2014 Kentucky Derby Contenders: General a Rod

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

He's dueled with Wildcat Red all winter and spring. Now General a Rod has to try and beat his rivals and the best three-year-old colts in the country.

General a Rod

Generalarod_medium

Trainer: Michael Maker
Owner: Starlight Racing & Skychai Racing
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Sire: Roman Ruler
Dam: Dynamite Eyes (Dynaformer)
Lifetime Record: 5-2-2-01
Lifetime Earnings: $282,200

Future Wager Odds: Pool 1 - ; Pool 2 - ; Pool 3 -  ; Pool 4 -

Notable Races: G1-Florida Derby (3rd); G2-Fountain of Youth (2nd); Gulfstream Park Derby (1st)

The Good

A lot of the things I like about General a Rod are exactly the same as the ones I like with Wildcat Red: tough, gritty colt that has been able to effectively stretch his speed from one turn races to a mile and an eighth. General a Rod has never tossed in a clunker with the "worst" performance of his career a third by a length and a half in the Florida Derby. Consistency is a rare trait in a thoroughbred; it's difficult to put forth a good, solid effort each and every time on the track. But General a Rod, much like his rival Wildcat Red, has done nothing but churn out quality race after quality race in his five race career.

The (maybe) Bad

If you look only at his races on dirt, General a Rod has yet to unleash a running style other than hard-pressing, early speed tactics and I'm not convinced that's going to be the best way to win this year's Kentucky Derby. Additionally, I think General a Rod is another of those horses in this field that absolutely can't afford to draw inside the other speed in the starting gate. A draw in the high teens where Rosario can at least have some options as to how hard to go in the first quarter mile - that's probably the best case scenario. A draw in the single digits with Vicar's in Trouble, Wildcat Red, et al, to his outside - that's going to make the task all the more difficult.

In his debut race on Polytrack at Keeneland, General a Rod broke to the rear of the field, spotted the leaders over seven lengths, and then rolled down the stretch to win by a comfortable 2 ¾ lengths at the wire. Unfortunately, this colt has never displayed a smidgen of an off-the-pace running style on dirt and, really, that's all that matter for the Derby.

Final Thoughts

There are so many things that I really like about General a Rod that it's killing me trying to figure out how I can try and wedge this colt into my Derby day bets. (I love dirt horses with out of Dynaformer mares as they've usually got a good bit of stamina in them, and that's exactly what we're getting with General a Rod.) But just like Wildcat Red, I just don't see his running style as the best path to the winner's circle given the composition of the field. As noted above, if this colt were to draw a very wide post position, I'll feel a lot better about his ability to stay in the mix for a good portion of the race and, perhaps, that will be enough to put him in the mix on my exotic plays.

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