Ky. Derby Trail: A Vision at the Downs
If there is one thing you want to see in a
As a result, just as we returned to the first Derby Dozen last week and put Monba back up top, we’re going to do the same thing next week with Court Vision, despite all the statistical evidence that he’s too slow. In a year of mostly slow horses, that is not as much of a deterrent as it might normally be.
Over the deep Payson Park track this winter, Court Vision worked six furlongs in 1:19, a half in :51 2/5, five-eighths in 1:02 4/5, a half in :50, five furlongs in 1:04, and a half in :49 3/5. In his two starts, he came from out of the clouds to finish third in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Wood Memorial (gr. I). In the Wood, he was criticized for not winning after his “rabbit” forced
Mott shipped him to Churchill Downs, put a set of blinkers on him, which he normally doesn’t do for a work or a race, and worked him a half-mile Thursday morning. This is when the roses began to burst. Court Vision went a half in :46 1/5 breezing, galloping out five-eighths in about 1:00 3/5 under exercise rider Neil Poznanski. The work was the fastest of 25 at the distance and a full second faster than the second fastest work. Another clocker caught him in :45 and change. When a horse of this quality undergoes such a dramatic change, especially at Churchill Downs, where he has already won a grade II stakes, it is exactly what you’re looking for.
Can one half-mile work stamp a horse as a major
“We decided to put the blinkers on him, and (the work) was maybe a bit more than I was anticipating,” Mott said. “We’d never tested him with the blinkers and it was a big wake-up call. As good as he worked in them I’d be foolish not to put them on for the
“After the work, Neil said that’s just what we were looking for. I don’t know if he realized he had gone as quickly as he did. I had a horse in front of him and he went after him a little early. But when (Court Vision) came alongside him, Neil gave him a little nudge, and, shooo, he just flew away from the other horse.”
There obviously are no personal observations that can be made, but there is more than enough here to suggest Court Vision is now a horse who must be taken seriously, slow speed figures and all.
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Another person who was thrilled when he heard about the work was Gomez’ agent Ron Anderson, who stands by last month’s decision to ride Court Vision instead of Colonel John.
“With Colonel John, you’re dealing with a horse coming off synthetic surfaces and who had won the Sham Stakes by a half-length,”
“I was at Keeneland this morning and didn’t see the work, but the clockers said they were really impressed with him. It’s pretty exciting, because Billy normally never works horses that fast, and nobody that works for him works that fast. My whole mindset was that he would handle Churchill Downs and he obviously does that, so I’ve been pretty pumped since I heard about it.”
Court Vision is scheduled to work again either next Wednesday or Thursday. With Wednesday being our travel day (late this year), it is hoped he’ll work Thursday, but even if it’s Wednesday, there’s a good chance we’ll see it on a local news feed tape the following morning. Until then, Court Vision will be climbing back up the Derby Dozen list.
With a couple of Kentucky Derby berths still open to any horse who can win the Lexington, and either a first- or second-place finish by Tomcito enough to get him in the race, it is not surprising to see a contentious field of 11 entered. Of course, we still have the same Polytrack puzzlement we had in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II), so talent alone will not get anyone to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
Almost every horse in the field has proven himself at some point on a synthetic surface, with Tomcito and Atoned two who have not, putting them at a disadvantage. Atoned, as of now, is being considered more of a Preakness horse, so Tomcito is the one who needs to show something over a foreign surface in order to make the
Another horse who has Derby credentials is Racecar Rhapsody, a late-closing son of Tale of the Cat who has finished a close third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) and turned in solid fourths in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) and Delta Jackpot (gr. III). He seems to handle dirt and Polytrack equally well.
Todd Pletcher could add to his list of
If the Mott-trained Riley Tucker wins, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s wheeled back in the
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