Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Creed, Uncle Chuck romp to easy victories
A weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby:
After finishing a close second in his debut sprinting at Tampa Bay Downs, the Shug McGaughey-trained Creed broke through with an impressive victory on Thursday at Belmont Park. Racing 1 1/16 miles, the son of Honor Code raced off the pace early on before unleashing a strong mid-race move to seize command. Down the lane he powered clear under Jose Ortiz to dominate by 7 3/4 lengths, stopping the clock in 1:44.20 over a muddy track. Produced by the graded stakes-placed Seeking the Gold mare Aspiring, Creed is bred to handle classic distances and appears poised to enjoy a strong summer.
Man of Honor
Though Man of Honor was beaten in his first six starts, the son of Curlin took a big step forward in a 6-furlong maiden race on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, rallying smartly from behind fractions of :22.22 and :45.68 to pull away and score by 5 3/4 lengths. Trained by Louie J. Roussel, who owns the bay colt in partnership with Ronald Lamarque, Man of Honor completed the race in 1:10.40 while guided by jockey Edgar Prado. Since Curlin sires long-winded runners and damsire Saint Liam won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) en route to Horse of the Year honors, there’s no reason to think Man of Honor can’t sustain his newfound momentum over longer distances.
A late nominee to the Triple Crown, Uncle Chuck joined the Derby trail in impressive fashion on Friday at Santa Anita. Favored at even-money in a mile maiden race, the well-bred son of Uncle Mo overcome a slow start to carve out fractions of :23.16, :46.51, and 1:11.10 before widening with authority under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith to cruise by 7 lengths. The Bob Baffert-trained youngster hit the wire in a snappy 1:36.78, delivering a resounding victory for the partnership of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. Injuries have taken Baffert’s Arkansas Derby (G1) winners Nadal and Charlatan off the Derby trail, but Uncle Chuck might develop into a highly capable understudy.