Dortmund, American Pharoah lead Kentucky Derby parade
Dortmund is a rangy chestnut whose only distinguishing mark is a touch of white on one of his legs. Trained by the silver-maned and much-quoted Bob Baffert, Dortmund is distinguished by what every owner, trainer and stable hand want to see. The three-year-old colt is undefeated as the sport’s most recognized race — the Kentucky Derby — looms just ahead on May 2.
With rider Martine Garcia guiding his on-track fortunes, Dortmund has most recently been first in the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby on April 4.
His sire is Big Brown, not long ago the winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown series but then last in the Belmont Stakes.
Dortmund is royally bred and has not-too-distant relatives in Danzig, Tale of the Cat, Storm Cat and Nureyev.
Baffert will be touting his undefeated student, and the media will be listening to every word.
But then Baffert can’t be too demonstrative in his praise of Dortmund because he also trains the highly regarded and real-time performer, American Pharoah.
With rider Victor Espinosa aboard, American Pharoah ran off and left the field last Saturday in the Arkansas Derby at Oak Lawn Park in Hot Springs.
Before that leisurely win, he had won four straight times for Zayat Stables.
Pioneer of theNile is his sire and Littleprincessemma is his mother. The dark brown colt has no white markings on his body, but can be found in any field with jockey Espinosa wearing silks that favor large yellow dots on his back and blue dots on his yellow sleeves.
American Pharoah hasn’t been heavily raced but did win the Del Mar Futurity and the Front Runner last year before taking the Rebel Stakes ahead of his latest success in the Arkansas Derby.
Ageless jockey Gary Stevens rides Kentucky Derby entry Firing Line for trainer Simon Callagher and owner Arnold Zetcher.
Stevens has not been able to get Firing Line home ahead of Dortmund, finishing second to the long-striding chestnut in both the Robert B. Lewis and the Los Alamitos Stakes in California. In his last effort, Firing Line wasn’t extended in winning by 15 lengths in the Sunland Derby in New Mexico.
The dark bay can be located even in a large field like the Kentucky Derby always has because Stevens will be wearing electric pink silks with a script “Z” on his back.
Winstar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky employs Todd Pletcher to train its Kentucky Derby hope, Carpe Diem.
John Velazquez is the rider and the thoroughbred/jockey twosome just won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and the Tampa Bay Derby in their last two races.
Carpe Diem was second in last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile. The tall brown colt features a long, white blaze that runs the length of his accommodating face.
His background of relatives features Giant’s Causeway, Storm Cat, Storm Bird, Rahy and Unbridled.
One of the Derby entrants that will not have short odds is Upstart. Trained by Rick Violette and owned by Ralph Evans, Upstart is the most handsome colt in the race. His long flowing tail almost touches the ground and his dark brown face is home to a long white blaze.
Jose Ortiz is the little-recognized rider and was aboard in the win in the Grade II Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January. Upstart was second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and might be remembered for his third-place finish in last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile. Certainly, he will never be faulted for his classic breeding that has A.P. Indy, Touch Gold, Seattle Slew, and Mr. Prospector on his family tree.
Trainer Mike Maker brings International Star to this year’s Derby. The New York-bred is owned by the Ramseys, Ken and Sarah.
He ran six times in 2014 and has already raced three times this year. He has won the Louisiana Derby, Risen Star and Lecomte Stakes — all at the Fair Grounds track in New Orleans.
His sire is the well-known Fusaichi Pegasus and the smallish dark bay has Mr. Prospector, Danzig and Raise A Native as close relatives.
El Kabeir is owned by Zayat Stables, trained by John Terranova and has been ridden by 51-year-old Chuck Lopez, who has never won a stakes race. Lopez could be replaced in the Kentucky Derby.
Listed as a “gray” thoroughbred, El Kabeir was recently third in the Wood Memorial in New York.
He has raced nine times, including four times this year. He won the Gotham Stakes and Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.
Those believers in a thoroughbred’s blood line being of utmost importance will see Scat Daddy, Great Venus, Johannesburg, Unbridled’s Song, Mr. Prospector and Unbridled sitting on his family tree.
Todd Pletcher will also saddle the dark brown Materiality, a little-raced contender.
Materiality did not race at all in 2014.
Alto Racing Stables employed veteran rider John Velazquez when Materiality won his first race on January 11 at Gulfstream Park. He returned for a win in the Islamorada on March 6 at the same Gulfstream Park.
Afleet Alex is his sire. If Velazquez accepts the ride on Materiality, he will be wearing green silks with the letters “AR” in a white circle and white sleeves with two green hoops on each arm.
Materiality is a dark brown colt and does have a long blaze coming down his forehead.
The recent Wood Memorial winner was Frosted. Owned by Godolphin Racing and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Frosted has been ridden by Joel Rosario.
He is a gray son of Tapit and his dam is Fast Cookie.
He was only fourth in the Fountain of Youth in Florida but was sent back to New York to win the Grade 1 Wood Memorial.
After his disappointing try in the Fountain of Youth, trainer McLaughlin adjusted his blinkers, had a minor surgical procedure done on his throat and changed riders — choosing Rosario.
He has only two wins in seven career starts, but the gray son of Pulpit can see Deputy Minister, A.P. Indy and Unbridled in his background.
His rider’s blue silks will have a nice price at the mutuel windows if he should do much in the Derby.
Two weeks in front of the Run for the Roses, it’s Dortmund and American Pharoah as the two most talked about thoroughbreds heading to Churchill Downs in Louisville for the May 2 Kentucky Derby.