Derby City Distaff Preview: Can anyone stop Gamine?

Gamine is the shortest price favorite on Kentucky Derby day in the Derby City Distaff
Gamine is the shortest price favorite on Kentucky Derby day in the Derby City Distaff

7F (Dirt) Derby City Distaff Stakes, Purse $500k, F&M 4+ 

A true prize on Saturday’s Derby undercard, this race celebrates the dirt sprinters of the female persuasion. Winners from the recent past include Groupie Doll, Dame Dorothy, Paulassilverlining, Mia Mischief, and who could forget last year’s victor, Bell’s the One. Who will join these ladies this year, etching their name into Derby Day lore? 

Now, let’s find out about this field… 

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#1 Estilo Talentoso (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: J. Arriagada):

This elder filly is one of Juan Arriagada’s prizes. He trains and owns this one out of Maclean’s Music. I am not sure whether that is an excellent sign because of his conditioning prowess, or a sign of more to come in an industry that lacks new ownership . . . I will hope for the former, but I am inclined to believe the latter. Last out in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland, his runner finished in a “Dead Heat” behind Ward’s Kimari. At 51/1 that was one of the biggest prices of the Meet to “Place.” Now, the Florida-based trainer is looking for more plunder in Kentucky. Getting Javier Castellano is a boon, and he is going to try and flip the script. Another high price on the tote come post time is inevitable. Don’t count this one out!

Grade: B-


#2 Sconsin (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: G. Foley): 

Here is a 4-yr-old filly who needed a traditional freshening last time out in the Grade I Madison at Keeneland. Coming off the shelf into that spot was going to be tough to begin with, so it was understandable that she might be “done early.” Coming off that 7th place, it is now time for her to shine, and this homebred has some major ability to do just that for trainer Greg Foley. You might be reminded that last year she was incredible in some key races, the zenith being a convincing “win” in the Eight Belles (G2) at Churchill Downs on September Derby Day. This distance suits, and so does the addition of Irad Ortiz. What a combination . . . if those works of hers are for real, then she could be one of the wagers of the day! 

Grade: A-


#3 Bell’s the One (Jky: C. Lanerie/Trn: N. Pessin): 

There is no doubt that Neil Pessin has one of the most exciting sprinters to watch and wager on. The mare out of Majesticperfection has turned heads on many an occasion, and though she just missed in the Madison (G1), she is back at Churchill, a track that she truly fancies. As the defending champ from last year, she is trying to get back to her winning ways. The issue is that she is up against some foes who are pretty fast, and that is a problem in a race like this one. Her regular rider Lanerie is aboard, and we shall see if she is up to scratch. I think she is one to use under, as I have a hard time seeing her eek out a win in this spot. Tough to repeat . . .

Grade: B

Kentucky Derby Betting

#4 Gamine (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: B. Baffert): 

Bob Baffert organized a workout for his prize filly in the Las Flores (G3) at Santa Anita. Who knew that you could get paid for circumventing a track, just to get a freshening? She came out of that with flying colors, and then got the news that her ALLW win back at Oaklawn last May was restored. Now she returns to the road, and is poised to come to Louisville once again. The last time she was in town for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), it did not go as planned, as this daughter of Into Mischief lost a tough one to Cox’s Shedaresthedevil. This distance here is probably preferable, and with Johnny V getting into the cockpit, she is going to be very difficult to beat. 

Grade: A


#5 Hibiscus Punch (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: J. Nixon):

Here is another Into Mischief offspring that has such potential when it comes to her sprinting ability. I am not sure if she is ready to face the likes of Gamine #4, Bell’s #3, and Sconsin #2, but she will try. Justin Nixon is a quality Maryland-based trainer with solid experience, just not in positions like this one. Still, it is good to see him attempt to enter races like this one. He is going to team with Luis Saez, and that is more than just some comfort. Saez is set to have possibly the best day of his career. Nixon gets partake in that success. This one is a long shot to be sure, even with that nice score last time at Laurel in the Barb Fritchie (G3).

Grade: C+


#6 Unique Factor (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: P. Miler): 

The Joel Rosario train jumps aboard this Peter Miller sprinter, and you know what that means? Fireworks could be in store . . . He rode this mare back on the Breeders’ Cup undercard in a 150k “Non-G” race, and the result was a 2nd place finish. Miller’s charge then was shipped into Churchill for the Chilukki (G3), and little went correctly. She was a horse pinball, and a troubled trip cost her any shot at a respectable finish. It is tough to imagine that a better result will come in this spot against some challenging company. What a way to exit the bench. Clearly, her conditioner is using this as a springboard to a lesser race. Not a bad plan . . . add that to the trip notes. Rosario boxcar price is loading!

Grade: B


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