I’m really starting to get excited about this 3-year-old crop. We’ve already had Union Rags and Hansen come out of their Breeders’ Cup Juvenile efforts with impressive wins and now the third place finisher from the race, Creative Cause, adds his name to the list of top Derby contenders. Speaking of the BC Juvenile, it’s worth noting that the last place finisher from that race, Prospective, just won the Tampa Bay Derby this weekend. If the Derby were run today, the 1-2-3-4-5-11-13 finishers from the Juvenile would all be in the field. Talk about a key race!
But back to Creative Cause, he really moved forward off that prep in the San Vicente improving his Beyer speed figure ten points to a 102. I’ve been saying for a while now that I really like the path Mike Harrington has laid out for this colt and it’s worked to perfection so far. It’s the same path Silver Charm used to get to the Run for the Roses and this colt reminds me a bit of the ’97 Derby winner in his grittiness and willingness to fight off a challenge. One thing you don’t have to worry about with Creative Cause is pace since he has such an adaptable running style, something that should be a valuable asset in Kentucky. Now it’s on to the Santa Anita Derby and a rematch with Bodemeister, plus a fresh challenge from I’ll Have Another, who worked an effortless six furlongs in 1:10 flat between races a couple weekends ago.
Quickly touching on some of the other three-year-old races this weekend, the Tampa Bay Derby was a very slowly run race, getting only an 88 Beyer. Despite having picked Golden Ticket in the race, the fact that he ran second coming off just a mediocre maiden win speaks to the quality of the field. I would actually argue that the Honeybee Stakes for three-year-old fillies at Oaklawn on Saturday could be a more important Derby prep than the Tampa race. On Fire Baby’s connections have said before that they are considering taking on males again with the big, grey filly and she gave them every reason to execute that plan after her convincing 99 Beyer win. Her pedigree doesn’t scream distance, but if anything, she’s improved since being stretched out to two turns.
The race that should have the biggest impact on Kentucky’s top Derby prep, the Blue Grass, was Sunday’s Palm Beach Stakes on turf at Gulfstream. Both first and second place finishers, Howe Great and Dullahan, are expected to come back in that Polytrack stakes. I’ve been rooting for Howe Great for a couple races now because I enjoy seeing his Sunday Silence sire line do well in this country. However, he looks like a turf horse—and a powerful one at that—so I hope his connections don’t push him too hard to make the Derby. Dullahan, on the other hand, ran quite well to finish fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall and a run at the Derby wouldn’t be such a stretch for him.