For most people, Triple Crown season is the most exciting time of year in Horse Racing — that being said, I am not most people. Sure, there’s an unexplained electricity dancing throughout the atmosphere come the first Saturday in May, but for me, that same electricity only multiplies as time rolls on and the seasons change.
We see 3yo males, who only months ago presented as gangly, pubescent teenagers, transform into men; this physical change begins Midsummer, only to become more apparent in the early stages of Fall, before its culmination around Breeders’ Cup time.
This weekend, we find ourselves at the middle stop on the road to manhood— the Pennsylvania Derby. This 3yo stake may be my favorite in the long line of post-Triple Crown tests.
Why? I’m not entirely sure. I suppose it’s entertaining to gawk unapologetically at how young colts grow into themselves— and more importantly, it’s exciting to anticipate which horse will separate himself from the rest ahead of the year- end championships.
While Champion 3yo Male is already in the bag, ( Yes, people. Justify is winning no matter what) his early retirement has left the proverbial door wide ajar, for the next young male racehorse to assert his dominance over a crop seen as one of the strongest in recent memory.
Before you comment and tell me how little I know about racing, do take into account my past predictions. No, I don’t have a crystal ball— but, with the luck I have had of late, it would certainly seem that way.
So, here are a few predictions. Feel free to disagree. But, if you do, be sure to tell me why, down below.
1. Mckinzie wins
Layoff or no layoff, pre-Justify, this was the horse who Baffert proclaimed to be his next “Great” Thoroughbred (in a long line of many, obviously). Had injury not marred the son of Street Sense’s chances for a Spring campaign, Justify may still be racing, if you know what I’m saying. Just kidding, nothing was stopping that big red dinosaur from making history.
That being said, Mckinzie is back.
He looks fantastic, he’s training well, and if anyone can bring home a win in G1 company off of a lengthy layoff, its the white haired wizard. Because the PA Derby is being used as a prep for Mckinzie’s year-end Breeders’ Cup Classic target, he doesn’t really have to win, to be considered as “on the right track”. Still, I do believe he wins in this spot, despite the level of competition.
He’s just that good.
2. Hofburg Disappoints
“But his win in the Curlin was like… INSANE!”
Yeah, he won 5 lengths. It was a solid performance— one we all knew he had lurking somewhere inside of him. That being said, he will have to run even better to tackle this group.
Sure, there are several unknowns— but the big name guys in this field (Mckinzie, Instilled Regard, Bravazo) are legitimate racehorses.
Is Hofburg good enough to win the PA Derby?
That’s a really good question.
He’s certainly well-bred, and to me, the best-looking horse in the race (Which is semi- irrelevant).
3. Instilled Regard runs the race of his life
Yes, he technically ran the race of his life in the Kentucky Derby, when he weaved in and out of traffic under Drayden VanDyke to get up for 4th, but I think there’s more to this horse, yet. I liked him earlier this year, and since being transferred to the barn of Chad Brown, I like him even more.
Let’s face it— it’s a Chad, Chad World (I really hope you know I am referencing a song, or this will make no sense).
Anyway, Instilled Regard is going to win a big one at some point. I don’t think it’ll be on Saturday, but he’ll run well nonetheless.
I’ll be watching the races from Disneyland this weekend, and if my predictions are correct, you had better believe I’ll be the idiot in line for “It’s a Small World”, screaming at my phone as they storm down the stretch toward the wire.
Don’t cry, kids. Just your average, every day degenerate. Nothing to see here.
Photo of Mike Smith aboard McKenzie winning the G3 Sham Stakes by Casey Phillips and our friends at Eclipse Sportswire.