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Main Sequence surged late to win the Sword Dancer Invitational (I)

The $35k colt beats the $800k one!: Barclay Tagg trainee Confrontation, a son of War Pass, got up late over Eastwood in a 6-furlong race.

The $35k colt beats the $800k one!: Barclay Tagg trainee Confrontation, a son of War Pass, got up late over Eastwood in a 6-furlong race.

Mylute

Mylute

The home team at the Belmont Stakes: Wicked Strong and Rajiv Maragh

The home team at the Belmont Stakes: Wicked Strong and Rajiv Maragh

Wicked Strong wins the Wood Memorial (I).
Yes I went a little crazy when this happened.

Wicked Strong wins the Wood Memorial (I).

Yes I went a little crazy when this happened.

Derby Profile #10: Wicked Strong

image

(Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)

Highlights:

  • G1 winner at 9 furlongs (Wood Memorial)

Basics:

  • Trainer: James Jerkens
  • Jockey: Rajiv Maragh
  • Owned by: Centennial Farms
  • Record: 6: 2-1-1
  • Earnings: $704,610
  • Best speed figures: 104 Beyer (Wood Memorial), 103 BRIS Figure (Wood Memorial), 107 Equibase

Background: Ignored in the Wood Memorial at 9-1, Wicked Strong put his strongest hoof forward to catapult from also-ran to big winner in one of the deepest prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Named for the Boston Marathon bombing victims by his Massachusetts-based owners, 5% of Wicked Strong’s earnings go to the OneFund and hopes are high all-around that the Hard Spun colt will strengthen when given an extra furlong.

Prep Schedule: Wicked Strong did not debut until September at Belmont Park, racing a well-beaten 2nd going 7 furlongs on a sloppy-sealed track. Given an extra furlong and a dry going next out, the colt made his move on the turn to win by 2 lengths over the well-regarded Cool Samurai. Finishing with “good energy” in an oddball stakes debut in the Remsen (II) going 9 furlongs, Wicked Strong missed Honor Code and Cairo Prince by a mere half-length. Shipped out to Gulfstream Park next for his three-year-old debut, the colt never got going as expected in the Holy Bull (II), finishing an uninspired 9th after stopping in the 1 1/16 mile race. Trying again at Gulfstream, he improved in a deep 1 1/16 mile allowance race won by Florida Derby (I) winner Constitution, coming in from off the pace to be 4th, beaten 6 1/2 lengths. Shipped back to Aqueduct and back to 9 furlongs for the Wood (I), he made a sustained drive around the leaders to score by 3 lengths.

Pedigree: Featuring two traces to Northern Dancer in his first five generations, Wicked Strong is by the young sire Hard Spun, who has experienced success after the racetrack with graded stakes winners Questing, Zo Impressive, Reload, and Hard Not to Like. A son of Danzig, Hard Spun was a big factor in the deep 2007 Triple Crown, racing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in each before being 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Classic won by the mighty Curlin. Wicked Strong’s dam Moyne Abbey features multiple crosses to Bold Ruler, Buckpasser, Somethingroyal, and Tom Fool as a daughter of near-Triple Crown winner Charismatic out of a daughter of 1989 Sovereign winning turf horse With Approval.

Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A++, Variant: 319.92

Dosage Index: 2.27

Running Style: Off-the-pace, closing

Pros: Showing the right moves as a young horse and going long, Wicked Strong appears to be best when given more ground, and looks the part of a legitimate classic horse with a G1 win to his credit. He will get an ideal pace setup in the Derby with many likely early speed horses.

Cons: He was unable to ship well outside of New York and had to go wide around horses to win the Wood. That kind of move makes him risky as a horse who saves his best for late.

Final Word: As a Massachusetts native and the biggest fan of his stablemate Juba (same jockey/trainer/owners), I naturally was eager to see Wicked Strong do well both as a two-year-old when I saw him in the Remsen— he inspired a “whoa!” from me then as I stood just past the wire coming in fast late in the stretch— and in the Wood where he was my choice to win. While he does feature some detractors and still has some mystery to how good he *really* is, he is my current, absolutely unopposed top choice to win the Kentucky Derby.

Woes of racetrack panning: when third place grabs your autofocus away from the top two finishers! Wicked Strong in the foreground, Cairo Prince and Honor Code in the background of the Remsen Stakes finish.

Woes of racetrack panning: when third place grabs your autofocus away from the top two finishers! Wicked Strong in the foreground, Cairo Prince and Honor Code in the background of the Remsen Stakes finish.

The story of my latest Tapit obsession: Juba.

"WHO IS THAT #6? HE IS SO CUTE!" I was standing with a gal named Sally looking over the form for a maiden special weight and from above, I spotted this adorable gray fella. "Juba? And oh he’s by Tapit. Maybe he’ll do something today… ARE YOU GONNA WIN, BUDDY?"

Indeed, Juba looked up at me cooing to him and gave me an eyeball passing me by on the way to the gate. He made a solid run in the stretch to send me into a tizzy, and managed to hang on for 3rd in his first race at 15-1 odds. GO JUBA!

Poison Apple, Rajiv Maragh up. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Poison Apple, Rajiv Maragh up. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

I had planned on attending the Whitney Invitational since June, largely thanks to the many greats of the past who won it and the splendid showing of last year’s winner Tizway in the race. He became my Breeders’ Cup Classic pick that day, but sadly, he never made it to the gate because of injury. Who would have thought I’d see this year’s Classic winner win the same race? Makes me miss Tizway a bit more, which is saying a lot since I typically get grumpy at horses who beat my heart favorites (Tackleberry in the Met Mile).

I had planned on attending the Whitney Invitational since June, largely thanks to the many greats of the past who won it and the splendid showing of last year’s winner Tizway in the race. He became my Breeders’ Cup Classic pick that day, but sadly, he never made it to the gate because of injury. Who would have thought I’d see this year’s Classic winner win the same race? Makes me miss Tizway a bit more, which is saying a lot since I typically get grumpy at horses who beat my heart favorites (Tackleberry in the Met Mile).

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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