TDN Top-To-Bottom Derby Rundown

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The Kentucky Derby finish | Coady

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This week's Triple Crown feature examines the trips of GI Kentucky Derby runners in detail from first to last:

1) MEDINA SPIRIT (c, Protonico–Mongolian Changa, by Briliant Speed) (Predicted finish: 9th)
O-Zedan Racing Stables; B-Gail Rice (FL); T-Bob Baffert; John Velazquez. Sales History: $1,000 ylg '19 OBSWIN; $35,000 2yo '20 OBSOPN. Lifetime Record: GISW, 6-3-3-0, $2,175,200.

Three months ago, Medina Spirit was the fourth-best colt on his trainer's Derby depth chart, and when Bob Baffert uttered a comparison to his 1997 Derby champ Silver Charm over the winter, that praise seemed like a hyperbolic stretch for a colt who had sold for relatively short money ($1,000 OBSWIN, $35,000 OBSOPN). Baffert had also said that Medina Spirit was a more effective horse chasing the pace rather than setting it, which added to the Derby intrigue when no one else was overly keen to lead the 19-horse cavalry charge. After breaking a beat slowly, jockey John Velazquez rode Medina Spirit for speed through the first furlong before settling into a rhythmic cadence. He was pressed by two Into Mischief colts, first the ambitious Soup and Sandwich, then a more intense threat from Mandaloun three-eighths out. Those two peeled off from the pack at the head of the lane with Mandaloun on the outside cornering with what seemed like better momentum, but Medina Spirit dug in and kept repulsing Mandaloun's relentless drive, with Velazquez aware the first- and third-favorites were also barreling down the center of the track. Medina Spirit's all-business, half-length victory (102 Beyer Speed Figure) was accomplished under continuous pressure through a homestretch quarter-mile timed in :25.04, the fastest final two Derby furlongs since Animal Kingdom rallied into a :24.55 final quarter in 2011. It took two races before a mid-March operation to fix an entrapped epiglottis yielded positive results on the racetrack, and if pointed to the GI Preakness S., Medina Spirit will head to Baltimore with no shortage of capable contenders who skipped the Derby waiting to take him on.

2) MANDALOUN (c, Into Mischief–Brooch, by Empire Maker) (predicted finish 12th) 'TDN Rising Star' O/B-Juddmonte Farms Inc. (KY); T-Brad Cox; J-Florent Geroux. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 6-3-1-1, $961,252.

'TDN Rising Star' Mandaloun's sharp-stalking second was punctuated by a commanding three-eighths kick that would have been good enough to win the Derby in many other years. This Juddmonte homebred by Into Mischief got hustled straight out of the gate, then was taken in hand by jockey Florent Geroux, who deftly secured the rail and eased his long-striding colt back to third. Into the bit and always edging up incrementally, Mandaloun was primed to pounce upon reaching the far turn, and he led for several brief strides at the quarter pole before Medina Spirit torqued into an overdrive gear that Mandaloun was just shy of matching. There was no quit in this speed-over-stamina pedigreed colt, who refused to let the onrushing third- and fourth-place horses get by.

3) HOT ROD CHARLIE (c, Oxbow–Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie) (predicted finish 3rd)
O-Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing LLC & William Strauss; B-Edward A Cox (KY); T-Doug O'Neill; J-Flavien Prat. Sales history: $17,000 Ylg '19 FTKFEB; $110,000 Ylg '19 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: GSW & MGISP, 8-2-1-3, $1,305,700.

This two-time Fasig-Tipton sales grad ($17,000 FTKFEB; $110,000 FTKOCT) had tactical speed straight from the gate, and although he was momentarily trapped on the heels of Medina Spirit the first time under the wire, neither Hot Rod Charlie nor jockey Flavien Prat reacted with alarm when the pack tightened up around them. This son of Oxbow latched onto a sweet stalking spot while fifth for the initial three quarters, then you could see Prat strategizing over which path to take on the far turn when he sensed Soup and Sandwich was about to plummet through the pack. Prat chose inside passage, which put Hot Rod Charlie in an ideal spot to launch his stretch bid in the three path. For a tantalizing moment three-sixteenths out, it truly looked as if he had the top two in his sights and would be able to reel them in. This colt never quit; his final furlong just wasn't fast enough. Hot Rod Charlie exits the Derby with no qualms over whether he belongs with the top of the crop; he's being aimed for the GI Belmont S.

4) ESSENTIAL QUALITY (c, Tapit–Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality) (predicted finish 1st)
'TDN Rising Star' O/B-Godolphin ( KY); T-Brad Cox; J-Luis Saez. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Colt & MGISW, 6-5-0-0, $2,415,144.

