Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Charlatan brings memories of Justify

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

February 17th, 2020

Take a look at horses that may be running under the radar in this weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby:

Attachment Rate:

After losing his first two starts sprinting, the Dale Romans-trained Attachment Rate appreciated the chance to stretch out over a mile on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. After settling well behind a fast pace, Attachment Rate progressed smoothly around the turn, seized command at the quarter pole, and cruised the final quarter in :25.40 over a sloppy track to win by 6 1/4 lengths. His final time of 1:35.03 was quick and perhaps a testament to Attachment Rate’s classy pedigree. A son of Hard Spun out of an Afleet Alex mare, Attachment Rate is bred to relish classic distances and should continue improving with maturity.


Just how many talented 3-year-olds does trainer Bob Baffert have in his barn? We’re starting to lose count after watching Charlatan obliterate three rivals in a 6-furlong maiden sprint on Sunday at Santa Anita. After carving out fractions of :21.89 and :44.72, Charlatan powered clear down the stretch to win by 5 3/4 lengths in the blazing time of 1:08.85, earning a 101 Brisnet Speed rating. A son of Speightstown out of the graded stakes-winning mare Authenticity, Charltan sold for a hefty $700,000 as a yearling, but that price seems like a bargain following his spectacular debut. Can he follow in the footsteps of Baffert’s Triple Crown champion Justify, who debuted with a similarly stunning victory on Feb. 18, 2018? Stay tuned.

Fort Knox:

Although Fort Knox lost his first four starts for Calumet Farm and trainer Keith Desormeaux, stretching out in distance has made a big difference for the son of Goldencents. After finishing third in a 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds maiden race on New Year’s Day (the winner was future Risen Star runner-up Major Fed), Fort Knox broke through in a big way when stretching out to 1 1/8 miles at Fair Grounds on Saturday. After tracking reasonably quick fractions of :23.64 and :47.96, Fort Knox took over on the far turn and pulled away strongly down the lane, sprinting the final furlong in :12.86 to win by 8 3/4 lengths. It’s safe to say Fort Knox is heading in the right direction, and while he still needs to up his game in the speed figure department, at least we know he relishes racing around two turns.