Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Dennis’ Moment leads 5 to know

July 28, 2019 10:41am
Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Dennis’ Moment leads 5 to know
Photo: Coady Photography

When Fore Left sprinted to an easy 4 1/2-length victory last month in Belmont Park’s Tremont Stakes, it felt like a jumping off point for 2-year-olds that could go on to target the 2020 Kentucky Derby. But it also felt awfully early to say so on June 7.

Then Dennis’ Moment happened Saturday. So begins the Derby Radar.

A much-hyped colt from the Dale Romans barn broke on top at Ellis Park and only widened his advantage, finishing 19 1/4 lengths to the good in what was his second start, but essentially his debut after dropping jockey Robby Albarado first out at Churchill Downs.

A $400,000 son of Tiznow, Dennis’ Moment sat at 8-1 on the morning line, an unrealistic price given Romans left the summer comforts of Saratoga bound for Henderson, Ky., just to see this Albaugh Family Stables runner go.

“We thought highly of him the first time,” said Jason Loutsch, the colt’s racing manager. “Unfortunately those circumstances happened.

“He’s been doing it in the mornings, and we knew he was a special horse.”

Off as an odds-on favorite, Dennis’ Moment clicked through fractions of 22.92, 45.84 and 1:09.81 under jockey Miguel Mena. The final time for seven furlongs was 1:21.95.

Loutsch said connections considered going straight into the Saratoga Special (G2) off the debut but elected to truly get Dennis’ Moment started at Ellis Park, which “has been our game plan the last four or five years.”

Albaugh Family Stables appeared in three straight Derbys from 2016 through 2018 with Brody’s Cause (seventh), J Boys Echo (15th) and Free Drop Billy (16th). There’s hope Dennis’ Moment could begin a new streak.

“He’s got the pedigree with Tiznow and a quality mare,” Loutsch said. “We think he can run all day long and won’t get tired. There’s a lot of excitement in our camp.”

Loutsch said Saratoga’s Sept. 2 Hopeful (G1) or Churchill Downs’ Iroquois (G3) later that month are possibilities. The Iroquois regularly kicks off the Road to the Kentucky Derby points qualifying series.

Dennis’ Moment earned a 95 Brisnet Speed Rating in his victory, one of a few we’ve had our eyes on in recent weeks. A more formal start for the Derby Radar will follow the summer meets at Del Mar and Saratoga -- because don't even have any Bafferts or Pletchers to note.

Until then, here are four more names to know:

1. Shoplifted

This $800,000 son of Into Mischief came from just off the pace, ridden confidently by Ricardo Santana Jr. for trainer Steve Asmussen, and galloped to a 4 1/2-length victory Saturday in Saratoga’s fourth race. 

Only one of Shoplifted’s eight rivals had prior racing experience. But Kowalski looked like a good one himself first out at Churchill Downs, going on to be third after left at the break.

Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stables and LNJ Foxwoods — the latter a partner in the 2019 Derby winner Country House — campaign Shoplifted, who went 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.99 after Kowalski dueled on a pace far too hot. The victory registered an 86 Brisnet Speed Rating.

2. Wrecking Crew

Rockingham Ranch, an entity known for its sprinters, went to $875,000 at auction last March for this son of Sky Kingdom. But the first crop sire by Empire Maker made most of his money running marathon distances, and trainer Peter Miller got Gray Magician to this year’s Derby.

Wrecking Crew didn’t get the big figure — just an 82 on the Brisnet scale — but that’s likely because he was off slowest of five in Saturday’s Del Mar opener. Flavien Prat quickly guided the colt back into the race, and at 2-5 he went on to a 1 3/4-length score.

The six-furlong final time was 1:12.22.

3. Schrodinger

This $550,000 son of Justin Phillip runs for the accomplished pair of trainer Simon Callaghan and owner Kaleem Shah, who sent him out for a June 30 debut win at Los Alamitos. After turning away runner-up Verified in the five-furlong dash, Schrodinger finished up under Prat in 57.21 seconds, registering an 85 Brisnet Speed Rating.

Shrodinger is among expected competition for Fore Left, the previously mentioned Tremont winner, in Del Mar’s Aug. 10 Best Pal (G2) going six furlongs. That race feeds into the Sept. 2 Del Mar Futurity (G1).

Schrodinger has worked back-to-back five-furlong bullets at Del Mar on July 19 and again on Friday.

4. Basin

This Asmussen trainee got new sire Liam’s Map off the mark by winning second out on July 21 at Saratoga, where he took over the lead to go a half mile in 45.38 seconds before finishing out six furlongs in 1:09.77, 1 1/4 lengths clear under Santana Jr.

Liam’s Map will be remembered for his victory in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but the late developer used that as an alternative to facing American Pharoah in the Classic. He proved his mettle routing by finishing second in the Whitney (G1) before winning the Woodward (G1).

Basin’s maiden win received a sparkling 96 Brisnet Speed Rating, and it came a start after the eventual Sanford Stakes winner By Your Side defeated him narrowly at Churchill Downs.


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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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