Derby Trail Update – 1/7/2022 – 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. Feel free to reach out on Twitter @EricSolomon718.

What to Watch For

There’s no stakes action in North America for three year olds this weekend, and there are not many maiden special weight or allowance races carded for three year olds around the country. There are three races at Tampa and Gulfstream that I’ll be keeping an eye on though. 

Race 8 at Tampa on Saturday, January 8th has some well bred maidens looking to get their first win. Tap The Gavel for MyRacehorse and Bill Mott is the one that I’m most interested in seeing in that race. He ran well behind Boitano in his debut on this course and that one came back with a quality second place finish on Friday with N1X foes. I’m looking to see if he can take a step forward, while facing a pair of Pletcher horses, Afjan and In The Union, a pricy Woodbine shipper, Robitaille, and an Empire Maker first time starter, Patagonia Empire.

Race 7 is a maiden special weight race on Saturday, January 8th at Gulfstream at the one turn mile that has some promising runners. Calipari is a WinStar colt by Curlin, debuting for Pletcher. He also trains Charge It, who is a Tapit colt for Whisper Hill Farms, making his first start. Touch Code was foaled by 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, Caressing, who went on to produce 2017 Travers winner, West Coast. He makes his second career start here after finishing a respectable second in his debut. 

On Sunday, January 9th, the 8th Race at Gulfstream is an optional claiming/N1X allowance race and I’m interested to see Kitten Mischief in that race. He caught my eye when he debuted at Aqueduct in a one turn mile race that was taken off the turf back on November 12th. The field that remained was solid, and I liked the way he battled with Predicted, a main track only entrant with racing experience, throughout the length of the stretch. He won by a hard fought neck, and that duo was almost nine lengths in front of the third place finisher. He gets Lasix for his second career start for Jonathan Thomas and Augustin Stable.



Casse “Gliding” in Florida

Race 5 on Thursday, January 6th at Gulfstream, featured a two turn maiden special weight race scheduled for the turf, but moved to the Tapeta that was won impressively by Glider, trained by Mark Casse. He sat off a decent tempo set by a loose leader, Sosua Summer, in the early stages. He rolled up four wide down the backstretch and on the turn. When Sosua Summer came out a bit at the top of the stretch, Glider darted to the inside and took off, winning by 4 and ½ lengths in the end. While the “new track record” he set doesn’t really mean anything with the Tapeta course being so new, the final time was respectable, as it was 2.49 seconds faster than the maiden special weight race for three year olds fillies run one race earlier on the same surface. While he does have a pedigree that could make him competitive on the main track (Quality Road out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare), my concern is that his first two starts were intended to be on synthetic and turf. Regardless, Mark Casse isn’t afraid to take a shot on the main track with a horse that has shown ability on turf or synthetic, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him entered in an allowance or stakes race on the main track for his next start. Perhaps the Holy Bull here on February 5th would be on his radar. 

While the big names usually are at Gulfstream, Santa Anita, or Oaklawn this time of year, don’t sleep on some of the maiden special weight and allowance races over at Tampa Bay Downs. Todd Pletcher brought Always Dreaming over to Tampa in 2017 to break his maiden in January, before going on to win the Florida Derby and then the Kentucky Derby. The 2nd race there on Friday, January 7th,  lost some it’s juice when the heavy favorite from the Todd Pletcher barn, Emmanuel, scratched out, leaving only a field of five this optional $75K claiming/N1X allowance race. However, Golden Glider, who was an impressive maiden breaker at Woodbine, when going from last to first in a twelve horse field, transitioned nicely from Tapeta to the main track to remain undefeated. He was away a bit slow, but ranged up four wide on the turn, and assumed command. He was a little green in the stretch and struggled to switch leads until late, but he was clearly the best horse in that race. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up in the Sam F. Davis on February 5th. 




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