Frank Doyle looks back on a great day’s racing at Oaklawn as Line of David staked his claim to join the 2010 Kentucky Derby contenders.
Line of David became the latest horse to make the grade for the Kentucky Derby when Jon Court steered the 17/1 shot home past Super Saver and Dublin in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday last. Line of David led from the off and, even though he was beginning to flag after the mile mark, he still held out from the challenges of Super Saver and Dublin, who placed and showed respectively.
Winning the Arkansas Derby is significant because so many horses in recent years have gone on to win a Triple Crown race afterwards – Smarty Jones went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 2004 after winning in Hot Springs, eventually losing a Triple Crown bid at Belmont to 36/1 longshot Birdstone.
Line of David’s victory is significant because the colt has now won enough money to merit an entry to the Kentucky Derby in three weeks’ time. It’s a measure of the depth of the field at Oaklawn that the horse that came second and third are also going to Churchill Downs. This was Line of David’s first win on dirt, his previous outings having been on turf back home in California.
Line of David is trained in California by John W Sadler – great name for a horse trainer – who has never won an American Classic Race. Sadler also trained Sidney’s Candy, winner of the Santa Anita Derby on Easter Weekend, and currently third favorite in the Run for Roses.
Outright favorite in the Kentucky Derby betting is Eskendereya, trained by Todd Pletcher, who destroyed the field at the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, winning by nearly ten lengths. Lookin’ at Lucky is the horse that lost out to Sidney’s Candy at Santa Anita, a result that still has Bob Baffert hoping mad – he may come back to challenge at Churchill Downs.
An interesting contender is Nick Zito’s Ice Box, which is living up to his name by not racing between when he won the Florida Derby on March 20 and the Run for the Roses. Conventional wisdom says that long layoffs are not good, but Zito has a gift for long distance preparation. You never really can tell what happens in Louisville on Kentucky Derby day.