by Jeremy Plonk
March 5, 2018
Good Magic losing Saturday’s G2 $400,000 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes may not be the end of the world. And by the first Saturday in May, it may just wind up being the end of a trend. But if the 2-year-old champion is to be this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, he’ll be the first since Animal Kingdom in 2011 to do so with a loss prior at age 3.
We’ve written about this before in this space during the 2018 campaign. The last 6 Derby winners all were unbeaten in sophomore preps ranging from I’ll Have Another to Always Dreaming and everyone in-between. That’s not exactly Curse of Apollo stuff, but it’s getting to be pretty pertinent when you consider the favorites’ domination since the rise of the points qualifying system. We’ve weeded out the sprinters, turfers and synthetic types.
The point in re-convening this conversation at the first Monday of March is to point out just how absolute you must be to trust in such a trend. Consider that Good Magic would now be off your radar as your Derby horse after just 1:44.17 of his 3-year-old campaign.
Who else has gone by the wayside?
Strike Power’s FoY second wasn’t enough, nor were losses by the likes of Free Drop Billy, Tiz Mischief and Enticed in the Holy Bull. The Louisiana lot all have taken turns, including Instilled Regard, Snapper Sinclair, Noble Indy, et al. At Oaklawn, we’ve dispatched Sporting Chance, Mourinho and Combatant among others. Tampa has taken down Catholic Boy and Vino Rosso. In New York, Firenze Fire has a misfire.
The current unbeatens are led by McKinzie, Audible, Avery Island, Kanthaka and Justify with 1 win; Flameaway and Bravazo have 2 scores in 2 tries as does Magnum Moon. This Saturday we get Bolt d’Oro’s first chance to make a first impression at 3 in what will be an ‘elimination’ of one based on the trends vs. McKinzie. Solomini has yet to reappear, but is scheduled to put his attempt at perfection at 3 on display in next week’s Rebel.
While there are some other maiden and allowance types bubbling underneath who have not been beaten this year, the above list of more known commodities numbers only 10 unblemished as March barely gets out of the gate. It’s going to shrink some Saturday and most every other weekend between now and Derby Day.
The question becomes: Will your confidence in this burgeoning trend shrink or grow with those passing weeks?