Whenever I hear that a horse is off the Derby trail it’s hard not to imagine the worst but sadness turned to relief with the news that the injury was not life-threatening and that the young colt would be okay after a few months of convalescence.
Jaycito’s only bad race was a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) last November and he comes into the Derby with an impressive 1-3-0 record in five starts. Jaycito made his 3-year-old debut and first start for trainer Bob Baffert in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) last month where he finished second to Premier Pegasus – beaten by 7¾-lengths.
I’ve always thought that Jaycito would perform better as the races got longer. His sire is Belmont winner Victory Gallop and his damsire is Ascot Knight who was a 10-furlong champion in England. And Baffert has commented that Jaycito is the kind of horse that needs a mile and a quarter.
Baffert knows how to get his horses ready for big races and Jaycito has room for improvement in his second start of the year. I look for him to be competitive.
Anthony’s Cross, the 4-1 third-choice, has steadily improved since his 3-year-old debut in January when he finished third in the Sham Stakes (G3). He came back in February to win the 9-furlong Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) in a time of 1:48.63.
Anthony’s Cross earned a 93 Brisnet Speed Figure for his performance in the Lewis and if he repeats that effort he will be tough in the Derby. Since his last race, Anthony’s Cross has been working out good and two back-to-back bullet works could have him ready to run a huge race.
A long shot I like is Midnight Interlude (20-1) who is also trained by Baffert. I don’t know if Midnight Interlude will stay at 20-1 but with the scratch of Premier Pegasus I believe he has a good chance at winning.
In looking at his pedigree it appears that Midnight Interlude has a good mix of speed and stamina. His sire was the speedy War Chant who won the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and was able to stretch his speed out to 9-furlongs when he lost the 2000 Santa Anita Derby by one length to The Deputy.
Groom Dancer, the damsire of Midnight Interlude, was a multiple Group Stakes winner in France who was most competitive running at one mile to 11-furlongs. Most of the races he won were at a distance of 9-furlongs and farther. Triple Crown winner Secretariat is the sire of the third dam and First Landing, the sire of the fourth dam, also sired Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Riva Ridge.
Other notable stamina influences in the pedigree of Midnight Interlude include Blushing Groom, Northern Dancer, Lyphard, Kris S., Roberto and Mr. Prospector.
Midnight Interlude finished third in his debut in January and I like the way he has steadily improved his performance in his last two races. He broke his maiden last month in 8½ -length romp on a wet, fast track going a mile in a nice 1:36.25.
A bullet work out on April 4 and Midnight Interlude could be ready to pull off an upset at a nice price.
Trainer Steve Asmussen already has Astrology going to the Kentucky Derby (G1) but he’s hoping that a win by Silver Medallion (7-2) will get him there too.
Silver Medallion has done most of his racing on turf but he won his 3-year-old debut in the 9-furlong El Camino Real Derby (G3) in February. Silver Medallion won in the relatively slow time of 1:50.45 but he has room to improve in his second start of the season and should be competitive.