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2014 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Ride On Curlin

Our look at the contenders for the 2014 Kentucky Derby turns to Ride On Curlin.

Matthew Stockman

Ride On Curlin


Trainer: William Gown
Owner: Daniel Dougherty
Jockey: Calvin Borel
Sire: Curlin
Dam: Magical Ride (Storm Cat)
Lifetime Record: 9-2-2-4
Lifetime Earnings: $414,687

Future Wager Odds: Pool 1 - 58/1; Pool 2 - 3/2 (Field); Pool 3 -  3/1 (Field); Pool 4 - 49/1

Notable Races: G1-Arkansas Derby (2nd); G2-Rebel Stakes (3rd); G2-Southwest (3rd); Street Sense Stakes (3rd); G1-Champagne (3rd); G3-Iroquois (4th)

The Good

While short on victories, Ride On Curlin is another colt in this year's Derby field that's been able to put in together solid race each and every time he's stepped onto the track. He was a well-beaten third in the Southwest behind runaway winner Tapiture and Strong Mandate, but his last two Derby preps were improved efforts and he's been dealing with some rough trips in the majority of his races. So, at a minimum, Ride On Curlin looks like a colt with additional room to develop, a good deal of experience getting bumped around during a race, and a really, really nice pedigree. [check out Tribe's take on Ride On Curlin's bloodlines.]

The (maybe) Bad

I'm moderately concerned with the fact that Ride On Curlin has yet to win a race at two turns, and a little less concerned with the fact that he's yet to win at the stakes level. The stakes level issue isn't one to keep me from playing a horse in the Derby; horses develop at different rates and we're looking for the winner for the first Saturday in May, not a Saturday in March, February, or January.

Similarly, the lack of wins at two turns would typically be a non-starter but, in the case of Ride On Curlin, he's shown he can run a good race while going around two turns, as opposed to a horse that clearly prefers a shorter distance. I don't have any concerns that Ride On Curlin is distance limited.

Ultimately, the potential negatives for Ride On Curlin aren't enough to temper my enthusiasm.

Final Thoughts

You ever have a horse that, despite all the warning signs you read in the form, you continue to find yourself coming back to again and again? That's what Ride On Curlin is for me in this year's Derby. Usually, I absolutely hate the fact that a Derby colt hasn't won a graded stakes race or even won while running two turns; those are traditionally really big negatives in my book. But this colt looks like a horse that's knocking on the door to take that next step up in his development. He's battle tested, he's got some tactical speed in his arsenal, his pedigree is fantastic, and he seems to have additional room to develop despite occasional flashes of talent over the past six months.

At this point there's no way I'm going to get away from Ride On Curlin on Derby day. He's probably won't end up my top choice to win but I'll feature him prominently in the majority of my wagers.