On Time To Shine

Gemologist Stays Perfect in his 3-yr-old Debut

An undefeated Kentucky Derby contender has returned to the scene. There’s no better way to shine than to reappear by scoring with relative ease and superior form and that’s what Gemologist displayed when he drew away from the field to win by 7 lengths at Gulfstream Park. The 1 Mile Allowance valued at $69,500 officially kicks off his road to the Kentucky Derby in 2012 and will lead him to a Kentucky Derby Graded Stakes Prep in April. Although he has still only raced in a single graded stakes so far in his career, trainer Todd Pletcher and WinStar Farms have this colt on a fascinating trail to the Kentucky Derby.

Ridden by Todd Pletcher’s number 1 jockey in South Florida, Javier Castellano, Gemologist broke soundly from the gate and took control of the lead at the opening quarter pole. Remaining in control of the race, he wasted little time putting this field to bed when he rounded the final turn and hit the stretch. By then his lead had gone to 3 lengths and by the time he crossed the wire he stretched it out an additional 4. His winning time was 1:35.95 over a track listed as: Good. 

Making the win for Gemologist even more impressive is that Currency Swap, a Grade 1 Winner last year in the Hopeful Stakes, was also racing and making his 3-yr-old debut. So when handicapping the outcome of this race it was hard to find a whole lot of separation between them. Both were undefeated, graded stakes winners and coming off a sizeable layoff. More recently both horses had been training very well in Florida and ready to return to the Kentucky Derby trail. For those that were giving the advantage to Gemologist, i.e. most of the betting public – 7-10 favorite, they were still probably still expecting more of a challenge from Currency Swap down the stretch. Instead he was left chasing Gemologist all the way.

Not taking anything away from Currency Swap or his derby hopes but Gemologist deserves the extra applause for the victory, his 4th consecutive win. So here’s where he stands

Gemologist (KY) – Foaled January 28, 2009 by Tiznow and Crystal Shard of Mr. Prospector; Breeder: G. Watts Humphrey Jr. & Louise Ireland Humphrey Revocable Trust; Owner: WinStar Farms LLC

Results:

  • GP 3/16       Allowance    1st
  • CD 11/26     Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes – G2  1st
  •  CD 10/30   Allowance Optional Claiming   1st
  • TP 9/24       Maiden Special Weight   1st

So where to next? All that Todd Pletcher would give is that it will be a Graded Stakes on either April 7 or 14 which means the options are

  • 4-7 G1 Wood Memorial
  • 4-7 G3 Illinois Derby
  • 4-7 G1 Santa Anita Derby
  • 4-14 G1 Blue Grass Stakes
  • 4-14 G1 Arkansas Derby

If this horse is going to follow in the footsteps of Super Saver, the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner that was also owned by WinStar and trained by Todd Pletcher, you’ll see Gemologist race next on 4/14 in the Arkansas Derby. One major similarity between them is the plan of only racing twice as a 3-yr-old before entering the Kentucky Derby. The BIG difference is that Super Saver had more Graded Stakes races under his belt. A slight difference was that his Graded Stakes Earnings were also a little bit higher.

Both horses won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November of their 2-yr-old season but Super Saver ran in the Champagne Stakes prior (4th) and the Tampa Bay Derby after (3rd). In comparison, the extra two Graded Stakes races and finishes inside the top 4 gives Super Saver a $60,000 advantage at this stage of the trail (Gemologist: $103,855). Why this is noteworthy is because the Kentucky Derby qualification bubble is generally around $200,000. So at this point both horses are in the same boat: In need of a big showing in their final Graded Stakes Prep in order to punch their ticket to the Kentucky Derby.

Is Gemologist going to end up in the winner’s circle on May 5th just like Super Saver? Maybe but I’m not too close towards leaning that direction yet. I think the comparison is rather interesting and definitely something to keep an eye on especially because I think that Todd Pletcher and WinStar Farms VP in charge of racing, Elliot Walden, work very well collectively and are both hunting another Kentucky Derby win together.

As for Currency Swap, he’s got some work to do and some distance to prove if he’s going to end up in the starting gate. Currently he’s ranked inside the top 20 at $150,000 but his next race, if he continues on the derby trail, will also require a big showing to get over the $200,000 mark. So far he has only 3 lifetime races with 1 Mile being the furthest he has raced. He’s definitely a talented colt but I’m not certain that he’s a distance runner. So it will be interesting to see where and when he races next.

And that’s what’s so exciting about the Kentucky Derby trail; as we get closer and closer to May, more curiosity works its way into the fold. Gemologist got our attention yesterday and we’re going to keep an eye on his progression towards the Kentucky Derby. Congratulations on a successful return to the trail, we look forward to seeing which Graded Stakes race in April your connections have chosen.

Written by: Little Brink

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