The Kentucky Derby nearly has its final shape after Saturday's running of the Arkansas Derby, the last major prep race on the road to the first Saturday in May. But the expected dominance of Southern California horses failed to materialize, as Bob Baffert’s Concert Tour ran a lackluster third in the $1-million race for 3-year-olds.
Super Stock, a 12-1 longshot, watched from the middle of the pack as Concert Tour and Caddo River challenged each other at the front. The expectation was that as the two colts hit the top of the stretch, the undefeated Concert Tour was in perfect position to take the lead in the 1 1/8-mile race. Instead, Concert Tour flattened out and Caddo River barely was able to hold on for second place as Super Stock switched to the outside to win by 2½ lengths.
Super Stock paid $26.40 to win. Steve Asmussen was the winning trainer, and Ricardo Santana Jr. was the jockey. Asmussen, who is in the Hall of Fame, has had 21 Kentucky Derby staters without a victory.
Essential Quality, undefeated in five starts and winner of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, is the presumptive favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
With no more points races to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, there are at least four locally-based horses that have enough points to be one of the 20 starters in the Kentucky Derby on May 1. Concert Tour, which lost for the first time in four starts, had enough qualifying points before the race and will go on to Louisville. Other Santa Anita-based horses with a secure spot in the Derby are Hot Rod Charlie, winner of the Louisiana Derby for Doug O’Neill; Rock Your World, winner of the Santa Anita Derby for John Sadler; and Medina Spirit, second in the Santa Anita Derby for Baffert.
Baffert’s other horse in the Arkansas Derby, Hozier, which could have qualified with a second-place finish, was last in the six-horse field.
Currently on the outside looking in are Rombauer, which has 34 points and was the winner of the El Camino Real for Mike McCarthy, and Dream Shake, which has 30 points and was third in the San Felipe for Peter Eurton. Rombauer is likely to get in because some horses will decline the invitation. It will be more difficult for Dream Shake.
In Saturday’s other points race, worth only 20 to the winner as opposed to 100 for the Arkansas Derby, King Fury won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. Hockey Dad, for O’Neill, and Bezos, for Baffert, finished next to last and last, respectively, in the nine-horse field.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.