Undefeated juvenile champ and 'TDN Rising Star' Essential Quality had to deal with gate-break adversity for the first time, but it's hard to make a cogent case that the jostling cost him the Derby. This Godolphin homebred gave up four paths of real estate into the initial turn, then jockey Luis Saez parked the gray right where he likes to be, fifth while in the clear down the backside behind robust splits. He opted for another four-wide go on the far turn, which contributed to Essential Quality covering 6,711 feet in the race (according to Trakus, that lost ground was exceeded only by the also-rans who finished 17th and 18th), some 68 feet more than the winner. Essential Quality responded gamely when set down for the drive, and he very willingly dug in to fight. But his length-of-stretch rally lacked the menacing spark of his GII Toyota Blue Grass S. score, raising the question of whether he paid for that taxing prep with an under-par performance in the Derby. Essential Quality was one of two horses reported to be wearing glue-on front shoes in the Derby; Sainthood (Mshawish) was the other.

5) O BESOS (c, Orb–Snuggs and Kisses, by Soto) (predicted finish 15th) O-Bernard Racing LLC, Tagg Team Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds & Terry L. Stephens; B-L. Barrett Bernard (KY); T-Greg Foley; J-Martin Pedroza. Lifetime Record: 6-2-0-1, $262,624.

In his prep races, O Besos kept putting himself at a tactical disadvantage by breaking slowly and giving up ground on the turns. In the Derby, he broke smoothly from post six and wasn't at all afraid to mix it up on the inside in the early stages; he was a touch headstrong before rating kindly in midpack. He quickened with interest when cued off the far turn, and did his best running in upper stretch when presented with the gift of a wide-open rail. O Besos shot on through, and this homebred son of Orb loomed huge at 41-1 odds just inside the three-sixteenths pole, ranging within three lengths of Medina Spirit. Even though the final furlong proved to be his undoing, O Besos still finished an admirable fifth, an emboldening try by a colt who has not yet won a two-turn race.

6) MIDNIGHT BOURBON (c, Tiznow–Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon) (predicted finish 8th)
O-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Steve Asmussen; J-Mike Smith. Sales History: $525,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 8-2-2-3, $461,420.

This $525,000 KEESEP colt got pinballed at the break but it didn't really seem to faze him. This son of Tiznow is fairly well-seasoned compared to some of his lighter-raced rivals, and jockey Mike Smith found him a mid-pack placement. Five wide through the far turn, Midnight Bourbon was seven off the rail into the straight after a bit of bumping and grinding with Rock Your World, and for a few strides he seemed to be cresting toward meaningful momentum. But this brief bid only lasted between the quarter pole and the eighth pole. “We missed the break and that's the only thing I thought he'd do right,” trainer Steve Asmussen quipped.

7) KEEPMEINMIND (c, Laoban–Inclination, by Victory Gallop) (predicted finish 18th) O-Spendthrift Farm LLC, Cypress Creek LLC & Arnold Bennewith. B-Southern Equine Stables, LLC (Ky). T-Robertino Diodoro; J-David Cohen. Lifetime Record: GSW & MGISP, 5-1-2-1, $394,320.

Keepmeinmind, racing without blinkers for the first time since October, was in no hurry leaving the gate and was last by design for much of his Derby journey. He began to uncoil as the field hit the far turn, and jockey David Cohen tried to loop the group widest of all, which spun this Laoban colt out to the 10 path for his stretch run. He rallied when roused, but was overmatched.

8) HELIUM (c, 3, Ironicus–Thundering Emilia, by Thunder Gulch) (predicted finish 17th) O-D J Stable LLC; B-Teneri Farm Inc & Bernardo Alvarez Calderon (KY); T-Mark Casse; J-Julien Leparoux. Sales history: $55,000 Ylg '19 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: 4-3-0-0, $287,763.

Despite having only three lifetime races and only one start in the previous 7 1/2 months, this $55,000 FTKOCT colt displayed some early-race poise by marching out to a contending spot and asserting himself as a primary stalker without having to work too hard to attain that position. He was fourth for much of the backstretch run and still in the hunt through the far turn, but by the five-sixteenths pole Helium started to slip out of the chase when the leaders quickened. This Ironicus colt didn't lose his cool even when it was obvious he would be beaten by 10 1/2 lengths, and the effort still translated to a minor gain numbers-wise (87 Beyer).

9) KNOWN AGENDA (c, Curlin–Byrama {GB}, by Byron {GB}) (predicted finish 4th) O/B-St Elias Stable (KY); T-Todd Pletcher; Irad Ortiz, Jr. Sales History: $135,000 RNA Ylg '19 FTSAUG. Lifetime Record: 7-3-1-1, $541,700.

