It’s midway trough February – time is really flying! Blink with the eye and we’re almost in May. Then when the run for the roses is upon us… the Kentucky Derby, the myth-enshrouded race along the iconic Churchill Downs twin towers. It’s one of those races I’m always looking forward to. It’s the atmosphere surrounding this event. Staged like the battle of titans. legends are born here. Will we see something special? Or may this even be the start for some colt to merge as a potential Triple Crown winner?
This year, the race is going to be ran on the 2nd of May. As always, the first Saturday in May. Yes, this may seem still almost three months away, but I said it before: time is flying. Qualifying races for the Derby are already under way. In fact some of the ‘thought to be main contenders’ have even shown their class this year.
It’s no surprise that Bob Baffert seems to have a very strong hand for the 2015 renewal – yet again. The two horses at the head of the ante-post market are trained by him. That is American Pharoah – he was mightily impressive as a juvenile last year. Though he missed the Breeders Cup due to a foot injury. He is reportedly back in training and will be back racing, probably next month.The other one is Dortmund, who showed his class this season already.
Indeed, it is this very good looking colt Dortmund who made me go down the ante-post route – which is rather unusual for me these days. But I do really like this horse. He has just started as well into his classic campaign as he ended his juvenile season: With ultimate success, protecting a 100% record!
So what is it about him? Well, Dortmund won his first two career starts by a combined 12 lengths +, including a runaway victory at Churchill Downs – which is the home of the Kentucky Derby of course. He followed on to win the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity Stakes in dramatic style at the end of last year. That day he stayed on strongly to win it in a photo, while setting a new 1 1/16 miles course record! Yes you read that right. This two year old colt set a new course record on only his third ever career start!
Dortmund reappeared in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes last week for his first race in the new year. He looked a bit fresh and keen early on, was bang on with the pace, and got himself locked up in a match race from halfway out. Turning for home he seemed beaten when dropping a good lengths behind the then leader Firing Line – who himself is a fancy for the Derby, and finished a narrowly beaten runner-up in the Los Alamitos behind Dortmund. But then Dortmund showed some impressive guts, something you wouldn’t see often in such a young horse. He fought his way back into the race! Close to the line, he eyeballed Firing Line and eventually emerged victorious – clearly on top when it really mattered!
One simply has to be impressed with what Dortmund has done so far in his short career. Keep in mind, according to his trainer, he actually didn’t quite fancies the Santa Anita dirt, but actually prefers the deeper Dirt tracks, like Churchill. And is if not enough, what really impresses me about this colt is his fabulous conformation. He is an absolutely stunning looking individual. He has this huge frame, these mighty long strides, and looks quite mature and very forward at this stage. With that in mind, he has the right profile for the Kentucky Derby. Reportedly he is still a big baby – mentally – but he should have learned plenty from these last tough battles.
After all he ticks almost all the right boxes: He Acts at Churchill Downs, a track that suits him very well. He proved his class and attitude at the highest level. Has the looks of a monster. He set a track record at Los Alamitos over 1 1/16 miles – as a two year old. is it too good to be true? Well, the only question mark is the Derby trip. He is bred more for speed actually, however he is a son of Derby winner Big brown nonetheless and there is stamina on the dam side down the generations. Also the way he finished his races are a fair indicator that he can get further. Given his relaxed character, he should have every chance to stay the Kentucky Derby distance.
Next stop is the Santa Anita Derby. After that we know much more about him. I duly expect him to oblige. If Dortmund wins indeed, you can be sure that he’ll be a very short price on Derby day. So I’ll be going now with the big 16/1 offer. I believe this colt is the real deal, as long as he stays healthy!
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