Early Kentucky Derby contenders emerge from Del Mar Futurity, Hopeful

Sep 01, 2018 by James Scully/TwinSpires.com

A sense of excitement surrounds the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity (G1) and $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1). Del Mar and Saratoga save their biggest two-year-old events for closing day and these important races have produced Kentucky Derby (G1) winners in the last decade.

American Pharoah and Nyquist captured back-to-back editions of the Kentucky Derby (2015-16) after winning the Del Mar Futurity the previous year. 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another is an alumnus of the Hopeful.

Bob Baffert recorded his fifth Kentucky Derby win last spring and has been a dominant influence upon the Del Mar Futurity since the mid-1990s, winning the seven-furlong race a record 13 times. The Hall of Fame trainer has top contenders Roadster and Game Winner in Monday’s seven-horse field.

Roadster, a gray son of Quality Road, rallied from just off the pace to a 4 1/4-length debut score as the 4-5 favorite on July 29. Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Mike Smith has the call. Game Winner exits a 5 3/4-length runaway tally in his first start on August 18 and the Candy Ride colt will receive a rider switch to Tiago Pereira.

Jerry Hollendorfer won’t have Best Pal (G2) winner Instagrand, who is bypassing the Futurity in favor of the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) on September 29 at Santa Anita Park, but Rowayton could prove a suitable replacement. The Into Mischief colt shook loose after dueling on the front end of his initial outing, scoring by nearly two lengths, and has been freshened 44 days for his second appearance. Drayden Van Dyke will be up.

I am siding with Rowayton, who will show speed from post 2.

Eight are set for the seven-furlong Hopeful including Sombeyay, a neck winner of the July 21 Sanford (G3) at Saratoga for Todd Pletcher. After overcoming the rail last time, the Into Mischief is stuck down inside again with Javier Castellano.

Mucho could easily go favored off a 9 3/4-length romp over maiden special weight foes in his second start. Trained by Bill Mott, the son of Blame drew a favorable outside post with a returning Jose Ortiz.

Nitrous promises to show speed following a sharp 3 1/4-length, wire-to-wire win at the Spa on July 21. The gray son of Tapit was exiting a neck second in his June 14 debut at Churchill Downs and Ricardo Santana Jr. will be back aboard the Steve Asmussen trainee.

Dream Maker is eligible to make his presence if he runs back to his first outing, a superb three-length triumph under the Twin Spires on June 7. The gray Tapit colt overcame a poor start that afternoon, circling rivals to win going away, and he returns from an 88-day freshening for Mark Casse with Julien Leparoux.

A heated early scrum appears possible and I will give the edge to Dream Maker, who displayed a dynamic turn of foot into the stretch last time.

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