The Kentucky Derby bubble horses are anxious as anything can happen in the next few weeks before the classic event on May 6. Churchill Downs will be the venue and there are several runners that have to prepare without truly knowing what their fate may be.
The Derby bubble horses are at the mercy of who might get hurt and drop out of consideration for the Derby.
It has been one of the goals of the powerful Godolphin group to win the Kentucky Derby and they have one of the Derby bubble horses in Thunder Snow.
That runner is on the outside looking in at this point but he has the talent and the connections to make some noise if he travels to Kentucky. Thunder Snow is trained by the brilliant Saeed bin Suroor and the runner has won half of his eight starts. Two of those wins came on turf and he won his last two races on the dirt course in Dubai. He is a Group 1 winner on turf and he proved he will not be intimidated by a big field as he just beat 15 in the UAE Derby at Meydan in late March. He was a late nominee to the Kentucky Derby but his connections also could opt for other major events in Europe.
Conquest Mo Money is another one of the Derby bubble horses with 60 points but he is not nominated to the Triple Crown. His owners would have to come up with $200,000 in fees by May 3 in order to see Conquest Mo Money in the big race. Conquest Mo Money has been very consistent in his career. He won his first three races, all at Sunland Park, and the Beyer Speed Figures were escalating. He had the misfortune of breaking from post 11 in the Sunland Derby and had to settle for second while being well clear of the third horse. In the Arkansas Derby he tried hard out running his 17-1 odds when second. One of the things that Conquest Mo Money has going for his is a solid pedigree. His unraced dam is a sibling to a pair of horses that were stakes performers and earned at least $400,000. For those researchers that do deep in Conquest Mo Money’s blood, they will find Touch Gold, who took the Belmont Stakes and won over $1.6 million.
Malagacy entered the Arkansas Derby unbeaten but he was out of the money and appeared to be laboring. He already earned enough points to start in the Kentucky Derby but he doesn’t seem to pass the eye test. With the pace of the Kentucky Derby always hot, the race probably would not suit Malagacy and his connections may be better off waiting. There will be plenty of options for him down the line including the shorter Preakness Stakes.
If they come up with the cash, the first two Derby bubble horses will be Cloud Computing and Untrapped. Cloud Computing is right on the cusp as he is 20th in the Kentucky Derby list. He has only won one sprint in his career but he ran solidly in J Boys Echo’s Gotham and was a decent third in Irish War Cry’s Wood Memorial win.
Untrapped is 21st on the Kentucky Derby point list. His best asset probably is the fact he has won at Churchill Downs and he has been Graded placed several times. He was hung wide in the Arkansas Derby and will need to improve. Untrapped is trained by Steve Asmussen, who also trains the 22nd horse, Lookin at Lee. If this horse is going to win he will not only need luck getting into the race, he will need luck during the race. The son of Lookin at Lucky has zero speed and that immediately makes him a possible traffic victim. He has won twice, both at Ellis Park.
The next three Derby bubble horses are Sonneteer, Royal Mo and Local Hero and they all have 30 points. Sonneteer is another that is speed challenged and he is still a maiden. Maidens have won the Derby. The first was Buchanan, in 1884. Sir Barton won as a maiden in 1919 and went on to sweep the Triple Crown. Brokers Tip, the final maiden to win the Derby, in 1933, never won another race, finishing his career with one victory in 14 starts.
Royal Mo showed his class winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes early in the year but he tired badly in the Rebel before rebounding for a third in the Santa Anita Derby. Royal Mo’s quality is about his tactical speed and solid blood as a deep sibling in the pedigree is a horse named Irish Linnett. That runner won 13 stakes in the career and earned over $1.1 million.
Local Hero has been in the money every time but only has won win. He got away with an uncontested lead that day and that will probably not happen in the Kentucky Derby. He also will be facing his arch rival in Girvin, who won the Risen Star and then took the Grade 1 Louisiana Derby.
Mike Battaglia is the odds maker at Churchill Downs and he is leaning toward making Classic Empire the favorite for the May 6 Kentucky Derby. The runner had kind of a set up with a lot of speed horses when he won the Arkansas Derby but he did finish without being fully extended it seems. The line maker is also leaning toward Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming and Wood Memorial winner Irish War Cry taking a big portion of the betting action.
At this point in time, this sophomore crop does not look like the best we have seen in recent years. Of course, the way to evaluate young horses like this comes later in the year when they face older rivals. It just doesn’t appear to be a Triple Crown type horse in this year’s group.
In these last few weeks before the Kentucky Derby, fans need to pay attention to how these runners are working up to the big race and how who the riders be at post time. Antonio Sano trains Gunnevera, who is eighth on the point standings. He will be relying on Javier Castellano to deliver the goods. Castellano could have also decided to ride Malagacy but Gunnevera is a more proven commodity.
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