Road to the Kentucky Derby: The Churchills Downs contenders
Creative Cause: Beaten on Saturday
"Creative Cause was back to best when giving weight and beating to Bodemeister in G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita in March, but dipped bit below that when beaten nose by I'll Have Another in G1 Santa Anita Derby last time."
With a selection of Kentucky Derby hopefuls having raced at the weekend, Timeform bring you their latest update on the leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5......
UNION RAGS Timeform Rating 124, Trainer M Matz
Winner of 4 of 6 starts, beating News Pending by easy 4 lengths in G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream in February. Remains the top-rated 3-y-o male in North America despite latest third in Florida Derby, in which he found trouble in running in a race in which the leaders didn't come back (wide throughout and probably unlucky in only defeat last year, too, in Breeders' Cup Juvenile). Should not have a problem with the distance of the Kentucky Derby, his next objective.
HANSEN Timeform Rating 123, Trainer M Maker
Won all 3 starts at 2 yrs, culminating in narrow defeat of Union Rags in Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Back to best when landing G3 Gotham at Aqueduct in March comfortably by 3 lengths from My Adonis, giving weight all round. Front-runner prior to last time, when tracked until going on 2f out. Reportedly heading now for the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14. Out of a sprinter, so still some doubt about whether the Derby trip will find him out.
CREATIVE CAUSE Timeform Rating 121, Trainer M Harrington
Won G1 Norfolk at Santa Anita at 2 yrs, when also third to Hansen and Union Rags in Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Back to best when giving weight and beating to Bodemeister in G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita in March, but dipped bit below that when beaten nose by I'll Have Another in G1 Santa Anita Derby last time (no blinkers and looked less than keen). Son of Giant's Causeway and likely stayer over 1f further at Churchill Downs.
SECRET CIRCLE Timeform Rating 119, Trainer B Baffert
Fast juvenile, unbeaten in 3 starts, notably Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint. Stretched out to around 8f this year, beaten narrowly on first occasion and winning narrowly at Oaklawn in G3 Southwest and G2 Rebel since. Gave weight all round when holding Optimizer by ¾ length last time. Some encouragement from breeding that he could stay further (sire gained biggest win at 9.5f). Reportedly set to contest G1 Arkansas Derby, again at Oaklawn, on April 14.
GEMOLOGIST Timeform Rating 118p, Trainer T Pletcher
Unbeaten in 5 starts, especially impressive when slamming Currency Swap by 7 lengths in allowance at Gulfstream in March. Came again when accounting for Alpha by neck in G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last time, seeming to idle and coming under strong drive. Son of Tiznow, and seems a highly likely stayer at 10f in same colours as 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.
ALPHA Timeform Rating 117, Trainer K McLaughlin
Won 3 of 6 starts, notably G3 Withers at Aqueduct in February by three-and-a-quarter lengths from Speightscity. Better than ever when beaten neck by Gemologist in G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last time, checked early and possibly ahead for a few strides 1f out. By Bernardini, out of 11.5f winner from the family of Swain, and seems near certain to stay the 10f Derby distance.
WENT THE DAY WELL Timeform Rating 117, Trainer G MotionBeaten in maidens in UK at 2 yrs and at Gulfstream in February before winning one on latter course. Much improved when landing G3 Spiral at Turfway last time, by 3½ lengths from Holiday Promise, race won by same connections' Animal Kingdom by slightly less 12 months earlier before going on to success in Kentucky. Raced only at 8f/9f but should get a bit further. May next go for G3 Lexington at Keeneland on April 21.
TAKE CHARGE INDY Timeform Rating 117, Trainer P Byrne
Breeders' Cup Juvenile fifth who ran El Padrino to 2 lengths in an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream in January. Took form to a new level when winning 9f G1 Florida Derby there in March from Union Rags and El Padrino among others but had a trouble-free and unpestered run out in front. Reportedly likely to head straight to the Kentucky Derby.
