Last weekend’s real winners from Kentucky Derby prep races

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

April 11th, 2017

The “big three” prep races took place this past weekend at Aqueduct, Santa Anita and Keeneland and the ones who moved up in my view were a pair of sophomores who didn’t even run!

After coming away unimpressed by the winners of the Wood Memorial (G2), Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Blue Grass (G2), I thought ALWAYS DREAMING moved forward to be the clear Kentucky Derby leader in a big way. The Florida Derby (G1) romper is far from a finished product, but his progression and recent romp at Gulfstream Park hint we are witnessing a star in the making.

Trained by living-legend Todd Pletcher, the son of 2012 Kentucky Derby runner-up Bodemeister landed in a crop with little depth and star power. He’s quickly risen to the mountaintop especially after last weekend’s results.

We watched a questionable Wood field combined with a pedestrian version of the Santa Anita Derby and to top it all off, a maiden bagged the Blue Grass Stakes. The competition left me wanting for more.

Take nothing away from IRISH WAR CRY, IRAP and GORMLEY, but each of the winners had ideal trips and none came home with the fervor I hoped for. Of the group, Irish War Cry earned the most attention going forward but the pressure was on after a Fountain of Youth (G2) clunker, making the Wood a make-or-break race, and I question whether he will have more to offer in the Kentucky Derby.

My opinion of THUNDER SNOW also got elevated after last weekend. The Godolphin colorbearer is all class and perfect on the dirt following a triumph over a solid international field in the UAE Derby (UAE-G2).

If an import is to ever take down the most popular race in the U.S., 2017 is as good of a time as any. The talented colt deserves to be taken seriously in Louisville, especially if he trains well in the Bluegrass State for connections that have bagged just about every race worldwide.

(Kenny Martin/Adam Coglianese Photo)