February 22, 2024

Derby and Oaks prospects vie in Remsen, Demoiselle

Dornoch breaking his maiden at Keeneland
Dornoch breaking his maiden at Keeneland (Photo courtesy of Keeneland)

It’s been nearly three decades since the $250,000 Remsen (G2) was won by the eventual Kentucky Derby (G1) winner. That’s not to say, however, that the winner of Saturday’s nine-furlong test at Aqueduct won’t have any long-term success.

Winners of the Remsen over the last decade include Honor Code, Catholic Boy, and Mo Donegal, and it would be no great surprise if any of the 10 colts entered Saturday would also go on to achieve something greater.

While there are several in the field with adequate stakes experience, bettors might gravitate more toward several recent maiden winners. Sierra Leone, a $2.3 million yearling purchase, and Domestic Product both graduated at the Big A in their respective last starts for Chad Brown, the latter over the Remsen distance.

Dornoch, meanwhile, enters off a dominating 6 1/2-length graduation at Keeneland in his third lifetime start. The son of Good Magic had previously run second twice, one of which occurred in the Sapling S. at Monmouth Park.

“Last time, he broke good and was up there,” said trainer Danny Gargan, who saddled 2022 Remsen winner Dubyuhnell. “He still goofed off at the end of the race. When he gets by himself, he plays around. He’s real professional when he’s with other horses. He looked around a little bit and didn’t switch [leads] as fast because he’s playing around. But it was a big performance and he ran fast.”

Among the stakes veterans in the field is Copper Tax, who rolls into town having won five straight. Among these were scores in the Rocky Run S. at Delaware Park and James F. Lewis III S. at Laurel. Where’s Chris stretches out after posting a 19-1 upset in the Nashua S. over one mile in early November, while Moonlight looks to rebound off a short-priced loss in the Street Sense (G3) at Churchill Downs.

The Remsen will award Derby qualifying points of 10-5-3-2-1 to the respective top five finishers.

The $250,000 Demoiselle (G2), which in recent years has been won by eventual three-year-old champion fillies Malathaat and Nest, is a similarly intriguing test for the juvenile fillies over the same distance as the Remsen.

Life Talk, who chased presumptive division champion Just F Y I in both the Frizette (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), should appreciate the drop in class, while Shimmering Allure goes for back-to-back stakes wins following a three-length score in the one-mile Tempted S.

The field of nine includes Ringy Dingy and Most of All, both of whom enter off of lopsided victories, while the New York-breds Caldwell Luvs Gold and Dolomite don’t look out of place despite the move into open company.

The Demoiselle awards Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points of 10-5-3-2-1 to the respective top five finishers.