DADDY LONG LEGS Timeform Rating 117, Trainer A O'Brien, Ireland
Smart youngster last year when he won twice including the G2 Royal Lodge at Ascot (form working out well, had subsequent Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Wrote back in third) but didn't shine behind Hansen at Churchill Downs himself. Back to best when landing UAE Derby at Meydan on reappearance (Wrote again third) and stamina virtually assured. Talk is that he'll head back to Churchill Downs next.
EL PADRINO Timeform Rating 116, Trainer T Pletcher
Won 1 from 3 as a juvenile and first two starts this year, beating Take Charge Indy 2 lengths in an allowance optional claimer on his reappearance before landing G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February by nose from Mark Valeski. Bit below form when fourth to Take Charge Indy in G1 Florida Derby, finding post coming too soon. Son of Kentucky Derby fourth Pulpit and shapes as if he wants the Derby trip already.
HOWE GREAT Timeform Rating 116, Trainer G MotionUnbeaten in 4 runs since debut second, defeating Dullahan by length in G3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream last time, in March. Best efforts on turf to date. Son of smart Japanese miler Hat Trick but has already shown stays 9f. May next take in G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14, as did connections' Animal Kingdom on way to Kentucky Derby success in 2011.
WROTE Timeform Rating 116, Trainer A O'Brien, IrelandDid nothing but improve as a juvenile, following third to stable-companion Daddy Long Legs in the G2 Royal Lodge with a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, beating Excaper by 2¼ lengths. Third to Daddy Long Legs in UAE Derby on reappearance on first run away from turf and reportedly being targeted at the Kentucky Derby. By High Chaparral out a mare that stayed 12f, so won't fail for stamina.
DULLAHAN Timeform Rating 115p, Trainer D RomansOnly win from 6 appearances at 2 yrs was in G1 Futurity at Keeneland (also hampered when fourth in Breeders' Cup Juvenile). Encouraging length second to Howe Great in G3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream on return on turf in March, staying on well. Half-brother to a Kentucky Derby winner in Mine That Bird and looks open to improvement at further than 9f. Training setback proved to be minor and still aimed at G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14.
I'LL HAVE ANOTHER Timeform Rating 115+, Trainer D O'NeillWon 3 of 5 starts, notably G2 Robert B Lewis and G1 Santa Anita Derby (both at Santa Anita) this term. Showed good attitude to account for Creative Cause by a nose in latter, though with some unexceptional rivals not far behind. Sire Flower Alley won 10f Travers, and seems likely to get that distance himself.
BODEMEISTER Timeform Rating 115, Trainer B Baffert
All 3 runs at Santa Anita, debuting in January then winning maiden by over 9 lengths. Ran Creative Cause (who conceded 5 lbs) to ¾ length in G2 San Felipe in March. Son of Belmont winner Empire Maker and smart US 2-y-o Untouched Talent, and seems a likely stayer at beyond 8.5f. Likely to head to the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14.
DADDY NOSE BEST Timeform Rating 115, Trainer S Asmussen
Tough at 2 yrs, when sixth in Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Improved a bit this year, winning G3s at Golden Gate Fields and Sunland (Sunland Derby) in workmanlike style from Lucky Chappy and Isn't He Clever respectively. Stays 9f on a fast track, as did his sire, Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy (also the sire of Daddy Long Legs).
REVERON Timeform Rating 115, Trainer A BezaraWon 3 of 7 starts, notably Gulfstream Park Derby in January. Third in G3 Sam F. Davies at Tampa and second in G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream since, better positioned than some when beaten length by Take Charge Indy in latter. Might not have finished improving and likely to stay the Derby distance.
Kentucky Derby Diary:
Saturday April 14: G1 Blue Grass Stakes, Keeneland 9f; G1 Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, 9f
Saturday April 21: G3 Lexington Stakes, Keeneland 8.5f
Saturday May 5: G1 Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs 10f
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