Derby Preps Recap: Texas Red Impressive Despite Loss in San Vicente

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ Texas Red came up short in the San Vicente but is still a strong Derby candidate. (Photo credit: Breeders’ Cup Ltd.)

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Texas Red made his three-year-old debut on Sunday in the $200,000 San Vicente (G2) and despite a loss put in a solid effort in his first go off a three-month break.

The late running son of Afleet Alex broke last in the seven furlong San Vicente, stalked a slow early pace near the inside and came with a good late run to come up just a neck short of getting to the winner Lord Nelson.

Lord Nelson is trained by Bob Baffert and is now undefeated in three sprints. The colt was fourth in the Frontrunner (G1) last fall in his stakes and route debut and was a troubled fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his other two-turn effort.  He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91 for his victory.

Next up for Lord Nelson likely would be the $400,000 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita on March 7, but Baffert has a couple of other promising Derby hopefuls and he may want to keep them apart. Baffert trains Dortmund and American Pharoah, who were co-favorites in early Derby betting at Bovada at 10-1 last week.

Texas Red trainer Keith Desormeaux was happy with the effort despite the narrow loss. “The pace was slow. They go faster for maiden 30s ($30,000), so you’d have seen a more visible cut if the pace was quicker. Still to do what he did, you can’t be disappointed.”

The trainer said the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 21 is the likely target for the colt’s next start.

San Vicente Replay:


Ocean Knight Remains Undefeated in Sam F. Davis Win

The Kiaran McLaughlin trained Ocean Night was sent off as the betting favorite in a field of 12 in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, and did not disappoint.

The $320,000 son of Curlin was an impressive maiden winner on the inner track at Aqueduct on Dec. 13, and in the Sam F. Davis was trying two turns and stakes company for the first time, and drew a tough post.

The colt overcame those obstacles along with a wide trip to get up late and win by a neck over Divining Rod. The colt earned a Beyer of 93 for the win.

Neal McLaughlin, assistant to winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, his brother, said it is likely the colt would return to Tampa Bay Downs for the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 7.

“We are not afraid to go anywhere with him, but if we like the surface here and can have a good experience, why not come back?” Neal said. “Irad rode him great, but he was wide and he had to make a couple of moves to get position. He gutted it out down the stretch. For a lightly raced young horse, it’s very exciting.”

Ocean Knight will need Derby points to get into the field for the Run for the Roses. For the second year in a row, the Sam F. Davis is not a Derby points race.

Sam F. Davis Replay:

There are two Derby points race this Saturday. At Aqueduct it is the $250,000 Withers (G2) and at Santa Anita Derby hopefuls will line up in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis (G2).


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