Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Pletcher strikes with two more winners

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 29th, 2020

A weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby:

Dr Post: A son of Quality Road out of the graded stakes-winning Hennessy mare Mary Delaney, Dr Post sold for $400,000 as a yearling and was heavily favored to win his debut at Belmont last July. He didn’t fire that day, finishing fourth behind future stakes winners Green Light Go and Another Miracle, but it’s safe to say Dr Post suffered a setback since he subsequently disappeared from action and didn’t return to serious training until December.

Since then, Dr Post has been on the rise. After turning in a steady string of workouts at Palm Beach Downs for trainer Todd Pletcher, Dr Post returned in a 7-furlong maiden sprint on Sunday at Gulfstream Park. Favored at even-money with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the saddle, Dr Post settled about three lengths behind quick fractions of :22.51 and :45.62 before rallying gamely to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:22.37.

Owned by St. Elias Stable, Dr Post is nominated to the Triple Crown and figures to eventually step into stakes company. The postponement of the Kentucky Derby due to the COVID-19 outbreak will buy Dr Post a lot of time to develop through the spring and summer.

Rhythm Section: Trained by Pletcher, Rhythm Section wasn’t ambitiously placed for his first run, debuting on Feb. 20 in a $50,000 maiden claiming race over the Gulfstream Park turf course. Disregarded at 7-1, the son of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah produced a surprisingly sharp rally from off the pace to finish second by a neck, prompting a jump to maiden special weight company last Friday at Gulfstream.

Once again, Rhythm Section failed to show early speed, but around the far turn he unleashed an eye-catching rally under Luis Saez to sweep past rivals and seize the lead. He did race greenly down the lane, drifting in sharply and losing momentum in the process, but nevertheless Rhythm Section dug down to win by a nose in the solid time of 1:41.04.

Produced by the Unbridled’s Song mare Rhythm and Rhyme, Rhythm Section is a half-brother to a pair of runners who won multiple races on dirt, so his pedigree suggests switching to the main track could be an option down the road.