With the running of the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Kentucky Derby season is off! Mucho Macho Man came in as the favorite to take the race with Gourmet Dinner the second choice. Dialed in, trained by Nick Zito, went off as the third choice. Having raced just once as a juvenile and force to make his debut against more tested colts, it was no wonder that Dialed In was not the post-time favorite. However, the bay colt prevailed and in the process, showed us five traits that should serve him well as a Kentucky Derby contender.
1) Awful start – You never list an awful start as a positive for a three year old on the Triple Crown Trail unless they can overcome it to finish well. Dialed in had a dreadful start coming out of the nine spot (the farthest outside). He immediately lugged out to the right, so you couldn’t see him in the shot. A bad start will kill most horse’s chances at finishing anywhere but the back of the pack. While Dialed In will need to quit the habit of lugging out, he proved in the Holy Bull that he can overcome adversity at the start to win.
2) Dropping far back – After the dreadful start, he fell back fifteen lengths during the first quarter. You could clearly hear in the announcer’s voice that he felt Dialed In was done. Still, the horse closed, and closed fast, like a freight train to overtake all others to win by 1 ½ lengths. To make that happen, he had to weave through traffic in the field of nine and go wide to get the win. The Derby usually features twenty horses, so seeing a horse triumph while weaving through traffic is a positive sign.
3) Finding another gear – After a bad start, falling far back and then having to weave in and out of traffic, Dialed In took a wide path to the outside of the track to run down horses. At the 16th pole, you could see Dialed In change leads and explode. That next gear took him out of reach and across the wire in front. Horses running in the Kentucky Derby usually need another gear in the final moments of the race to spurt ahead or fend off late-closing foes.
4) Lack of the stick – The stick, or whip, is used for many different purposes in racing. Often near the end of a race a jockey will use it several times to squeeze every last bit of effort out of the horse to secure the win. Given the trip Dialed In had, it would not have been at all unusual to see the stick come out many times in the stretch run, but Leparoux barely had to use it. It’s a positive sign because it clearly shows the horse had something left in the tank.
5) Pedigree – You could clearly see with this horse’s effortless run that he could have kept going beyond the 1 mile distance of the Holy Bull. His pedigree backs up the fact that he should improve with distance. By Mineshaft and out of a Storm Cat mare (Miss Doolittle), distance should never have been in doubt, but you never know until you see them run. His Holy Bull run showed that he is running true to his pedigree.
We are still a long ways out from the Kentucky Derby. We will need to see the debuts of such two year old superstars as Uncle Mo before you can clearly point to what the Kentucky Derby will hold, but Dialed In served notice that future Kentucky Derby discussions will include this talented colt.