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Kentuckian Looks Special in Los Alamitos Derby

Kentuckian Looks Special in Los Alamitos Derby: Precocious racehorses that stir up conversation early in their careers come and go. Most of them fizzle out as their careers go on, either because their initial competition was weak or the horse simply failed to develop properly. Others become injured. A few of them go on to fulfill expectations, such as trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Shared Belief. The same trainer has another three-year-old horse with a similar potential named Kentuckian, who is set to run this weekend.

Kentuckian Los Alamitos

Kentuckian, pictured above at Santa Anita Park, goes for his third win out of four tries in the Los Alamitos Derby (GII) on Saturday, July 4, 2015 at Los Alamitos Race Course in California. Photo: Benoit

Kentuckian goes for his third win out of four tries in the Los Alamitos Derby (GII) on Saturday. Owned by the familiar Fox Hill Farms, the Tiznow colt and half brother to Maclean’s Music makes his first attempt at a two-turn route race.

Pedigree gurus had their eye on Kentuckian before he ever started because of his relation to Maclean’s Music, the precocious horse that won his debut with a 114 Beyer Speed Figure. The race remains on YouTube for fans to watch. Unfortunately, he never raced again and went off to stud, leaving question marks on whether the effort was a fluke.

When a dam throws a horse that wins early, it usually gives a clue that her other foals will win their debut early as well. Kentuckian did not disappoint, winning his career debut in March by 11 lengths on Golden Gate Field’s Tapeta surface. That margin is more incredible when factoring in the difficulty of blowout wins on synthetic and how those races sometimes resemble tightly-packed turf races. The competition at Golden Gate is questionable though.

Kentuckian then traveled south for the ungraded San Pedro at Santa Anita Park, where he ran into trouble and finished third. Watching the replay, the jockey Rafael Bejarano simply went for a non-existent hole, and subsequently Kentuckian became shuffled back. He regained a bit of momentum turning for home, but the leader’s advantage proved too much to overcome.

The connections switched to Mike Smith as Kentuckian’s rider for the Laz Barrera (GIII), where the newly-formed pair romped home in an easy victory. The field for the race seemed a bit soft. Regardless, this colt showed his potential is still there for a special career. At least, it will not surprise anyone to see this horse knocking heads in the more prestigious races later in the year, especially since Shared Belief currently sits on the shelf with an injury.

Going two turns for the first time is never a sure deal, although Tiznow sires mostly route horses and Unbridled’s Song is a decent influence for longer races. Searching deeper, one fact that might raise eyebrows is the dam Forest Music and her race record. All six of her wins came in sprints. When they attempted to stretch Forest Music out in the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, she finished last and eight lengths behind the second-worst horse.

Talent can overcome pedigree. Kentuckian drew well in post position four and Smith is a good fit for speed horses because he lets them run. The next two logical contenders are Gimme Da Lute and Prospect Park, and they are not going to be far behind Kentuckian during the live betting.

Gimme Da Lute is conditioned by Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, a combination almost certain to attract money at the windows. He barely held off Prospect Park in the Affirmed (GIII), and they raced close to each other throughout the race, which means not a lot talent separates the two horses. Starting from post position two and five, the best hope of Gimme Da Lute and Prospect Park might be to outrun Kentuckian early and hope for the best.

Pain and Misery rounds out the list of upset candidates and begins from post position three. He finished second to the highly regarded Competitive Edge at Churchill Downs in the Pat Day Mile (GIII), before winning an ungraded stakes race in New Mexico over Where’s the Moon. While an unlikely winner, Pain and Misery could reach second somehow.

Worthwhile betting options for this race might include getting Pain and Misery involved underneath vertically and in horizontal wagers along with Kentuckian. Otherwise, Kentuckian is the main choice with minor reservations about his pedigree on the bottom side. Perhaps just enjoy the race and see if this horse continues to develop.

Los Alamitos Derby 2015 Post Positions & Odds
Race 8 5:43 PM PT
1 Follow Me Crev 20-1 Quinonez/Cerin
2 Gimme Da Lute 5-2 Garcia/Baffert
3 Pain and Misery 15-1 Prat/Dominguez
4 Kentuckian 6-5 Smith/Hollendorfer
5 Prospect Park 8-5 Baze/Sise, Jr.

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