With a sparkling near-miss second in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby, MINESHAFT’s son Nehro stamped himself as one of the horses to beat in the G1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill May 7. The half-brother to GSW Saint Marden, owned by Zayat Stables, was coming off a rallying runner-up performance in the G2 Louisiana Derby. Nehro now joins another son of MINESHAFT as prominent Derby contenders. The other, of course, is Robert LaPenta’s brilliant Dialed In, who is currently the favorite for the 137th Run for the Roses. Both horses have admirers that include some of the most astute judges in the business: the Daily Racing Form’s Mike Watchmaker’s has Dialed In and Nehro ranked one-three, respectively, on his top 3-year-old rankings, while The Blood-Horse’s Steve Haskin has them one-four in his Derby Dozen. A hard-trying third in the Arkansas Derby was CITY ZIP’s son Dance City, who helped set a fast pace and stayed on for show honors. The G1 Preakness S. could be next for the colt, a homebred of the late Ned Evans.
The weekend also yielded big results for SMART STRIKE, whose daughter Never Retreat registered a career best when taking the G2 Jenny Wiley S. at Keeneland. On the same afternoon, another SMART STRIKE mare, Miss Blakely, won the South Beach S. at Gulfstream Park.
The four-year-old colt Juniper Pass, by LEMON DROP KID, collected his second straight Grade 2 win in the San Juan Capistrano Invitational H. at Santa Anita Sunday, while his daughter Kid Kate ran third in the G2 Distaff H. at Aqueduct. PLEASANTLY PERFECT’s Grade 2-winning daughter Cozi Rosie, meanwhile, was runner-up in the G2 Santa Barbara H. at Santa Anita.
A.P. INDY hasn’t had many turf sprint stars to his credit, but looks to have a potential force on his hands in the form of the four-year-old colt Stratford Hill, who remained unbeaten in four grassy dashes in the G3 Shakertown S. at Keeneland. He is owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk.