With the main focus of Saturday's Hutcheson Stakes likely to be on Maybry's Boy and Axis, one horse may very well be overlooked in the wagering. Listed at 9-2 on the Daily Racing Form
morning line, is Shadwell Stable's Monthir.
Although the two favorites will take a lot of beating, Monthir has several factors in his favor. He is the one horse who combines good tactical speed with a solid racing foundation, and who has demonstrated his class beyond six furlongs.
After breaking his maiden by 6 lengths going seven furlongs, the son of Gulch ran a gutsy race in the one-mile Nashua Stakes, battling on or near the pace the entire way. Although headed by the undefeated Listen Here at the eighth pole, he fought back and was beaten only a half-length. He then tired in the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes to finish fifth, but bounced back with another game effort on Jan. 9, getting beat a nose by Fountain of Youth hopeful Grey Beard in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race.
Now, dropping back to seven furlongs, Monthir is in a good spot to sit back just off the pace and have plenty of bottom under him to kick home. Pat Day will ride the Mark Hennig-trained colt for the first time, giving him even more of an opportunity to rate off the pace.
Maybry's Boy and Axis are no doubt two very talented colts, and this will be a big step forward before they stretch out to two turns. A victory by either colt, with their pedigrees, would make them a serious contender on the Derby trail. Jerry Bailey gets the mount on Axis, replacing none other than Pat Day. Showmeitall should show good speed breaking the rail under Jorge Chavez, while the outside horse, Royal Lad, also has flashed speed in several of his races. Dr. Greeley, fourth in the What a Pleasure Stakes, completes the field.
The San Vicente Stakes, run the same day at Santa Anita at the same seven-furlong distance, will feature three exciting colts in stakes winners Came Home and Popular and the undefeated Werblin. All three of these colts have turned in dazzling Beyer Speed Figures, and it should be quite a battle to the wire. Neither Came Home nor Popular are committed to the Derby trail and must earn the right to begin stretching out against the leading classic contenders. While Came Home does have some stamina limitations in his pedigree, Popular has some solid stamina influences on both sides, mainly through Herbager and The Minstrel, and a tail-female family that has produced English Oaks and Irish Derby winner Balanchine, Alabama winner It's in the Air, Beldame winner Tactile, and Demoiselle winner Only Queens. Popular is the one horse in the field who has been tested for courage on several occasions and has never backed down from a fight, eking out two victories in the final strides.
Werblin is the unknown factor here, especially having left Popular well up the track in his last start after the Bob Baffert-trained colt broke poorly and was rank in the early stages. Werblin, a son of Unbridled's Song, sold as a yearling for a whopping $850,000. Corey Nakatani rides him back.
Others in the seven-horse field are the unbeaten Steady Rollin, who broke his maiden for a claiming tag; stakes-placed former claimer Mighty David; Jack's Silver, a Cal-Bred maiden; and former Aidan O'Brien-trained colt Line Rider, making his U.S. and dirt debut.