This past weekend delivered what I thought appeared to be another weak Kentucky Derby prep and the potential coming out party of a turf superstar in the making.
Will Take Charge blew up the toteboard in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn park Saturday afternoon, beating Oxbow by a hard-fought head. The Beyer Speed Figure for this race came back at a 95, but the race as a whole left me completely underwhelmed. I’m not going to get in-depth into this race, simply because I still don’t think we’ve seen a serious Kentucky Derby threat in any of the prep races at Oaklawn Park this season. Oxbow has proven that he’s a consistent horse, but I don’t think he’s as good as some of the horses in Florida or California at the moment – which in turn makes me think that the majority of the runners in the Rebel aren’t in the same class as their fellow three-year olds placed elsewhere throughout the country. Will Take Charge has the right to improve off this effort – he’s run a couple nice races on a fast dirt surface, with his only real clunker coming on an off track. Super Ninety Nine ran a less than impressive in the Rebel, leading me to have no other choice but to wonder if he truly just excels on a wet surface. He ran really well in his race at Santa Anita in January, but his effort Saturday afternoon really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. My selection, Carving, was so far behind the pack early on that a suicidal pace couldn’t have gotten him into the mix. Maybe he’s just a nice allowance/overnight stake horse? There’s still time for him to develop, but he was overmatched in this spot. Treasury Bill didn’t have the easiest of trips, but there really didn’t seem to be a huge excuse for his dull effort. Delhomme did nothing but just confirm what I thought about the horses coming out of the Remsen – I don’t want any of them going forward. All in all, I think the Rebel was a rather weak race on the whole. Time will tell.
Bright Thought is an absolute monster, and he is surely a turf superstar in the making. I expected him to win the San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday – but I didn’t think he’d win the race the way in which he did…and that’s what excites me the most. In his prior two turf efforts, Bright Thought had led gate to wire, a running style that I thought he’d be successful with. However, Gary Stevens and Slim Shadey decided to push past Bright Thought heading into the clubhouse turn and set the tone down the backstretch. At this point, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but there was one thing I did know – no matter how “fast” the Santa Anita turf course is playing, Slim Shadey was FLYING on the front end for a twelve furlong race. Bright Thought settled nicely, moved up on the leader entering the far turn and proceeded to kick clear as they came for home. You could argue the competition that Bright Thought faced was spotty – some horses couldn’t stay the trip, while others were just simply off form. All that being said, it’s hard to argue with the way that he so easily dispatched this field in only his third career start on turf. Reports have Bright Thought being pointed to the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day…which could be a pretty lofty goal considering he could potentially be facing the likes of Wise Dan and Point of Entry. He could be overmatched in a spot like this, but I love the idea of him getting to take on the top horses in the division. He’ll be a solid price if the matchup(s) come to fruition, and I’ll be anxiously waiting to play him back. Bright Thought put forth a monster effort in the San Luis Rey on Saturday afternoon.