Kentucky Derby Challenge Analysis
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 3/17/2009 7:54:28 PM
Last Updated: 3/20/2009 2:20:24 PM

Deposer is a familiar face to Americans, having finished fourth in last year's Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) on Keeneland's Polytrack.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Other than creating an uproar when the 20th horse on the Kentucky Derby earnings list gets left out of the Derby field, Wednesday’s Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes at Kempton looks unlikely to offer much to the Run for the Roses, unless one of four or five horses can come away with an impressive win.

 

But at least the 1 1/8-mile race race offers intrigue. The 14 horses entered have made a total of five starts this year, so it will be the four horses who have started who look to have any chance of being taken seriously on May 2. And they would have to look like Secretariat to do so. The others would have to be good enough to win the Derby off one race against questionable competition.

 

Eight of the 14 horses entered have finished out of the money in their last start. But let’s look at the positive and see if there possibly could be a horse in this race who is capable of making any sort of impact on the Derby.

 

One horse who has solid credentials is the U.S.-bred Spring of Fame, a son of Grand Slam, out of a Polish Numbers mare who has dominated his opponents in his two races on the all-weather surface. After romping by five lengths in a seven-furlong maiden race at Lingfield last September, he resurfaced this year on March 5 and again won by daylight, scoring a three-length victory in a 1 1/8-mile handicap at Wolverhampton under 131 pounds, defeating only three opponents.

 

Markyg, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus  , out of a Storm Cat mare, has won his last two starts, both on the all-weather track at Kempton at one mile and seven furlongs. In the latter, he carried 133 pounds, winning by two lengths. But he has yet to run the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Challenge. He is one horse who has been pointing for this race for several months.

 

Another Wolverhampton winner to watch is the High Chaparral colt Akhenaten, who scored a two-length victory on March 5 in his first start on the all weather. His time of 1:52 2/5 for the nine furlongs was a full second and two-fifths faster than Spring of Fame’s time on the same card.

 

The only other starter who has run this year is the U.S.-bred Keeptheboatafloat, another son of Fusaichi Pegasus, who finished far up the track in the Ford Flex Trophy Stakes at Nad al Sheba, 28 lengths behind Desert Party before finishing seventh in the Meydan Classic Stakes on grass, also in Dubai. In his only start on the all weather last year, he finished 10th of 12 at Kempton.

 

One familiar face in the field is Deposer, who Americans might remember finishing fourth in last year’s Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) on Keeneland’s Polytrack. He has a victory and a sixth-place finish in his two all-weather starts in England. He hasn’t raced since his seventh-place finish in a one-mile Keeneland allowance race on the turf on Oct. 16.

 

John Gosden will send out Mafaaz, a neck winner on the Kempton all weather in his career debut Sept. 10, who finished fifth on the grass at Newmarket on Oct. 4 in his only other start. Gosden also entered Close Alliance, by Gone West, out of an A.P. Indy mare, who won his only career start on the all weather at Great Leighs Oct. 9.

 

Other winners on the all weather last year are Haashed, who won by two lengths at Lingfield in his only career start Nov. 24; and Shampagne, who is two-for-two on the all weather, at Southwell and Great Leighs, and who has not started since Oct. 25.

 

The remainder of the field – Weald Park, Talking Hands, Sohcahtoa, Mastery, and Agente Parmiginao have either never won or never run on the all weather.

 

 

 



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