The Jamaica Derby’s 99th running is scheduled for tomorrow but Public Opinion deadlines mean readers must be satisfied with a very early preview.
I’ll be looking at the horses I expect to be running as, at time of writing, declarations won’t be final for a few days. The public “experts” have written off this Derby as a foregone conclusion for impressive 2,000 Guineas and Governor’s Cup winner Supreme Soul but the good news for his rivals is that the Racing Rules insist the race be run and won on the racetrack. Since none of the starters have tried 2400 metres before, anything can happen. This race usually goes to one who stays the trip best (breeding is a key indicator of this) or, occasionally, a top class three year old (e.g. Thornbird) outclasses the opposition to such an extent that stamina becomes almost irrelevant. That’s unlikely to be the case tomorrow.
The thing about Supreme Soul (I hope you’re seated because I’m about to commit horse racing heresy) is that he’s far from sure to stay 2400m genuinely. His sire Soul Warrior won the 9 furlongs West Virginia Derby against fellow three year olds but had failed to see out 8.5 furlongs in the Iowa and Louisiana Derbies or 9 furlongs in the Louisiana Downs Super Derby. His only win after that was over 6.5 furlongs (1300m). His dam sire Friendly Lover produced mainly winners from 5-7 furlongs.
Now I hear oonu (oops, sorry, most unparliamentary of me, I mean “you all”) saying how strongly Supreme Soul has finished in his races especially the Governor’s Cup when he got going late under a welter weight. True BUT what happened in reality in his races, is that he hits a flat spot around 800m out and has to be encouraged to pick up again. Horse players must understand that, in every race, the last quarter is the slowest and those who appear to the naked eye to be “flying in the finish” are just not slowing down as markedly as those they overtake. In the Governor’s Cup, Supreme Soul appeared to be staying on stoutly because Sentient, in front 400m out, finished the last 400m in a pedestrian 28/1. Supreme Soul’s last 400m produced a last quarter split of 27.2 which isn’t great but better than the stoppers in front. Of note is that PRINCESS ANNIE, who was hampered on the inside over 600m out and missing in action 400m out, also closed in 27.2 and hit the wire hard. She’s a half sister to 2016 disqualified Derby winner Future King so seems likely to do even better going the extra 400m of the Derby and has a glorious chance of upsetting the howling favourite.
Two others merit consideration.
Crimson [Nuclear Wayne-Sarah Barracuda (Prized)]: I’m a big fan of this Nuclear Wayne sire (a son of multiple USA grade one and 2003 Horse of the Year winner Mineshaft out of a Storm Cat mare) who, in a brief stud career so far, has produced a 1,000 Guineas winner and Oaks 2nd in Nuclear Affair.
Crimson was unraced as a two year old but has proven himself a classy and progressive sort who got his final prep 6 days ago staying on well over 1400m behind importee Action Run. In only his second race, he was unlucky to be beaten by Oaks 2nd Princess Ava (received 1.5kg) having to change course repeatedly as the winner intimidated by drifting out. Having gained experience since then, he’s nailed on to reverse those places.
That form was boosted not only by Princess Ava’s second place in the Oaks but again by her facile win over two other Derby candidates Big Bang and Berry Boy. This line of form further emphasizes the prospects of Oaks winner PRINCESS ANNIE who is clearly superior to Princess Ava.
Crimson’s profile reminds me a lot of 1977 Derby winner Legal Light and I won’t be surprised to see him running a huge race tomorrow and becoming a big player in late season races like the Superstakes and Diamond Mile. He’s highly respected.
Bloodsweatandtears [Strikewhileitshot-Miss Nickels (Go for Gin)]: He entered the Derby picture with a good second to Big Bang over an obviously inadequate 1400m on April 6 but inexplicably switched headgear for the Guineas (flopped) and unwisely retained blinkers for a 1300m maiden on May 23. The visors were declared for his intended start over 1200m (June 5) but he was a late scratch. He’s bred for this trip (his dam sire is a Kentucky Derby winner) so is a very possible upsetter especially if it rains. Maybe he hasn’t recovered in time from whatever went wrong on June 5 but don’t be put off by his maiden status. He’s sure to be a different proposition at 2400m.
DERBY SELECTION: PRINCESS ANNIE
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
June 15, 2019 [TV+0.5 per 200m (Round) +8 (Sunshine Cat/She’s an Introvert; +4 Clearly Ours]
RESURGENCE (-1) smartly away today and the result was never in doubt (Race 7; $450,000 claimers/5yonw3; 1100m; TV+3) as he won by more than five lengths in 1:07.4! His CT (1:07.1) is 3/5th second faster the new $550,000 claiming tag and 1/5th faster than $600,000. He can run up a sequence.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Across the pond tomorrow, two important races namely the very popular 2 miles handicap the Northumberland Plate (Newcastle; tapeta surface) and the Irish Derby (12f; Curragh; turf; good to soft) are scheduled.
Last year’s easy winner of the Northumberland Plate, WITHHOLD, makes his seasonal reappearance here on an 8lbs higher mark but this should be no obstacle to a repeat win. He had been off the track since winning the 2017 Cesarewitch in October when he won last year after which he had a fling in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (Australia) over an inadequate twelve furlongs (creditable 5 lengths 8th of 15). Now back in a handicap, he looks a good thing.
The Irish Derby is likely to be another Aidan O’Brien benefit. His best two should be Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck and SIR DRAGONET, who finished a close 5th at Epsom on ground a bit too lively for him. Expect SIR DRAGONET to reverse the form on an easy surface.
Let’s close with a notebook horse coming out of Royal Ascot:
VALE OF KENT [4yo b.g. Kodiac-Red Vale Halling)] Only 3 lengths 7th of 28 in the Royal Hunt Cup despite being drawn on the “wrong” side and, like the winner, having his first run since October. He ran with credit in last season’s Britannia and this was a quality effort on his return. He’s as effective at 7f and has a big handicap in him perhaps at Glorious Goodwood (July 30-August 3) where he won the 7f Qatar (pronounced “Cutter” please) handicap last year off a 4lbs lower mark. He’s relatively unexposed winning 3 of his 12 lifetime starts and his form figures at Goodwood read 3214 from 4 starts.