Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Dortmund

The goal of this series is to prepare for the Kentucky Derby by reviewing the racing history of the contenders. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good understanding of what the undefeated Dortmund brings to the Kentucky Derby and while he’ll be a top 2 choice come post time on the first Saturday in May.

Dortmund appeared on the radar with an notable win in an 2YO routing allowance at Churchill. I always try to play this class and distance of race; Dortmund made quite an impression. I thought he was a clear favorite and had heard the buzz from Baffert, but it was more a question of the lack of depth of the field than Dortmund’s ability. He had been wide in his maiden, and I worried about his discipline. But, after the race, I came away with a much stronger opinion, even though he still ran wide.

You can watch the allowance here:  Dortmund Allowance Win

Los Alamitos Futurity

The Buzz grew and he was the heavy favorite in the 5-horse Los Alamitos Futurity.  


His stamina — his defining feature — was well on display as he just had more than the others in the final strides. His staying ability in something you’ll notice in these next two races.

Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Firing Line and Dortmund returned in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.  What happened next was amazing. I watch a great deal of racing and you almost never see a horse do what Dortmund did in this race.


Santa Anita Derby

According to Brisnet, the Santa Anita Derby was the hardest prep for the Kentucky Derby.

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It also was run at a tough early pace and Dortmund had plenty left for the stretch. He beat several good horses, although due to subsequent injuries, only Bolo will follow Dortmund to the Derby from this prep.

Dortmund continues to show tremendous stamina and a versatility in style. He’s likely to be a close second choice to American Pharoah, previewed next.

The Sunland Derby (GIII)

An added bonus to the Kentucky Derby trail with the Sunland Derby on Sunday afternoon (5:40 MT). 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner. With the scratch of Lord Nelson, it would appear to be a one horse race. Firing Line, fresh off a triple-digit speed figure, ships in from California for a seemingly easy purse and Derby points.

But there is some significant cause for worry. Firing Line was outgamed by Dortmund in the Robert Lewis.

Dortmund was rallying in spectacular fashion, but Firing Line was also stopping. Plus, I’ve noticed a propensity for Callaghan-trainees to be a bit “short” on stamina in big-time races. Firing Line has been impressive, and very well may prove me wrong, but I’d recommend against taking a low price here.

The difficulty, however, with the vulnerable favorite, is still finding the upset winner. The best shot comes from Asmussen-trainee and Fair Grounds shipper, Tiznow RJ, who showed potential in his stakes debut in the Lecomte. He performed far better in that race than you’d expect from only a maiden winner. However, he regressed next out in the Risen Star, finishing far back of International Star. To win today, he’d need to improve, but that’s certainly not out of the question this time of year. He’ll be my pick to upset Firing Line, who will likely be 3/5 or lower.

Why Two is slightly intriguing — won a stakes at Turf Paradise, but earlier broke his maiden at Santa Anita. Certainly not out of the question to set pace and hold on underneath.

Enjoy the race!

Los Alamitos Futurity (G1)

The Los Alamitos Futurity used to be the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park. I dearly miss playing there, hence the picture from Hollywood Park in memory above. Now at Los Alamitos, it is a G1 event for 2YO with Kentucky Derby dreams. Dortmund is fascinating — his allowance win was great and on that day, I posted:

Since then, he’s become the “Derby Horse of the Moment” — something that we go through every winter. Not that he isn’t legit, but just that the hype machine is out for him. He’s the current future book favorite. Today on Twitter, I ran down the contenders in the race, which only has a small field of 5. Here are the highlights:

Image: Ron Reiring, “Hollywood Park Ghost Track,” Copyright 2009.