Derby Trail Update – 1/10/2022 – By Eric Solomon

 

Each week, we’ll have an update on horses and races from the previous week that may produce starters for the 148th Kentucky Derby on May 7th, 2022. Current futures odds from Circa or Caesars-William Hill will be provided as they are available. Feel free to reach out on Twitter @EricSolomon718.

 

 

The Round-Up

It was a light week for three year olds, with no stakes races or Derby Points races. We did see some interesting horses last week that have likely earned a spot in a Derby Points race next month. We picked out three races over the weekend to keep an eye on. 

The standout race was a maiden special weight race, which went off as Race 7 at Gulfstream on Saturday, 1/8/22. While there were some promising horses in that race, Volcanic (150-1, C-WH), trained by Mark Casse, making his first start since the Hopeful and Saratoga in September, and Charge It (150-1, C-WH) one of two first time starters entered for Todd Pletcher, put on a show, dueling for most of the race, with Volcanic inching away late to score. Volcanic is a son of Violence out of a Pulpit mare, who cost owners Breeze Easy LLC $230K at the Keeneland September Sale in 2020. He ran two solid, but unspectacular races with maiden special weight two year olds at Churchill and Saratoga in the summer. His effort at Saratoga, when he finished third by only a neck, was good enough for Casse to take a shot with him in the Grade 1 Hopeful. He was well beaten behind Gunite that day, and given some time to develop over the fall months. He came to Florida in December and had been working very well locally leading up to this race. He broke well from his outside gate, applying pressure to Charge It from the start. The two opened up on the turn, finishing 12 and ¾ lengths in front of the third place finisher, Touch Code, stopping the clock in 1:36:15 for the one turn mile. The Beyer figure for both horses came back as an 83, which is a strong number for both a seasonal debut and a first time starter. I imagine a two turn test for both horses is on deck. Charge It is sired by Tapit, and ran well enough to think about trying a race with winners. Volcanic may be eyeing up a Derby Points race like the Holy Bull at Gulfstream on February 5th. 

On Sunday at Gulfstream, A.P.’s Secret (225-1 Circa, 150-1 C-WH) led gate to wire and outfinished Aqueduct maiden winner, Kitten Mischief in an optional claiming/N1X allowance at the same one turn mile distance. They finished well in front of their overmatched rivals in this race as well. A.P.’s Secret is sired by Cupid, out of an Uncle Mo mare. He’s earned two wins in three career starts, while finishing second in the other try. After notching a Beyer figure of 80 for this effort, I’d assume he’ll get the two turn test in his next start, which will likely be in stakes company. 

Saturday, there was a maiden special weight race at Tampa for three year olds going 1 Mile and 40 yards. Todd Pletcher ran first and second in that race with In The Union and Afjan. In The Union is the one that definitely is more interesting to me, winning on debut. He’s sired by Union Rags out of a Bernardini mare, so the distance pedigree is certainly there. He sat midpack before making a powerful move along the rail. He was kept to task and won by a measured length over his stablemate. That effort was likely strong enough for them to take a shot with him in the Sam F. Davis on this course on February 5th. 

 

Weekday Action

 

Oaklawn Park has an optional claiming/allowance race for three year olds at one mile on Friday, January 14th. I’m interested to see Chasing Time (#4, 80-1 Circa) in that race, while stretching out to two turns for the first time. He broke his maiden in his third career start at seven furlongs after running well in a pair of six furlong maiden special weight sprints. He cut back to six furlongs when facing winners for the first time here back in December, but I think he can move forward at longer distances. Joel Rosario, who is ready to return to the races after being on the sidelines for the last two months, is named to ride this son of Not This Time for Steve Asmussen.

There’s a pair of seven furlong maiden special weight races this week worth taking a look at as well. On Thursday, January 13th, six horses are entered in the opener at Aqueduct. The heavy favorite is Fromanothamutha (#4, 300-1 Circa) who was overmatched as a maiden in the Grade 2 Remsen last out. He was narrowly defeated when facing maiden special weight runners at Belmont in his previous two tries. The main competition appears to be from a pair of well-meant first timers, Improper (#3) and Keeping the Edge (#6), Improper is a son of Into Mischief that cost his owners $350K at the Keeneland September Sale in 2020. He’s been working well, but might need this race, as his trainer, John Terranova, was 0-21 with firsters in 2021. Keeping the Edge has been working well at Fair Hill for Michael Trombetta, whose horses also typically need a race before we see their better efforts. He’s sired by 2010 Derby winner, Super Saver. 

On Friday, January 14th, there are some expensive horses going at Tampa in Race 8, including two from Todd Pletcher that will be starting for the first time. Shinnecock Hills (#5) was a $600K purchase at the Keeneland November Sale back in 2019. Pablo Morales, who is riding lights out at this current meet, has earned the ride on this son of Quality Road, who is out of a Birdstone mare. Pletcher also sends out Macallan (#9), also sired by Quality Road, who cost $210K in May of 2021 as a two year old. Giant’s Fire (#8) was a $510K purchase at the Keeneland September Sale in 2020. He makes his second career start for John Terranova, whose horses do improve with some experience. Bruce Banner (#4) was purchased at the OBS Sale in March of 2021 for $230K. He’s a Malibu Moon first time starter for Michael Campbell, who only saddled 48 horses in 2021. His works are solid and he could be overlooked because of his low-key connections. 

What’s On The Horizon?

Tampa will host the Pasco Stakes this weekend at seven furlongs for three year olds. While this race typically attracts a lot of one turn talent, the winner usually winds up taking a shot in the Sam F. Davis in order to see if they could be Derby material. They will draw that race on Wednesday, January 13th. 

 

 

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