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Kentucky Derby 2015: Carpe Diem Looking for Blue Grass-Kentucky Derby Double

Kentucky Derby 2015: Carpe Diem Looking for Blue Grass-Kentucky Derby Double: The Blue Grass Stakes, currently sponsored by Toyota, is one of the best prep races for three-year-old colts and geldings targeting a start in the Kentucky Derby. The last horse to actually accomplish the Blue Grass-Kentucky Derby double was in 1979, when Spectacular Bid made a run at the Triple Crown. In more recent years, horses such as Dance With Fate (6th in Derby), Dullahan (3rd in Derby), and Brilliant Speed (7th in Derby) have attempted it without much success. This year, one colt came home three lengths ahead of his competition, stamping himself as a possible favorite in the 141st Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby 2015 Carpe Diem

WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables’ Carpe Diem took command in upper stretch and cruised to a three-length victory over Danzig Moon in the 91st running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) before a crowd of 26,357 on Saturday, May 4, 2015. Photo: Keeneland

Carpe Diem, a 2012 colt bred by Coffee Pot Stables, has nearly earned back his purchase price of $1.6 million at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company 2014 Selected Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training in Florida. The colt was the top priced horse of the entire sale and has since gone on to win all but one of his five career races. His only non-winning effort was a second-place finish in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile where he had to run behind horses for the first time, but he closed enough ground to grab second from Upstart, this year’s winner of the Holy Bull at Gulfstream.

As a three-year-old, Carpe Diem has had only two preps before his start in the Kentucky Derby. However, having two preps is not necessarily a bad thing. While Orb had three races before his victory in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, he only had two major preps. The same applies to I’ll Have Another and Super Saver. Like Carpe Diem, Super Saver was also trained by Todd Pletcher and raced in the WinStar silks. Super Saver has also been Todd Pletcher’s only Kentucky Derby winner thus far.

Carpe Diem has a great foundation as he heads into the Kentucky Derby. His experience with two-turn races and ability to win at such distances will prepare him to handle the 1-1/4 mile distance of the Kentucky Derby. His only sprinting start was his maiden score at Saratoga. Since then, he has been routing and doing so effectively.

From a pedigree standpoint, Carpe Diem is bred not only for the Kentucky Derby but for the Preakness and the Belmont as well. His sire Giant’s Causeway was effective in distance races, and his offspring are runners of every type with many of them running as successful turf marathoners. Giant’s Causeway does not have a Kentucky Derby winner to date, but he does have Breeders’ Cup winners and multiple classic winners across the Atlantic in Europe.

Kentucky Derby 2015 Carpe Diem

Todd Pletcher, pictured above with WinStar Farm CEO Elliot Walden, stated that Carpe Diem will remain at Keeneland and then ship to Churchill Downs to train before the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby.
Photo: Keeneland

Carpe Diem’s dam Rebridled Dreams was mostly an allowance runner, but her sire Unbridled’s Song was a success as both a racehorse and a stallion. Unbridled’s Song sired Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles, Breeders’ Cup winners Midshipman, Unbridled Elaine, and Unrivaled Belle, and Belmont runner-up Dunkirk.

From a pedigree standpoint, Carpe Diem has more than enough class, speed, and stamina to win the Kentucky Derby. He also has the ability to win more than his fair share of graded stakes races. His speed figures have improved throughout his career, with his career best being the 95 Beyer he recorded in his Blue Grass win over Danzig Moon.

According to former jockey and NBC reporter horse racing analyst Donna Brothers, “his [Carpe Diem] win in the Blue Grass Stakes indicates that he’s the real deal.”

Multiple others believe this statement as well. Freelance journalist Laura Pugh agrees and believes that the Blue Grass field was deeper than it looked to the naked eye: “Ocho Ocho Ocho, at his best, is a top-notch horse.”

This statement matches the post-race observation that the Street Sense colt grew tired during the stretch of the Blue Grass. Ocho Ocho Ocho didn’t get anything out of his last start in the San Felipe, so this race was supposed to help him get back on track. Carpe Diem was able to press Ocho Ocho Ocho before pulling away and holding off a good rally by Danzig Moon in the stretch.

According to trainer Todd Pletcher in the post race interview, Carpe Diem will remain at Keeneland and then ship to Churchill to train before the Kentucky Derby. With 161 points, Carpe Diem is guaranteed a spot in the field. The only question now is whether or not he is better than American Pharoah or Dortmund. Pletcher takes on the Baffert duo with his best shot to win a second Kentucky Derby, and from the looks of Carpe Diem, he is certainly a strong contender for the roses and beyond.

The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby is set to take place at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Gates open early at 8:00 am ET with post time for the first race at 10:30 am ET. Post time for the Kentucky Oaks is approximately 5:45 pm ET on Friday May 1, 2015. Post time for the Kentucky Derby is approximately 6:24 pm ET. Visit KentuckyDerby.com for official information. 

Related Links:
Casey’s Top 20 Kentucky Derby Picks

Toyota Blue Grass Stakes 2015 Carpe Diem Replay:

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