Thursday, March 26, 2009

Even more Road to the Kentucky Derby...Spotlight -- Dunkirk


Blue Blood racer Dunkirk has his work cut out for him if he expects to showcase his immaculate lineage on May 2nd in the Kentucky.

Saturdays running of the Florida Derby may be Dunkirk’s only chance to qualify for the first leg of the North American horse-racing triple-crown. You see Dunkirk, the Blue Blood colt trained by American uber trainer Todd Pletcher got of to a little bit of a late start to his career. In fact the colt never even raced as a two year old; a Kentucky Derby trend that has not been bucked since Apollo claimed the Rose’s way back in 1882. Now Dunkirk finds himself on the outside looking in.

Derby hopeful are selected from a list of North America’s top graded stakes earners and invitations are seldom refused. The Kentucky Derby, the apple of every trainers eye; often times features young colts and the occasional filly who are simply overmatched on race day but that is something I don’t expect to change anytime soon. A horse with all the class in the world; Dunkirk just doesn’t have the graded earings to measure up to his peers; should the colt claim the Florida Derby the graded earnings argument would all but crumble, leaving Dunkirk the odd on choice heading into the first weekend in May.

Pletcher's wows

Dunkirk (Unbridleds Song) isn’t the only Blue Blood hanging around owners Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith stables. Three time Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher has also made a couple of appearances which may or may not bode well for the ownership group that paid a whopping $3,700,000 to land the roan or grey colt at the 2007 Keenland Association September Yearling Sale. Pletcher as a trainer is certainly Americas finest, however Mr. Pletcher’s record in the Kentucky Derby is... say the very least unimpressive. Year after year Todd Plecther has sent a seemingly endless list of Derby hopefuls to the gate at Churchill but has yet to claim a victory. In fact Pletcher record in all Triple Crown races is simply abysmal. For a guy who wins over twenty percent of all his starts (a near impossibility in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing) putting up a giant goose egg at the big show has become somewhat of a trademark for the illustrious Mr. Pletcher.

Dunkirk chance will come Saturday in the $750,000 1 1/8 mile Grade 1 Florida Derby.

If Dunkirk finishes any worse than first, he will be forced to spend the early part of May preparing for the second leg of North Americas Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes @ Pimlico.

If Dunkirk wins, then it off to the Kentucky likely as the unbeaten 3-5 favourite.

Z. Black

Watch for James Jerkens trainee Quality Road to challenge Dunkirk in the 1 1/8 mile Grade 1 Flordia Derby. Quality Road has missed the winners cirlce only onece, finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind Theregoesjojo in a Gulfstream Allowance race back in January.

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