Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Mystic Guide delivers powerful victory
A weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby:
Trained by Mike Stidham, this Godolphin homebred has been cut out to be a star from the start. The chestnut colt is a beautifully-bred son of Horse of the Year Ghostzapper out of the versatile A.P. Indy mare Music Note, winner of five Grade 1 races ranging in distance from 7 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles.
Mystic Guide’s pedigree is geared toward late maturity and he didn’t debut until Feb. 15, when he contested a 6-furlong maiden sprint at Fair Grounds. The distance was surely too short for Mystic Guide, but the colt nevertheless produced a big rally after a slow start to finish third, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths while gaining fast at the finish.
On Saturday, Mystic Guide stretched out to 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds and delivered a powerful victory. Reserved in mid-pack early on, about three lengths off the pace, Mystic Guide swept into contention on the far turn and rallied clear with authority down the lane, pulling away to win by five lengths in 1:43.66. The best part of Mystic Guide’s performance was his powerful finish—he was full of run in the homestretch, sprinting the final five-sixteenths in an excellent :30.29.
Normally a horse like Mystic Guide would be getting started too late to vie for victory in the Kentucky Derby. But with the Run for the Roses postponed until Sept. 5, this exciting colt could develop into a major player on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this summer.
Although Warrior’s Map never seriously threatened in his first four starts, the son of Liam’s Map did show gradual improvement and put everything together with a convincing victory on Friday at Oaklawn Park. Facing older rivals in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race, Warrior’s Map sprinted to the front, carved out easy fractions of :23.83, :48.31, and 1:13.70, and kept going down the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths.
Warrior’s Map’s final time of 1:45.86 was modest, but landing in the winner’s circle against a capable field of older runners was a nice step in the right direction. Produced by the graded stakes-placed Holy Bull mare Warrior Maid, Warrior’s Map is trained by Larry Jones for owner-breeder Russell Welch.