August 6, 2020

Kentucky Derby hopeful Cezanne gets job done in Los Alamitos allowance

Cezanne readily cleared his two-turn test in an allowance at Los Alamitos (Benoit Photo)

As the 1-10 favorite against a short field of class-challenged rivals, Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful Cezanne was entitled to win Thursday’s 5TH race at Los Alamitos. The Bob Baffert trainee got the job done well enough, but will need to keep progressing as he contemplates his next step on the road to Churchill Downs.

Cezanne was on watch lists ever since selling for $3.65 million to top last year’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale. Unraced at two, the royally bred son of Curlin was made a late nominee to the Triple Crown. He justified favoritism in his June 6 debut at Santa Anita, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint, in promising fashion for the Coolmore partners and St. Elias Stable.

Baffert believed the brawny type would benefit from another race before tackling a stiffer test, and Thursday’s low-key mile allowance served the purpose. Breaking from the outside post 5 with Flavien Prat, Cezanne comfortably tracked stablemate Bronn through splits of :23.02 and :46.24. The heavy favorite put his head in front at the 6-furlong mark in 1:10.63, still on the bridle, and opened up on the weakening Bronn.

The 33-1 longshot Mongolian Legend rallied from last to reduce Cezanne’s margin to 1 3/4 lengths. On literal form, the fact that a last-out $50,000 maiden claiming winner was a reasonably close second, and eight lengths clear of Bronn, isn’t exactly a selling point.

Cezanne finished in 1:35.99 while giving off the vibe of a relentless galloper. It’s also plausible that the inexperienced colt idled since he was in front throughout the long Los Alamitos stretch. Nevertheless, if you were taking a wait-and-see approach on Cezanne, he probably wouldn’t have converted you here.

Now 2-for-2 with earnings of $57,000, Cezanne is going the right way. This two-turn introduction is eligible to help, especially fitness-wise. We’ll know a lot more how he stacks up as a Derby candidate once he faces proper opposition in a points race.

By way of comparison, the Shug McGaughey-trained Creed had to work harder, but arguably proved more, in his allowance test at Belmont Park earlier Thursday. The Honor Code colt went off as the 1.45-1 favorite in the 6TH race and delivered a sustained rally from well off the pace to prevail.

The gutsy front runner Liveyourbeastlife rattled off fractions of :22.75, :45.88 and 1:10.13, disposing of projected pace rival Life Changer. Even the stalking Edge of Fire could not maintain his position turning for home. Mister Winston did keep his spot in attendance, advanced to challenge, and gradually wore down Liveyourbeastlife in the stretch.

Although the principals were liable to be feeling their exertions, no other closers were able to get involved. Creed was the only one not run off his feet, but strong enough to gain ground and win going away by 1 1/4 lengths. Jose Ortiz piloted the sophomore through 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.14.

Creed was coming off a maiden romp over the same track and trip, where he picked up the pieces in the mud. On Thursday, the $650,000 Keeneland September yearling encountered a different scenario of two pace players holding sway on a fast track, and he still ran them down.

McGaughey sounded more doubtful about trying the Aug. 8 Travers (G1) in the postrace interview, but left the option open just in case the Saratoga feature comes up lighter than expected. In other words, the “Midsummer Derby” would be a more open affair if for whatever reason Tiz the Law doesn’t show up.

Creed now sports a mark of 3-2-1-0, $75,500, for owners Edward J. Hudson Jr. and Lynne Hudson. Out of the Grade 3-placed Seeking the Gold mare Aspiring, he descends from Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise. Creed is inbred to that blue hen 3×3, since she’s the dam of his paternal grandsire A. P. Indy.

Interestingly, Cezanne is bred on the reverse cross of a Mr. Prospector-line sire over an A. P. Indy-line mare. His dam, Achieving by Bernardini, has produced Group 3 scorer Arabian Hope and stakes-winning sprinter Counterforce. Cezanne also descends from a Broodmare of the Year, Better Than Honour, dam of back-to-back Belmont Stakes (G1) winners Jazil and Rags to Riches.

Both colts were listed as individual interests in this past weekend’s Pool 5 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Cezanne closing at 19-1 and the non-Triple Crown nominated Creed at 54-1.