After the announced defections of several qualifiers for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, and more likely on the way, it appears trainer Greg Foley will be able to enter O Besos in the 1 1/4-mile Run for the Roses. Foley has been playing a waiting game for the past several weeks, hoping the field would work out in favor of his colt.
However, the longtime Kentucky trainer said he never felt stressed by the possibility of not making the Churchill Downs starting gate May 1.
“It’s out of your hands,” Foley said. “If you make it, good, but I haven’t been sitting around fretting about it.”
O Besos ranks 21st on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard after the defections of UAE Derby (G2) runner-up Panadol and El Camino Real Derby hero Rombauer. Just one more defection would put O Besos in the field.
A Derby trip would be the second of Foley’s career, after finishing 10th with Major Fed in the rescheduled September 2020 edition of the race.
O Besos currently has 25 Kentucky Derby points, which has put him on the outside looking in since his most recent effort, a third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds on March 20. Before that, he earned points with a fourth-place finish in the Risen Star (G2) in February.
Even with the slim points shortfall, Foley said he never considered sending the Orb colt out for a last-minute prep race, such as last Saturday's Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, on short rest.
“Nope,” Foley said. “Just for the points? No I didn’t. You’re just killing yourself doing that, as far as if you got the points and come back into the Derby, it’s just too quick.”
If all goes as expected and O Besos enters the 20-horse starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, he would appear to be a live long shot. A swift pace, in particular, would set things up well for the colt, who came from the back of the pack and was running late in the Louisiana Derby.
Foley said he would expect a similar trip at Churchill Downs.
“Sit back and make one big run,” Foley said. “I think it’s definitely what we want to do.”
Foley said he hoped to see Concert Tour, trained by Bob Baffert, enter the race for an extra dose of speed.
O Besos worked Tuesday at Churchill Downs, going five furlongs in 1:00.6, with a closing burst that pleased his trainer.
“He finished great,” Foley said. “Galloped out good and came off the track like it was nothing. He didn’t take a deep breath.”
Jockey Marcelino Pedroza, who has the ride in the Derby, praised Thursday's work in a video released by TwinSpires. Pedroza said he expects the colt to relish the 10 furlongs of the Derby.
“Oh yeah,” Pedroza said. “He will love it.”
Foley said in his mind, success on the first Saturday in May will come from by following the planned tactics for the race.
“Just relax, relax and run the end of it,” Foley said. “We’ll see what we can pick up.”