The countdown for the 2021 Kentucky Derby is getting closer, as the first of the Triple Crown races takes place on May 1st.
You can check the Kentucky Derby Handicapping & Picks in the TwinSpires website and get ready for the main event.
The most talented three-year-olds in training will be in action at the race, but this past weekend, one of the leading chances was handed a defeat.
Still, is there still enough confidence that Concert Tour can reverse his form and claim yet another Kentucky Derby success for trainer Bob Baffert?
Concert Tour Beaten
There was a sense of inevitability this past weekend, that Concert Tour would do enough to get the win in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, and move to the head of the betting.
However, horse racing is never as simple as following the form book. The horses involved aren’t machines, and like athletes, they can be prone to off days. That is exactly what happened with Concert Tour at Oaklawn Park, as he struggled to third of the six in the Arkansas Derby.
It has looked like the three-year-old would be able to clinch second, but his tiring run towards the line allowed Caddo River to take the runner-up spot.
The tired nature of Concert Tour in the final couple of furlongs looked the most worry from a gambler’s perspective, as there wasn’t the final pace that we have seen from the Baffert-trained horse before the run at Oaklawn Park.
Super Stock was the easy winner in the race, as he finished two and a half lengths clear, and there are now fears that Baffert could opt against running Concert Tour at all in the Kentucky Derby, and he could instead be focused on the two following Triple Crown events.
Still A High-Quality Option
Should Baffert continue to plan ahead for Concert Tour in the Kentucky Derby, he could get a lot of support in the market. One defeat does take the gleam off the success that he had achieved previously, but it doesn’t undo what we have seen in the past.
The run in the Arkansas Derby was his fourth start of the season to this point, which means that one of the reasons for the poor run could be down to him overworking. However, a bit of break away from the track before the Kentucky Derby could see him return to his best.
When the three-year-old is at his very best, it is extremely hard to see past him regardless of who he comes up against. Before his run in the Arkansas Derby, he had won back-to-back Grade 2s.
The most recent of those was the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. On that day, he had far too much class for the field, with Arkansas Derby winner Super Stock finishing back in fourth.
Nonetheless, the defeat last time out does mean that the expectation will rise on Essential Quality, who is the clear favourite in the betting.
Essential Quality Is The Standout
Essential Quality made it five wins from five a couple of weeks ago, with a victory in the Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
There is no denying the class that the Brad Cox-trained horse has, as he has already recorded Grade 1 success in the form of the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Essential Quality also returned to the track in February with success in the Grade 2 Southwest Stakes.
It would still be fascinating to see Concert Tour and Essential Quality go head to head in the Kentucky Derby, but the recent defeat for the Baffert-trained horse does create a chance that he may instead sidestep the first of the Triple Crown events.