There’s something to be said for racehorses that race. When they’re young and healthy, a race will lead to progression. Studies have shown that horses that run as two year olds are often sounder individuals later in life. However this gets overlooked in racing these days, with horses starting less and less leading to smaller field sizes, fewer racing days, and less handle, minimizing the sport forever. A horse being ‘fresh’ has become en vogue trainer-speak, even in this time of perpetual reduced foal crops. The Sheets-ification of the game is a plague. Specifically to the Kentucky Derby, restricted to young three year olds, because horses that start more can be sculpted to their best, we believe the world’s biggest race is at its pinnacle when more horses are experienced than not. This race should always be a duel between the best and most seasoned of the moment versus the later developing types, with more untapped potential. Due to all of this, we always have a soft spot for the developed runners, especially in the KY Derby, and with eight lifetime starts, Long Range Toddy will have to do.
A three-time stakes winner, including an upset victory over Improbable in the first division of the Rebel stakes, Long Range Toddy is thankfully one of the more easily definable horses in this year’s KY Derby due to his extended catalog of racing. He certainly doesn’t appear to be one of the preeminating talents of this field, but Steve Asmussen has shaped Long Range Toddy into a viable contender for the roses. He has become a professional, tactical grinder, who scores high on intangibles, such as his thorough running style. This was most apparent in the Rebel where he appeared hopelessly beaten at the top of the stretch by Improbable, who had taken control and seemed poised for an easy win. Improbable, shaky off the layoff, allowed Long Range Toddy to take advantage with his grinding ways to notch a win at the wire. If our winner had not been so experienced and battle tested he probably would have thrown in the towel at the top of the stretch and be awaiting an Oaklawn allowance right about now; but that’s what the beauty of experience can do for an animal.
Other than his Rebel win, we can excuse two of his other three defeats at Oaklawn. Last out in the Arkansas Derby, he didn’t appear to handle the slop, but still tried. Three races back in the Southwest, he lost all chance when stuck in behind horses rounding into the stretch at a key point. The traffic robbed him of any chance to contend in that affair.
The pride of Remington Park in Oklahoma City where Long Range Toddy ran his first four races, with a 58 year old jockey on his back, Long Range Toddy has the feel of a Southern longshot. While he may certainly be an overachiever, Long Range Toddy is a sneaky blueblood dressed in a flannel and boots. Trained by a top trainer in Steve Asmussen who has won every big American race aside from the Kentucky Derby, Long Range Toddy also has an exceptional pedigree. By a young A.P. Indy sire in Take Charge Indy, who produced Noble Indy in last year’s KY Derby; he is out of one of the best broodmares in the country, in Pleasant Song. Pleasant Song was a top runner in her day, has produced multiple G1 winners.
With a foot in both worlds, at an advanced age Jon Court may be the perfect rider for Long Range Toddy and will hopefully make up for the traffic trouble he guided his half brother, Will Take Charge, through in the 2013 KY Derby before getting replaced in the Preakness.
An experienced, professional grinder who will stay the mile and a quarter distance is normally a horse we can get behind, but we’re afraid Long Range Toddy is up against far too much of a talent gap to win the Derby. Even with positional speed that could enable him to sit a perfect trip off of an average or quick pace, he would have to pass a sizable amount of horses in the stretch, which doesn’t appear to suit his personality. We were fans of his two stakes wins at Remington Park last winter, but that was against suspect company, comparably, to a group like this. Additionally, his narrow defeat in the Smarty Jones stakes was quite lackluster, when held completely at bay by a sprinter, Gray Attempt, throughout the stretch of a two-turn mile route.
Because of his experience, connections, pedigree, and dirtied up form, Long Range Toddy may be a sneaky contender at a price, but he’s one we’d like strictly underneath in our exotics.
Here are our trip notes of Long Range Toddy:
8th career start: April 13th, Oaklawn, G1 Arkansas Derby, one mile and a sixteenth, sloppy track
Broke fine from outside post, outside in the three path, which seemed to be about where you wanted to be on this day, couldn’t go with Improbable who ranged up past him on the outside into the far turn, into 3rd rounding mid-turn, lost ground significantly to the top two rounding into the stretch, kept on but tired in the lane down towards the inside. Biting off a bit more than he could chew here against the likes of Improbable (second off the bench) and Omaha Beach, Long Range Toddy never found a comfortable position in the mud here. We’re willing to toss this effort, which marked the first race since his debut where he was not heavily involved in.
7th career start: March 16th, Oaklawn, G2 Rebel (1st division), one mile and a sixteenth
Long Range Toddy is #2
Broke sharp, led into the first turn from an inside post, rated back off of a longshot pacesetter onto backstretch, shuffled back as pace quickened early on far turn, in behind horses into the stretch, got out but after Improbable had made his move to the lead from the outside, kept on, gained in final furlong, up late. A tale of two races within one for Long Range Toddy; first, again stymied at a key juncture into the stretch, but secondly, he came on with the flow of the race in deep stretch. Improbable had this field over a barrel once he made the lead at the top of the stretch but was awful from there on. We can appreciate Long Range Toddy’s effort throughout here, but get the impression that he’ll never beat a horse like Improbable at this distance again.
6th career start: February 18th, Oaklawn, G3 Southwest, one mile and a sixteenth
Long Range Toddy is #10
Broke well from an outside post, hated the kickback early, sent over to the rail to secure pocket position into the first turn, under a strong hold on backstretch, in behind a line of five rounding into the stretch with nowhere to go, shuffled back into the stretch, checked briefly before getting through on the inside, mild rally to wire from there. Long Range Toddy was completely impeded in this race, getting stuck behind a wall of horses rounding into the stretch. This kept him from challenging for the lead at a vital moment when the winner, Super Steed, was building an insurmountable margin. Long Range Toddy’s late rally was nothing special, but he’s simply not a horse that wants to pass a swath of horses in the stretch.
5th career start: January 25th, Oaklawn Park, Smarty Jones stakes, one mile
Broke bit awkwardly from inside post, rode the rail into 2nd headed into the first turn behind the pacesetting/eventual winner Gray Attempt, remained inside in second tier behind an average pace, cut the corner, got within a head of Gray Attempt but was completely held at bay for a long period in the stretch to the wire. This was the first disappointing effort of Long Range Toddy’s career, stepping up in company outside of Remington. It’s perfectly fine for a young horse to shy away from passing horses on the inside which he did in this race, but he was attempting to reel in Gray Attempt, who’s clearly best sprinting. Long Range Toddy also benefited from a nice trip/pace flow and still came up short.
Trip notes of Long Range Toddy’s first four career races may be found in the comments section.