Breeding has since changed. Racing in general has altered its course with updated factors that now play into training a champion as well. Even as the majority of exceptional horses that were gifted 3-yr-olds, as well as sires, are not so common, the chances of it occurring again are here.
This weekend the Road to the 2014 Kentucky Derby takes us to the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana for the G3 LeComte Stakes. Here you’ll find Smarty’s Echo, by 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, racing for the chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby and a shot at becoming the next Father, Son team to accomplish the rare but thrilling achievement.
Since the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 a total of 13 winners reached the pinnacle of racing just like their sire had done before. The last time the son of Kentucky Derby winner also wore the roses was in 1996. It wasGrindstone, by Unbridled, that stuck his nose in front of a hard charging Cavonnier and rode off into the sunset. The Kentucky Derby would be Grindstone’s final race as he was retired shortly thereafter. However, the champion owned and bred by Overbrook Farm will always be remembered for joining this elusive club.
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Welcome to the major prep season on the trail to the 2013 Kentucky Derby. On Saturday the countdown to the first Saturday May reaches 5 more weeks until we crown the winner of the 139th edition. So, things will be heating up from here and to spice it up even more, the long awaited monster point season begins this weekend as well (100-40-20-10). Over the next couple of weeks the points that are up for grabs and eventually awarded will also bring an answer to the lingering question we’ve all been waiting for; how many points will it take to make the starting gate?
But, before we speculate any further on that pressing query let’s look at another subject that revolves around the two legendary preps that are set to kick things off this weekend; the Florida and Louisiana Derby. Both of these well known preps have a long history on the Kentucky Derby trail but the difference between them producing a Kentucky Derby winner is like comparing Secretariat to the rest of the field in the Belmont Stakes.
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Handicapping sure has changed since the inception of the All-Weather Track. What’s shifting with it is the amount of Kentucky Derby contender’s that race on the surface leading up to the first Saturday in May. Already this season we’re looking at a top contender named Violence. If his biggest win, coming on a synthetic surface, didn’t catch your attention then let me fill you in; it was a prime example. This weekend we head back to California and back to this other surface for the G3 El Camino Real Stakes.
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Over the years and through the decades of Kentucky Derby history some trends have been talked about much more than others. Some have held their ground but others have also ended. Some fans disregard them while others pay close attention. Regardless, these fads can be fun to watch and always add excitement to the Kentucky Derby.
This brings me to a trend that has only recently begun to develop. Because it doesn’t have a lot legs I can understand if you dismiss it immediately. But, 6 years in a row is still worth mentioning so here goes. Since 2006, when Barbaro won the G3 Tropical Park Derby on New Years Day, no Kentucky Derby winner has raced in January.
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Bodemeister Aims At Changing History
Bodemeister Drills 5F at Churchill Downs
Year after recent year Kentucky Derby trends are slowing fading but only one still withstands the test of time. Since Apollo in 1882 there has not been a Kentucky Derby winner that didn’t race at age 2. Talk about a few lifetimes ago, this trend dates back to a time where the Kentucky Derby wasn’t close to where it is today. Apollo is a horse so unidentifiable that it will only be a matter of time before the casket closes on this trend and he is known as a 19th Century Kentucky Derby winner. Until then however, he respectfully remains the owner of a feat that has been tested but never solved.
Dating back to the 1940’s there have been over 50 attempts at ending the Apollo Curse therefore it’s a trend that has had plenty of opportunities to fail. There is a lot of explanations that will combine the changes in the sport, the size of the field and the advantages of racing at age 2 but one day this trend will end. When is the question but is Bodemeister the answer? He could very well be and what’s interesting about this colt and his chances are some similarities with recent attempts.
Handicapping has changed since the inception of All-Weather Tracks became regular over the last 5 years. What’s also changing and increasing is the amount of Kentucky Derby contenders that have raced on the surface prior to the first Saturday in May. Often referred to as Polytrack, Cushion Track or Synthetics, the main reason it is more frequent is due to the amount of tracks on the Derby Trail that opted to replace the dirt. While that is the common dominator another contributing dynamic is how confident our trainers are these days with introducing their horses to it. The further a trainer goes to establish comfort levels with their colts on anything from Turf, to Poly and to Dirt, the more Kentucky Derby Contenders we’re going to see that have raced on all of them.
The Rare Feat Has Better Odds in 2012
Back in October when the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was approaching I was amazed when I took a closer look at how often the Juvenile was used as a set up for the Kentucky Derby prep season the following spring. Upon learning how many eventual Kentucky Derby Champions were even entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is when I was left wondering – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Unlikely Road to Kentucky Derby Glory? The reason I asked myself that question is because I wasn’t expecting there to be only 5. Yes, in 26 years only 5 Kentucky Derby champions ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. That may not be much of a surprise to many but to me it was lower than I expected.
Juvenile Entry and Kentucky Derby Winner (Juvenile Finish)
- Mine That Bird, 2008-09 (12)
- Street Sense, 2006-07 (1)
- Sea Hero, 1992-93 (7)
- Alysheba, 1986-87 (3)
- Spend a Buck, 1984-85 (3)
The major difference in today’s Kentucky Derby Preps when it relates to how many eventual Kentucky Derby winners came from each race is the score: 23-5. The advantage goes to the Blue Grass Stakes, the prep that dates back further and been designated by the American Graded Stakes process as a Grade 1 race for much longer. However, over the last 8 years the advantage goes to the Arkansas Derby. Both races have accomplished their fair share of notoriety but only one has the honor of claiming a Triple Crown Champion. (more…)
In today’s 3 Major Derby preps there is a long history of Kentucky Derby winners that used them as their final stepping stone before proceeding to Churchill Downs. Each race has its own current trend but keep in mind that each of these races has now been running for over 50 years. So it’s really pretty simple; Over time any trend is bound to change and for the two big ones, 2012 has a very strong chance of turning things around. (more…)