PHOTO: Coady Photography
HOW HE GOT HERE
LIKE THE KING debuted late last July at Belterra Park, an unlikely first stopping point for a Kentucky Derby runner. He went 5.5 furlongs on the dirt against a soft MSW field that day as the 5-2 second choice. He was second and within range of the leader to the top of stretch, but finished a distant second, over seven lengths back of the even money favorite.
After a few months off, he made his second career start at Belterra in September against similar, soft MSW company going a mile on the turf. He led all the way and scored convincingly by seven lengths as the 3-2 favorite. He was then entered for a two-turn allowance event on the turf at Keeneland. The race was moved to the GOOD listed main track and he finished third of seven, beaten by 12 lengths. The Beyer figure came back a 63, less than average for this bunch by far.
Next, he went to Turfway Park for a mile optional claiming event where he won in wire-to-wire fashion as the lukewarm 9-5 favorite. After that race in December, he was allowed some time off before coming back for the John Battaglia memorial in February at Turfway. He picked up his first Kentucky Derby points on the basis of a second place finish. He earned a career best 82 Beyer figure and showed slightly different tactics than some of his other races, settling in fourth early and several lengths off the lead.
His next and most recent race to date came in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. LIKE THE KING took the top prize of 100 Kentucky Derby points with a victory. He was even further off the pace this time, but came rolling late to get the job done and earn an 86 Beyer speed figure. His lifetime record is 6-3-2-1 and his next stop will be Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
HOW HE FITS HERE
Well, there’s no way or need to sugar coat it or go on and on about it here: in simple, he likely doesn’t fit well here. His top speed figure of 86 is well below most of the other contenders and his best Beyer on dirt is 63. Obviously he has matured since that last dirt start last fall and he could certainly take a step forward in the Derby, but to be a serious win contender, he would need to take a massive jump forward. Based on his last few races, he also figures to be pretty far off the early lead in the Derby, which will lead to a difficult trip to navigate from the back of the pack. While it is the Derby and anything is possible, I personally wouldn’t recommend investing too much money on this runner in the race.
HOW IT FIGURES TO GO HERE
Again, as mentioned above, he figures to be pretty far off of the early pace. Likely in the back half of the field and quite possibly, one of the final few away from the gate. He will do his running late, but he will have to work out a trip and take a big step forward if he wants to pick up a piece in the run for the roses. The extra added furlong in the Derby from his last race also figures to only hurt his chances here.
Well, to be quite honest, it probably doesn’t go well for him here. He is trending around 75-1 in fixed odds betting and that is probably about the price you can get on Derby Day as well. There is simply so many questions he has to answer here: first time on dirt in half a year, stretching out to 1 1/4 miles, taking on much tougher company, subpar speed figures, and having to work out a trip. If he answers all these questions successfully and actually pulls the upset here, bettors deserve every bit of 75-1 if they backed him.
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