Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Derby Days - The Watch Has Begun

I know it's only January but the Derby watch has begun at my house.   Honestly, the best part of the Derby are the months leading up to the Derby and maybe the race will go on in May this year!   We can hope can't we?   Bob Baffert once said in an interview that this was his favorite part too.  And since most of us are still staying home, what else is there to do?  There should be at least one race every weekend from now on until the spring.  Watch Fox Sports or the Racing Channels for the races.

It's still early but there is a very clear front runner.  This colt is elegant, well-bred, owned by an Arab Sheik and has the hottest young trainer (Brad Cox) too.  What else does he need?

Essential Quality is expected to make his 2021 debut on February 15th at The Fairgrounds. The gray Tapit colt is expected to win the Eclipse Award for top two-year old as American Pharaoh did when he was two.  Did I mention he's undefeated and has two Grade 1's under his belt already?

Another one to watch is Fire at Will.  He has taken an odd path so far, but it seemed to work for Barbaro (remember him?) and Animal Kingdom, both Derby winners. He won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) but also won on the dirt at Saratoga.  He's not regally bred like Essential Quality but he's on the radar for sure.

Life is Good gets my vote for the best named horse in the Derby hunt so far. He's Baffert-trained and we'll hope he makes it to the Derby - Baffert should have him bubble-wrapped after losing a handful to injury before the Triple Crown got underway in 2020.  He's has a lot going for him - he's trained by the most successful Triple Crown trainer ever, he's out of the hottest stallion on the planet and he sounds a lot like Authentic.  Mike Smith is also aboard.  He won a G3 race in early January. Watch this one!

Medina Spirit will have the best rags-to-riches story line if he makes it to the winner's circle in May.  He's in Baffert's barn (so he must see something he really likes in this guy) but he was a $35,000 bargain buy and made a real run at Life is Good in early January.  In Baffert's early days he trained Real Quiet (remember him?) who was a $17,000 bargain buy.   Life does have a way of repeating itself.

Another West Coast horse to watch is The Great One.  He's trained by Doug O'Neill and is royally bred (Nyquist) and recently romped the field by 14 lengths on January 23rd

Steve Asmussen has a contender too in Jackie's Warrior who is also an Eclipse Award finalist for top two-year-old.  He is one fast colt who won two G1s last year but was beaten in his last start.  If he continues to improve he'll be a force to reckon with come early May.

Stay tuned.......

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