2018 Epsom Derby one-liners
With hopes of a Triple Crown in the balance on both sides of the Atlantic, undefeated 2000 Guineas (G1) hero Saxon Warrior aims to justify favoritism in the Derby (G1) at Epsom. The Aidan O’Brien star faces 11 challengers, in addition to the question of stepping up to 1 1/2 miles on a rain-affected course, and the statistical negative of drawing post 1.
If Saxon Warrior comes through, we’ll have an entire summer of anticipation building up to the third jewel, the September 15 St Leger (G1) at Doncaster.
Here’s a quick take on the field, in program (not post) order:
#1 DEE EX BEE turned in arguably his strongest effort so far when a close second to Young Rascal despite a wide trip at Chester.
#2 DELANO ROOSEVELT comes off a fast-finishing second to Hazapour, and the dependable type figures to prosper over the added ground for O’Brien.
#3 HAZAPOUR used a sharp turn of foot to upset the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (G3) at 16-1, but the nephew of 2016 Derby hero Harzand may not confirm the form in different circumstances.
#4 KEW GARDENS set a juvenile course record in last fall’s Zetland at Newmarket, but could not handle Knight to Behold last out and ranks as one of O’Brien’s lesser lights.
#5 KNIGHT TO BEHOLD dominated the Lingfield Derby Trial on the front end, with a fluent action, and the nicely bred son of Sea the Stars is eligible to progress further.
#6 MASAR brings a mouthwatering pedigree and a useful third in the Guineas, but likely would have preferred quicker ground.
#7 ROARING LION, twice beaten by Saxon Warrior, turned in a superb display in the Dante (G2), but probably won’t have the same slow pace scenario to exploit here.
#8 SAXON WARRIOR stamped his class on the Guineas when not fully cranked, and with typical improvement second out for O’Brien, the son of Deep Impact strikes me as just too good.
#9 SEVENNA STAR, two-for-two since undergoing a wind operation, came across as green in the Sandown Classic Trial (G3) and the form hasn’t held up.
#10 THE PENTAGON rates as the longshot special, considering his former status as a leading O’Brien Derby fancy, sneaky-good placings to Saxon Warrior and Hazapour, and likelihood of this trip bringing out his best.
#11 YOUNG RASCAL traveled beautifully and muscled his way out in a solid renewal of the Chester Vase, portending a strong showing from a colt with loads of upside.
#12 ZABRISKIE, an underachieving Frankel half-brother to Bago from the family of Hofburg, took a step in the right direction for O’Brien when third in the Dante, his second start after a wind operation.
Good luck at Epsom!