Road to the Kentucky Derby Horse Profile: Avery Island

Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing has won many major races around the world, but the Kentucky Derby has eluded them.

This year, they will be hoping Avery Island can break the drought for them.

Avery Island’s career had an inauspicious beginning, when he finished seventh on debut over six furlongs at Saratoga in August. However, the fact that he started favorite that day showed there was already some belief in his potential, and he showed that when winning his next start, a 1 1/16-mile maiden at Belmont Park Sept. 30, by 5 ¼ lengths.

That was enough to encourage trainer Kiaran McLaughlin to tackle graded stakes company in the one-mile Nashua Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Nov. 5. Starting second favorite, he was with the pace most of the way and drew clear in the stretch to win by 4 ¾ lengths.

Avery Island then contested the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (G2) back at Aqueduct Dec. 2; though he ran well to finish second, he was comfortably beaten by the converted turf runner Catholic Boy.

He didn’t return to the track for another two months, this time for the Withers Stakes (G3) back at Aqueduct Dec. 3. Despite the presence of Champagne Stakes (G1) victor Firenze Fire and the highly-rated maiden winner Marconi, Avery Island was made favorite; he won in style, sitting outside the leader before surging clear in the stretch to win by two lengths.

A Godolphin homebred, Avery Island is by Street Sense, the first horse to win both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and the Kentucky Derby.

Though Street Sense clearly stayed 1 ¼ miles, he hasn’t had many stakes winners race past 1 1/8 miles in North America, maybe indicating a lack of opportunity at the trip. But in Australia, where he has shuttled regularly, Street Sense has had black-type winners that stayed up to 1 ½ miles on turf, most notably the grade one winner Sense of Occasion.

Avery Island’s dam Kinda Spicy (A.P. Indy) won her only two starts, the second at 1 1/8 miles. She is out of Isola Piu Bella, a champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year in Chile. She won grade one races up to 1 3/8 miles in Chile, and in the United States she won two grade three races at 1 1/8 miles: the Sabin Handicap (G3) and the Sixty Sails Handicap (G3).

Avery Island has early speed and looks to be a relentless galloper, one who has a good chance to stay 1 ¼ miles. Punters should keep a close eye on him in the approach to the Derby, and to the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools.

(Avery Island Photo by Coglianese Photos/Cheslea Durand)