The $100,000 Tropical Park Derby (G3) today at Calder is the first stakes race of the New Year on the 2010 Kentucky Derby Trail. The Derby is on the grass but the connections of Barbaro (2006) and Cowboy Cal (2008) used it as a Kentucky Derby prep race.
Lost Aptitude, trained by Dale Romans, is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Lost Aptitude has only been out of the money once in five starts (5, 3-0-1) and he comes into the race with an impressive 5 ¼ -length win in 1 1/16 mile Grand Canyon Handicap last November at Churchill Downs.
Becky’s Kitten, bred and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Wesley Ward, is the 4-1 morning line second choice. Becky’s Kitten finished second to Bridgetown last September in the Summer Stakes (G3) at Woodbine and Bridgetown went on to finish a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) race. Becky’s Kitten also ran in that race but encountered trouble when steadied at the three eigths pole. The Summer Stakes and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf were contested at a mile but I belive that Becky's Kitten will do better at the longer distance. Worth noting though, is that regular rider Julien Leparoux switches his mount to Cat Park who finished third last out, beaten seven lengths by Lost Aptitude in the Grand Canyon Handicap.
Cat Park, along with Fly By Phil, is the 6-1 morning line third choice. Cat Park’s speed figures appear to low to me to be a factor and Fly By Phil has never ran on the grass. Regular rider Manoel Cruz switches his mount to Gator Tiger who at 12-1 morning line looks like an interesting long shot.
Gator Tiger is lightly raced with a first and a second in three starts but he has improved with each start. I like his progression and he has been working out great with multiple bullet works at the Calder track.
Another interesting long shot is Our Champion (10-1) who beat Gator Tiger by a neck last out and picks up high percentage jockey Eibar Coa who guided Our Champion to an impressive 6 ¼ -length maiden-breaking win last October. Our Champion also has a couple of bullet works at the Calder track and could be a factor in the exotic wagers.