A full field of 20, with -- for the first time -- four also-eligibles, is lined up for the May 5 Kentucky Derby, just 12 days away, and never before have so many of the previous season’s top 2-year-olds been primed to run for the roses.
Eight of the 13 starters in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs figure to make the starting gate: Hansen (1st), Union Rags (2nd), Creative Cause (3rd), Dullahan (4th), Take Charge Indy (5th), Alpha (11th), Daddy Long Legs (12th) and Prospective (13th), with Optimizer (8th) a possibility if a couple of horses above him on the graded-stakes earnings list drop out between now and Derby Day.
Of the 15 horses listed at the top of the Experimental Free Handicap ranking the top 2-year-olds of 2011 (from 126 to 116 pounds), nine are Derby-bound.
One of these, Trinniberg whose owner, Shivananda Parbhoo, recently decided to pursue the “once-in-a-lifetime dream” of running in the Derby rather than awaiting the Preakness, radically impacts the dynamic of the race.
Second in last year’s Hopeful and Nashua, Trinniberg finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint after setting a blistering pace, the first quarter-mile in :20.96! This year, the son of Teuflesberg went gate to wire winning the Swale by six lengths and the Bay Shore by three, the latter so easily it looked like a morning workout.
Both of those wins came at seven furlongs, the longest distance Trinniberg has ever run.
Parbhoo said he decided to go in the Derby when Secret Circle, the colt that dueled with him in the Juvenile Sprint, emerged from his runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby a bit worse for wear.
“With him out of the race, there isnt another horse in the Derby with the kind of speed my horse has,” Parbhoo said. “We’ll know after the first half-mile what the result will be. I’m not worried about anyone else in the race if my horse gets in front.’’
With Trinniberg committed to gun for the lead, taking the field as far and as fast as he can, that could put the other horses with sharp early speed — Hansen, Bodemeister, Take Charge Indy, Gemologist — in a pickle, setting the Derby up for a closer. Or Trinniberg could help them by providing a target to run at, allowing them to settle off the pace and save something for the long stretch run.
Kentucky Derby, Shivananda Parbhoo, Daddy Long Legs, Arkansas Derby, Union Rags, Creative Cause, Cup Juvenile Sprint, Trinniberg, Derby