The real Kentucky Derby Challenge this year isn’t the mediocre race that was run in England to find a European horse to run in the Derby. It is the fact that we have horses who are coming into the big race off efforts on synthetic surfaces and from races that hardly qualify as preps for the first jewel of the Triple Crown.
I have great respect for UK racing and the English punters and I don’t think the fact that Mafaaz, who won the euphemistically termed, Derby Challenge, is running in the Kentucky Derby will cause many UK horse players to plunge on the runner just because it once raced on English soil. So what did the Derby Challenge do for American racing?
It probably bumped one horse out of the Kentucky Derby, an American horse, that is, if the trainer sees fit to run his horse in the big race. John Gosden, a very capable trainer from the UK, has already indicated that he will probably run Mafaaz in the Blue Grass Stakes. I doubt he will fare very well in that event, but if he does, then it seems the Derby Challenge has indeed produced a worthy entry in the Kentucky Derby.
It is quite naive to think that English trainers are going to put a good three year old into the Derby Challenge when they have their own prestigious race for three year olds, the Epsom Derby, in which to race their best horses. As if the English horse question wasn’t enough we also have the usual situation of horses who ran well on synthetic surfaces but who haven’t proven themselves on real honest to goodness dirt.
There are just too many questions to make this a race I would consider plunging on and therefore, as usual, I’ll enjoy the hoopla and spectacle of the Kentucky Derby, but look for good betting opportunities elsewhere.