HOW HE GOT HERE
Keepmeinmind ended his two year old campaign on a high note, but his form has taken a negative turn in 2021, as he was able to get into the body of the Derby field only due to defections from others ahead of him in the points standings.
He debuted in September in a lucrative maiden special weight field during the week of last year’s Kentucky Derby. The race was originally scheduled for turf, but was switched to one mile on the main track. He closed well to finish second to Arabian Prince, while facing an average group that day.
He took a huge step forward in the grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity next out, finishing second to Essential Quality, coming within 3+ lengths of him that day. He sat midpack early on that day and outfinished eventual Arkansas Derby winner, Super Stock for second. Despite still being a maiden, that effort was good enough to get him in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He was last of 14 in the early stages of the race that day, letting the speed horses duke it out on the front end. He closed well to pass 10 horses down the stretch, finishing 3rd behind Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie, beaten only two lengths.
He made his next start in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, where again he found himself last early on. He tipped out 5 wide off the turn and went from last to first to break his maiden. The final time was on the slower side, stopping the clock in 1:44:2 (The Golden Rod run two races earlier was run in 1:43:4). Regardless, those efforts stamped him as a legitimate contender for the Derby going into 2021.
However, 2021 did not go as planned as bad weather in Arkansas became one of many hiccups for him. He was supposed to make his first start of the year in the Southwest, but as that race got delayed, so he waited until the Rebel to make his debut, Concert Tour ran huge that day, whereas Keepmeinmind did not. He was last early, as he had been, but offered no real rally while coming back off the layoff. His next start was in the Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland, three weeks later, where he faced off with Essential Quality again. This time, he was closer to the early pace, as there wasn’t much of it, but he was absolutely empty when they turned for home, finishing 5th, 16 lengths behind the winner.
HOW HE FITS HERE
Keepmeinmind is from the freshman crop of horses sired by 2016 Jim Dandy winner, Laoban. Like his daddy, he too broke his maiden with graded stakes company. His dam, Inclination, was an unraced daughter of 1998 Belmont winner, Victory Gallop. Like many in here, the pedigree, while it isn’t as sparkling as some of the others, suggests that he’ll be able to handle the distance.
The problem with Keepmeinmind is his current form. No one in this twenty horse race is coming out of races where they ran as poorly as he did. Since finishing second in maiden special weight company, he has done nothing but face graded stakes company. It was barely enough to get him to this point, but it seems like they need to hit the reset button with him and have him try to clear an N2L or N2X allowance condition before taking big swings like this.
HOW IT FIGURES TO GO HERE
There’s a very real chance that he’ll be last of the twenty early on in this race, while letting the chips fall where they may in regards to the early pace. Blinkers are coming off for this race, in hopes that he won’t wind up as close to the early pace as he did last out. While I don’t think he’ll finish last of 20 here, I do think his closing kick, for whatever reason, has disappeared this year, and I’m guessing it will not magically reappear on Saturday.
In my opinion, he is one of the horses in this race that I think you can feel pretty safe about tossing from your wagers. I don’t like to bet on a horse in the Derby that is not in good form. I can forgive a bad race, especially if there is an excuse, however, his last two have been far from his best, and there doesn’t seem to be an answer in sight as to why. One could argue that he was only two lengths behind the Derby favorite in November, but after watching his last few races, that seems like ages ago.