Ever a Derby Winner With Better Credentials Than Nyquist?Read this article
Valid Takes on Team Pletcher in Grade 2 Gulfstream Cap
The Grade 2, $500.000 Gulfstream Handicap March 5 features seven veteran rivals set to clash at the one-mile distance in a race with plenty of name recognition and class.
The always-difficult-to-beat Todd Pletcher will saddle four of the seven runners including the 2/1 favorite Itsaknockout, but Valid (5/2) is the one to beat despite being snubbed as second choice on the morning line. The hard-knocking Marcus Vitali trainee is a beast at Gulfstream with six wins in 13 careert starts to go with four runner-up finishes and a third. The one mile distance is his best and he enters the race with three consecuitve triple digit Beyer Speed Figures. In addition, Valid finished second last out in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, beating Itsaknockout by over two lengths in the mile and an eighth race that figured to give that rival an advantage. Since the Donn, Valid has posted a pair of bullet workouts suggesting he's on his toes and ready to run his usual race, which would be plenty good enough to deliver a winning performance. Breaking from post 5, Valid will have the option of stalking his main pace rival Stanford, but is plenty quick enough to outbreak that rival if jockey Nik Juarez chooses.
Pletcher runner looks like false favorite
Itsaknockout is the 2/1 morning line favorite, but simply does not stack up well against Valid. While not running poorly in the Donn defeat, Itsaknockout seems to prefer more distance and does not have Beyer Speed Figure to suggest he's fast enought to defeat his main rival.
Other Pletcher entries could chase Valid
Stanford (7/2) and Blofeld (6/1) - both Pletcher runners - are classy and fast enough to tax Valid early, but would likely run themselves out of the race if used in that fashion.
For all the negative buzz about Nyquist's average speed figures and vulnerability, the newly crowned and much-deserving 2016 Kentucky Derby winner might just have the most impeccable credentials of any Derby winner in the illustrious history of the race - and certainly in the modern era.
On Friday at Churchill Downs, the field has been set for the 142nd running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks. The Grade 1 event, carded at a mile and an eighth, has drawn a full field of fourteen three-year-old fillies with one listed as an also-eligible.
With the final round of Kentucky Derby preps in the books, it seems improbable, but arguable that the March 12 Tampa Derby was the most useful and review-worthy of the 24 official point-bearing races in 2016.