Dennis' Moment, Thousand Words make for 1-2 Derby punch

December 08, 2019 12:14pm

The saying that “I wouldn’t trade places with anyone” doesn’t usually emanate from horsemen until the weeks leading up to the first Saturday in May. But Jason Loutsch, racing manager for Albaugh Family Stable, found himself uttering it as early as Sunday morning.

The afternoon prior, Thousand Words topped Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Anneau d’Or in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), giving the Albaughs a west coast complement to its 2020 Kentucky Derby arsenal. Another of their hopefuls, Grade 3 winner Dennis’ Moment, ships to Gulfstream Park on Friday to begin his lead up to a sophomore campaign.

“You can never have enough in this game,” Loutsch said. “Things happen. To have one with two of the best trainers in the world, in my opinion, with one on the east coast and one on the west coast, it’s going to be a lot of fun for us. We’ll be going to hopefully a lot of races in the spring, on the first Saturday in May and going on from there.”

Bob Baffert-trained Thousand Words, a $1 million son of Pioneerof the Nile, eked out a neck victory in the Futurity, which stretched him out from 6 1/2 furlongs on debut to 1 1/16 miles. He pressed outside of stablemate High Velocity until that one gave in at mid-stretch, and from there Thousand Words was left to duel with Anneau d’Or.

Problem was, until Flavien Prat guided Thousand Words out closer to his rival, the colt may not have seen him given blinkers went on for Saturday’s second start.

“Before the first race, he was scheduled to run in blinkers, but he was such an idiot in the paddock that Bob said he took them off,” Loutsch said. “We found out it was more the lip chain that bothered him, so Bob went back to the blinkers. He said, ‘I want to keep his focus. This is a big race, and I want him really intent on getting the work done.’”

The equipment put Thousand Words, who the Albaughs campaign in partnership with Spendthrift Farm, in a position to win. Baffert credited Prat for keeping his mount engaged.

“When that horse came to him, he took off,” the trainer said, “and when he came back after the race he wasn’t even blowing hard. Distance isn’t going to be a problem. That’s impressive when they can win like that second time out.”

Dale Romans trains Dennis’ Moment, last seen stumbling at the start as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favorite. But the Tiznow colt, owned entirely by the Albaughs, broke out with a 19 1/4-length maiden win last summer at Ellis Park and proved himself around two turns in Churchill Downs’ Iroquois Stakes (G3).

Dennis’ Moment is pointing for Gulfstream Park’s Feb. 29 Fountain of Youth (G2), the first of two anticipated preps before the Kentucky Derby. Thousand Words could take on a similar schedule.

“Presuming everything comes back well and he’s doing good, Bob said we’ll probably freshen him up and look for a start in mid-February or March,” Loutsch said.

Santa Anita Park hosts the San Felipe Stakes (G2) on March 7. It, as with the Fountain of Youth, offers Derby qualifying points on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the Top 4 finishers. Win, and you’re in, something this ownership group could accomplish in consecutive weekends.

 

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