03/26/2012 2:22PM

Kentucky Derby 2012: Under the Radar - Longview Drive


After finishing a half-length behind Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 7, Longview Drive emerged as a viable Kentucky Derby sleeper.

After disappointing as the favorite in the first, and slower, division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Feb. 20, Longview Drive became a forgotten commodity.

Which running line are we to believe? Considering the 97 Beyer Speed Figure Longview Drive earned in the Sham coupled with a difficult trip in the Southwest, Longview Drive looks like a solid new addition to our Under the Radar stable.

For Longview Drive to earn his way into the starting gate at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, he must revert to his Sham form when he next starts in the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

Trained by 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Jerry Hollendorfer, Longview Drive is by Pulpit, a multiple Grade 2 winner who finished fourth in the 1997 Kentucky Derby. Pulpit, a son of Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, won the Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and the Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 miles. He earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in all six of his starts and won at distances ranging from seven to nine furlongs.

At stud, Pulpit is represented by Grade 1 winners Corinthian, Ice Box, Mi Sueno, Purge, Rutherienne, Sky Mesa, Stroll and Tapit. Ice Box finished second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. This year, Pulpit’s star progeny include El Padrino, winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Longview Drive is a full brother to Pyro, winner of the Grade 1 Forego Stakes going seven furlongs at Saratoga. Pyro also took three graded events at 1 1/16 miles, including the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Pyro finished eighth in the 2008 Kentucky Derby for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Longview Drive’s half-sister War Echo won the Grade 3 Silverbulletday Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and was a stakes winner at nine furlongs.

The dam, Wild Vision (by Wild Again), won her only start by five lengths in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Fair Grounds. Wild Vision is a full sister to Wild Wonder, a seven-time stakes winner who won the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. This is the female family of Grade 2 winner Call Now (Del Mar Debutante, seven furlongs) and Grade 1 turf winner Olympio (Hollywood Derby, nine furlongs, also won at 1 ¼ miles).

Longview Drive was foaled in Kentucky on March 21, 2009. He sold for $175,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling auction and was sent to Hollendorfer’s home base in Northern California.

The chestnut colt made his career debut on June 10, 2011 in a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight over the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate. Sent off the 2-1 second choice in the wagering under Russell Baze, Longview Drive finished second to favored Sherman Bartlebort, who promptly returned to win the $62,000 Alameda County Stakes at Pleasanton.

Longview Drive also returned to win his next start. The 4-5 favorite in a five-furlong maiden special weight on dirt at Pleasanton on June 26, Longview Drive went immediately to the front, disdainfully dispatched the pace challenge of longshot Storm in Blairsden, and drew away to win by five while only under hands and heels urging from Baze.

In his initial start against stakes competition, Longview Drive was odds-on to win the $55,000 Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes on Aug. 14 at Santa Rosa. Hustled from the gate by Baze, Longview Drive was pressured by two other pace foes before taking off turning for home. He didn’t change leads until inside the sixteenth pole, but still won comfortably by 5 1/4 lengths. The third finisher, Marshal Marini, returned to win a starter allowance and has now finished on the board in all six lifetime starts, including four stakes races.

Hollendorfer opted to stretch Longview Drive out in distance for his next start, the $75,000 Charlie Palmer Futurity at Fresno on Oct. 16. Breaking from post 2 as the 9-10 favorite, Longview Drive prompted longshot leader Gael Mania from the two-path before taking the lead after six furlongs. He was then immediately challenged by Marshal Marini and lost the lead for a stride in upper stretch. After brushing with Marshal Marini, Longview Drive became re-energized and he battled back along the inside to win by 1 1/4 lengths. He ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.50 and received a 74 Beyer.

Longview Drive was sent to Delta Downs for the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 19. The pace was extremely fast that day and Longview Drive, uncharacteristically, lagged far behind after five furlongs. He still rallied past tired horses to finish third, beaten 6 1/2 lengths by the winner, Sabercat. Perhaps more importantly, Longview Drive banked $90,000 in graded earnings.

Hollendorfer added blinkers for Longview Drive’s first start at 3, and the colt responded with a 97 Beyer performance in the one-mile Sham. Surprisingly, Longview Drive outsprinted the fleet Secret Circle going into the first turn and he set the pace with that one shadowing him from the outside. The pace was legitimate (22.66, 45.89, 1:09.78) and the leaders paid the price when the now-sidelined Out of Bounds rallied in the stretch. Although beaten, Longview Drive hung in gamely along the inside and was flattered when Secret Circle returned to win two graded stakes races in Arkansas.

Sent to Oaklawn for the Southwest, Longview Drive broke a half-length slowly and seemed eager and uncomfortable while racing in behind horses and down on the rail. Jockey Martin Garcia took the colt off the rail down the backstretch and Longview Drive was five paths wide after a half-mile. Floated six deep turning for home, Longview Drive again was late to make his final lead change and he understandably flattened out in the final furlong.

Longview Drive has that one big number on his card as well as some graded earnings. He still has some learning to do, and it’s possible he’s more of a middle-distance runner, but if the tactically inclined colt can muster up a close finish in the Santa Anita Derby, he would loom an interesting longshot at Churchill Downs.