There have been many stakes this year that have been less competitive than Thursday’s eighth race at Gulfstream, a first-level allowance test at a mile and an eighth.
Go down the list of 10 starters and you’ll find several who could emerge from this race as a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender. Two who have time against them with only one career start will have to run big if they’re going to go into the Run for the Roses with only four career starts.
The two in question are Warrior’s Reward and the $3.7-million yearling purchase Dunkirk, both of whom look to have potential star quality. Warrior’s Reward has at least won at a mile, and did it impressively with a powerful move up the rail, while Dunkirk’s only start was at seven furlongs, although he also was impressive, blowing his field away by 5 3/4 lengths.
Look for the Rick Dutrow-trained Alma d’Oro to get a good deal of support at the windows off his sparkling five-length maiden victory at a mile.
Two horses with solid stakes credentials are Stately Character, winner of the Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder as a maiden, and American Dance, a stablemate of Dunkirk who finished third to Old Fashioned in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) in his last start.
Kenny McPeek, who has seen two of his Derby hopefuls, Danger to Society and Free Country, falter in recent races, is back with More Than Willing, who broke his maiden at 1 1/8 miles. Nick Zito also could be heard from with They’re Late, who finished a fast-closing third to Danger to Society in an allowance race with the addition of blinkers.
Even the longer prices in here have to be respected, such as Sincero, Jet Set Vinny, and Saint Reade.
In other Derby news:
-- Undefeated Futurity (gr. II) winner Charitable Man had his first work since Sept. 30, breezing three furlongs in :37 3/5 at Palm Meadows.
-- Hamazing Destiny, brilliant maiden winner at Oaklawn in his career debut, has been turned over to D. Wayne Lukas.
-- Rick Dutrow’s exciting 2-year-old maiden winner Precious Package, who romped by almost seven lengths in his second career start at Saratoga in early August, is back on the work tab, having breezed five-eighths in 1:02 1/5 and a half-mile in :49 1/5.
-- Also back on the work tab after a brief absence were Theregoesjojo, who turned in one of the most impressive performances of the year in a strong allowance race and could pose a major threat in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), and the brilliant maiden winner Perfect Song, who could show up in the entries anywhere within the next week.
-- Highly regarded Quality Road, who could be ready to emerge as a major player, breezed a solid six furlongs in 1:14, but surprisingly is not nominated to the Triple Crown. He runs next in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.
-- Could it be that Hallandale Beach runner-up Lime Rickey might be a better horse on the dirt? The Dogwood Stable-owned son of Lemon Drop Kid in now 1-for-8 on the turf, and although he ran a big race on Saturday, he’s come up short in all his races with the exception of his nose maiden win. His female family is loaded with top-class, stakes-winning fillies on dirt, such as Classy Cathy and Ponte Vecchio, and Classy Cathy’s sire Private Account is mainly a dirt sire. Lime Rickey also is inbred to one of the great classic/stamina influences on dirt, Buckpasser.