SAMRAAT (30/1, Early/Presser)
This New York-bred son of Noble Causeway was defeated for the first time when making his sixth career start in the G1 Wood Memorial, a race won by Wicked Strong. The colt tracked the pace closely throughout and then finished gamely. He had trouble switching leads and only did so yards from the wire. That helped him edge out the over-hyped Social Inclusion by a nose for the place spot, while no real threat to the winner. He was hurt by the fast pace, and it was the first time Samraat was not in the lead turning for home.
His dam (mother) has produced five route winners from only six starters to race, and he is already proven around two turns. However, his difficulty in switching leads, coupled with the speed influence of broodmare sire Indian Charlie, raises doubts about ten furlongs (1 1/4 miles).
Samraat’s consistency, talent, and heart certainly give him a chance of hitting the superfecta, but a Kentucky Derby victory would be a huge surprise.
Status: Borderline contender
Value line: 30/1
Watch the Grade 1 Wood Memorial
INTENSE HOLIDAY (20/1, Closer)
This horse is not an easy one to gauge. The Todd Pletcher trainee has improved with each start dating back to last fall. He started the year breaking from a tough outside post in the G2 Holy Bull, where he finished a distant third to Cairo Prince while finishing against the grain of the track. That was actually a sneaky good effort as he made a strong middle move, passing Wicked Strong in the process as if he were standing still. Intense Holiday then ran an outstanding race, rallying behind a slow pace to get up at the wire in the G2 Risen Star, an effort that earned him a 99 BRIS Speed Rating. At the time this was a career best number.
In the Louisiana Derby he ducked in and brushed the rail at the top of the stretch and then failed to switch leads until late. However, the son of Harlan’s Holiday continued on willingly to be a clear second as the lukewarm favorite. Despite an effort that wasn’t as impressive as the Risen Star victory, he earned a career best 100 figure for the runner up performance. This colt has the right running style for the Kentucky Derby and he has the push-button type of acceleration you want to see from a contender.
Value line: 20/1
Watch the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby