There were five Derby preps run over the 10 day period between January 6th and 15th. We’ll begin reviewing them here by going over the Mucho Macho Man run on January 6th at Gulfstream. The race was won by Mask for trainer Chad Brown.
Fractions: 24.43, 48.13, 1:12.92, 1:37.65
Race Flow: Slow pace controlled up front
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 91
On The Winner: Mask was impressive in wiring this field, but he obviously benefited from setting a pedestrian pace. Normally, he would be a horse that we’d be quick to downgrade moving forward, and perhaps he will be overbet next time out. But Mask was a horse that showed legitimate promise when winning on debut in October at Belmont Park. He broke slowly, sat off a fast pace, professionally waited for running room around the turn, and burst through nicely to win going away. It was a very good performance and we make him a major Derby contender from here.
Here are Derby future odds from the Wynn in Las Vegas. These are dated on January 8th, so they are only relevant to this race and the Sham, also run on January 6th. They do put Mask at 25-1 and Sham winner McKinzie, who we’ll get to in our next post, at 10-1. We’d much prefer Mask of those two at those prices.
On The Others: Dak Attack hadn’t been out since August, but he was nudged at a bit early on and wasn’t that far off of Mask’s slow pace. He deserves another shot out of respect for trainer Dale Romans, who knows what he’s doing with a good three year old, but we’d need to see a lot more moving forward. Bal Harbour was compromised by the very slow pace but had a nice inside clear run and had nothing in the lane. Santamien made a seemingly meaningful wide, off-the-pace run around the far turn before flattening out late. He could be interesting to hit the board at a big price if he gets some more pace and can settle, making a late run instead of being forced to move early.
What’s Next: The next leg of the Triple Crown preps in Florida is the February 3rd Holy Bull. We don’t expect to see Mask there, but we will see Tiz Mischief, who was runner-up in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Other possibles include Kentucky Jockey Club winner Enticed and Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Untamed Domain, among others.
Mask could be off to New Orleans and the Risen Star on February 17th. This would give him six weeks between races and he would still have another six or sven weeks until other preps like the Florida Derby (March 31st), Wood Memorial or Blue Grass Stakes (April 7th).