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Homeracing

Is Breeders' Cup Juvenile Winner Texas Red as a Kentucky Derby Contender?

Profile Picture: James Scully

November 7th, 2014

by James Scully

TEXAS RED

Afleet Alex-Ramatuelle, by Jeune Homme

Owner

Erich Brehm, Wayne Detmar, Lee Michaels & Keith Desormeaux

Breeder

Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC

Jockey

Kent Desormeaux

Best BRIS Speed rating

101 (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile)

 

History

Texas Red recorded his first stakes win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, posting a smashing 6 ½-length destruction when closing from last to first in the 1 1/16-mile race. He was overlooked at 13-1, the sixth choice among 11 runners.

The bay colt opened his racing career on July 3, finishing a neck second in a five-furlong maiden special weight on Arlington Park’s Polytrack, but was not a factor checking in fourth at the same level next out in a six-furlong event at Del Mar on July 26. Stretching out to two turns for the first time, Texas Red broke his maiden by a 1 ½-length margin going a mile on Del Mar’s Polytrack on August 20.

He jumped straight to stakes company with a non-threatening third in the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita on September 27, rallying belatedly to finish 4 ¾ lengths back of the winning American Pharoah, and the Juvenile marked his fifth career appearance.

Texas Red quickly dropped back to last entering the first turn of the Juvenile, all alone at the tail of the field as the contestants made their way down the backstretch. Longshot Blue Dancer and unbeaten speedball Souper Colossal were dueling up front from the break, and Mr. Z advanced to make it a three-way duel through a half-mile in :45 3/5.

The eventual winner was still more than 10 lengths back in last at the half-way point and continued to trail entering the far turn before suddenly kicking it into gear.

Texas Red accelerated past rivals with a scintillating turn of foot rounding the bend, with jockey Kent Desormeaux altering course to go around foes approaching the stretch drive, and Texas Red had catapulted to the front by the time the field straightened for home.

The Juvenile was over with a little more than a quarter-mile remaining. Texas Red carried his momentum to a clear lead by midstretch and cruised to the wire under a hand ride, leaving no doubt as to his superiority on this day while stopping the teletimer in 1:41.91.

His 101 BRIS Speed rating easily represented a career-best.

Connections

The Juvenile marked the 500th win, and by far the biggest victory, of trainer Keith Desormeaux’s career.

His first graded stakes tally came via I’ve Struck a Nerve, who established himself as a Kentucky Derby contender when upsetting the 2013 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds before being sidelined by injury. Desormeaux also trains multiple Grade 3-winning turf sprinter Marchman, 13th in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint; and Grade 1-placed Danette, a 2015 Kentucky Oaks candidate who finished a close fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Keith and jockey Kent Desormeaux became the first brothers to win a Breeders’ Cup race. Kent is well-known as a member of the Hall of Fame and three-time Kentucky Derby winner, but Keith has not been a presence on the national stage. That figures to change over the coming months.

“There’s no doubt (we’re thinking about the Kentucky Derby),” Keith said. “That’s why we’re in the game.”

The brothers grew up on the family farm in Louisiana, in the small town of Maurice, and have been around horses their entire lives. The 47-year-old Keith has a degree in animal science from Louisiana Tech.

Texas Red will likely prep for the Kentucky Derby at Santa Anita.

“He'll probably remain in my stable here at Santa Anita,” the trainer said. “We say (the Kentucky Derby trail) goes through Texas, but the series of races in California onward through the Derby have always been so successful, so why would we deviate from that?”

Pedigree/Sales History

Texas Red is by Afleet Alex, the champion three-year-old male of 2005 following victories in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. A six-time stakes winner, Afleet Alex also finished third in the Kentucky Derby. He’s the sire of multiple Grade 1 queen Iotapa, who was beaten only 1 ¼ lengths when third in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Distaff; 2010 Travers Stakes victor Afleet Express; and 2011 Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Afleet Again.

Texas Red’s dam, the Chilean-bred Ramatuelle, won at distances up to a mile. She is by U.S. Grade 2 and French Group 3 winner Jeunne Homme, a well-bred son of the Northern Dancer sire Nureyev who is out the Alydar mare Alydariel. Alydariel is a half-sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Terlingua, dam of legendary sire Storm Cat.

This female family packs plenty of stamina influences – Ramatuelle has also produced Moataz, a son of Elusive Quality who won up to 1 3/16 miles.

The Kentucky-bred Texas Red sold for a relatively modest 17,000 as a yearling at the 2013 Keeneland September sale.

Outlook

The 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby distance is no concern with Texas Red’s pedigree – the only matter will be whether he’s good enough.

His superiority was certainly difficult to envision entering the Juvenile. Texas Red’s late running style – tactical speed can be an asset in a 20-horse Kentucky Derby field – and the manner in which the front-runners collapsed (the top three Juvenile finishers were 11th, 10th and eighth, respectively, early in the race) gives some pause for concern.

Thoroughbred racing enthusiasts will be anxious to see if Texas Red can back up this performance going forward.

But he remains eligible to keep developing and there’s plenty to like about Texas Red’s potential at this stage.

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