By Alex Sausville
HOW HE GOT HERE
One of the more seasoned runners in terms of starts, Summer Is Tomorrow arrives at Churchill Downs off a strong 2nd place effort in the G2 UAE Derby at Meydan. His front running tactics were on full display that evening and the only runner to catch him that day, Japan’s Crown Pride, will be joining him in the starting gate Saturday. His win two starts back was a visually impressive one, strolling clear by 8 ¼ lengths under the hands of yesterday’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas winning jockey, James Doyle. Doyle took over the ride that day for regular rider and UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who was stood down due to COVID. Mickael Barzalona will have the mount in the Kentucky Derby.
Few trainers can get off to the start that Bhupat Seemar has in his first year as head trainer for Zabeel Stables. After taking over for his uncle, Satish, Bhupat took out Champion Trainer honors, produced a turn back the clock like performance from a former US galloper Switzerland to take out the GI Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup Night, and qualified a runner for the Kentucky Derby. It’s been an incredible 6 months for Bhupat and given his 5 years as assistant to Bob Baffert, running in the Derby was an opportunity they could not pass up.
HOW HE FITS HERE
It is never easy to compare UAE formlines to that of the triple crown trail that encompasses the first half of the US racing season each year, and the easiest way to analyze it is to say that it isn’t up to snuff. With that being said, we saw the dominance Japan has put together on the world stage and if you see Crown Pride as a legit contender for the Derby it surely gives Summer Is Tomorrow’s form a slight boost. Really the main formlines we can look at are often the American gallopers who contest the race, but between the three contenders including Saudi Derby winner Pinehurst, they all had such subpar performances that it leaves a lot of questions to be answered. He did defeat a decent horse at Meydan by the name of Rawy, who took out the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial impressively early in the Meydan Carnival. Is it comparable to the Florida Derby? No. Is it comparable to the Jerome or the Smarty Jones? Closer.
Speed will be the name of the game for Summer Is Tomorrow if he is going to be able to contend here. He made a significant step up in trip to contest the UAE Derby and saw out most of the run that day with good speed up front. Given time to train him up to this race and seeing how handled such a significant jump up to 1 3/16 Miles at Meydan, I wouldn’t be as concerned with the fitness angle on Saturday. He should be ready to go to see out the mile and a quarter and if he gets a similar run he could be there close to home. The pace was hot in the UAE Derby and he handled it well just about to the line, so expect him to be on the lead and give some extra effort to get there if need be.
— Kevin Kilroy (@TrustYourLuck) April 30, 2022
PEDIGREE AND CONNECTIONS
Unlike his UAE Derby compatriot from the land of the rising sun, Summer Is Tomorrow’s pedigree is not foreign to American eyes. Bred by Airdrie Stud’s Brereton C Jones, he is by Airdrie stallion Summer Front, who has produced G2 Fountain of Youth winner Ete Indien back in 2020, who did not end up in the Kentucky Derby starting gate that year.
Overall his pedigree is not one that jumps out as a Kentucky Derby contender, given most of Summer Front’s best runners have come on turf and the former Ken Ramsey runner Badge of Silver has had several very good turf runners as a broodmare sire, notably one of my personal favorites in Silver Max. As prolific a stallion as War Front had turned out to be over the past few years prior to his recent drop in stud fee, it’s been a slew of grass runners. This is a horse that of his seven career starts so far has not seen a turf surface and has performed admirably, but his family has surely done him no favors in helping prepare for the Kentucky Derby.
As mentioned prior, trainer Bhupat Seemar has continued his sharp rise in the UAE training ranks, a jurisdiction that is dominated by himself and trainer Doug Watson on the local scene and the Godolphin royal blue during the carnival. Following the UAE Derby talks came out fairly quickly that connections were very keen to head to Kentucky and given the points they earned and looking at a Derby that lacks a real significant top level runner it is surely the right year to do so.
It’s no secret to those who watch the Kentucky Derby each year that a trip from Meydan to Churchill Downs has not been kind to the few that have made the attempt, with 6th being the best placing we have seen so far from this automatic qualifier from the Middle East. With that being said there have been obvious excuses for some of the main contenders with Mendelssohn being slammed out of the starting gates and 2-Time Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow bucking his way to future glory to the dismay of connections on the day.
One reason as mentioned prior that both Crown Pride and Summer Is Tomorrow have a legitimate chance is that it is as wide open a race as we have seen in some time. There won’t be any clear favorite to gun down this year and although the local form of the Meydan season would not be comparable in any way to this contest, the form from Dubai World Cup Night is a much closer equivalent. He will be a huge price on the board but is surely not the most far fetched winner of this race. If given the right trip come Saturday evening, summer could be arriving just a few months early in the Bluegrass State.