Mendelssohn Returns a Winner in Patton Stakes
Another international candidate for the 2018 Kentucky Derby has arrived on the scene.Two days after Gronkowski threw his name in the ring with a late-running score in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition Stakes, the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) winner Mendelssohn made his highly-anticipated return to action in the March 9th Patton Stakes at Dundalk in Ireland and secured the victory as expected.
Racing for the powerful team of trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore, Mendelssohn was returning from a four-month layoff and racing over a synthetic track for the first time, but overcame these obstacles with authority. The son of Scat Daddy tracked the pace early, bid for the lead in the lengthy homestretch, and gradually wore down his front-running stablemate Threeandfourpence to win by three-quarters of a length, though he was confidently ridden by Moore and may have been a clearer winner than the margin indicates.
Mendelssohn led home a 1-2-3 sweep of the race for O’Brien, as the Group 1-placed Seahenge ran on from the back of the pack to finish third. While the final time of 1:38.80 for a mile was modest, Mendelssohn deserves credit for getting the job done off a layoff and while racing over an unfamiliar surface. In addition, Mendelssohn was carrying 134 pounds (and conceding five pounds to Threeandfourpence), a staggering impost by North American standards, though not uncommon in Europe.
For his effort, Mendelssohn received his third straight 115 Racing Post Rating, significantly higher than the 101 awarded to Gronkowski for his recent victory. The two colts are currently tied with Saxon Warrior atop the European Road to the Kentucky Derby standings with 20 points apiece, though it's worth noting that Mendelssohn has a huge advantage in terms of non-restricted stakes earnings, the tie-breaking criterion.
The big question mark is whether Mendelssohn can transfer his fine form on turf and synthetic tracks to dirt, though considering that he’s a half-brother to the two-time Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Beholder, the potential for success on dirt is certainly there. In any case, racing fans and handicappers will get a chance to see how Mendelssohn fares on dirt when he contests the March 31st UAE Derby (UAE-II) at Meydan in Dubai, where he is expected to face—among others—the Mine That Bird Derby winner Reride. At that point, it should become clearer where Mendelssohn fits among the elite Kentucky Derby contenders.