What a fantastic way to kick off the three year old prep season. This weekend we saw spectacular and gritty performances by Winslow Homer and Jackson Bend in the Holly Bull. These two colts entered the Holly Bull with similar questions. Jackson Bend had been the King of Calder as a two year old, but Calder is not know for producing many champion style horses. Winslow Homer was an easy winner while breaking his maiden in his second start and a flashy 12 lengths allowance victory, but, the Holly Bull was to be his stake debut, where he would face a solid field of proven stakes performers and winners.
Both put away any questions about their ability to handle top tier competition as they finished nearly four lengths ahead of the show horse, William's Kitten. Winslow Homer, owned by Rick Porter, who was also the owner of the ill fated Eight Belles, broke a bit slowly, but didn't take long to find his rhythm. Taking back behind a four way speed duel, he rated professionally, waiting patently for his rider to tell him when to pounce. Around the turn the field came, and Winslow Homer inched closer to the lead. Staying inside, the grey waited patiently for an opening and when one appeared the flashy colt darted on through. Had it not been for a gritty and determined Jackson Bend, doggedly chasing after him, Winslow Homer would've gone on to win by an easy four lengths.
Winslow Homer may have been the winner, but his pesky rival Jackson Bend represented himself well in defeat. Breaking from post nine, Jackson Bend had the luck to be forced 3-5 wide throughout the entire race. Coming off the turn, after trailing a blistering pace, Jackson Bend floated at least five wide, while his rival split horses, taking a much shorter path. Jackson Bend, however, refused to give up. The final time was a solid 1.35.97.
In the Lecomte, Ron the Greek came soaring from out of the clouds, to snatch the win from a determined Maximus Ruler. After throwing down the gauntlet the first half mile, Maximus Ruler looked like horse ready to throw in the towel at the head of the stretch. But the gritty colt showed his class, repelling two bid bids one from Cool Bullet and one from Letsgetitonmon. By the time Ron the Greek began to roll Maximus Ruler was done. It was a good race by both colts, but the one who impressed me most was Maximus Ruler, who did all the dirty work up front and had nothing left to give after Ron the Greek started to roll from the back of the back.
Now for the moment of truth, who made it onto the Derby Top Ten.
1.) Lookin At Lucky-He is the reigning champ as of now, and until somebody really does something spectacular, or knocks the crown off his head in a head to head match, he will retain his top spot.
2.) Buddy's Saint- Still is the best in the east. No other horse has defeated top class fields with the consistent ease that he has.
3.)Winslow Homer-His big win in the Holly Bull proved he's for real, which is why he's jumped from ninth to third. If he can stay sound there is no doubt in my mind he will enter the Derby as one of the favorites.
4.) Jackson Bend- He proved himself to be the top class horse I thought he was all along, which is why he retained his spot in the top five. Unfortunately, he did not do enough to convince me he is better than second place Buddy's Saint or our number one Lookin At Lucky.
5.) Super Saver- Was bumped down only due to the spectacular performances by others. He can easily move back up with another dominant win in his next start.
6.) American Lion- I cannot seem to shake the though of his last win. With another win in the Robert B. Lewis he might just be able to crack the top five.
7.) Tiz Chrome- What is with all the Tiznows! The two time Classic winner has been on fire in the breeding shed these last few years and doesn't seem to be slowing down. The only question this big boy must answer is can he handle the distance, and with his breeding, distance should not be an issue.
8.)William's Kitten- This kitten is more like a tiger if you ask me. Give this colt more distance and he might go from knocking on the door, to busting a race wide open.
9.) Noble's Promise- He is still in the top ten due to his class, but he still has the dirt and distance questions to answer.
10.) Maximus Ruler- He has guts and seems to be for real. When on the lead in the Lecomte, he didn't give the impression he would like to go long, but maybe if he is able to rate he'll have a better closing punch.