Did We See the Derby Winner Emerge from Big 3 Preps? - Recap & Results! - Super Screener
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Did We See the Derby Winner Emerge from Big 3 Preps? – Recap & Results!

Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Wood Memorial (G2)

Just two weeks ago it looked like Todd Pletcher may not have a starter in the Kentucky Derby… now he has several thanks to his charges running one-two in this year’s edition of the Wood Memorial. Bourbonic closed from last to just get up for the win as the longest shot on the board, overtaking his stablemate and the Super Screener Top Long Shot pick in the race, Dynamic One.

Note how all three spots of the Trifecta were taken up by a closer despite the very slow pace set up. That certainly says something about the quality of this field.

This colt ran very slow for a mile and then poured it on over that last 1/8th mile to post a BRIS Late Pace figure of 109. Now, if that 2nd call figure was 90+ versus 75, that would have been something special. This was also his 6th race without a break, which is a very uncommon pattern for a top Todd Pletcher runner. Further improvement is possible but unlikely and Bourbonic will be a long shot once again in the Kentucky Derby.

Blue Grass (G2)

It has been a long time since the winner of the Blue Grass Stakes won the Kentucky Derby but the undefeated, Essential Quality, will be seeking to break that trend come the 1st Saturday in May.

This race set up exactly as the Super Screener anticipated. The pace would be soft with little pressure. Highly Motivated would go to the lead cutting easy fractions and Essential Quality would track him in close attendance.  The latter colt overcame the slow pace and took the lead approaching the wire with a strong gallop out.

It was a great prep heading into the Kentucky Derby and he has earned his way into favoritism. We’ll see where the Super Screener ranks him against others as he laid out a running line in the Blue Grass that is very typical of a top Kentucky Derby contender.

Note that he submitted that key combo of a 90+ 2nd call and 100+ late pace BRIS figures. It was a move forward off his last race and he is now ready to peak and submit a new lifetime top in the Kentucky Derby repeating his form cycle ascent pattern last year that led to his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. 

It will be interesting to see where the Super Screener ranks him against other top contenders in the field. Right now, he certainly looks the part of one of this year’s best.

Santa Anita Derby (G1)

We perhaps saved the best for last as John Sadler-trained Rock Your World burst onto the Kentucky Derby scene with that scintillating victory in the Santa Anita Derby on the speed-favoring Santa Anita surface.

If you weren’t near the front on this day, you were going to struggle no matter what the pace set up would bring. Rock Your World dueled with the overmatched Parnelli for 6 furlongs but he put away that rival as they turned for home and then this colt just drew away with ease to finish in front of a game Medina Spirit who was just over 4 lengths behind his rival. This was the best performance coming out of this weekend’s Derby preps.

That was one impressive running line that featured huge, triple-digit early pace figures followed by a 90+ BRIS Late Pace figure to chalk up his 3rd win in a row as he goes into Kentucky, undefeated. 

Sadler has indicated that he intentionally started this colt on turf in preparation for a run in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. I am trying to decide if that move was brilliant or if he just got lucky but there is no dispute on the outcome. This was a huge effort and it only further makes the case that the California-based 3 year-olds are coming to Kentucky as leading contenders.

If there was any knock on this performance by Rock Your World, it was the 11-point jump in his BRIS Speed Figure over this prior race. That’s a negative factor among the Super Screener screening criteria. Also, keep in mind that the Santa Anita surface was very kind to speed on this day, however, you can not deny that this was one of the top prep performances of the season. Let’s see how he trains coming out of this race over the next four weeks.  

All Kentucky Derby preps are in now but one…and it is going to be a good one…as we get ready for the G1 Arkansas Derby. It will be supported by a strong undercard of stakes action at Oaklawn Park. Of course the Keeneland spring meet will be in high gear next Saturday offering plenty of full-field stakes action for us to dive into.   

Until this coming weekend… Go Fast and Win! Mike

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