Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Skol Factor sprints away at Oaklawn

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 19th, 2020

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

Maroon Maniac: After finishing a close second in his debut going a mile on turf at Tampa Bay Downs, Maroon Maniac relished the chance to try the Tampa main track on Saturday. Sprinting to the lead over a damp surface labeled good, Maroon Maniac always held a clear advantage even while carving out modest splits of :25.04, :49.37, 1:13.58. From there, he proved uncatchable, widening down the stretch to win the 1 1/16-mile race by 2 3/4 lengths.

Trained by Jonathan Thomas for owner Robert V. LaPenta, Maroon Maniac stopped the timer in 1:45.44. A son of Violence out of the Arch mare Ms Arch Stanton, Maroon Maniac is bred for dirt and figures to stick to the main track for the foreseeable future.

Mecha Corta: It’s uncommon to see a horse sired by Kitten’s Joy prove best on dirt, but it appears Mecha Corte might be a rare exception. After finishing out of the trifecta in his first three runs on grass—usually the preferred surface for “Kittens”—Mecha Corte tackled a sloppy main track on Saturday at Gulfstream Park and battled to victory in a 1-mile maiden special weight.

With jockey Leonel Reyes in the saddle for trainer Fausto Gutierrez, Mecha Corta dueled for the lead through fractions of :23.51, :46.42, and 1:11.24 before gradually edging away from his pace rival down the lane, scoring by three-quarters of a length in 1:37.56. A St. George Stable homebred, Mecha Corta was produced from the stakes-placed Pulpit mare Super Natascha, a capable dirt performer who might be passing on her surface proclivities to Mecha Corta.

Skol Factor: Only time will tell how far Skol Factor wants to run, but he looked very promising when romping to victory in a 6-furlong maiden race on Apr. 11 at Oaklawn Park. Under the guidance of jockey Joel Rosario, Skol Factor assumed command through stiff fractions of :21.88 and :45.09 before finding another gear in the homestretch, remarkably sprinting the final two furlongs in :12.28 and :12.39 to pull away and win by 6 1/2 lengths in a snappy 1:09.76.

Purchased for just $37,000 as a yearling by the partnership of Hugh H. Robertson, John Mentz, and Jeff Larson, Skol Factor is a son of talented sprinter/miler The Factor out of the unraced Tiznow mare Kaiserin. Trained by McLean Robertson, the gray gelding finished second in his debut at Oaklawn behind future allowance winner Pneumatic, and judging from the way Skol Factor improved in his second start, there’s no telling how high he might eventually ascend.