The Derby Trial: One Final Prep
Posted by Brian Appleton on April 22, 2010
After years of neglect, the Derby Trial is finally just that, a trial to prepare for the Kentucky Derby. The race is back to where it belongs and all because the competition this year is hotter than a steel playground at noon. As a last ditch attempt at entering the gate on the first Saturday in May, Pleasant Prince and Eightyfiveinafifty will attempt to win the Derby Trial and garner enough earnings to make the graded earnings list.
Currently Pleasant Prince has $162,500 worth of graded earnings and with the winners share of the Derby Trial coming to $120,000 he would be assured of getting into the Derby starting gate if that is indeed the plan. In his last race, Pleasant Prince finished second by a nose to Ice Box in the Florida Derby (Gr.1) while showing a strong sustained run in the stretch. He will be vying for favoritism with the speed, and untested Egithyfiveinafifty. With owner Kenneth Ramsey stating that Pleasant Prince would most likely start in the Derby if he wins the Derby Trial it seems the only thing that can stop a Derby run now would be a defeat in the Trial.
Eightyfiveinafifty’s graded earnings come to exactly $120,000 at this time which means that even if he wins the Derby Trial he still isn’t guaranteed a spot in the Derby unless there are some defections farther up the list. After starting the
year out with a bang by winning his maiden race in January by a smashing 17 ½ lengths, Eightyfiveinafifty next blew the turn in the February 6th Whirlaway Stakes as the favorite. After taking some time off the recuperate from some minor issues caused by his disastrous Whirlaway performance, Eightyfiveinafifty returned in the Bay Shore Stakes (Gr.3) in early April with an impressive 2 ½ length victory. During the running of the one-turn Bay Shore, Eightyfiveinafifty portrayed immaturity and greenness after keeping his head turned completely to the left through the first half of the race, staring with intent curiosity into the infield. Despite his being unfocused, he still won the race going away after leading almost the entire way.
The rest of the field will have pretty much zero chance of making the Derby field even if they win because of the high earnings cut-off this year, so the focus will be squarely placed on Pleasant Prince and Eightyfiveinafifty. If Eightyfiveinafifty can be controlled and show more maturity in the Derby Trial than he did in his two previous starts then I think he will win this one with relative ease. He strikes me as the kind of horse that isn’t just a “one turn speed-horse wonder”. Pleasant Prince should receive a good trip with Eightyfiveinafifty most likely setting strong fractions on the front end and could have a nice pace to close into like he did in the Florida Derby.
We have finally arrived at the last Kentucky Derby prep of the season, the final leg is upon us. Savor these last few moments because before we know it the first Saturday in May will have arrived and all our questions will be answered.
The Derby Trial isn’t the only big race this weekend but before I go over some of the more exciting fields, I would be
remiss if I did not mention one of the most impressive Derby works to date. Lookin At Lucky made an emphatic statement on Wednesday in his first work over the Churchill Downs surface. Looking every bit the champion he is, Lookin At Lucky flew over the dirt surface to post a bullet six furlong work in 1:12 flat. If that won’t turn heads I’m not sure what will, but one thing is for sure; Bob Baffert has this talented colt in the best condition of his life and he appears ready to run his best race yet, and that’s saying something.
In Saturday’s Grade 2 San Francisco Mile Stakes the ever consistent 7-year-old Bold Chieftain will try for his first graded stakes victory of his career. I’ll be rooting the tough old warrior to win again while facing multiple graded stakes winner Monterey Jazz.
D’Funnybone will attempt to remain the nation’s top three year old sprinter when he takes on five other rivals in the April 24th Withers Stakes (Gr.3). Despite having plenty of graded earnings to make the Kentucky Derby field and having won several prestigious three-year-old races this year, D’Funnybone will be skipping the Derby in favor of making the premier sprints in the country.