As we near the Kentucky Derby in 2015…
Todd Pletcher has by all accounts a serious Kentucky Derby contender in a horse named Khozan. Despite drawing a ton of attention from the horse racing cognoscenti, Khozan really hasn’t done much yet. He won his debut race at Gulfstream Park in January with relative ease beating an uninspired field by 3 ¾ length earning a 103 Beyer figure in the process. He’s now two for two in his brief career after routing five completely overmatched opponents in an allowance race this past Saturday at Gulfstream. Khozan only posted a 90 Beyer figure this time but didn’t exactly need to turn in a serious effort winning by 12 ¾ lengths.
According to Pletcher, Khozan’s jockey Javier Castellano was instructed to try a few new things with the horse in the race making it little more than a glorified ‘scrimmage’. After praising the horse’s strong effort Pletcher said that he was ‘glad to see he got a little bit of an education today. He was behind horses a little bit, inside horses. He did some things he didn’t do in his first start.”
The working plan is to enter Khozan in only one more Kentucky Derby prep race—the Florida Derby which would also be his stakes debut. This ‘all the eggs in one basket’ approach to Derby qualifying is risky but might be all that Khozan needs. A bigger issue is the fact that he was unraced as a two year old. This puts Khozan up against the ‘curse of Apollo’ named after a gelding that won the seventh running of the Kentucky Derby in 1883. Apollo was the last horse to win the race without racing as a two year old so it’s now 132 years and counting. Even Pletcher admits that “History is against him, but maybe he’ll be the one who can overcome it.”
The 64th running of the Florida Derby is set for Gulfstream Park on March 28, 2015. The race awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualification points to the winner.