The talk of Hoosier Philly entering the Kentucky Derby trail feels premature, especially with colts such as Forte and Cave Rock, and new faces in Extra Añejo and Arabian Knight emerging. But based on the talent shown in her three career races, Hoosier Philly is at least headed in the right direction.
In most cases, the right filly for a Kentucky Derby prep race already has been dominating races against her own gender. She also needs to run fast enough races with final times or figures that put the filly near the top mix of colts, if not on top. Early speed adds another plus for fillies against males.
At this point, Hoosier Philly looks dominant against other fillies. As for the final times and speed figures, she comes close to where she needs to reach.
Hoosier Philly broke her maiden in late September at Churchill Downs in a short sprint by a little more than a length. One month later in the Rags to Riches Stakes over the slop at Churchill, Hoosier Philly won impressively by 7 1/2 lengths with a 95 TimeformUS Speed Figure.
Either the stretchout or the slop seemed to help. In addition, Hoosier Philly finished the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:46.90. Later on the same card, Two Phil’s took the Street Sense Stakes at the same distance in 1:47.31. Perhaps the track speed changed, as Two Phil’s received a 101 on TimeformUS even with the slower final time.
For more context, Two Phil’s previously finished a troubled seventh in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, a race that produced the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Forte and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner Instant Coffee.
Hoosier Philly romped in the Rags to Riches, but she needed to prove she could crush her opponents over fast dirt. Hoosier Philly received the opportunity to run over fast dirt in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) last Saturday at Churchill Downs at the 1 1/16-mile distance again.
Once more, Hoosier Philly won easily. The daughter of Into Mischief won by only five lengths this time, but jockey Edgar Morales did not ask Hoosier Philly for anything more after a subtle signal to go.
Watch how quiet Morales’ body becomes in mid-stretch.
Hoosier Philly proved she could dominate at the Grade 2 level on fast dirt.
Besides winning impressively from a visual standpoint, Hoosier Philly also finished the race faster than the male counterpart race again. Hoosier Philly completed the route in 1:43.94. One race later in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), Instant Coffee finished the same distance against 2-year-old males in 1:45.25, although he closed into a slow pace.
If Instant Coffee received a faster pace, then perhaps the two times would look closer to each other. Regardless, Hoosier Philly completed the race in time that was more than one second faster than Instant Coffee one race later.
Hoosier Philly also picked up the higher speed figure on TimeformUS. Hoosier Philly earned a 102, and Instant Coffee posted a 97 after his raw 88 was adjusted to give him credit for closing into a slow pace.
For those who prefer Beyer Speed Figures, Hoosier Philly earned an 81 for the Golden Rod, and Instant Coffee posted a higher 82. But even if one uses those numbers, then Hoosier Philly posted a Beyer Figure only one point off a proven Grade 2 winner on the Derby trail.
Hoosier Philly runs as a close-range stalker, which gives her an added bonus if the connections want to try a Derby trail race. Why is early speed important for a filly running against males? Fillies who close from behind might get roughed up trying to move through a crowd of male runners. If Hoosier Philly can run within two or three lengths of the lead, that probably keeps her free.
In other words, Hoosier Philly is headed in the right direction if trainer Tom Amoss and Gold Standard Racing Stable hold Derby aspirations. If they wanted to tackle males now, Hoosier Philly likely could perform well in one of the weaker prep races, such the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Waiting for April to see how Hoosier Philly develops in comparison to the colts is the better strategy. After all, if Hoosier Philly cannot win a spot in one of the 100-point races in April, then she does not belong. If the Derby plans do not pan out, the connections at least hold an exciting Kentucky Oaks prospect in their hands.