Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) was the last major qualifier for the Kentucky Derby, and Super Stock punched his ticket recording a 12-1 upset at Oaklawn Park.
Super Stock puts Asmussen family in spotlight
Super Stock drove past Concert Tour and Caddo River to win going away, scoring as the fourth choice in a six-horse field. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the Dialed In colt is campaigned by his parents, Keith and Marilyn, and Erv Woosley.
“We knew there was some speed and everything came out perfect,” jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said. “It was a really important win for Steve and his family. I’m really blessed to be the one they chose to ride this race.”
Super Stock was making his second start of the year, rallying belatedly for fourth when returning from a five-month layoff in the March 13 Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn. A minor stakes winner at Lone Star Park last summer, the Kentucky-bred colt went on to post thirds in the Iroquois S. (G3) and Breeders’ Futurity (G1), before concluding his juvenile season with a close second in the Street Sense S. at Churchill Downs.
Look for Super Stock to employ midpack stalking tactics in the Kentucky Derby.
Pace makes the race
Super Stock settled in third behind dueling front-runners, as Caddo River ripped through opening splits in :22.62, :46.51, and 1:11.25 while being chased by Concert Tour. The hot pace exacted a heavy toll.
Concert Tour advanced to take a short lead entering the stretch, but had little left for the latter stages. Super Stock was angled out for a clear path in the lane, and the bay sophomore closed powerfully to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
Kentucky Derby implications
The Kentucky Derby has featured moderate internal fractions in recent editions, and I had questions about this year's pace scenario entering the Arkansas Derby.
Saturday’s outcome bolstered the chances of late runners on May 1.
All signs point toward the Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour being sent hard to the lead at Churchill Downs. I’m expecting him to show speed like Bodemeister, who established opening splits in :22.32, :45.39, and 1:09.80 before finishing second in the 2012 Kentucky Derby for Baffert.
After recording a visually impressive, wire-to-wire win in the Rebel, Concert Tour switched tactics and faltered badly as the odds-on favorite in the Arkansas Derby. Getting passed by Super Stock was understandable, but it was discouraging to see Caddo River re-rally past him for runner-up honors in deep stretch.
Concert Tour did not appear well-suited for the 1 1/4-mile distance, and he will bring lower Brisnet Speed ratings to the Kentucky Derby.
His only chance, in my estimation, is to try and steal it on the lead.
Caddo River is in the same boat – his best races have come when controlling the pace. After failing to make the early lead and weakening badly in the Rebel, the Brad Cox-trained colt rebounded with a much-improved performance on Saturday.
And Caddo River has one of the best gate jockeys in the game, Florent Geroux.
I expect to see more early theatrics from Caddo River and Concert Tour in the Kentucky Derby.