Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily - Day 71
If Casper’s Touch is to put a major scare into his opponents in tomorrow’s Fountain of Youth, he will need to run the race of his young life to do it. Taking a quick glance at his competition proves that.
To Honor and Serve has won three in a row, including two straight graded stakes to close the year at Aqueduct. The son of Bernardini is #2 on many Derby lists including mine and Horse Racing Nation’s 2011 Kentucky Derby list. The Bill Mott trainee, making his much anticipated three-year-old debut, rates as a deserving favorite in his first start in three months.
After becoming a graded stakes winner on the turf of Saratoga last Summer, Soldat solidified his spot as one of the best turf juveniles in the nation with a runner-up performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. This year the son of War Front is testing the dirt, and in his season debut he romped home by more than ten lengths on the slop in a nine furlong allowance test.
After the top two choices, the Fountain of Youth still has plenty of depth with Gourmet Dinner, who currently stands #2 on the graded stakes money list due in large part to his score in the Delta Jackpot last December. Also of interest, Canadian bred Bowman’s Causeway was an impressive maiden winner in his last start, and Shackleford defeated Casper’s Touch in his last start.
So how is that Casper’s Touch rates a ghost of a chance in the Fountain of Youth?
By Touch Gold, out of a Saint Ballado mare, Casper’s Touch is bred to develop and get better as the races get longer. In his only start so far this year he was repeatedly bothered in a nightmarish trip. Steadied behind the leader entering the clubhouse turn, Casper raced very rankly while in tight down the backstretch, before being bumped soundly early in the stretch. Once finally clear, he finished full of run to gain second place late.
Veteran rider Alex Solis will replace Julien Leparoux on the Ken McPeek trained colt Saturday. Without any graded stakes earning, McPeek plans to give the colt, whom he has always thought highly of, two chances to earn his way into the Derby. After the Fountain of Youth, Casper’s Touch is expected to come back in next month’s Florida Derby. An aggressive schedule is nothing new for the well thought of colt. After finishing fourth in his career debut, a 4 ½ furlong baby race at Keeneland, he tagged along with stablemate Noble’s Promise on a trip to England last Summer. McPeek who says Casper’s Touch reminds him of major winner Repent, saddled him to run a strong third in Ascot’s Chesham Stakes.
After a minor setback, Casper’s Touch rewarded his trainer’s faith and returned to win impressively in a maiden race at Churchill Downs in November. Now he attempts to tackle the big boys in the Fountain of Youth. He will certainly need a better trip than last time, but if he gets it, he may be just the type of dark horse able to send shock waves rumbling through the Kentucky Derby Trail.