Will Rock Your World go to the very front of the 20-horse field? Jockey Joel Rosario said he will let trainer John Sadler make that call.
“We’ll wait to see what John and them have to say and take it from there,” Rosario said Thursday at Churchill Downs.
Rock Your World stamped a Kentucky Derby ticket April 3 by wiring the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby under jockey Umberto Rispoli. In his previous two starts, he sat just off the early pace before taking over.
TimeformUS’ pace projections show the Candy Ride colt going to the lead Saturday in the Kentucky Derby under Rosario from Post 15.
There is recent precedent for a California-based colt coming from the outside to set the early pace. Authentic did so last year under jockey John Velazquez from the same 15-hole, then turned back Tiz the Law in a stretch duel.
Hall of Fame jockey and NBC analyst Jerry Bailey said this week that if he was on Rock Your World, he would replicate that trip.
“I would ride him just like John Velazquez rode Authentic last year,” Bailey said on an NBC teleconference. “Be very careful with him the first quarter of a mile. He’s got the outside post, there’s that, and let your speed take over as you approach the turn.”
Rosario won the Kentucky Derby once before, in 2013 with Orb. That triumph came via a much different trip, with the colt falling all the way to 17th before thundering down a sloppy stretch with a strong, late kick to win.
The 36-year-old Rosario rode Rock Your World in his winning debut New Year’s Day at Santa Anita before Rispoli assumed the mount for his following two starts. The Sadler trainee is 3-for-3, with wins over both turf and dirt.
“I think he’s a nice horse that can run on anything,” Rosario said. I’m just glad they gave me back the opportunity.”
Rosario rode Concert Tour and Hot Rod Charlie to prep season victories in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2), respectively. He had an apparent choice between those two for his Kentucky Derby mount.
With Rosario yet to decide, trainer Doug O’Neill gave jockey Flavien Prat the call on Hot Rod Charlie for the Kentucky Derby. Then trainer Bob Baffert decided Concert Tour would bypass Churchill after a disappointing Arkansas Derby (G1) showing.
Rosario was suddenly available for a Kentucky Derby mount. Sadler made the decision to place him on Rock Your World in Rispoli’s place.
Rispoli regained a spot in the Kentucky Derby field, but aboard 50-1 long shot Brooklyn Strong.
“Umberto Rispoli is a terrific rider,” Sadler told Churchill Downs’ notes team this week. “He’s won Santa Anita’s stakes the last two weekends for me and we’ve won a lot of races together. But the analytics with Joel are so strong I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I’m hoping, of course, it all works out.”