HOW HE GOT HERE
Hidden Stash has made seven career starts for trainer Victoria Oliver, most recently finishing 4th in the Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland, about 10 lengths behind the duo of Essential Quality and Highly Motivated. He debuted at the end of the August at Ellis Park, finishing 4th that day. He paired his debut Beyer in his next start at Churchill, finishing third.
He showed some improvement when going two turns for the first time and breaking his maiden in his third career start at Keeneland. He sat midpack that day, rating comfortably. It looked like Rafael Bejarano had ton of horse under him. He angled out three wide off the turn and won going away, despite lugging in while staying on the wrong lead throughout the stretch.
He went on to face optional claiming/N1X horses at Churchill on the Stars of Tomorrow Card, while traveling 1 Mile and 1/16. He broke near the back of the pack that day, but rushed up four wide on the first turn when there was little pace on. He moved three wide on the second turn, and dueled with an even money favorite (Scarred) through the length of the stretch. He was still running on the wrong lead, but did enough to get the job done, and earn an opportunity to face stakes horses on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
His three year old debut came in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa, where he drew the rail in a full field of twelve. He got away well, but was outsprinted early, positioned near the middle of the field. It looked like he had a clear hole on the rail to run through going into the far turn, and Hector Diaz tried to take it, but he seemed to shy away from that. He was switched to the outside, and grinded home, finishing third while getting close to both Candy Man Rocket and Nova Rags, but again, still running on the wrong lead throughout the stretch.
In the Tampa Bay Derby, he had a similar trip in the early parts of the race, but was in the two path instead of along the rail. He circled up 4 wide on the turn and drew even with Helium, before that one powered away. Again, he didn’t switch leads in the stretch, which was probably the difference between winning and losing that race.
Three weeks later, his connections brought him to Keeneland, in hopes of earning enough Derby Points to guarantee entry to the Derby. There was less early pace in this race than in his previous starts at Tampa, and he was facing two significantly better horses in Essential Quality and Highly Motivated that day. He sat 7th early on, made a move going into the turn, as he has done in the past, before flattening out while still not changing leads.
HOW HE FITS HERE
Hidden Stash is sired by Constitution out of a Smart Strike mare, so it’s no surprise that his game improved when moving away from sprints and into two turn races. However, he was purchased for only $50K at the Keeneland September Sale of 2019, which was $35K less than the stud fee it cost to breed his dam to Constitution. He has already overachieved for his owners, earning $191K at the races thus far.
In terms of how he fits into this race, he will be one of the longest shots on the board. I can’t fault the ownership group for wanting to take a shot with this one. When you look at his two turn races, he looks to be making an imposing move on the turn each time, but he doesn’t punch on the way the best horses do, mostly because they can’t get him to switch leads in the stretch. I can’t see that as being a recipe for success in the stretch run of a 20 horse race.
HOW IT FIGURES TO GO HERE
I think his chances of hitting the board, which were already low, took a hit when Caddo River and Concert Tour defected from this race. I still think the pace on the front end will be honest enough, but I’m not as confident that the Derby will headed towards a pace meltdown, as I thought could have been the case a week or so ago. He seems to relax very well in the early stages of the race, staying comfortable while drafting behind horses. He has loomed large on the turn, before struggling in the stretch in every one of his two turns races. He was able to overcome that against inferior competition. It cost him wins against stakes quality horses, and he was beaten 10 lengths when facing Grade 1 caliber horses for the first time. That’s a lot of improvement needed in a month, while also facing a deeper and considerably larger field.
Hidden Stash has been installed at 50-1 on the morning line. His post 13, should be a nonfactor for him since he likes to settle off the early lead. I have no doubt that Bejarano can find a spot for him where he’ll be running comfortably in the first half of the race. From there, though I don’t see him being able to sustain his bid throughout the stretch. He’ll need to improve his best career Beyer figure by a minimum of 15 points to hit the board here, and even he can figure it all out on Derby Day, I’m not sure that’s enough to make it into the exotics. If he winds up on my tickets at all, it will be in the bottom leg of the superfecta on my deepest tickets. Otherwise, I won’t be playing him in the Derby.