Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 18
A weekly look at under-the-radar 3-year-olds who could step up and make an impact on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby.
Recent Oaklawn Park maiden winner Ragtime Blues kept his momentum going with a comfortable allowance victory sprinting 6 furlongs last week at Santa Anita.
Favored at 4-5, the Bob Baffert-trained colt sped to the front with quick fractions of :21.99 and :45.10, opened up a 3 1/2-length lead in the homestretch, and stayed on strongly — although he drifted out down the lane — to score by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:09.89.
Zimba Warrior, previously third in the Bob Hope (G3) and Sham (G3) during the winter, came in second.
A son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, out of the Street Cry mare Home of the Blues, Ragtime Blues is bred to excel running long, so the talent he has shown sprinting is significant. Look for this $500,000 yearling purchase to show meaningful improvement when he stretches out in distance down the road.
It has taken Sprawl a bit of time to find his best stride.
A homebred racing for the partnership of Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, the son of City Zip lost six of her first seven start and tried both dirt and turf.
His efforts against stakes company were unremarkable. He struggled home sixth in the Street Sense S. over the Churchill Downs main track and seventh in the Dania Beach S. over the Gulfstream Park grass.
But Sprawl turned things around decisively when he returned from a two-month layoff in a 1 1/16-mile optional-claiming allowance Thursday at Churchill. Against older rivals, including the stakes-placed Tikhvin Flew, Sprawl was content to settle in third place, behind fractions of :23.68 and :47.23, before he moved up to challenge through 6 furlongs in 1:11.38. A brief struggle ensued, as Sprawl engaged Tikvin Flew for supremacy, but ultimately Sprawl forged clear to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:43.74.
Produced by the Awesome Again mare Amen Again, Sprawl is trained by Bill Mott, who secured his first Kentucky Derby victory with Country House last year.
It's too early to say if Sprawl will take Mott back to the Derby, but with a promising performance at Churchill Downs under his belt, it’s clear Sprawl is progressing in the right direction.