Add another horse to the list of serious Kentucky Derby contenders. On Saturday, Materiality won his third race in three career starts with an impressive showing in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. The Todd Pletcher trained colt by Afleet Alex outlasted race favorite Upstart in a heated battle down the stretch to claim his first graded stakes win and punch his ticket for the Kentucky Derby.
So why would a horse with three career starts all of a sudden be a Kentucky Derby favorite? Materiality posted a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the victory, the highest in a Kentucky Derby prep race this year. Despite Materiality’s inexperience in competitive racing and particularly against tough opposition impressive speed will always get the attention of the online horse betting public, especially for a race like the Kentucky Derby.
Materiality and Upstart ran away from the rest of the field. Eventually, Ami’s Flatter would take third place coming in 12 ½ lengths behind the runner up. Despite the loss, the race was some vindication for Upstart who had easily won the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes earlier this year. The last time out Upstart appeared to have won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth before a highly questionable call by the stewards gave the victory to Itsaknockout. Itsaknockout finished a highly disappointing fourth on Saturday, twenty one lengths behind Materiality.
With Materiality headed to the Kentucky Derby by virtue of the 100 qualification points he put up in the win it means that we have a new challenger to break the ‘Curse of Apollo’. 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. Pletcher had another challenger to break the curse earlier this season before Khozan was taken off the Triple Crown trail.
Now Materiality has the chance to do him one better—should he win the Kentucky Derby he’d pull off the downright unfathomable feat of going from his maiden race to wearing the roses in the winners circle at Churchill Downs in the same year. Materiality made his career debut on January 11th and is now among the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby. That alone is an impressive achievement. For online sports betters, it is a good time to bet on your favorite horse for the Kentucky derby event.
Still, going from an unstarted maiden to a Kentucky Derby champion in four months is asking a lot of a horse. This is particularly true against what is shaping up to be a formidable field of opponents including American Pharaoh and Dortmund. Also potentially working against Materiality in the Kentucky Derby—he could have a new jockey aboard. John Velasquez rode him in this race but will ride another top level contender—Carpe Diem—in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 4th. Velasquez is Carpe Diem’s regular rider and his loyalties would likely make this the jockey’s choice for Kentucky Derby mount.
There’s also a good chance that Upstart will be in the mix on Derby Day though there’s a concern that he’s left too much on the track in his past two races—the DQ second place in the Fountain of Youth and this event where he turned in a 108 Beyer Figure. Of course that was a rap on California Chrome heading into the Kentucky Derby last year—that he’d peaked too soon in winning the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby.