Unless a horse in next week’s Arkansas Derby makes a similar explosive move forward, Wood winner Wicked Strong ($20.40) will go into the Kentucky Derby with the top dirt TFUS speed figure in the field. The son of Hard Spun earned a 117 for his upset victory. (California Chrome received a 113 for his devastation of the Santa Anita Derby field.) That’s a 25 point career top for him, and congratulations to those of you who anticipated that off his form thus far this year, his “sneaky good” 4th in Constitution’s key race allowance win notwithstanding.
Here’s the result chart, with triple-digit figures across the board for the top seven finishers:
Not noted in the chart comments is that favored Social Inclusion was off just a half beat or so slowly; or perhaps we’ll just say that his break was not particularly sharp. That doomed any chance of him clearing the field after the short run to the turn. Instead, he was a good 3 wide throughout the turn as Luis Contreras was determined to get to the front. So much for the rating thing.
It was surely a strong pace that he set in tandem with Schivarelli. Note the strong pace figures, and the splits were 23.79 / 23.68 / 23.69 before they finally began to slow up front. When Social Inclusion finally cleared rounding the turn, Contreras was still high in the saddle and peeking behind, as Jose Ortiz was already working hard on Samraat, who had drafted behind the dueling leaders. Thought for a moment there that we were going to see something really special; but the pace took its toll. Surely, neither of those two were disgraced in defeat, as the race set up ideally for Wicked Strong, who saved ground early from his rail post, and was unencumbered by horses outside of him as he started his winning move approaching the final turn. Social Inclusion had his raw final time figure upgraded by two points to 115 for his early efforts on the pace; and Samraat by one point to 114 for his efforts tracking it.
That had to be a frustrating nose by which Social Inclusion lost second to Samraat. Will likely keep him out of the Derby, and he probably deserved better with the effort. Might all be for the best however. The Preakness, with its usual shorter field, will serve him far better than the calvary charge to the lead that we are virtually certain to see in the Derby. Samraat, who was already assured of a Derby slot, validated his prior races (as well as our speed figures, which had him – and Schivarelli and Uncle Sigh for that matter – rated higher than did the competition’s numbers). And he presumably gained some additional fitness and foundation for the big race. He certainly has the tactical speed to gain position and avoid traffic in the Derby. But it remains to be seen if his pedigree will carry him a mile and a quarter. (Which we can say for each and every one of the 20 that will ultimately comprise the field.)
Tough break for Gary Contessa and Uncle Sigh, who was left at the gate, four wide on both turns, yet still finished 5th and earned a solid speed figure. We should certainly be hearing more from that NY-bred as the season rolls along.
– We have our Top Play at Aqueduct up now, along with Horses in Focus for the Big A and Keeneland; and check back for updates with Santa Anita. Best of luck and have a great Sunday.