Kentucky Derby Radar: Shooters Shoot lives up to Eurton's hopes

Kentucky Derby Radar: Shooters Shoot lives up to Eurton's hopes
Photo: Benoit
Trainer Peter Eurton has fostered high hopes for Shooters Shoot since last summer when the son of Competitive Edge was working heads up with stablemate Storm the Court, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and be named champion 2-year-old male.

Perhaps it took a little longer than expected, but on Saturday, Shooters Shoot validated the barn's optimism when prevailing by a neck in a hard-fought battle with Blackberry Wine in a one-mile allowance optional claiming event at Oaklawn Park. Eurton on Sunday said Shooters
Shoot emerged from the slugfest in good order and is now on the road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby with the first scheduled stop next month’s Arkansas Derby (G1).

“He came out of the race very good,” Eurton said. “We’re going to watch him the next couple of weeks, see how his energy is and everything. We’ll leave him [at Oaklawn] with the idea of possibly running in the Arkansas Derby.”

The Arkansas Derby was pushed back to May 2 following Churchill Downs’ decision to postpone the Kentucky Derby until Sept. 5 amid the coronavirus pandemic. It is the lone official Kentucky Derby prep still on the calendar following the postponement of the Santa Anita Derby (G1). As a result, upwards of 20 3-year-olds are known to be under consideration for the Arkansas Derby. Given the high number of likely entrants, Shooters Shoot would likely need the race to be split into two divisions to make the body of the field.

In his first start against winners on Saturday, Shooters Shoot battled throughout on the front end with the stakes-experienced Blackberry Wine. Positioned on the inside under Joe Talamo, Shooters Shoot poked a head in front of that rival at the eighth pole and dug in gamely to prevail in a final time of 1:36.66, good for an 89 Beyer Speed Figure.

“That was amazing on his part. What heart,” Eurton said. “He fights and doesn’t give up. Now we’re seeing the talent we thought he had last summer."

Shooters Shoot was limited to minor awards in two starts at Del Mar last year and subsequently developed a shin issue that forced Eurton to back off training. The colt didn't resurface until a Jan. 26 maiden race at Santa Anita, where he ran fourth. He came back a month later to be second to budding star Charlan at six furlongs before graduating in his fifth start at Santa Anita going a bit longer on March 15.

“We found a little bit of a question mark on a shin with him,” Eurton said of the layoff. “It was bothersome, but it didn’t really show [through diagnosis]. We did an external exam and decided to back off him a little bit. Then, all off a sudden, he started training like he did prior to his first race.”

Eurton is hoping Shooters Shoot and Storm the Court, which share some of the same owners, both make split divisions of the Arkansas Derby.

“I believe there’s a good chance they’ll split it. That’s just the word. I didn’t hear that from anyone at the top,” Eurton said. “But I think they would really like to do that. We’ll have to see, but we’re hoping for it.”

Shooters Shoot is owned by ERJ Racing, Exline-Border Racing an Dan Hudock. He was a $300,000 auction purchase at last year’s OBS April 2-year-olds in training sale. 

2020 Arkansas Derby (G1)

About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2021 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.

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