Midlantic-breds in Kentucky Derby Day stakes

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Kentucky Derby day is Saturday, May 7 with a loaded card of eight straight stakes races, seven of which are graded. The majority of entries were bred in Kentucky with a few foreign invaders, and two Midlantic-breds will compete at short odds with very strong chances of knocking off the hometown runners. 

The eighth race at Churchill Downs is the Grade I Derby City Distaff Stakes for fillies and mares four years old and up. An eight-horse field with no entry over 15/1 morning line will compete in this seven-furlong sprint for $750,000.

Headlining this field is the 3-1 Just One Time, a Brad Cox trainee bred in Pennsylvania by Warrior’s Reward LLC. With six wins in seven lifetime starts, it is easy to see why she is favored in this accomplished group.

Last time out in the Grade I Madison Stakes at Keeneland, Just One Time made a huge move in the stretch to run down her repeat competitors in Kimari and Bell’s the One, passing two others in the process. Her powerful closing kick gives regular jockey Flavien Prat some leeway when positioning this filly by Not This Time-Ida Clark, by Speightstown early out of the gate. Co-owned by Warrior’s Reward LLC and Commonwealth New Era Racing, the expectations will surely be high for Just One Time who looks to take down back-to-back Grade I events. 

Just One Time was rated the Top Midlantic-bred among older horses in the first poll of 2022.

For the tenth race, the Grade I Churchill Downs Stakes, we see the return of the upset Breeder’s Cup Sprint winner Aloha West. At odds of 11/1 in the Breeder’s Cup Sprint, an overlooked Aloha West ran down five horses after entering the top of the stretch in sixth by four lengths.The stunning finish gave this five-year-old Maryland bred over $1.3 million in career earnings, a good return for a yearling that cost $160,000 for eventual owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

Aloha West hasn’t raced since the Breeders’ Cup, and it may be difficult to match that performance off the long layoff, but trainer Wayne Catalano clearly has this horse by Hard Spun-Island Bound, by Speightstown training forwardly. A recent four-furlong work in 47 3/5 seconds over the Churchill dirt course gives a glimpse into Aloha West’s condition, and with another great ride from Jose Ortiz, this Maryland-bred runner could be in line for another huge performance.

Aloha West was bred by the late Robert T. Manfuso & Katharine M. Voss and is 7-2 on the morning line.

Aloha West
Aloha West was up in time to upset the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Photo Shamela Hanley/Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM.