There were too many stars to count last weekend, which made picking just three extremely tough. Several races yielded big performances all across the country, especially at Tampa Bay Downs and Aqueduct. In the end, we gave the nod to three horses that surely have their connections dreaming of the Kentucky Derby. Let’s take look at who we picked:
Trainer Bill Mott is absolutely loaded with Kentucky Derby prospects this season. He extended his depth within the division in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby (G2) when Tacitus rolled home with a fast closing move to win the race by 1 1/4 lengths. After sitting in mid-pack early in the contest, jockey Jose Ortiz decided to go to the inside when making his move down the stretch. That move paid off as Tacitus was able to find an opening down on the inside while strengthening his stride late in the race to come away with the victory. He was able to defeat stakes horses in his first try at the level, which shows that his talent is very high. He should only get better as the year progresses towards the bigger races.
There was major speculation all week long that Saturday’s Gotham Stakes (G3) could set up perfectly for Haikal, which is exactly what happened. After all the speed horses set a wicked pace, they were exhausted down the lane, allowing the fast-closing Haikal to close beautifully and pick them all off right at the wire. In the end, it was a 1-length victory for the half-brother of Takaful, and he may have stepped out of his brother’s shadow after this win. Adding to the story, Haikal is a New York-bred, so it is a big deal that he could beat open company in a marque race in New York. The Wood Memorial (G2) will be his next start as he tries to stretch out in distance even farther for that contest.
Quietly, Somelikeithotbrown has made some noise along the Kentucky Derby trail with two wins at Turfway Park. Last Saturday, he took home the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) in impressive fashion by 3 1/4 lengths. As usual, the horse went straight to the front, which is his greatest weapon. Down the lane, you could tell that he would not be passed by any of the closers, despite the fact that he was running erratically down the entire stretch. Even though he was weaving in and out, his challengers never made up much ground. The major test comes next, when he tries the dirt for the first time. That will likely come in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.