2020 Results: G1 Travers (2nd), G3 Peter Pan (2nd), Maiden Special Weight (WIN)
Total Derby Points: 60 (10th)
The Story: One of the most inexperienced runners in the Derby field, Caracaro has quickly risen to prominence with two noteworthy runner-up finishes at Saratoga Race Track in graded stakes. A $95,000 yearling purchase by Uncle Mo, Caracaro began his career late last year at Gulfstream Park when he finished second in his debut on December 8. Just over a month later he came back to break his maiden impressively, beating a quality field by six lengths with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, but he wasn’t seen again until the summer.
With a lot of work yet to do to even have an inkling at cracking the Derby field, Caracaro returned from his extended layoff with a very encouraging second-place finish in the G3 Peter Pan in his stakes debut. That effort was particularly promising given the time off and lack of seasoning heading into the race, so it was fair to expect an even better performance from him in the G1 Travers, to which he obliged. Though no match for runaway winner Tiz the Law, he finished a clear second in the Travers, two lengths clear of fellow Derby contender Max Player.
Like many of the runners in this field, Caracaro doesn’t have a pedigree that would lead you to believe 1 ¼ miles is within his scope, but he’s already dispelled that notion on the racetrack. His trainer, Gustavo Delgado, while a legendary trainer in his native Venezuela, is also mostly an unknown on the American stage, however he’s already gotten this horse to perform well twice at Saratoga, one of the nation’s most storied tracks. It would seem Caracaro has already transcended whatever ostensible limitations he’s had.
The Verdict: He’s still lightly raced but has overcome a lot to finish second in both the G1 Travers and G3 Peter Pan at Saratoga. He flashed talent over the winter at Gulfstream Park, but put himself in the Derby picture with a game performance in the 1 ⅛-mile Peter Pan off a long layoff.
He had every right to need that race coming off only a maiden score months prior at Gulfstream, yet he still turned in a strong performance, which is why he was my preferred underneath option in the Travers behind Tiz the Law. That proved to be the right call, and it was an effort good enough to put him squarely in the mix for the Derby, though obviously he still has a lot of ground to make up to catch Tiz the Law. I could see using him as a backup type on the win end, and he certainly deserves respect in intra-race exotic wagering.