Drama is building towards Kentucky Derby 137! Two out of three races this weekend were supposed to solidify a rising pair of three year old on the radar of Thoroughbred enthusiasts. What we're left with is one horse blowing away a less then stellar group in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and two favorites upset and out of the money in the Robert B Lewis Stakes and the El Camino Real Derby.
Personally, I expected Brethren to run a smart race finishing second or third in the Sam Davis. What unfolded was the showcase of a lively horse with more than enough to make the field of 20 in the Kentucky Derby. Will the Todd Pletcher horse have what it takes to win at a mile and and a quarter? Possibly! It helps Brethren's cause by being a half brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby Champion, Super Saver. The ties to imotality are there, but it takes more than the family tree for a horse to win the Derby. The intangibles are the fact that he's in the Pletcher barn and being a WinStar Farm product helps too. WinStar owned two out of three winners in Triple Crown races last year, Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby and Drosselmeyer at the Belmont. Stock in Brethren is going up and we'll hear a lot more about him through the next 3 months. My concerns rest in the overall time of the race, Brethren ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45:07. That's the slowest in six years and the best finish by a winner of the Sam Davis Stakes in the Kentucky Derby is 2nd by Bluegrass Cat in 2006.
Upsets were the trend in California as favorites Tapizar and Comma To The Top fell flat in their stakes races. Tapizar, sporting odds of 3-10, broke out of the gate at a blistering pace and led by two to three lengths in the first turn only to be tracked down with a furlong to go, faded and crossed the wire 5th. I'm not discouraged by Tapizar's performance. If he can be trained to hold his early speed, bottle it up for the last 1/4 mile, he can compete in a stretch run. At the head of the pack, Anthony's Cross edged out Riveting Reason for the win. Riveting Reason shows a lot of promise, but hasn't really come into his own at the moment. Again, the final time of the race was slow 1:48:63 after opening fractions that were moderate. The final time was the slowest since 1963! There may have been issues with the official time, but if 1:48:63 is the correct time, there's no way a horse from this race will finish in the money on Derby Day.
I'm still scratching my head trying to make sense of Comma To Top's 4th place finish in the El Camino Real Derby. He ran a good race up to the last 1/8, but when it came time to switch to another gear at the top of the stretch he just didn't have it. I was let down by a 4th place finish for Comma To The Top. Going into the weekend I felt finishing 2nd ,or at worst 3rd, wouldn't hurt Comma To The Top's overall Derby hopes. Seeing him in position to finish off the race strong, but fading back leaves me with concerns.