After the Santa Anita Derby, can anybody stop Dortmund?
At this writing, Derby favoritism will likely be bestowed on either Dortmund or his Bob Baffert-trained stablemate, juvenile champion American Pharoah, who runs in next week’s $1 million Arkansas Derby. But even if American Pharoah runs off the screen as he did in the Rebel, Dortmund’s undefeated record and body of work might resonate more with bettors.
Dortmund ran the Santa Anita Derby much like he did the March 7 San Felipe. Despite breaking a bit awkwardly, he was sent to the lead by Martin Garcia from his inside post, set comfortable splits of :22 2/5, :46 1/5, and 1:10 2/5, and opened up in the stretch when called upon to win by 4 1/4 lengths. His final time for nine furlongs was 1 :48 3/5, and while he needed about 13 second to negotiate that final eighth, he probably sensed he was all alone and need not go all out against foes that weren’t there.
Dortmund has had a relatively easy time in his last two Derby preps, seizing control of paceless affairs and marching to his own tune. Of course, he’s demonstrated in the past that he can win from slightly off the pace, which American Pharoah has not yet done. Dortmund is far from one-dimensional.
Unlike his stablemate, Dortmund already has experience winning over the Churchill Downs surface, taking a one-mile allowance last fall by a dazzling 7 3/4 lengths. He should feel right at home when it comes time to ship out to Louisville.
Baffert appears he’ll have a third Derby contender in One Lucky Dane, who finished a clear second in the Santa Anita Derby. He’s a son of Lookin at Lucky, who was badly hampered by the rail draw in the 2010 Kentucky Derby but came back to win the Preakness and the three-year-old championship.
One Lucky Dane was a brilliant winner against maiden and allowance company at Santa Anita, but was a non-factor in his only prior stakes appearance on dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. However, he’s evidently improving at the right time.
Prospect Park and Bolo, second and third, the San Felipe, were clearly disappointments in the Santa Anita Derby. Bolo wound up edging Prospect Park by a neck for third, but both colts were more than six lengths behind the winner. The gap between them and Dortmund has now widened, which does not portend great things for them at Churchill Downs should they continue on.
Dortmund did what he had to do in the Santa Anita Derby and passed this latest test with flying colors. He is clearly the alpha male of the Derby contenders who prepped at Santa Anita, and appears in good shape to prove the same against the rest of the country, and indeed the world, on the first Saturday in May.
(Dortmund photo: Benoit Photos)