SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Kentucky Derby suddenly is a distant memory for Dynamic One and his connections.
That’s because most of the field for the Curlin became a distant memory for the colt, once he moved to the lead from last place and won by 1 3/4 lengths over the one horse who wouldn’t quite go away, Miles D, at Saratoga Race Course on Friday.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., Dynamic One stamped himself as a candidate for the Aug. 28 Travers by convincingly winning his first start since beating just one of 18 rivals and finishing 32 1/4 lengths behind Medina Spirit in the May 1 Derby.
“We always felt like there was a lot of talent there,” Pletcher said. “It’s taken him a little while to mentally put it all together, but today was his most professional race.
“I think he definitely showed that he is capable of stepping up, and we were looking at this as a potential Travers prep, and he gave us everything we could have hoped for today.”
The $120,000 Curlin was considered a showcase for the late-blooming and undefeated First Captain, but he toiled nearer to the back than the front of the seven-horse field and settled for third place, never a threat while finishing well back of Miles D by seven lengths.
Purchased for $1.5 million at the 2019 Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, but unraced as a 2-year-old because of physical issues before making a splash this season, First Captain lost for the first time from four starts.
“I was expecting him to be a little bit sharper,” jockey Jose Ortiz said. “He was a little bit lazy early on. We were making a good run until the quarter pole, and Collaborate blew the turn and it hurt me a little bit, but I don’t think I would have won the race anyway.”
Dynamic One broke out of the starting gate from the outside post, and Irad Ortiz settled him inside to save some ground on the first turn while running in last place and following Miles D.
They were able to find clear sailing down the backstretch and around the second turn, angling out to the four path while passing horses as the field straightened out in the homestretch.
Miles D stayed in contact inside the eighth pole, but Dynamic One pulled away at the sixteenth.
“In the first turn, I was on top of the rail, and the 1 [Miles D] was taking back, and I wanted to be there,” Ortiz said. “I followed my trip all the way until half of my trip home, I fought my way out because horses in front of me started coming back, so I worked my way out. After that, I waited for the right moment to roll, because he’s the type of horse before who likes to wait on horses a little bit.
“He went by and he kept going. Before, he’d look around and play around. Today, he was much better.”
“I could tell down the backstretch that he was travelling really well and that Irad had a lot of horse,” Pletcher said. “He said when he tested him to see where he was around the half-mile pole, he still felt like he had a lot of horse, so he waited a little longer and waited longer down the lane.”
“The Wood Memorial was his race, and he sort of lollygagged a little bit when he got to the lead and was beat at the wire,” said Vinnie Viola of St. Elias Stable, one of the co-owners. “Today, what was most impressive was how he moved through horses and didn’t need to go around. Irad could wait because he was so confident in how much horse he had underneath him.”
Trainer Chad Brown said he was pleased with the effort put in by Miles D, since it came in just his third career start.
Injuries prevented the colt from fulfilling his promise as what Brown considered would be his best Kentucky Derby prospect this year. But he ran to Brown’s satisfaction in the Curlin, and Dynamic One was simply the better horse on the day.
“I had a good trip, but we were probably second best today,” jockey Joel Rosario said. “I thought we had the race won turning for home, and that horse [Dynamic One] made the last move and beat us. He ran really well.”
“I don’t have any excuse,” Brown said. “The horse that won was following us the whole way and was able to get the upper hand on us late. He ran really well, and our horse is probably a little behind in seasoning. It was his first time around two turns.”
Brown didn’t rule out a shot at the Travers, even though Miles D is still just a maiden winner.
Also, the Curlin-to-Travers step doesn’t show much successful history, as most of the top Travers contenders point toward the Jim Dandy, which is one of the features on Saturday’s card, or other preps with big purses.
Brown has won the Curlin three times, with Highest Honors in 2019 and Connect in 2016, both of whom were sixth in the Travers, and with Street Life in 2012. He finished last of 11 in the Travers, was vanned off with an injury and retired.
“It’s good enough for me to run him a mile and a quarter the next time I run him, the way he galloped out,” Brown said. “We know, whoever’s in it [Travers], it’s a much tougher race. I’ve won the Curlin three times already, and those horses, when you go on to the next one, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. But, again, he’s got all the potential in the world. I don’t know if, in his fourth start, he can do that, but we’ll consider it.
“I was very confident. I’m actually surprised he got beat, because I know what the horse is capable of. He has an enormous amount of ability, I’m proud of his effort, he got a great trip, so we just move on.”
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