Dullahan put on a good show in the Blue Grass Stakes (watch), coming back from eleventh place to beat Hansen. It was an impressive performance, and solidified Dullahan as a top contender in my mind. For Hansen, the race raised more questions than it answered. After having a really nice trip in the Gotham Stakes where he successfully stalked the pace, Hansen got back to his old habit of running right out to the front, and clearly seemed out of gas at the end. For this colt to do well at Churchill Downs in two weeks, I think he’s going to need a post position way on the outside.
Dullahan and Hansen were overshadowed on Saturday by Bodemeister’s scintillating nine-length win in the Arkansas Derby (watch). The Bob Baffert trainee put up a 108 Beyer, the highest speed figure in any prep race this season, and looked downright unbeatable in the process. The only concerns for the new Kentucky Derby favorite, who has improved in every race this season, are (1) whether he has peaked too soon and (2) the fact that no horse has won the Kentucky Derby since 1882 without racing as a two-year-old. Meanwhile, Secret Circle, who finished second, drifted all over the place in the stretch once again, and generally looked like a horse that isn’t ready for the spotlight yet. As if to confirm that, it was announced this week that he will not run in the Kentucky Derby.
Most experts don’t expect any Kentucky Derby starters to come out of these two races this year, but let’s take a look anyway:
Jerome Stakes (Grade 2, Aqueduct, 3 year olds, 1 mile, Saturday 5:00 PM)
Stirred Up (2-1) and Adirondack King (12-1) are the only starters in this one with a realistic shot at getting into the Kentucky Derby field based on graded earnings with a win here. Stirred Up is the favorite, and I would expect him to make a late charge when all of the speed horses in this race have exhausted themselves. The Lumber Guy (5-2) will likely also be making a late run. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Brigand (4-1) or Term Loan (8-1) go wire-to-wire, though.
Prediction: Term Loan looked great last time out and Aqueduct is his home track. He’s my upset pick.
Lexington Stakes (Grade 3, Keeneland, 3 year olds, 1⅟16 miles , Saturday 5:13 PM)
Morgan’s Guerilla (6-1) or Castaway (3-1) could earn a Derby spot with a win (Castaway could make it with a place or show even), and there are some others that could get in with a win and some luck. Castaway is the clear class of the race, but Morgan’s Guerilla could win with a ground-saving trip out of the first post position. Summer Front (9-2) is attempting to go 4 for 4 in his career; this will be his first start on synthetic. Golden Ticket (6-1), Holiday Promise (6-1), and News Pending (5-1) could all realistically pull an upset. Johannesbourbon (8-1) is fast, but unproven.
Prediction: Castaway is clearly the best horse, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Baffert treat this like a workout. Morgan’s Guerilla needs this more, and will take it in the stretch.
I’ll be back in two weeks with a preview of the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, including a look at the Kentucky Oaks and relevant undercard races, a horse-by-horse breakdown of the Derby field, and predictions from the entire Sports Dump team.