04/08/2013 11:52AM

Kentucky Derby Under the Radar: Footbridge

Shigeki Kikkawa
Footbridge finally reached the winner’s circle following a one-mile maiden special weight at Santa Anita on March 17.

It’s possible the clock has already struck midnight for Footbridge’s Kentucky Derby dreams as the Darley homebred’s last-minute blitz on Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes may be denied because of the possibility of an overflow field. If the 100-point Kentucky Derby race is oversubscribed, maiden winner Footbridge could be excluded from the body of Keeneland’s signature event.

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

If that’s the case, this “Under the Radar” article comes with an asterisk, one that may apply for a potential Preakness Stakes spoiler.

Foaled on March 2, 2010 in Kentucky, Footbridge is by Street Cry, winner of the Dubai World Cup at 1 1/4 miles and the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at nine furlongs with a 118 Beyer Speed Figure. Street Cry prevailed at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles and is perhaps best known as the sire of the amazing Breeders’ Cup Classic heroine Zenyatta. Other North American Grade 1-winning progeny are Kentucky Derby, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Travers Stakes winner Street Sense, Street Boss, Victor’s Cry, Seventh Street, Street Hero, Here Comes Ben, and Cry and Catch Me.

Street Cry infuses a nice combination of speed and stamina into a Thoroughbred’s pedigree. His offspring also are capable synthetic performers, and that may bode well for Footbridge if he is to compete for a Derby slot in the Blue Grass on polytrack.

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

Footbridge also receives stamina from his dam, Thousand Islands. By the all-world racehorse Dubai Millennium, Thousand Islands took 2 of 6 starts racing exclusively on turf in France. After winning a maiden race at 10 furlongs, Thousand Islands succeeded in the listed Prix Occitane Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Thousand Islands is a half-sister to Marietta, a filly who won the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks on dirt at 1 1/16 miles and the Grade 3 Arlington Oaks going nine furlongs in track-record time on Polytrack.

The second dam, Minister Wife (by Deputy Minister), scored the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, while the third dam, Dowery (by Full Pocket), finished first in the Grade 3 Cotillion Stakes

Footbridge was always held in high regard at 2 by trainer Eoin Harty and he made his career debut in a maiden special weight going 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. Equipped with a shadow roll, Footbridge broke from the inside post in the field of 11 and saved ground in midpack before uncorking a wide bid on the far turn. He rallied belatedly for third behind favored Belvin without much excuse, but acted like a colt who would appreciate more distance.

Harty stretched Footbridge out around two turns for his 3-year-old debut at Santa Anita on Jan. 18. Racing one mile, Footbridge showed early speed and was pressed by a 55-1 longshot through fractions of 22.83 and 46.81 seconds. Footbridge opened up a decent-sized lead turning for home, but got leg-weary in the final furlong and yielded to Curly Top nearing the wire. Although Footbridge failed to finish off his opponents in the stretch as the favorite, it should be noted that stalkers and closers did best at Santa Anita that afternoon.

Arguably, Footbridge continued to underachieve in start number three, a maiden special weight on Feb. 17. Sent off the chalk again, Footbridge tracked the leaders while racing slightly off the rail. He split runners with a decisive move at the quarter pole and poked a head in front along the rail in upper stretch. Footbridge looked on his way to victory, but was denied in the last sixteenth of a mile by Govenor Charlie. From a trip and bias standpoint, Footbridge again had no excuse, but the race was more than a second faster than the other division for 3-year-old maidens at a mile, and Govenor Charlie returned to win the Sunland Derby with a 95 Beyer.

Footbridge finally reached the winner’s circle following a one-mile maiden special weight at Santa Anita on March 17. Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Footbridge tracked the pace while three wide and in between horses entering the backstretch. Gomez wisely eased Footbridge back off the burgeoning duel to track the pace from the two path, and the pair moved to the front while three wide on the turn. Footbridge, as usual, changed leads nicely, and worked hard in the stretch to fend off Consurgo. Footbridge failed to impress during the gallop-out, but the sixth-place finisher, Chief Havoc, returned to graduate with an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

Harty immediately made his Blue Grass intentions known following the 88-Beyer victory, and Footbridge prepared for the excursion to Lexington with a bullet six-furlong move in 1:13.20 over the Hollywood Cushion Track on April 2.

Footbridge owns tactical speed, a professional attitude and a stamina-oriented pedigree. He has yet to produce that “wow” race, but could simply be a late-bloomer who is slowly finding his way.