Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 8
Here is our 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.
After he was disqualified from maiden and allowance victories because of positive post-race drug tests, Blackberry Wine slipped back into maiden company for a 1 1/16-mile event Saturday at Oaklawn Park.
Having previously competed in a division of the Risen Star (G2), Blackberry Wine took a huge drop in class and performed accordingly. Favored at 3-5, the Joe Sharp-trained son of Oxbow tracked the early pace, took over effortlessly heading into the far turn, and pulled clear without any special urging to win by 13 lengths.
His final time of 1:44.48 was slightly quicker than Nadal ran in the Rebel (G2) later in the afternoon, which suggest Blackberry Wine is poised to rejoin the Road to the Kentucky Derby next time out.
After finishing a distant third in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs last fall, Lebda ended his juvenile campaign with a couple of disappointing runs in the Nashua (G3) and Heft S., which pushed him off the radar a bit.
But the son of Raison d’Etat has bounced back sharply at Laurel Park this winter. He won the 1-mile Miracle Wood S. and 1 1/16-mile Private Terms S. in succession. He was particularly impressive in the Private Terms, where he tracked a runaway leader before he seized command to win by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:44.87.
Though he’s not currently nominated to the Triple Crown, Lebda’s success this winter could prompt trainer Claudio Gonzalez and owner Euro Stable to supplement their colt to the series.
Entered to race in the Louisiana Derby (G2) on Saturday, Lynn’s Map could be a dark-horse contender to upset the field. The son of Liam's Map has tactical speed and defeated recent Rebel (G2) runner-up Excession in a Dec. 21 allowance race at Fair Grounds.
A slow start compromised Lynn’s Map’s chances in the second division of the Risen Star (G2) last month, but the Mark Casse-trained colt rallied resolutely to finish sixth, beaten just four lengths. Lynn’s Map was the only runner to gain significant ground in the homestretch, which suggests he can take a step forward in the Louisiana Derby, if he has a better break.