) after getting headed by Digital, then re-rallying in the Fair Grounds stretch to win going 1 1/16 miles.

The final time was 1:43.22, with the result signaling Digital, a son of Into Mischief, deserves another shot around two turns, while Chestertown looks a cut below at least in this early point in the season.

RELATED: More updates from the Kentucky Derby Radar

Before Saturday, Blackberry Wine broke his maiden at fourth asking over the slop at Churchill Downs, then was defeated, despite an improvement in his figures, running against winners Dec. 28 on yielding turf. This time, he received a chance over a fast main track.

“He’s very comfortable on the dirt,” Sharp told TVG’s Caton Bredar. “Just kind of the way the condition book came up, we ended up running on the grass last time…We wanted to give him a confidence-builder on the dirt after that turf try last time. The turf was very soft.

“Obviously, we think he’s the kind of horse that can move on to bigger and better things like the Risen Star.”

Away as the 4-1 third choice — Digital and Chestertown were both off at 3-2 — Blackberry Wine shot between rivals the first time by and assumed the lead. Under jockey Adam Beschizza, he clicked off a quarter mile in 24.20 seconds, then matched that fraction with a half mile in 48.40.

It was a pressure-free pace scenario as Digital lagged back in second inside of 6-1 shot Race Driver. Once off the turn, Digital tipped out to commence his rally, and with an eighth of a mile to go that one had a head in front.

Whether Digital hit his distance limit or Blackberry Wine re-engaged will be something for handicappers to consider. The winner managed to rally back on the inside and win by a length. Chestertown rolled across third, another 4 1/4 lengths behind.

With Blackberry Wine, Sharp will later this spring seek to have his second Kentucky Derby starter. Girvin won both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby (G2) on his own way to Churchill Downs in 2017, finishing 13th the first Saturday in May.

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About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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