Carpe Diem cements place as one of top contenders at Kentucky Derby
Carpe Diem seized the lead near the top of the stretch after stalking early leader Ocho Ocho Ocho and drew away to a 3-length victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, cementing his place as one of the top contenders for next month’s Kentucky Derby.
The heavy favorite at 2-5 in the field of eight improved his lifetime record to four wins in five starts and paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10.
Unrivaled, which is owned by Youngs-town businessman Bruce Zoldan and Team Valor, finished seventh to miss qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. Unrivaled needed to finish third or better.
Danzig Moon ran late for second and returned $7.80 and $5. Ocho Ocho Ocho was another 21/2 lengths back and paid $3.20 to show.
Carpe Diem finished the 11/8 miles in 1:49.77 under jockey John Velazquez.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables, Carpe Diem won the Tampa Bay Derby by 5 lengths in his only other 2015 start. His lone defeat came in a runner-up finish in November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.
SANTA ANITA DERBY
Dortmund towers over his competition, standing the equivalent of 5-feet, 8-inches tall. He’s pretty imposing on paper, too.
The chestnut colt romped to a 41/4-length victory in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, keeping him unbeaten at 6-0 heading into next month’s Kentucky Derby.
“It’s good to see this horse just really developing the way he has from his first start,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “I just love the way he ran.”
Dortmund led all the way in running 11/8 miles in 1:48.73 under Martin Garcia and paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 3-5 favorite in the six-horse field. Baffert earned his record seventh victory in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby.
“When we bought him he looked like a really good horse, but he was just a big horse and sometimes they don’t turn out,” Baffert said. “He’s a big, long-legged horse. When he made the lead and when he gets by himself like that, he’ll idle on you a little bit, so he had to keep going.”
Dortmund bobbled slightly coming out of the starting gate in the No. 1 post — a spot Baffert detests — but he quickly went to the lead and kicked clear leaving the final turn.
“Even though he’s won all his races, he’s still learning,” said Garcia, who won his first Santa Anita Derby. “He can play around a bit when someone comes to him. When I ask him to go, he becomes push-button and he just takes off.”
Dortmund joins his sire Big Brown (3-0) and Barbaro (5-0) in taking an undefeated record into the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown won the Derby in 2008 and Barbaro did so in 2006.
At 17 hands, Dortmund stands taller than the average thoroughbred, which can measure anywhere from 15 to 17 hands, with a hand being equal to 4 inches.
One Lucky Dane, also trained by Baffert, returned $4.80 and $2.80, while Bolo was another 21/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show. Prospect Park was fourth, followed by Cross the Line and Bad Read Sanchez.
Dortmund earned 100 points for the victory, moving him into second place on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard that determines the 20-horse field for the May 2 race.
One Lucky Dane was running just 16 days after returning from a 41/2-month layoff with a victory on March 19. He moved into 16th on the Derby leaderboard and will head to Churchill Downs, too.
“He qualified in Bob Baffert’s eyes,” the trainer said. “I don’t need 40 points.”
Baffert’s other top horse, American Pharoah, will run in next weekend’s Arkansas Derby, giving the white-haired trainer a third shot at winning the Kentucky Derby for the fourth time in his career.
It’s been 12 years since a horse who ran in the Wood Memorial went on to win the Kentucky Derby. It’s been 15 years since the Wood winner managed to do it.
That could change in four weeks. Frosted won the $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday, and tops a possible five-horse entourage heading from New York to Louisville on May 2.
Frosted took the lead from 21-1 long shot Tencendur in midstretch and won New York’s major prep for the Derby by two lengths on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Both 3-year-olds are on their way to the Derby, as well as third-place finisher El Kabeir, based on Derby qualifying points. Fourth- and fifth-place finishers Daredevil and Tiz Shea D are on the bubble with the Derby field set at a 20-horse maximum.