The AR Derby (Grade 1) (KYD)- $1,000.000 Purse
OP- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
April 14, 2018
We’ve reached the end of the prep race season. While there are some points available in the Coolmore Lexington, this 100 point race is the last big chance to qualify for the KYD. Favorites such as Pretty Ferro, Zombie City, and Lane Frost were recently joined by Gene Chandler and Ride Or Die in knowing where they would be racing on the first Saturday in May. Now, let’s put the final pieces of this puzzle together in the 13th running of the AR Derby. Mrs Bombastic, Viking Shield, and Condottieri were some of the more well known winners of the race in the past. No winner of the AR Derby has gone on to win the KYD, but Copper Beast in 2016 missed by just a neck. We all know what Mrs Bombastic did in the PRK after bypassing the KYD! The gate is full, let’s meet the field, while focusing a little more on their KYD qualifying predicament other then reciting past wins and the like.
#1- La Grande Terre (Smokey Stover, ridden by P Lopez)- There would be no wins to speak of anyway for La Grande Terre, who is amazingly still a maiden. He is running so well, that it would be absolutely foolish to stop entering him in these races. He has 22 points, which ranks him 24th overall, so he is seemingly on the outside looking in. However, with eight Mb Stables horses in front of him being cut to three, you could say he is 19th, which is very vulnerable to the outcome of this race. As good as Smokey Stover has been, and he’s been brilliant, he needs La Grande Terre to get in the field in order for himself to get in. Wouldn’t it be funny to see him get in the KYD with a second or third, and then break his maiden in the KYD?
#2- One Hen (Gdp Inc, ridden by L H Colon)- The trainer is hoping for the Mrs Bombastic path with this unexpected entry. She’s mostly been on the turf as well, and while she has run well, I can’t say that I saw it coming that she would be here. She has no KYD points as this is the first time she has run against the boys. It would be a rather startling upset, but you have to wonder why she is not targeting the KYO here? The answer could be that the trainer looks pretty good on that side of the ledger with the likes of Jinxed Queen and Molly Magne.
#3- Gumshoe (EasyMoney Stables, ridden by C S Nakatani)- The winner of the BC Juvenile has had a good 2018, but it has not been good enough to keep him from being on the bubble. His 30 points rank him 20th overall, and there are six Mb Stables horses ahead of him, so with them being cut to three, Gumshoe looks a little better, but is not an automatic if he fails to get a top four finish here, and the ones that do all go by him on the leaderboard. Plus, he’s one that needs to keep an eye on the Coolmore Lexington, too. Ten points for him should be all that it takes, as his Juvenile win helps him in tiebreaker scenarios due to the higher graded earnings.
#4- Wicked Orange (Allinthegate, ridden by R Bejarano)- After a strong two year old season, Wicked Orange has not been able to pick up much in the way of points this year. He ranks 37th, with 11 points, so suffice to say he needs a strong result here. Third might be enough, but it’s a top two finish that Allinthegate will be after. Put forth a bullet work at SA in late March, which shows that he is poised to bounce back after a disappointing race in the Gotham.
#5-Indistinguishable (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- While the trainer has many horses in the top 25, interestingly he only has one in the top 12, so the choices that he makes is not something that he can do Blindfolded. Indistinguishable is 26th overall, with 20 points, and is the ninth-ranked horse for the trainer. He has the most points of any of the three entered by the trainer, so you have to think he is particularly high on Indistinguishable and wants him in the KYD. Or, he just wants the AR Derby purse, which is plenty of incentive too.
#6- Subutai (EasyMoney Stables, ridden by F Geroux)- This is a horse that I really happen to like, and think he has been unlikely this prep race season, especially with his post draw in the LA Derby. He likes to come from off the pace, and does well to get in the mix at the end. Unfortunately, the lack of a key victory this year means his 18 points are only good enough for 30th on the leaderboard. If someone in here is due for a reversal of fortune and to get a break here, Subutai is a good candidate.
#7- Secret To Success (Mb Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- Ran here last month in the Rebel, and finished fourth. Two days later, he paid the ultimate sacrifice, losing his ability to breed, and that’s not something that, at least from my vantage point, Mb Stables will do in a hasty fashion. Is that going to be the secret to success for this one? He’s managed five points in the Derby chase thus far, placing him 50th. He’ll need a big result here to get the trainer to consider him for the KYD.
#8- Nowhere Man (Smokey Stover, ridden by R J Albarado)- This is the second chance for Smokey Stover to find his way into the KYD, and Nowhere Man will need to be up to the task, as he does not have any KYD points now, since he really has not been on the trail this year. He’s got graded experience, so he can step up well, and it is promising to see improvement in recent mile works. If you’re looking for a Ride Or Die of the AR Derby, he may be the one.
#9- Erupt (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by A A Gallardo)- Congratulations to the trainer on what has been a spectacular prep race season for him. He’s been lost in the shuffle a little bit, but D J C has three horses in the top 14. Erupt is not one of them, so with a big result, it wouldn’t only be Mb Stables forced to cut his entries to three due to the game’s unfortunate entry rule. With 12 points, Erupt is 36th in the points, and will need a top two finish here for the trainer to consider him over his top three, I think. Third could be enough if he was not forced to limit his selection.
#10- Liverpool Rocket (Estero Farms, ridden by F Pennington)- The trainer has had an excellent season in his own right, and is the proud owner of Pretty Ferro, who will be one of the KYD favorites. Estero Farms also has Regret Nothing locked into the race, so if he could get Liverpool Rocket into the field, he would be another trainer with three entries. As for this gelding, he has 18 points, and sits in the 31st spot on the leaderboard. His scenario is therefore a lot like Subutai, who has the same amount of points in that a top three finish is probably enough in this race, but he’ll be hoping for more breathing with a top two spot.
#11- Dastardly Havoc (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- The third of the entries for Mb Stables in this field, and he has 14 KYD points so far, putting him 34th overall. So far, all he has is his maiden win, but has been able to cash a check of some sort in several graded events. That would be good enough for most of us, but for Mb Stables, it seems unlikely that he would be chosen unless he won this race, and even then it might not be an automatic.
#12- Storming Cobra (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden V Espinoza)- The trainer hopes to get this Snakie foal into the big race with some AR Derby heroics. After being purchased in private sales for $80.000, he’s won twice, including the Davis Stakes at TAM. That earned him 10 points, and that’s good enough for 39th on the leaderboard at this time. Will likely be looking to come from behind.
#13- Sacred Brave (Blushing Meadows, ridden by J L Ortiz)- When I covered the LA Derby last month, I was very impressed with the run of Sacred Brave, even if it was simply a third place finish. Starting from way outside, he ran on the lead most of the way, and in the stretch, he dug in impressively to remain third. With a better starting spot, maybe he would have held on. Unfortunately for the trainer, he just can’t win with the post draws for this horse, but at least he knows Sacred Brave can do it. His 20 points rank him 28th overall, so another third place run may be all it takes.
#14- Babalu Time (Night Rider Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- One spot ahead of Sacred Brave on the KYD leaderboard, in 27th, sits Babalu Time who also has 20 points. Babalu Time has stayed at OP lately, and won both the Smarty Jones and the Southwest here in the winter months. Unfortunately for the trainer, that only amounts to the 20 points. He was here for the Rebel as well, but was not a contender. Not helping the cause is this outside post, something that unlike Sacred Brave, he doesn’t have much experience with.