5 to watch at Turfway, Oaklawn, Gulfstream
A huge Road to the Kentucky Derby pre-race weekend is on the schedule, with lucrative events at Turfway, Oaklawn and Gulfstream.
There are also competitive inaugural special weights that take place at all three tracks. Let’s dig into the entries and find out five of the most promising non-race prospects that will debut.
Turfway Park Race 1: Inaugural Special Weight (six furlongs on Tapeta, 12:45 p.m. EDT)
No. 6 Blue Devil
Pedigree: Uncle Mo–Apologize, by Lemon Drop Kid
Purchase price: $300,000
Coach: Rodolphe Brisset
The biggest race day of the year at Turfway Park kicks off with a special first weight for 3-year-olds, in which Blue Devil steps up as an intriguing rookie. Son of champion and successful sire Uncle Mo, Blue Devil was produced by Apologize, a daughter of champion and Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid.
This is a pedigree of miler speed and classic endurance, so Blue Devil has the potential to become a talented two-trick racehorse. Until recently, he was training in California with Bob Baffert, including five furlongs from the Santa Anita starting gate in 1:00.4. Now Blue Devil are based in Keeneland with Rodolphe Brisset, and a promising start could be in sight.
Oaklawn Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 1:42 p.m.)
Speed Bias #7
Pedigree: Uncle Mo–Hot Summer, by Malibu Moon
Purchase price: $220,000
Coach: Brad Cox
Let’s see. Uncle Mo is the father of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. Malibu Moon is the sire of Kentucky Derby Orb winner. And Hot Summer won graduated stakes over distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile and spawned four winners from four starters. Clearly, there’s a lot of class to Speed Bias’ pedigree.
Coached by two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox (a 21% winner at Oaklawn this meet), Speed Bias showed great speed in the morning practice. Originally based in California (where he’s posted several ball workouts), Speed Bias has been training in Oaklawn for the past few weeks, most recently six furlongs from the starting gate at a time. record of 1:12.8. He looks like a threat to win on his debut under jockey Florent Geroux.
Pedigree: Mastery – Spanking, by Blame
Purchase price: $260,000
Coach: Dallas Stewart
Dallas Stewart didn’t saddle many starters at Oaklawn this game, but they won by a solid 20%, a statistic suggesting Spankster is worth watching on Saturday.
Son of juvenile Grade 1 winner Mastery, Spankster was produced by Spank, a daughter of champion and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame. It’s a pedigree with a lot of stamina, so we shouldn’t necessarily expect Spankster to pull off a winning shot by sprinting six furlongs on his debut. But Spankster has put up an encouraging work tab at Oaklawn, and Stewart is hitting a respectable 14% with early starters, so Spankster could be showing more early sparks than his pedigree suggests.
Gulfstream Park Race 8: Inaugural Special Weight (seven furlongs, 3:01 p.m.)
No. 4 I wish you good luck
Pedigree: American Freedom – Listen to Libby, by Indian Charlie
Purchase price: $550,000
Coach: George Weaver
A $550,000 acquisition at auction, Wish You Well comes from a family of productive women. His dam is Listen to Libby, whose previous foals include Buffalo County winner Trace Franklin (G3) Chanteline and two-time Stakes winner Kell Paso, 2017 Sunland Park Oaks runner-up.
Chanteline and Kell Paso took their signature sprint wins, and in general there’s a lot of speed in Wish You Well’s pedigree, so dashing seven furlongs on her debut should suit the chestnut filly just fine. Coach George Weaver has been hot at Gulfstream this winter, going 6 for 29 (21%), so don’t discount Wish You Well.
#11 Easy to Love
Pedigree: Empire Maker–Vaulcluse, by AP Indy
Purchase Price: N/A
Coach: Bill Mott
What will be the optimal running surface for Easy to Love? It’s hard to predict. Sire Empire Maker won the Belmont Stakes on dirt, but his offspring showed versatility, with many excelling on synthetic surfaces. Vaulcluse’s dam was also the best on clay, winning the Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs in record time, but her best colt to date is Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) winner Lukes Alley, a star of the grass which has also won several graduated participations on synthetic. .
One thing is certain: Easy to Love is bred to thrive on long running, as all of her ancestors and immediate relatives have achieved their iconic victories by running a mile or more. Seven furlongs is probably too short for Easy to Love, although on the bright side she has posted three training sessions at Payson Park since February 27, suggesting she will be fit for a competitive effort on Saturday. No matter how well it performs, look for Easy to Love to run better when stretching on the road.