January 24, 2021

Brooklyn Strong seeks to buck recent Kentucky Derby trend

Brooklyn Strong wins Remsen S. 2020
Brooklyn Strong (Coglianese Photos)

Brooklyn Strong looked the part of a Kentucky Derby contender in Saturday’s Remsen S. (G2), running down a loose-on-the-lead favorite to prevail by a neck over the sloppy Aqueduct track.

However, recent history conspires against Remsen winners.

The 1 1/8-mile qualifier has come to be viewed as a negative key race — no Remsen starter has won the Kentucky Derby since Thunder Gulch in 1995. Mucho Macho Man, who finished third in the 2011 Derby, is the last Remsen participant to hit the board in the Run for the Roses.

A bargain $5,000 purchase at the OBS Spring 2-year-old sale, Brooklyn Strong has been based at Delaware Park with Danny Velazquez, who has never trained a Derby starter. The 2-year-old gelding debuted for a $40,000 maiden claiming tag in mid-September. Those aren’t positive attributes.

If Brooklyn Strong captures the 2021 Kentucky Derby, he will be the first gelding to do so since Mine That Bird in 2009. Mine That Bird is one of the biggest surprises in Derby history, a 50-1 longshot from New Mexico, and he’s also the last Derby winner to race for a claiming tag.

RELATED: Contrasting early Kentucky Derby contenders

Brooklyn Strong is a New York-bred son of Wicked Strong. New York-bred Tiz the Law finished second as the 7-10 favorite in the 2020 Derby, and Funny Cide (2003) is the only New York-bred ever to wear the Roses.

Brooklyn Strong
Brooklyn Strong wins the 2020 Remsen Stakes
(Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand)

Those factors may be food for thought, but Brooklyn Strong remains a promising sort. He registered an outstanding 107 Brisnet Speed rating while making his first stakes attempt against open rivals, and the up-and-coming juvenile appears built for longer distances. His lone loss from four starts came in a sprint.

Wicked Strong captured the 2014 editions of the Wood Memorial (G1) and Jim Dandy (G2), and he finished a nose second in the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1). Brooklyn Strong is out of the stakes-placed Medaglia d’Oro mare Riviera Chic, who won at distances up to 1 3/8 miles.

I’m not putting stock into the Remsen being a negative. No favorites won the Kentucky Derby from 1981 to 2000, and favoritism certainly wasn’t a disadvantage. Derby winners can come from anywhere if good enough.

Brooklyn Strong must carry his form forward to fast conditions, but he has something going for him following a sharp Remsen win.