Notable Races: Damon Runyon (1st); G3-Withers (1st); G3-Gotham (1st); G1-Wood Memorial (2nd); G1-Kentucky Derby (5th)
Coming off the far turn at Churchill Downs, it appeared Samraat had enough momentum to challenge for the lead all the way through the stretch drive of the Kentucky Derby. He ultimately faded to fifth but, overall, the Derby was another strong race in a career that, so far, is defined by good race after good race. While Samraat has lost two races after reeling off five consecutive wins to begin his career, it's hard not to like the consistent tactical speed he's displayed in all of his race, along with a really strong desire to win. I think that's really the best attribute of this colt: he's got a lot of heart, even when things don't go his way.
Tactically, this race might not set up the best for Samraat. If we get a Smarty Jones situation where several of the speed horses decide to gang up on California Chrome in the early stages to throw him off rhythm, I could see Samraat as part of that gang up - and that's not going to help him win this race. Obviously, that is just idle speculation on my part but, when we talk about the rest of the field trying to make things difficult on California Chrome what we're really talking about are the early speed horses making things tough on him. Because if the early speed doesn't press, box, and harass California Chrome, they all might be looking at his hindquarters once again in the stretch.
What's the plan with Samraat in the Belmont? Does Jose Ortiz go to the lead, a running position that yielded multiple victories in his career? Does Samraat try to press/stalk California Chrome, essentially the same trip he ran in the Derby? Or do they try something else? Chaos theory?
I think if you're the connections of Samraat and you're actually interested in winning the Belmont, putting this colt on the lead is not a bad proposition. Yeah, it allows Chrome to stalk this colt instead of the other way around, but Samraat has proven to be a tough, tough customer when he's able to grab a length or two lead on his competition. It's certainly not impossible to win the Belmont on the lead and perhaps the rest of the field will be too occupied thinking about California Chrome to notice Samraat stealing soft fractions at the head of the field.