Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Dream Shake upsets Bezos in eye-catching fashion
Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher enjoyed strong success with three-year-old maidens last week, saddling a trio of winners on Saturday. But arguably the most exciting sophomore to emerge over the weekend was Dream Shake, a Peter Eurton trainee who turned heads with a big effort at Santa Anita.
Let’s look back at how the action unfolded:
As a son of Quality Road out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare, Democracy is bred to run long, which makes his debut victory sprinting six furlongs at Gulfstream Park all the more impressive. A slow start could have left Democracy with too much to do, especially after he rushed back into contention through hot :22.19 and :44.88 fractions. But the Pletcher-trained colt put his stamina to good use in the final furlong, gallantly gaining 2 1/2 lengths to score by a nose in 1:10.91. He should only improve while stretching out in distance down the road.
Bob Baffert’s Bezos was favored at 3-5 to win a 6 1/2-furlong maiden dash on Sunday at Santa Anita, but when the big favorite faltered to finish seventh, Dream Shake stole the show. Reserved in eighth place behind an opening quarter mile in :23.40, the Peter Eurton trainee unleashed an eye-catching burst of acceleration around the turn, sweeping past rivals with a wide rally. Dream Shake was in command at the top of the stretch and only widened from there, scoring by 4 3/4 lengths in a quick 1:17.34. The son of Twirling Candy is bred to run long and appears to have a bright future.
After finishing fourth in his sprint debut behind subsequent Sam F. Davis (G3) winner Candy Man Rocket, Promise Keeper thrived when stretching out over one mile on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Sent straight to the lead over a sloppy track, the Pletcher-trained son of Constitution boldly carved out quick splits of :23.25, :45.61, and 1:10.75, then kicked on nicely down the lane to win by five lengths in 1:36.89. Produced by the Curlin mare Mira Alta, Promise Keeper is a half-brother to the capable route runners Wicked Awesome and War Stopper, so further improvement could be in the offing once Promise Keeper stretches out around two turns.
Although Unbridled Honor failed to threaten in his first two starts at Aqueduct, including a distant fourth-place finish behind future Withers (G3) winner Risk Taking, the son of Honor Code showed determination to graduate on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Racing one mile and 40 yards on the main track, Unbridled Honor saved ground while rating in mid-pack behind splits of :24.13, :47.86, and 1:12.48, then boldly split horses down the stretch to rally sharply up the inside and score by half a length in 1:41.11. This was a very professional effort from a colt bred to improve with maturity, so keep an eye on this Pletcher trainee through the winter and spring.