Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 21
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.
Godolphin and trainer Brendan Walsh may have lost Maxfield to injury, but at least they’ve regained Banks Island, a promising son of Tapit, out of the Storm Cat mare Burgundy Ice. A dominant maiden winner sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Fair Grounds on Dec. 27, Banks Island took time off during the winter and didn’t return to action until June 14, when he emerged from hibernation in a 6 1/2-furlong, optional-claiming allowance at Churchill Downs.
The results were eye-catching. Overlooked in the betting at 14-1, Banks Island settled a few lengths behind fractions of :22.98 and :46.20, then rallied smoothly under jockey Brian Hernandez to edge past the Grade 1 runner American Butterfly and prevail by 1 1/2 lengths.
A half-brother to Take Charge Brandi S. winner Sunset Wish, Banks Island has enough stamina in his pedigree to suggest two turns won’t be an issue. Many of Tapit’s best runners improve with maturity, so it’s unlikely we’ve seen Banks Island’s finest just yet.
Racing for Someday Farm and trainer John Servis — the same team behind popular 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones — Dreams Untold flashed signs of significant potential when he broke his maiden by 14 1/4 lengths Jan. 4 at Parx Racing. Subsequently, the chestnut gelding endured a horrible start in the 1-mile Miracle Wood S. at Laurel Park, where he impressively rallied back into contention but flattened out to finish fifth.
In a normal year, this setback would have derailed Dreams Untold’s Kentucky Derby dreams, but the postponement of the Run for the Roses has put him back into the picture. After four months off, the Pennsylvania-bred youngster returned to action in a 6-furlong allowance Wednesday at Delaware Park, where he led all the way to score by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:10.58.
Could Dreams Untold take Someday Farm and John Servis back to the Derby? It’s too early to say. But you couldn’t ask for a better story, considering Dreams Untold is a son of — you guessed it — Smarty Jones.