03/11/2015 11:50AM

Jerardi: Dortmund is your Kentucky Derby winner

Benoit & Associates
The undefeated Dortmund has posted back-to-back Beyer Speed Figures of 104.

It was at precisely this time last year that I pronounced California Chrome the winner of the Kentucky Derby. You are all very welcome.

I had been running all about last winter watching basketball games before sitting down to watch the 2014 San Felipe Stakes. I was so dazzled by what I saw that I went back and watched every race of California Chrome’s career, searching for a reason to contain my enthusiasm. Seeing none, I made my pronouncement.

I remember thinking that California Chrome has everything I like in a Derby horse: a strong foundation, tactical speed to get position in the huge field, a burst on command, a will to win, and a set of Beyer Speed Figures that could win that race on the first Saturday in May. I searched for horses who could beat him. I did not see any.

I did not care that California Chrome was a California-bred by a cheap stallion out of a cheaper mare. I cared that he was fast and consistent.

I had seen Dortmund before last Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes. His comeback win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes when even Trevor Denman thought he was beaten was quite remarkable. He got a 104 Beyer that day, his first start as a 3-year-old. So, the Beyers were in order.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

Still, I wanted to see more. I saw more on Saturday. Dortmund, a gigantic horse, had already shown several dimensions in his four-race career. He showed another one in the San Felipe.

Dortmund won his maiden with a smooth but powerful move from a few lengths off the pace. He won that allowance out of the mile chute at Churchill Downs by coming from farther off the pace and finishing even more powerfully. He showed great fight in the Los Alamitos Futurity when he looked beaten for most of the stretch run but started stretching out for the wire in the final few yards to get there in time. In the Lewis, he showed even more fight when he came back on the inside to run down a horse who had clearly passed him in the stretch.

With not much pace in the San Felipe, Dortmund found himself on the lead. The colt looked quite comfortable. When Bolo made a strong run at him in the stretch, he re-broke and ran away from him. And when Prospect Park made a strong late move, Dortmund already had complete control of the race.

Just in case I missed the point, I kept watching the gallop-out. Dortmund kept extending his lead. This colt was not getting tired. In fact, it looked like he wanted more.

So, we have a colt owned by Kaleem Shah, trained by Bob Baffert, and ridden by Martin Garcia. That sounds a lot like Derby.

We have a colt by 2008 Derby winner Big Brown, a horse who has already been exiled from Kentucky to New York. This pedigree means as much to me as California Chrome’s did. Zero.

Dortmund was bought last May at Timonium, Md., for $140,000. Ten years before, Afleet Alex, also unfashionably bred, was bought at the same sale for $75,000.

Here is what can be quantified about Dortmund: He got another 104 Beyer in the San Felipe. That puts him right in the Derby margin of error, with the Santa Anita Derby on deck. He has run five times and won them all – two blowouts, two photos, one comfortably. He has made big moves on the turn. He has been with the pace. He has been the pace. The common denominator is the result.

I “knew” California Chrome was going to win. I thought he was that good and did not think much of the competition.

I like Dortmund about as much as California Chrome, but I am less sure about the quality of the potential competition. It felt late this time last March. This still feels early, with too many good horses just getting started or about to get started.

But today, in the second week of March, Dortmund is absolutely my Kentucky Derby horse.

Jamrs Lenox More than 1 year ago
Jamrs Lenox More than 1 year ago
pretty convencing...
Andrew Connie More than 1 year ago
Maftool will know where he stands after this month,I'm glad no one mentioned him... that's why I got him booked @ 150/1 & 125/1
Ann More than 1 year ago
I still have to come back to the Los Al Futurity, wherein Dortmund, Firing Line, and Mr. Z finished noses apart. D and FL finished same in their next race. What did Mr. Z do? He went to Arkansas and has been beaten twice. So has Dortmund improved so much that the form doesn't hold? Or has Mr. Z regressed so much that the form doesn't hold? Color me confused. One thing I do know is that Dortmund is built like a 3-mile steeplechaser, a particular 3-mile steeplechaser, at that - the great Denman, who beat Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (being run today,by the way) in 2008. Big-framed, big bodied locomotive of a horse, he just tanked along up front at his high cruising speed and took the heart out of them. Unfortunately after his Gold Cup year, Denman had physical problems - something with his heart first, then niggly things - and he never quite got back to the form of his 2007/8 season, his first at the top levels.
roelly19 More than 1 year ago
Dortmund wont even win at santa anita derby, so please move on and handicap the florida derby when its done there you will find the favorite for the derby.leter y,all. pendejos
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
what a pompous scribe--bragging about selecting a 5/2 favorite in last years Derby. Once again, Jerardi is under the impression that Beyers mean something--what a delusional way to go through life. Go back to watching Temple play Textile
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
LOL. Amen Wayne. Great , very true post.
Darren Fish More than 1 year ago
Risky my friend, very risky. American Pharaoh Will be running in the Rebel and is most certain to dominate there and won't even need to. He is also a Monster trained by Bob "you must be a machine" Baffert. Don't forget about that 'fish' and stretch running Texas Red either, He could be the freshest of them all. El Kabier is improving and is no slouch either. Picking a Derby winner at this point in time is risky my friend, very risky. Can lightning strike twice?
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
Itsaknockout... Glad to see all the thumbs down earlier...I guess I will get paid well when he wins the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby... I will be at the cashier's window watching y'all 2nd guessing yourselves...pity..
tommy More than 1 year ago
I like this horse but how can he win Florida derby?? We got firing line, Amis flatter, diving rod, eh compari!!!! , American pharaoh.
tommy More than 1 year ago
By NO means is Dortmund close to California chrome. California chrome ran 1 1/16 at Santa Anita @ 1:40 without being whipped and won by 7 lengths. Dortmund ran 1 1/16 @ 1:42 at Santa Anita and won by nose vs firing line. Also firing line best Dortmund at Los alamitos derby by nose so I would rather take firing line since he's a longshot! I rarely bet favorites unless I know it's a guarantee win and Dortmund is not even guaranteed in exacta. He will be out of exacta at the derby and I will collect!!
Walter More than 1 year ago
Dortmund is still learning his craft. This should be a scary thought for those who enter against him. If he continues to improve at his present pace, he will win the Derby. He will win the Preakness. And, he would be in line to pull of a Secretariat type performance in the Belmont. With his versatility, it is not outlandish to consider.