"MISSION" NOT IMPOSSIBLE
Saturday's Grade 2, $750,000 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds produced a new candidate for the May 1 Kentucky Derby when the late-blooming Mission Impazible -- chalk another one up for trainer Todd Pletcher -- rallied to beat pacesetter A Little Warm by three-quarters of a length. But more than that, the prep shot holes in the prospects of the horses that ran 2-3-4.
A Little Warm, whose prior two wins both came at six furlongs, was making his first start beyond seven furlongs in the mile-and-an-eighth Louisiana Derby, and his two-turn debut was commendable. Pressed throughout by 7-2 favorite Discreetly Mine, he turned back Discreetly Mine's bid and hung in gamely when collared by Mission Impazible in deep stretch.
But there's a glut of speed among this year's Derby contenders, and with only one distance race under his belt, it's hard to see A Little Warm staying a mile-and-a-quarter.
Drosselmeyer got up late to nip Discreetly Mine for third, but it was a weak third. He got a ground-saving trip tucking in off the pace, had a clear run up the rail in the stretch and would have won the race if he had the needed late kick. But he didn't.
Discreetly Mine, front-running winner of the mile-and-a-sixteenth Risen Star, couldn't stay the distance in his first try at a mile-and-an-eighth. He's got a miler's pedigree, so the Derby seems a stretch for him, too.
As for Mission Impazible, maybe "late bloomer" isn't the correct description, as he raced twice as a 2-year-old last April. But he was off from then until January, and the Louisiana Derby was just his third start as a 3-year-old.
What to make of Dean's Kitten, coming off a convincing 2½-length victory in the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End over Turfway Park's Polytrack?
On the negative side, Dean's Kitten -- a son of grass champion Kitten's Joy -- has done almost all his racing on turf, with two good efforts on the synthetic Polytrack. In his lone start on dirt, in last year's Pilgrim Stakes, he finished last of five beaten 33 lengths. The last two Lane's End winners, Adriano and Hold Me Back, floundered on dirt in the Derby, and the field Dean's Kitten beat Saturday was far below Grade 2 caliber.
On the other hand, Dean's Kitten has a strong late kick, he's bred to run a distance of ground, has run two solid races at a mile-and-an-eighth this year, and three years ago Hard Spun came out of his Lane's End victory to run a strong second in the Derby.
by Ed Fountaine
On the New York worktab
Highly-regarded sophomore EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY (Forest Camp) sizzled five furlongs in a bullet :58 3/5, breezing, easily the fastest of 12 moves at the distance over Aqueduct's fast inner track on Palm Sunday. The Gary Contessa pupil, who bolted on the first turn in the February 6 Whirlaway S., is expected to contest Saturday's Bay Shore S. (G3).
Fred "Cappy" Capossela S. winner CASTANEDA (Yonaguska), another Bay Shore candidate, blitzed a half-mile in a bullet :47 1/5.
Multiple Grade 3 victor MISSION APPROVED (With Approval) strolled five panels in 1:05 3/5 in advance of his first outing since August.
Five-time stakes scorer DIGGER (Yonaguska), exiting a second in the General George H. (G2), strode five-eighths in 1:02 2/5 on the fast training track at Belmont Park. The Bruce Brown veteran is aiming for Saturday's Carter H. (G1).
Grade 3 hero JOEY P. (Close Up), who finally joined the millionaires' club with his recent allowance/optional claiming score, zipped four furlongs in a bullet :47 3/5. The Ben Perkins Jr. trainee posted the best of 67 trials at the trip.
Stymie S. and Evening Attire S. romper UNDERSTATEMENT (Distorted Humor), headed to the lucrative Charles Town Classic S. on April 17, turned in the second fastest half-mile drill in :47 4/5.
Grade 3 winner NITE LIGHT (Thunder Gulch), third in the Stymie last out, traveled in :50 in preparation for Saturday's Excelsior S. (G3).
Last year's Excelsior star GIANT MOON (Giant's Causeway), who has been sidelined since May, exercised five panels in 1:02 4/5.
Multiple stakes queen LIFE AT TEN (Malibu Moon), coming off a 5 1/4-length triumph in the Rare Treat S., went in 1:01 2/5.
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