HOFBURG (c, Tapit-Soothing Touch, by Touch Gold)
O/B-Juddmonte Farms Inc. (KY). T-Bill Mott. Lifetime Record: GISP, 4-1-1-0, $227,950.
Hofburg’s seventh in the Derby rates as a much-better-than-it-looks effort, especially factoring in his relative inexperience. He took up a back-of-the-pack position two paths off the rail early and was walled up on the backstretch without displaying any willingness to knife through between horses. This Tapit homebred was nudged along while committed to an inside bid, then got shuffled back at the far turn entrance as rail-running horses backed up in front of him and a flash of closers blew by on his outside. By the time Irad Ortiz Jr. angled him widest for the homestretch run, Hofburg was too far back to make an impact. But there is no questioning his late-race momentum, and it’s worth noting he sailed past every other horse on the gallop-out. A Preakness try is not under consideration, but “naturally, we have to think about the Belmont,” trainer Bill Mott said on Sunday.