Three Sophomores Jump Onto Kentucky Derby Trail

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D.S. Williamson

February 4th, 2018

This past Saturday on Feb. 3, a few three-year-olds showed that they might have what it takes to challenge on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Audible won the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Avery Island won the Withers at Aqueduct. Long shot Lombo took home the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita.

Check out an analysis of how I think each winner performed in this past Saturday's Kentucky Derby prep races.

2018 Holy Bull Stakes - Audible

Audible looked about as good when winning the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes as any three-year-old I've seen yet. He pretty much got into a speed duel, waited for Free Drop Billy to range up to him, and then pulled away from that horse in the stretch.

Because he's trained by Todd Pletcher, there's no reason to believe he doesn't show up huge in the Florida Derby. Jockey Javier Castellano rides. The one knock might be his breeding. His sire is Into Mischief. That's not the possible problem. The possible problem is that his dam is Blue Devil Bel. She was sired by Gilded Time.

Will Audible get the 1 1 /4 miles? We'll get more clues when he preps in the Florida Derby.

2018 Withers Stakes - Avery Island

Avery Island's win in the Withers Stakes on Saturday was much more impressive than it might have looked. Aqueduct's track was by no means favoring speed on Feb. 3. In fact, one could make a case that closers and pressers had the upper hand.

Avery Island held off two excellent pressers in Firenze Fire and Marconi. Avery Island, a Godolphin horse, should be taken very seriously. His dad is Street Sense. His mom's sire is A.P. Indy. Marconi, whom Tapit sired and is trained by Todd Pletcher, will only get better. Firenze Fire looks like a miler.

2018 Robert B. Lewis Stakes - Lombo

Michael Pender trained Lombo ran his competition off their feet in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 3. Jockey Flavien Prat secured the rail and then took off. When his competition tried to pressure him, Lombo took off again. Sired by Graydar, Lombo appears to have caught a suspect field. No McKinzie, no Bolt D'Oro, and no Instilled Regard showed up for the Bob B. Lewis Stakes.

Ayacara finished well to grab second. He might be a better Kentucky Derby prospect than Lombo. Ayacara is sired by Violence. His dam is a Pulpit broodmare. Of the two Ayacara, who's trained by Keith Desormeaux, could turn into the three-year-old that could challenge McKinzie and Bolt D'Oro on the West Coast.