That was the sound of bubbles bursting as the horses crossed the finish line for the Arkansas Derby yesterday.
The race was run at Oaklawn Park at a mile and an eighth and the order of finish was 1st–Creator, 2nd–Suddenbreakingnews, and 3rd–Whitmore. The top three finishers were not in the top 20 points earners prior to the race; post race the points they earned safely placed all three in the gate for the Kentucky Derby.
Horses Mo Tom, Fellowship, Adventist, and Laoban, all with 32 points were bumped down to “standby” status. Race participant Cupid’s bubble also burst, but to a lesser extent. After racing on the lead with Gettysburg throughout the first three quarters of the Arkansas Derby, in the stretch he dropped like a lead rock ending up 10th of 12 runners. At this point he’s going to be shipped to Churchill as he already had enough points to qualify for the Derby thanks to his Rebel Stakes win, but whether he starts the race remains to be seen.
The day belonged to the deep closers. Creator, Suddenbreakingnews (who I’m going to refer to as SBN going forward here), and Whitmore were all well off the pace; Creator was last in the early stages of the race. SBN was actually closer to the action than I’ve seen him be previously, and I think he benefitted from it as he, Creator, and Whitmore all launched their closing kicks. Creator’s proved best in the end, although SBN certainly looked like with just a bit more ground, he might have found the wire first.
With this effort, Creator went from near Zero (he had 10 qualifying points entering the Arkansas Derby gate) to hero gaining the 100 points credited the winner. Yet another son of Tapit, Creator has the pedigree on both sides of his family to thrive at a distance. As I indicated when SBN won the Southwest Stakes, his pedigree is designed for a route of ground as well. Whitmore, well right now, much like Adventist, he’s showing me that he seems fairly satisfied running second (in the Southwest and Rebel stakes) and third (yesterday’s Arkansas Derby).
So with the conclusion of the prep races for the Kentucky Derby here’s who, TENTATIVELY, will be in the starting gate:
6.Creator (not in the top 25 last week)
12.Suddenbreakingnews (32nd last week)
16.Whitmore (24th last week)
18.My Man Sam
20.Trojan Nation (has never won a race)
By May 7th, Kentucky Derby Day, this list will probably change most likely due to illness or injury or less likely due to a change of heart by connections.
Leading sire Tapit may have FOUR sons in this race: Lani, Mohaymen, Creator, and Cupid; all four are grey or roan. Leading juvenile sire Uncle Mo will be represented by Nyquist and Outwork.
A few observations. If the track comes up muddy, give a close look to Exaggerator, Outwork, Brody’s Cause, and Trojan Nation. Late closers with a realistic chance: Creator, Brody’s Cause, Suddenbreakingnews, My Man Sam, and Trojan Nation. Horses I think who are without a chance (unless I see them working BRILLIANTLY at Churchill Downs): Destin, Cupid, Oscar Nominated, Shagaf, and Majesto.
My top contenders AS OF TODAY: Nyquist, Gun Runner, Mohaymen, Creator, Suddenbreakingnews, and Exaggerator. Dark Horse selections: Lani and Trojan Nation. If either of them were to win it’d be historic, big news as Lani would be the first UAE Derby winner to turn the trick and as stated earlier, if he were to win, it would be Trojan Nation’s first lifetime win! Right now, I think most anything’s possible for Kentucky Derby 142!