Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Has Desormeaux found his horse?

November 19, 2019 10:47am

Through three straight years saddling a horse in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Keith Desormeaux learned quite a bit about the type of colt that qualifies to run on the first Saturday in May.

Recent 2-year-old maiden winner Shashashakemeup may check the boxes following runs by Exaggerator (second, 2016), Sonneteer (16th, 2017) and My Boy Jack (fifth, 2018).

Without the breeding, Desormeaux says, there’s no shot, but Shashashakemeup is a son of Shackleford out of a Pulpit mare, “so the distance shouldn’t be an issue.”

Ability comes second, and Shashashakemeup displayed plenty of that on Sunday when distancing to a 5 1/2-length maiden special weight score landing him on our 2020 Kentucky Derby Radar, which seeks to identify prospects headed to the preps.

Calumet Farm’s bargain $45,000 purchase set the pace along the rail of a seven-furlong event, clicking off fractions of 22.73 seconds for the quarter mile and 46.60 for the half. When Lonely Private headed him at the top of the stretch, Shashashakemeup turned him back with a steady drive down the lane under jockey James Graham, finishing up in 1:23.63.

“He’s been touting himself,” Desormeaux said. “He would have been ready earlier in the summer, but he developed some shin issues sort of typical with babies. We sent him back to Calumet — to the farm — and they turned him out, did some work with him for 60 days, and then he came back in. He’s been forward and has not missed a beat since returning.”

With Churchill Downs’ meet concluding at the end of this month, Shashashakemeup will travel with Desormeaux’s string to New Orleans’ Fair Grounds. There, connections will determine whether to seek out a two-turn allowance race or step up for the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes, a Dec. 21 event run at six furlongs.

Last year, future Derby trail winners Gray Attempt (first) and Super Steed (fourth) ran in the Sugar Bowl. Hog Creek Hustle (third) went on to win a Grade 1 sprint on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

“The Sugar Bowl seems like a good spot to point him and go from there,” Desormeaux said of Shashashakemeup.

Beyond that, the colt should have as a goal race the Jan. 18 Lecomte Stakes (G3), the first of three points-paying Kentucky Derby preps at Fair Grounds.

“The goal is definitely the Derby,” Desormeaux said, “so whatever we can do to develop him with that race being an end point, that’s what we’re going to do.”


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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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