This Curlin colt had one of the best gate breaks you'd ever want to have from the dreaded one hole in the Derby, largely because his rival in stall two veered out at the start and he had an uncrowded first few strides to pick his spot. But perhaps sensing that Known Agenda was a little closer to the early action than he wanted him to be, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. tried to get him to settle farther back, and in the process of doing so, Known Agenda endured some rough-housing in the first furlong that made him look uncomfortable down near the inside. Parked third-last down the backstretch, this $135,000 RNA at FTSAUG offered a mild run between the quarter and eighth poles, but was never truly in it to win it.

 

WATCH: Medina Spirit goes coast-to-coast in Kentucky Derby 147

 

10) HIGHLY MOTIVATED (c, Into Mischief–Strong Incentive, by Warrior's Reward) (predicted finish 5th)
O/B-Klaravich Stables, Inc (KY); T-Chad Brown; Javier Castellano. Sales History: $240,000 Wlg '18 KEENOV. Lifetime Record: SW & MGSP, 6-2-2-1, $320,050.

This $240,000 KEENOV colt by Into Mischief got broadsided when the gates opened, which forced him inward to be part of the chain-reaction scrum that affected several favorites. But Highly Motivated split foes and bulled his way up to a contending tactical-speed spot while surrounded by rivals. As per instructions not to vie for the lead, jockey Javier Castellano edged his colt back, and on the backstretch he put Highly Motivated in a primo position to shadow the far-turn move of Essential Quality. Castellano got to riding in earnest three-eighths out; Highly Motivated tried to close the gap in upper stretch but was simply outrun, and Castellano didn't hammer on him when it was evident he wouldn't attain a top placing. “I got a dream trip,” trainer Chad Brown said. “I hate to waste that kind of trip in the Derby on a horse that didn't fire.”

11) SAINTHOOD (c, Mshawish–Lemon Hero, by Lemon Drop Kid) (predicted finish 16th) O-CHC Inc. & WinStar Farm LLC; B-Edward Taylor & Springland Farm (KY); T-Todd Pletcher; J-Corey Lanerie. Sales History: $100,000 Ylg '19 KEEJAN; $90,000 RNA Ylg '19 KEESEP; $62,000 Ylg '19 OBSOCT. Lifetime Record: 4-1-2-0, $91,900.

Make sure you consider Sainthood's 11th-place try in the context that he's 1) a May 15 foal; 2) never won beyond the MSW ranks, and 3) only started three times before trying 10 furlongs. This Mshawish colt broke inward and bumped Brooklyn Strong, then found himself up near the lead in the first few jumps before dropping back to seventh. Jockey Corey Lanerie was committed to saving ground, and Sainthood eventually got within five lengths of the battling leaders off the far turn. But he produced no true run when called upon for a stretch punch.

12) LIKE THE KING (c, Palace Malice–Like a Queen, by Corinthian) (predicted finish 19th) O-M Racing Group LLC; B-Horseshoe Racing LLC (KY); T-Wesley Ward; J-Drayden Van Dyke. Sales History: $28,000 Wlg '18 KEENOV; $170,000 Ylg '19 OBSOCT. Lifetime Record: GSW, 7-3-2-1, $200,680.

Like the King ($28,000 KEENOV, $170,000 OBSOCT) shifted outward at the break, tried to mix it up early, then never gained a foothold within the pack. This rangy son of Palace Malice entered the far turn at the fence and exited it five off the rail with enough interest to suggest he might be making headway, but that effort petered out. “He didn't really handle the dirt,” jockey Drayden Van Dyke said. Trainer Wesley Ward added that “his future will be on the grass.”

13) BOURBONIC (c, Bernardini–Dancing Afleet, by Afleet Alex) (predicted finish 14th) O/B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-Todd Pletcher; J-Kendrick Carmouche. Lifetime Record: 7-3-1-0.

This Calumet homebred broke okay from his outermost stall and immediately dropped in to save ground, content to lag in second-last. When Known Agenda briefly vacated the rail ahead of him at the entrance to the far turn, Kendrick Carmouche cued Bourbonic to go up and claim that gap. But Known Agenda re-closed the hole before Bourbonic could shoot through, and it stalled what could have been the beginning of a bid. He continued to save ground and passed only stragglers with a one-paced stretch run.

14) HIDDEN STASH (c, Constitution–Making Mark Money, by Smart Strike) (predicted finish 13th)
O-BBN Racing LLC; B-Rhineshire Farm LLC (KY); T-Victoria Oliver; J-Rafael Bejarano. Sales History: $50,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 8-2-1-2, $231,062.

Hidden Stash got brushed at the break by Essential Quality and again by Dynamic One in the early stages of the race, but he was not adversely hindered. Jockey Rafael Bejarano worked him back to fourth-last into the turn, which is how this $50,000 KEESEP colt runs anyway, and he was content to sit chilly until the far bend. Hidden Stash split horses and dodged some tiring rivals, then showed a willingness to cut through traffic at the quarter pole, but this Constitution colt couldn't close the gap. “He ate a lot of dirt, but we scoped him and he's fine,” said trainer Vicki Oliver.

