Derby Trial win could propel Titletown Five into Kentucky Derby
Saturday's Grade 3, $175,000 Derby Trial is the final scoring race in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com," offering 20 points to the winner as a "wildcard" race, but Titletown Five is the only member of field under serious consideration for the Run for the Roses a week later. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt will face eight rivals in the one-mile test.
"He is really a talented horse," Lukas said. "We got behind the eight-ball, we took a chip out of his knee, so we were playing catch-up earlier this year. We didn't start galloping him until the first week in January, he's been two or three months behind the others (stablemates and confirmed Kentucky Derby starters Oxbow and Will Take Charge). But I do look for a great effort in the Derby Trial.
"If he were to win, I don't know how the Leaderboard will shake out at that point but it's going to be close. The (Kentucky Derby) is still very much in the picture."
Titletown Five will move into the 22nd spot on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard if he wins the Derby Trial, needing a couple of defections to make the field. The son of Tiznow posted his lone career victory at Churchill Downs last October, winning a seven-furlong maiden special weight by an overwhelming nine-length margin, but he didn't return to the races this year until the March 2 Gazebo at Oaklawn Park, finishing second in the six-furlong test.
The dark bay showed his customary speed when stretching out to two turns in the March 30 Louisiana Derby but was forced to travel too fast during the early stages on a blistering pace at Fair Grounds, weakening to ninth. Titletown Five figures to appreciate the cutback to a one-turn mile on Saturday and will receive a rider switch to Gary Stevens.
Todd Pletcher will send out a pair of contenders in Capo Bastone and Forty Tales.
Capo Bastone was transferred to Pletcher following a rallying third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and opened his sophomore season with an optional claiming victory at Gulfstream Park on February 16. However, the chestnut colt will be looking to rebound from a disappointing ninth in the March 23 Spiral on Turfway Park's Polytrack. The late-running son of Street Boss will pick up the services of Garrett Gomez.
Forty Tales won his first two career starts before recording a close second in the seven-furlong Hutcheson on February 2, but he faltered as the even-money favorite in the March 2 Swale last out, both stakes attempts coming at Gulfstream. Joel Rosario, the leading rider at the Keeneland spring meet, will take over the reins aboard the stalker.
Zee Bros is a runner of interest for Bob Baffert. Second when making his career bow at Santa Anita on February 9, the Brother Derek colt impressively broke his maiden last time out over the same oval, notching a field-best 105 BRIS Speed rating for the 2 1/2-length decision. Mike Smith will guide the promising front-runner.
Multiple stakes victor Officer Alex brings a two-race win streak into the Derby Trial for conditioner Lynn Whiting, capturing the April 6 Bachelor at Oaklawn most recently, and will break from the rail with Robby Albarado. Ruble is set to make his stakes debut for Ian Wilkes following maiden and optional claiming wins at Gulfstream and gets Alan Garcia in the saddle.
The remaining contestants are G.T. Tabu, Ruler of Love and Tour Guide.
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