2014 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Chitu

Matthew Stockman

Our look at the contenders for the 2014 Kentucky Derby tuns to Sunland Derby winner Chitu.

Chitu

Chitu_medium

Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Tanma Corporation
Jockey: Martin Garcia
Sire: Henny Hughes
Dam: Sea Gift (A.P. Indy)
Lifetime Record: 4-3-1-0
Lifetime Earnings: $501,800

Future Wager Odds: Pool 1 - 4/5 (Field); Pool 2 - 3/2 (Field); Pool 3 - 3/1 (Field); Pool 4 - 31/1

Notable Races: G3-Sunland Derby (1st); G2-Robert B. Lewis (2nd)

The Good

While I really like Chitu's last two races, I simply love the pedigree on this colt; Henny Hughes on top, with an A.P. Indy mare (Sea Gift) on the bottom. Simply put: stamina on the dam's side and good, old fashioned American dirt speed on top.

Not to steal Tribes thunder, but when looking up Chitu's dam Sea Gift and I was pleasantly surprised to find a mare that raced just one time in her career, winning at 10 furlongs on the grass in England. Yeah, I like that.

The (maybe) Bad

Chitu's running style could possibly compromise his chances as he's been right up on or just off the lead in all four of his lifetime starts. If he is able to sit a couple of lengths off the lead I'd feel really great about his chances but, so far, Chitu hasn't displayed that ability. My chief concern with this colt is that he'll mix it up early with General A Rod, Wildcat Red, and Vicar's in Trouble and end up with little gas left in the tank when the field reaches the far turn.

Final Thoughts

Chitu presents a classic issue in handicapping the Derby: we have a colt with some serious stamina breeding on the bottom half of his pedigree and a colt that's improved as he run longer races, but his running style could get him into a speed duel in the early stages of the race, and that's not something that usually works out well for the duelers. What do we do?

As I wrote above, I'm really fascinated by this colt's pedigree, and also by the fact that he's been ripping off some fantastic works at Churchill the past couple of weeks. If the jock is able to get this colt to rate off the pace in the Derby I wouldn't be at all shocked if Chitu pops a big, big effort. Of course, the key part of that sentence is "if"; we has little evidence that Chitu wants to rate off of the speed which leads us right back to factors that compromise his chances. Another tough call.

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