Creator passes them all to take the Arkansas Derby

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

April 17th, 2016

A colt with no speed, tactical or otherwise, to speak of, Creator entered Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park in need of some help on the front end. Boy, did he get it.

With the aid of Gettysburg, who not only set a testing pace of :22.81, :46.33, and 1:10 in the nine-furlong race but also wore out odds-on favorite Cupid, who chased from second, in the process, things set up quite nicely for the deep-closing Creator, a gray son of Tapit.

Lagging far behind in the field of 12 for the better part of six furlongs, Creator got moving around the far turn for Ricardo Santana, Oaklawn's leading rider, while continuing to save ground close to the rail. Shifted out turning for home, Creator made a wide bid but was able muscle his way inside fellow closers Whitmore and Suddenbreakingnews. Emerging with the lead just past the eighth pole, Creator kept on chugging and passed the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front of Suddenbreakingnews, with Whitmore 1 1/2 lengths farther back in third.

Owned by WinStar Farm, Creator paid $25.20 as an 11-1 chance after completing the distance in 1:50.14. By comparison, the older male star Effinex covered nine furlongs in 1:49 winning the Oaklawn H. (G2) earlier in the card.

Not only was $600,000 added to Creator's bankroll, but the 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby that came with the win assures the blinkered colt a place in the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in May. He had just 10 points entering Saturday's race from a third-place effort in last month's Rebel (G2).

Also benefiting from their runs in the Arkansas Derby, at least in relation to Kentucky Derby eligibility, were Suddenbreakingnews and Whitmore. Both colts needed to run big races to qualify, and they did. Suddenbreakingnews added 40 points to the 10 he earned winning the Southwest (G3) and is safely in, while Whitmore now has 44 points, which puts him in 16th place following earlier placings in the Southwest and Rebel.

One colt who still has the points, but whose Derby status has to be considered up in the air, is Cupid. The Rebel winner, who was left alone on an uncontested lead in that 1 1/16-mile prep, proved ineffective chasing a much hotter pace in the Arkansas Derby. Failing to respond to pressure at the quarter pole, the gray son of Tapit wilted to 10th.

Creator was reared by Morena, a daughter of Privately Held who was a multiple champion in Peru and Grade 1-placed at 10 furlongs following her importation. Creator took a while to come around, finishing second in four of his first five starts, but has really hit his best stride since late February. The colt finally broke through on the 27th day of that month, taking a 1 1/16-mile maiden event over the Oaklawn strip by more than seven lengths.

Thrown right into the March 19 Rebel off that maiden win, Creator acquitted himself well, making up 12 lengths and passing all but Cupid and Whitmore in a field of 14.

Creator heads to Louisville, joining fellow Asmussen trainee Gun Runner in the Derby field, with a record of 8-2-4-1, $768,320. He was a $440,000 Keeneland September yearling buy and was bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Broodmares.

(Coady Photography)