15) BROOKLYN STRONG (g, Wicked Strong–Riviera Chic, by Medaglia d'Oro) (predicted finish 20th) O-Mark Schwartz; B-Cheryl Prudhomme & Dr. Michael Gallivan (NY); T-Daniel Velazquez; J-Umberto Rispoli. Sales History: $330,000 Wlg '18 FTNMIX; $42,000 RNA Ylg '19 SARAUG; $6,000 RNA '19 Ylg OBSOCT; $5,000 2yo '20 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: 6-3-0-1, $225,000.

Sainthood veered in and greeted Brooklyn Strong with a love tap when the starter sprang the latch, and this New York-bred had trouble securing a solid spot in the pecking order. For this Wicked Strong gelding ($30,000 FTNMIX and $5,000 OBSAPR; RNA'd for $42,000 SARAUG and $6,000 OBSOCT), his 10-furlong tour of the track was limited to battling with the laggards at the back of the pack, never advancing to better than 14th during an uneventful run.

16) SUPER STOCK (c, 3, Dialed In–Super Girlie, by Closing Argument) (predicted finish 10th)
O-Erv Woolsey & Keith Asmussen; B-Pedro & P J Gonzalez (KY); T-Steve Asmussen; J-Ricardo Santana, Jr. Sales History: $70,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISW, 9-2-2-2, $804,762.

This $70,000 KEESEP Dialed In colt was the cause of the chain-reaction crowding that affected the three horses to his inside at the break, but no one lost the Derby based on that action. He settled midpack but lacked both contending speed and a closing kick, and commenced a steady fade through the lane.

17) ROCK YOUR WORLD (c, Candy Ride {Arg}–Charm the Maker, by Empire Maker) (predicted finish 7th)
O-Hronis Racing LLC & Talla Racing LLC; B-Ron & Deborah McAnally (KY); T-John Sadler; J-Joel Rosario. Sales History: $650,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISW, 4-3-0-0, $546,600.

Rock Your World was off a stutter-step slow, then took the worst of the outside crunching incident, getting shuffled back to last. But he righted himself professionally, and while closest to the grandstand, this $650,000 KEESEP colt by Candy Ride (Arg) had enough natural speed to pick off half the pack by the time the field hit the first turn. He gave up ground four or five deep on both bends but at no time seriously threatened; to add to his Louisville learning experience he absorbed a solid hip check from Midnight Bourbon turning for home. Jockey Joel Rosario let him coast to the wire in the final furlong, saving something for what is likely to be a much-improved next-race “reset.” The Derby was a tall ask for Rock Your World, but the adversity he endured should go a long way toward toughening him up for future Grade I targets.

18) DYNAMIC ONE (c, 3, Union Rags–Beat the Drums, by Smart Strike) (predicted finish 6th)
O-Repole Stable, Phipps Stable & St Elias Stable; B-Phipps Stable (KY); T-Todd Pletcher. J-Jose Ortiz Sales History: $725,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSP, 6-1-2-0, $194,120.

Dynamic One veered in and bounced off Midnight Bourbon, then appeared flustered when jockey Jose Ortiz tried to ease him out of panic mode. This $725,000 KEESEP colt appeared as if he was going to level out of the trouble, but immediately found himself hard on the heels of Midnight Bourbon, causing Ortiz had to jerk him back sharply as the field passed the sixteenth pole the first time. Five paths off the rail and fifth from last down the backstretch, this son of Union Rags was a non-factor four deep on the final bend and turned in last at the quarter pole, gaining only one position when he passed the eased-up entrant.

19) SOUP AND SANDWICH (c, Into Mischief–Souper Scoop, by Tapit) (predicted finish 11th)
O-Live Oak Plantation; B-Live Oak Stud (FL); T-Mark Casse; J-Tyler Gaffalione. Lifetime Record: GISP, 4-2-1-0, $203,875.

Soup and Sandwich displaced his soft palate, termed by trainer Mark Casse as a temporary occurrence. This is a colt with only three career starts and he was drawn way out in post 18. Yet this Live Oak homebred by Into Mischief broke running, and jockey Tyler Gaffalione let him do his speed-centric thing, prompting an honest pace right behind the eventual winner with a wall of advancing horses at his tail. Soup and Sandwich cracked under pressure 3 1/2 furlongs out, and Gaffalione eased him back through the pack without causing chaos or disrupting anybody's else's run.

*King Fury, scratched out of the Derby with a fever Friday afternoon, was predicted to finish second.

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