John Clay and Ben Roberts handicap Kentucky Derby 143
Friday was a wet, miserable day at Churchill Downs with Bob Baffert’s Abel Tasman winning the $1 million Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on a sloppy track.
The weather forecasters say there will be more rain at the Downs on Saturday, especially in the morning. The hope is that the weather will clear by late mid-afternoon and we will see some sunshine by the 6:42 post time for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.
Still, there is the possibility that the 20-horse field could be running on at least a wet track and maybe even a muddy or sloppy track.
So here’s a look at how the Kentucky Derby entries have done previously on wet, muddy or sloppy tracks. If a horse isn’t mentioned, then he has never run on anything other than a fast track.
Lookin At Lee: Ran second to Guest Suite on a muddy track in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs last September at Churchill Downs. The Steve Asmussen trained colt made up ground at the end, going from sixth to second, but still los by 8 3/4 lengths.
Thunder and Snow: The Godolphin colt ran on a muddy track to win the UAE Derby in Dubai on March 25. He has raced just twice on dirt, winning both starts in the United Arab Emirates.
Untrapped: Finished second in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes, which was run on a muddy track at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 21. Guest Suite won that wet race, as well. Too bad Guest Suite isn’t in this Derby field.
Hence: In his fourth start, the Calumet Farm homebred broke his maiden on a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park on January 16. After a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Southwest, Hence won the Grade 3 Sunland Derby on March 26. Both of those races were on fast tracks.
Irap: Ran fourth on a sloppy track on New Year’s Eve at Santa Anita. That was a Maiden Special Weight race in which Irap was close early, but faded from second to fourth. He did not break his maiden until winning the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on a fast track April 8.
Gunnevera: The son of Dialed In ran on a sloppy track his very first race, finishing second on June 10, 2016 at Gulfstream Park. Since then, Gunnevera has won four of eight starts, all on fast tracks.
Battle of Midway: Ran and won on a wet-fast track at Santa Anita in his very first start. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Battle of Midway won by 3 1/4 lengths on Jan. 21 which propelled him to the San Vincente, where he ran third on a fast track. Last time out, he was second to Gormley in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on a fast track. Saturday will be his first race outside of Santa Anita.
Classic Empire: As trainer mark Casse points out, Classic Empire is the only horse in the Kentucky Derby who has won on a wet track at Churchill Downs. John Oxley’s colt captured his debut on May 4 in a race run on a muddy surface. He’s won four of six starts since, all on fast tracks.
Tapwrit: Won the Pulpit Stakes on a sloppy track last December at Gulfstream Park. The race was supposed to have been run on the turf but was switched to the sloppy track. The win over Master Plan convinced trainer Todd Pletcher that Tapwrit could be a Derby horse. Tapwrit won the Tampa Bay Derby before finishing fifth in the Blue Grass. Both were on fast tracks.
Gormley: Won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on a sloppy track on Jan. 7. Gormley beat American Anthem by a head in tht race. Since then, he ran fourth in the Grade 2 San Felipe and won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, though the latter was in a slow time. Both were on fast tracks.
It should be noted that in the Washington Post, stats maven Neil Greenberg thinks Irish War Cry is the horse to beat if the predicted rain does show up on Saturday.
Bryon King of the Daily Racing Form also goes over the wet-form of the Derby runners.
Kentucky Derby 143
Lookin At Lee
L and N Racing
Saeed bin Suroor
Fast and Accurate
Kendall E. Hansen
Ricardo Santana Jr.
Brooklyn Boyz Stables
State of Honor
Battle of Midway
WinStar Farms and Don Alberto Stable
J Boys Echo
Albaugh Family Stables
John C. Oxley
Brian Hernandez Jr.
Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Robert V. LaPenta
Irish War Cry
Isabelle de Tomaso
Jerry and Ann Moss
Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence