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.

Screenshot 2015-04-23 16.40.34

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.

An Amazing Saturday in February

Even though Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, I consider winter unofficially over after yesterday’s terrific day of racing.

Here are my top 5 moments of the day:

5. Far from Over rallies after blowing the break in the Withers.

Far from Over at the break was so bad that you may have been tempted to walk away if you had bet him. But sometimes being way off the pace is the place to be. Ran a 96 Beyer, good for this time of year. One to watch.

4. Constitution re-conquers Gulfstream; runs huge!

Constitution takes the mantle of best horse in training in the East…at least yesterday and over the Gulfstream surface. Ran a 113 Beyer in putting away the speedy Lea.

3. Irad Ortiz wins his 5th race at Aqueduct.

It’s been a challenging winter for New York Racing, but Irad Ortiz had one of the moment’s of the meet with 5 winners on yesterday’s card. He’s an aggressive rider to say the least, and he’s got a bright future.

Here’s his stakes win on Salutos Amigos earlier in the day (he won the first 3 races):

2. Dortmund isn’t finished.

I watch tons of racing. It’s why I named this site “All Day Racing.” But I don’t remember the last time I saw a horse rally like Dortmund did yesterday. He was finished, passed by Firing Line by almost a full length, when he just decided to stop tiring. Very impressive, and I’m starting to get behind the big guy. Super Beyer of 103.

1. Shared Belief hand ride to victory over California Chrome

Shared Belief is the best horse in the US and I have always thought him better than California Chrome (and was vocal on Twitter about him earlier in the day.) It was great to see him prove it on the track. I’ll continue to drop everything whenever Shared Belief is running — sensational athlete.

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.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) & Late Belmont P4

It’s a great field this year for the Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont Park. This race is also an important moment in the thoroughbred racing calendar as the 3YO division merges into the older handicap or Classic division. Only two age-restricted routes remaining for 3YO’s, and neither of these is at the top level (Oklahoma Derby and Indiana Derby.) In this year’s installment, it’s a particularly deep field with several good 3YO’s.

My favorite horse of the summer, V-E Day, is among several contenders in this field. I’ve been a backer of him all summer, and he’s certainly helped to pay the rent. In the Curlin stakes, he was my pick, based solely on a form angle that is a consistent moneymaker:

I also really liked him in the Travers, and told just about everyone who would listen. He was improving and had earned his way into the race.

So, of course, it’s a bit hard for me to be unbiased towards V-E Day. Here, he has a good shot — he’s met each challenge of the summer and seems to have a nose for the wire. If any horse has earned his way on to a P4 ticket, it’s him. 

Another of my favorite horses, Tonalist, returns to the site of his greatest triumphs, Belmont Park. In the Belmont Stakes, I was a huge supporter of his, and I am still shocked that he went off at 8-1 (he was even 11-1 before a huge 200K bet knocked his odds down in the gate).

The Belmont Stakes, however, was my only time with Tonalist. I wasn’t on him in the Peter Pan front-running win. But recently, I was a bit skeptical of him at Saratoga:

But now back to a Belmont surface which he seems to enjoy, I’m back on the Tonalist bandwagon, and he’s the second horse on my ticket.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Moreno, but he’s in career form and his speed lately has been lights out. On paper, it seems that there will be a pace battle, but there’s often money to be found (at least in the long-term) on the other side of these opinions. Considering he’s the fastest horse at the top of his game, I’ll include him on the chance that the pace is a bit lighter than anticipated and hopeful that he’ll bring about some value. The final horse to include is Stephanoatsee who will probably be a substantial price. He’s improved since coming to the Nick Zito barn and ran a sneaky good race last out. He’s older, perhaps more mature, and could very well find the board, or even the winner’s circle at a huge price. I’ll also consider a win bet on him (and exacta save), especially if the price is over 15-1. Check my twitter for updates. Finally, I’ll let Wicked Strong, who I rate just a notch below the others, beat me (and he very well might). He’d need to improve, something I don’t like to bet on first-time against older. I’ll also pass on Zivo, the gutsy NY-bred who took the G2 Suburban this past July. This is a much tougher field, and he’d need to run a career-best to get it done.

In the rest of the P4, I’ll go wide in the Flower Bowl with 5 horses: Stephanie’s Kitten, Abaco, Watsachances, Alterite, Strathnaver. A wide open race, I’ll go with Chad Brown’s 3 entrants, along with last out close finishers Abaco and Strathnaver.

In the Vosburgh, I’ll bank on a hot pace coming back to Salutos Amigos or Palace. As an alternative, I’ll also include Happy My Way as the potential speed of the speed.

Finally, in the Hirsch, I’ll go two deep. Imagining might just wire them, but I’ll let him beat me to keep the cost of the ticket in ideal range. Main Sequence has won two straight G1’s and has found his form again. He’s healthy and flourishing for the Graham Motion barn. Finally, I like Big Blue Kitten, who’s been a benchmark horse all summer since winning the key Lure. He’s part of an entry, so I’ll take the free Real Solution, too.

$.50 P4 5*3*2*4 = $60   

Image: Nakishi, Copyright 2006.