Never has there been a day so dominant for Todd Pletcher. The eyes of the horse racing nation were on three races at Gulfstream Park this Sunday afternoon; races seven, nine, and ten all had major Kentucky Derby and Oaks implications. Race seven was an allowance race for three-year olds going a mile and one-sixteenth. It was thought before the day that three or four nice Derby prospects were in this race. Race nine was the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes for three-year old fillies. The race was headlined by three hot Kentucky Oaks Prospects. The tenth was the Grade 3 Holy Bull for three-year old colts. This raced featured two-year old horse of the year Hansen, which most people thought was unbeatable at a mile. Pletcher had horses in all three races, but only had the favorite in one of them. What happened in these three races totally changed the landscape of Kentucky Derby and Oaks picture today. Now Pletcher has a strangle hold on both divisions.
El Padrino was Pletcher’s charge in the seventh. He was within striking distance of the early leaders early in the race, just waiting to make his move. Take Charge Indy, making his first start since finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, went out to a commanding lead entering the stretch, and looked to be pulling away. That’s when El Padrino dug deep, and launched a long sustained drive, flying by Take Charge Indy to win by two lengths. The victory puts him at the top of the list for Kentucky Derby contenders. His pedigree screams ten furlongs, so he might actually get better with added distance. I must say, looking at him and watching him run reminds me a lot of Curlin.
In the Forward Gal Stakes, Plecther had the favorite, Broadway’s Alibi. This one was simply breath-taking. She blazed out to an early lead setting a fast pace, and never looked back. She basically toyed with her competition, winning by an unbelievable 17 lengths. The performance reminded me of the great Rachel Alexandra; she simply ran them off their feet. Even though the race was only seven furlongs, Broadway’s Alibi is now the early favorite to win the Kentucky Oaks. I can’t wait to watch this horse stretch out in distance.
Then came the Holy Bull, the stiffest challenge for any Pletcher horse on the day. Algorithms was making just the third start of his career and he had to beat two-year old champion and unbeaten Hansen, who was making his three-year old debut. Hansen was heavily favored in the race, but he showed little resistance when Algorithms came to challenge at the top of the stretch. Once Algorithms got in front, he widened the lead and never looked back. Much like El Padrino, Algorithms has a great pedigree for going longer, so he’ll move up to the top of the list with his stable mate as far as Kentucky Derby horses go.