Samraat Clinches Spot in Kentucky Derby

Know when Kentucky Derby betting season is heating up?

When horses start to clinch spots in the annual Run for the Roses.

That’s where we’re at, folks, as a number of horses racked up crucial points over the last stretch of races, some solidifying their chances for the big race, with one colt – who’s been blowing away the competition thus far – booking his spot at Churchill Downs.

Samraat Clinches in Style

At this point, it’s looking more and more like Samraat will be the colt to beat, for those looking to bet on Kentucky Derby.

The New York-bred horse, trained by Rick Violette, continued his assault on the field with a win in the $500,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. With the win, Samraat improved to a perfect five-for-five in Derby points races this season, clinching a spot in the Derby field in the process.

Because Samraat’s clinched so early, Violette has an interesting conundrum on his hands – keep racing the horse, ensuring peak form, or rest Samraat, and avoid injury prior to the Derby.

Violette said he’d “be lying” if he said he wasn’t already thinking about the Derby, and why not? Jockeyed by Jose Ortiz (from My Meadowview Farm), Samraat didn’t look as though he had the moxie to capture the Gotham midway through the race, only to turn it on with a sweeping move in the final turn to make it a three-horse race, with Uncle Sign and In Trouble.

Samraat took it on the outside, though, beating Uncle Sigh by a neck and In Trouble by a half-length. On what was a fast track, Samraat clocked a 1:44.14 (on a 1 1/16 size track, no less) – a speed that caught the eye of many onlookers.

As for the future and online horse odds, Violette said Samraat will head to Florida to train for a while, but suggested the colt will come back to Aqueduct shortly for the $1 million Wood Memorial. The Wood could very well be Samraat’s last race pre-Derby.

Tough News for Havana

One of the horses that showed early promise in the season is now facing a major uphill battle just to crack the Derby field.

Havana, trained by the legendary Todd Pletcher, was held out of the $200,000 Swale at Gulfstream recently due to a quarter crack in his right front foot.

Havana has displayed great form in a limited scope this season. He first burst onto the scene at Saratoga last season, then capturing a stirring victory over Honor Code at the Champagne at Belmont in his second career start.

From there, Havana continued to impress in terms of Kentucky Derby horse racing odds by taking a lead down the stretch at the Juvenile, only to fall short of surprise winner New Year’s Day. The colt showed good pace on the day and was supposed to be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velasquez moving forward, so big things were expected.

Now, Pletcher can only hope the horse will get healthy in time to run a few stakes races, and get some points under his belt in a last-ditch Derby push.

About Tennessee Leduc

Born in Summersville Kentucky, Tennessee is an impassioned fan of horse racing, women, civilized debauchery, and... mint juleps. He writes, he reads, he listens, but above all he experiences the world he lives in.

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