The best Derby prep so far this season is the Florida Derby on Sunday. Which one of these three year olds will prove that they are still on the right path to the feature race at Churchill on the first Saturday in May?
The morning line favorite, Soldat, certainly looks worthy. He has handled most everything thrown at him; fast, slop, and grass. He has the most experience both on the front end, and stalking. And he has the most seasoning, with 7 races at 4 different tracks. On top of that he is coming off 2 wins and three nice works since then. He has hit the gate and been jostled around, he has been inside and outside and still he has run well. He has been somewhat battled tested and has answered the call.
But what to make of a few of the others in here?
To Honor and Serve seemed to be a short horse when last seen in the Fountain of Youth. But am I the only one that doesn’t really buy this? Mott running a “short” horse? I’ve seen Bill Mott run horses off layoffs, going a distance of ground and they win and could go around again. Now granted, his forte has always been with older horses on turf, but something tells me that whatever is going on with To Honor and Serve has nothing to do with conditioning. Mott has said that maybe “the light turned off a little “ with this colt from 2 to 3.
So the big question is, does Garret know where the switch is?????
I’m not a big fan of blinkers going on a horse after a win. But maybe, just maybe, it is just what Stay Thirsty needs to focus and take that next step up. Funny, he didn’t need blinkers keeping his friend Mo company in their morning workouts. According to Pletcher, this is an experiment they want to try, before the big dance. No telling if he has worked with them on and just how he handled it.
It’s another big question mark.
Then there’s Dialed In. That turn of foot in the Holy Bull was explosive. Even more than that, he went inside, then outside, all the while just being hand ridden with Julien throwing a few crosses here and there. It showed he was relaxed, handy and willing. Maybe the biggest sign of the horse’s talent lay in the excitement that his usually reserved jock showed after the finish. Go watch the replay. Lots of love there. Following the Holy Bull, his race back against older, was maybe just what he needed to continue moving forward mentally.
The only other one in here that’s a little interesting to me is Shackleford. And that is because of Oatsee. Oatsee is the dam of Lady Joanne who won the Grade 1 Alabama at a mile and ¼. I know the ability to go longer is within Shackleford’s reach. The trouble is, he made a little run on the outside following To Honor and Serve in the Fountain of Youth and then really just spit out the bit. The fact that he is back in here, with the same jock, makes me wonder if something went amiss. Maybe he entrapped? Or is he just not of this caliber? I may put the proverbial line through that race and use him in exotics.
I think we will have some answers after the Florida Derby is run. It may be the beginning of a little clarity on the Road to the Roses.