Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 11
It’s been seven years since Smarty Jones thrilled racing fans with wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, before tasting defeat for the first time in the late stages of the Belmont Stakes. That spring, Smarty traveled down the Arkansas path on his way to Louisville, including wins in the Southwest, and Arkansas Derby. This year it is Archarcharch who hopes to parlay victories in both of those races into a big win on the first Saturday in May. There are many reasons to believe that the son of Arch may be up to the task.
Distance should not be a problem. Archarcharch by Arch, out of Woodman’s Dancer, by Woodman has stamina all over his pedigree. Notably his sire, despite being very lightly raced, was able to account for the Super Derby back when it was still a 1 ¼ mile race. We all know what Arch’s most famous son, Blame was able to accomplish, with the monumental victory in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. A race that was run at the same track and distance of the Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile on the female side of the family Archarcharch also comes from hearty stock. His broodmare sire, Woodman, was a champion runner in Ireland, but had much success as a sire in the American Classics. His son Hansel won both the Preakness and Belmont on his way to an Eclipse Award, and another son, Timber County, won both the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs and the Preakness the following year.
While Archarcharch is currently on the lose-win-lose-win pattern so far in his six race career, he appears to be coming to Kentucky in marvelous form. His last race, the Arkansas Derby, was big in that it may have been the best of all the Derby preps. While Nehro was getting to him late, it would be easy to argue that rider Jon Court made a perfectly timed move to win. It is also worth noting that Nehro made little if any ground up on the winner from the eighth pole to the sixteenth pole. This could become vital in the Derby when the race if often won by horses who can make things happen on the far turn.
Certainly Archarcharch would seem to be this type of horse. He can come from well behind when the pace is hot, but he is tractable enough to lay closer when the early fractions are slower. In all of his races, he has demonstrated the ability to accelerate on the backstretch to put himself in position on the turn. Even in his most recent loss, a 3rd place finish in the Rebel Stakes, Archarcharch demonstrated the ability to put himself in great position on the turn. The loose on the lead The Factor was way too strong that day, but Archarcharch ran on well, just missing 2nd place. In his Oaklawn preps, the Jinks Fires trained colt also got a good deal of experience in big fields and starting from various places in the starting gate. All of this should have him well prepared for the 20 horse craziness he will face in the Derby.
He also should be well prepared by his connections. Trainer Jinks Fires and jockey Jon Court are long time fixtures on Kentucky race tracks. While collecting solid numbers over the years, neither man has had a horse like Archarcharch before, and neither have won anything like the run for the roses before. Fires is known as one of the sports’ good guys, and his connection and loyalty to Court runs deeper than just business. As the son-in-law of the trainer, Court is poised to keep the mount on the stable star who he has ridden in all six starts, but don’t think he is not worthy. The 31 year veteran is nothing but solid in the saddle, and is very deserving of riding in the Derby for the first time in his career.
Solid connections, excellent form and experience, and breeding that suggests success at the distance. Yes folks, Archarcharch has as much going for him as any horse that will step into this year’s Kentucky Derby starting gate.