Bob and Cathy Zollars' Daddy Nose Best stamped his ticket to the May 5 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs with a nice win in Sunday's Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby under jockey Julien Leparoux. The Steve Asmussen pupil ran the nine furlongs on Sunland Park's fast dirt in 1:48 2/5 to boost his career earnings to $633,623.
"He ran a really good race," Asmussen noted in the post-race interview. "He's obviously a horse who likes a distance of ground.
"We came here trying to earn our way to the Kentucky Derby. Bob and Cathy, we've had some nice horses, maybe this is the one."
Leparoux settled Daddy Nose Best toward the rear of the field early as Castaway and Ender Kneivel hooked up in a speed duel on the front end. Those two went in :22 2/5 and :46 1/5, but faded badly soon after. Isn't He Clever had been biding his time just in behind and challenged for the lead entering the turn. The bay gelding took command on the outside through six furlongs in 1:10 4/5 and had a clear advantage down the lane.
Daddy Nose Best was just getting into gear, however, and came gunning for Isn't He Clever. He easily caught, and passed, the leader to add a second straight Grade 3 score to his record.
Sent off the 7-2 third choice in the eight-horse field, Daddy Nose Best finished three parts of a length in front of Isn't He Clever to return $9.40, $4.20 and $2.80. It was another 7 1/4 lengths back to third-placer Stirred Up, who was followed under the wire by No Spin, Ender Knievel, Tequilla Factor, Castaway and a distanced Justanoldsong.
Daddy Nose Best opened his career on the main track at Churchill, but could do no better than second in two sprint starts under the Twin Spires. Asmussen shipped his charge to New York and switched him to the Saratoga turf, where the bay colt proceeded to run second before breaking his maiden by a half-length. Next up was a trip to Woodbine, where Daddy Nose Best finished third in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes, before heading back to Churchill for a run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The bay reputed himself well in that race, beaten just 3 3/4 lengths when sixth after being rank early and bumped late.
Daddy Nose Best closed out his well-traveled two-year-old campaign with an allowance win over Churchill's turf and a fifth in the Eddie Logan Stakes when shipped cross-country to Santa Anita on New Year's Eve. The son of Scat Daddy opened 2012 by returning to the main track, albeit on the synthetic Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields, and scored a gusty nose victory in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby to earn his shot at the Sunland Derby.
Bred in Kentucky by Patricia Ann Ella Trust, Daddy Nose Best was a $34,000 Keeneland November weanling RNA but returned a year later to sell to the Zollars as a $35,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. He's more than earned that back during his 10-4-2-1 career.
Daddy Nose Best is the first stakes scorer out of the Thunder Gulch mare Follow Your Bliss, who is herself a daughter of the Grade 2-winning Pine Bluff mare Follow the Money.