Creator’s chances of making it to the Kentucky Derby (G1) appeared slim after he was unable to break his maiden in his first five starts. But after shipping to Oaklawn Park in February, the gray made rapid progress, culminating in his victory in the Arkansas Derby (G1). You might say he’s become a different horse.

That’s not the only time that Creator has changed right before your eyes. As a baby, his coat color underwent a metamorphosis.

“Early as a foal Creator looked like he was going to be a chestnut colt,” recalled Jody Alexander, the general manager of Greg Goodman’s Mt. Brilliant Farm.

“He was born with a faint white spot on his right rump that was a unique feature, but it wasn’t until he started shedding his baby coat that we noticed he was going to be a gray like his sire Tapit.

“You can see gray around his eyes and muzzle” in his baby photos.

“You can also see from the pictures that he was a very playful foal,” Alexander added.

“He has always been playful and spirited, but because of his good mind and smartness he was easy to discipline and work with as he got older.

“His foal picture shows the length of his body, which I think is the reason for his great stride.”

Mt. Brilliant Stable had acquired Creator’s dam, multiple Peruvian champion Morena, in the latter part of her racing career. In her homeland, she had shown abundant stamina to defeat males over as far as 1 1/2 miles.

After her arrival in the US, Morena joined trainer Michael Matz of Barbaro fame. She held her own against the leading distaffers here, placing in a handful of graded stakes. On Kentucky Oaks Day in 2010, Morena finished third in the La Troienne (G2) to eventual Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) winner Unrivaled Belle and incoming Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra.

Morena’s second foal, Creator was sold for $440,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September, and he races for Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm. Considering that his rivals Gun Runner and Outwork both spent their babyhood at WinStar, it’s only fitting that the Versailles, Kentucky, farm has a runner of its own in Derby 142.

All photos courtesy of Mathea Kelley.