This is a continuing series examining the profile of each of the contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby. Links to all the previews in the series can be found in the left sidebar under Kentucky Derby 136: Contender Profiles.
Sire: Unbridled's Song
Dam: LaPaz (Hold Your Peace)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh
Career Record: 5-2-1-2
Graded Earnings (rank): $485,934 (#7)
Running Style: Presser
In the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, Mission Impazible broke well and was up near the lead going into the first turn but ran evenly the rest of the way. In the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, he broke well and was up front early and settled in about 4 ½ lengths of the leader at the mid-point of the race and came with a wide rally in deep stretch. He's a true presser / stalker in every sense of the words and a quick pace shouldn't hurt his chances given his ability to settle in at various points in the race. I really like this colt's running style and patience, even if he hasn't turned in a "big" race.
How he got to the Derby: As a two year old, Mission Impazible picked up graded earnings by finishing third in the Grade 3 Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs. After that win he wasn't seen again until this January when he made his return against Allowance company at Gulfstream. A fourth place finish in the Southwest Stakes preceded his ¾ length win in the Louisiana Derby, firmly securing a spot in Louisville on the first Saturday in May.
What has to happen for him to win: Mission Impazible needs to break well and put himself into a nice stalking position for the first mile of the race. From that point on he needs to show good acceleration on the turn in order to move towards the front of the pack and challenge the leaders. After that, I think Mission Impazible needs the horses behind him to either run into traffic trouble or to not fire their best race. I don't believe that is going to happen but I think that's what needs to take place for this colt to win.
There are a couple of reasons that I've got Mission Impazible as a 25/1 shot to win the Derby. First, I didn't rate the Louisiana Derby as one of the better preps this spring. I'll discuss that a little more below in the "Key Race" section. Second, I think he's a short on pedigree. Unbridled's Song has produced route winners but he's not really a classic distance sire. The bottom half of the pedigree is a little better, with a sibling that won at a mile and a quarter, but I'm not totally convinced this horse wants that distance.
I've got Mission Impazible at slightly better odds than Rule and Line of David purely due to his ability to sit off the pace, which should be an asset in the Derby.
Key Race: Grade 2 Louisiana Derby (1st)
Mission Impazible has run credibly in all of his lifetime starts, with his effort in the Southwest being the "worst" of his career, and even that effort wasn't all that bad. However, I'm not sold on the quality of this year's Louisiana Derby. A Little Warm is a straight sprinter that Mission Impazible needed practically every foot of the long Fair Grounds stretch to pass. If he had that much trouble chasing down A Little Warm I just don't know how he's going to fare when it's time to run against much better horses in the Derby.
On the positive side, Mission Impazible doesn't appear to rattled or thrown off his game as he's suffered towards the back after breaking near the front early on. He responds well when switched out in the stretch and he doesn't appear to noticeably shorten his stride near the wire.