- Atoned will run in the Lexington on Saturday, and one can certainly make the case that he bounced in the Illinois Derby...and that's forgetting about any suspected track bias, as well as the pace scenario that played squarely against him. The Tampa Bay Derby, his first race since the Remsen last fall, was an extremely tough race given how wide he was on both turns. The Illinois Derby was "only" three weeks later, less than Pletcher's preferred timing. His running line from the race doesn't look as bad as it may have on the track; basically an even effort against the pace grain, four wide, and he earned the same 93 Beyer that he did at Tampa. And he beat the more highly regarded Denis of Cork. So he looks to me like a big bounce-back candidate come Saturday, should, of course, he handle the Poly in his first try on the surface. Dogwood president Cot Campbell, citing a recent workout, thinks that he will.
“The colt had a terrific work at Keeneland (the morning of April 13) – breezing a half in :47.1 and galloping out five-eighths in :59.2. It’s obvious he has great affinity for the Polytrack surface, which causes us to want to run in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, a race well worth winning in its own right. It is also a nice steppingstone to the grade I Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on May 17.” [Bloodhorse]I'm thinking also that a big performance may have the connections of Denis of Cork eyeing that top 20 wistfully, hoping for enough defections to get in.
Tomcito will be using the Lexington in an attempt to make the Derby, and he worked three furlongs out of the gate in :34.60 and galloped out a half-mile in :46.80 at Keeneland on Tuesday.
- A reader questions the pedigree on Smooth Air, and he/she's got a point. He's by Smooth Jazz (Storm Boot), a grandson of Storm Cat, and we know how well that particular sire line has done when it comes to siring Derby winners. Smooth Jazz never won around two turns, getting as far as a one-turn mile at the Big A. Smooth Air is out of a mare by French Deputy (Deputy Minister), who won the one mile Jerome Handicap at Belmont. If you look at some of the descendants on the distaff side, you'll see sprint stakes winners such as Saint Daimon, Penny's Reshoot, and the late Chace City. Please tell me I'm wrong, the reader wrote. I'm looking for reasons to like this horse b/c of his expected price and the nice middle move he made in the GP Derby. Well, his dosage (3.0) and Tomlinson number (310) are acceptable, and if you go out further in his pedigree, you'll find some healthy linebreeding to distance influences Princequillo and Graustark. And he'll be facing others who seem to be pedigree-deficient too. I agree that it's not the kind of breeding that I'd normally look for....but I don't know that that alone is sufficient reason to throw out anyone who's performed well on the track this year.