The “Road To The Kentucky Derby” leaves the Bluegrass State and moves out west to New Mexico where Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert will send the 5-2 morning-line favorite Shakin It Up and Govenor Charlie (6-1) to the starting gate in the 11th running of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) at Sunland Park.
Since its inception in 2003, Mine That Bird is the only horse to emerge from this this race as a serious Kentucky Derby contender. So, I’ll be watching today to see if any of the nine horses that have been entered can show me they, perhaps, might have the potential to be competitive at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
The favorite, Shakin It Up, is a talented colt who’s compiled a 2-1-1 record in four starts including a win the 7-furlong San Vicente Stakes (G2). He’s yet to run in a route race, so there are some questions as to how well he will handle the stretch out to 9-furlongs.
Of the two Baffert horses, Govenor Charlie is the most intriguing. He didn’t race as a 2-year-old, and with two career starts, he comes into today’s race off a maiden win last month at Santa Anita Park. Govenor Charlie showed good speed in that race and the time of 1:36.28 is what I like to see in a young colt on the Derby Trail.
It remains to be seen how far Govenor Charlie can carry his speed. However, his breeding indicates that he should be able to stretch out to 9-furlongs.
His sire, Midnight Lute, was an Eclipse champion male sprinter and two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). However, his grandsire, Real Quiet, won the 1998 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) and lost by a nose to Victory Gallop in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
The dam of Govenor Charlie, Silverbulletway, was unraced. But his second dam, Silverbulletday, was an outstanding champion racehorse who compiled a 15-3-1 record in 23 starts with career earnings over $3 million.
Silverbulletday was competitive in sprints and route races and her most notable wins were in 9-furlong races such as the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2), Gazelle Handicap (G2), Davona Dale Stakes (G2), and the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (G1).
Another interesting colt in this race is Abraham (4-1) who broke his maiden last month running 9-furlongs in the slop at Gulfstream Park. He’s already proven he can get the distance. The only question that remains is if he can get there the fastest.
Distorted Humor, the sire of Abraham, is a proven sire of good middle-distance runners, and with the right breeding he can sire a classic winner. He sired the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Funny Cide and Drosselmeyer. He’s also the grandsire of the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner, I’ll Have Another.
El Prado, the damsire of Abraham, was a sprint champion in Ireland. But, at stud, he’s sired the good middle-distance runners Medaglia d’Oro, Kitten’s Joy, Paddy O’Prado and Nite Dreamer.
Dry Summer (5-1) already has two wins over this track including a 1½-length victory in the Mine That Bird Stakes on February 23. However, his finish time in that race is slower than what I like to see in 3-year-old colt.
Any Given Saturday, the sire of Dry Summer, Street Cry, the damsire, and Deputy Minister, the sire of the second dam, all give Dry Summer the breeding he needs to run 9-furlongs. So we’ll see if Dry Summer can step up to claim graded-stakes honors.
Under the new scoring system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility for horses to enter the Derby starting gate, the winner of the Sunland Derby (G3) will receive 50 points while second-place will yield 20 points, the third-place finisher will receive 10 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 5 points. Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated March 24, 2013)
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Will Take Charge, 60, D. Wayne Lukas, $512,971
2 = Vyjack, 50, Rudy Rodriguez, $405,000
3 = Black Onyx, 50, Kelly Breen, $317,130
4 = Orb, 50, Shug McGaughey III, $240,000
5 = Verrazano, 50, Todd Pletcher, $210,000
6 = Hear The Ghost, 50, Jerry Hollendorfer, $195,400
7 = Oxbow, 36, D. Wayne Lukas, $316,000
8 = Uncaptured, 30, Mark Casse, $394,674
9 = Flashback, 30, Bob Baffert, $180,000
10 = Goldencents, 29, Doug O’Neill, $758,000
11 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000
12 = Java’s War, 22, Ken McPeek, $201,772
13 = Den’s Legacy, 20, Bob Baffert, $325,000
14 = Falling Sky, 20, John Terranova II, $157,500
15 = West Hills Giant, 20, John Terranova II, $89,000
16 = Code West, 20, Bob Baffert, $80,000
17 = Dynamic Sky, 13, Mark Casse, $289,168
18 = Speak Logistics, 11, Eddie Pleasa, Jr., $52,500
19 = Itsmyluckyday, 10, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $393,600
20 = Overanalyze, 10, Todd Pletcher, $308,381