Judging from his half-mile breeze in a bullet :47 2/5 Thursday, perhaps the reports of WarPass’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. The 2-year-old champ’s work was the fastest of 11 at the distance.
This was one small step back in the right direction for the son of Cherokee Run, whose shocking last-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at odds of 1-20 was the major topic of conversation for several days.
WarPass, who had won his 3-year-old debut with ease, will try to rebound all the way when he makes his next start in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) April 5, where he is expected to face Court Vision, Tale of Ekati, Texas Wildcatter, and Giant Moon, among others.
A victory would put War Pass right back in the thick of Derby contention, and justify his connections’ belief that the Tampa Bay Derby was an aberration and deserved to have the proverbial line drawn through it.
“The work went terrific, and we’re glad to have another chance at the Wood Memorial,” said trainer Nick Zito, who may also run Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) winner Anak Nakal in the Wood following two disappointing efforts this year.
Unless another speed horse shows up in the Wood Memorial, WarPass should be able to return to what he does best – open an uncontested lead and attempt to run his opponents into the ground.
The other two major stakes run on April 5 are the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and IllinoisDerby (gr. II). Among those expected to run at Santa Anita are Colonel John, El Gato Malo, Georgie Boy, Yankee Bravo, Victory Pete, and Signature Move. The Illinois Derby should attract Denis of Cork, Atoned, Nikki’sgoldensteed, Golden Spikes, Z Humor, and possibly Liberty Bull and Jazz in the Park.
Denis of Cork had been slated to run in the Wood Memorial, with trainer David Carroll already having Dogwood Stable's Blackberry Road pointing for the Illinois Derby. Then Blackberry Road was diverted to the Arkansas Derby, leaving a spot for Carroll to run Denis of Cork. Playing a part in his decision to lean toward Hawthorrne was the problem of getting a plane to New York. Had he been able to line up a flight, Denis of Cork, as of late last week, would have been the only passenger, according to Carroll.