There is nothing quite like the Kentucky Derby Trail, which was in full swing last Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, and Santa Anita Park. The action was fast and furious, which provided us with some legitimate Derby Prospects. Here is how we ranked the performances in our latest Three Stars of the Week:
1. Tiz the Law
Tiz the Law came into Saturday’s Holy Bull Stakes (G3) looking for redemption, which is exactly what he got after storming home to a 3-length victory. After breaking like a rocket, jockey Manny Franco rated him off the early pace, sitting in fourth up the backside. He was stuck inside early; however, Franco guided him to the outside quickly, securing a good spot. On the turn, the colt came with a devastating kick, flying by the pace-setting Ete Indien with ease. In the stretch, he did duck in a bit approaching the wire, but he straightened up nicely for the victory. A win like this has him stamped as a top-five Kentucky Derby contender as we move forward.
2. Thousand Words
It’s doubtful that anyone will describe his victory at flashy, but Thousand Words certainly showed his rivals who’s boss with a gutty 3/4-length triumph in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3). The big Pioneerof the Nile colt sat in fourth up the backside, kindly rating behind the speed. On the turn, it looked as though he was going to get in some major traffic trouble, but he basically bulled his way through rivals to create room. From that point, he was able to finish up with a solid and steady grind, holding off all challengers with ease. Much like Tiz the Law, this win puts Thousand Words towards the top of everyone’s Kentucky Derby lists.
3. Max Player
The upset winner of the weekend came at Aqueduct, where the Linda Rice-trained Max Player stormed home at 9/2 to win the Withers Stakes (G3). After a smooth beginning, Max Player sat towards the back of the pack, waiting patiently in sixth, while the Remsen Stakes (G2) winner Shotski set the pace. Turning for home, you could tell Shotski was a bit tired, which opened the door for the closers. Max Player was moving best and swept seven-wide to the outside with a solid move. From there, the colt kept moving strongly, flying past the pacesetters for a 3 1/4-length score. This visually looked like the weakest of the Derby Preps, but it at least puts Max Player in the conversation for the first Saturday in May.