Jahbath, Playa del Puente Take Euro-Road Points Races
Neither Nominated to Triple Crown
By Dick Downey
Today's European Road to the Derby races are in the books, and at this point they may have little impact on the Kentukcy Derby field on the first Saturday in May.
First off was the Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes, the 7:00 fixture at Kempton Park Racecourse, near London.
The one-turn mile on synthetic was easily won by favored Jahbath (GB), ridden by Jim Crowley, by two lengths. In a blanket finish for the next several spots, Getchgetchagetcha (GB) was second, Target Zone (GB) third and Chairmanoftheboard (IRE) fourth. None of those runners are nominated to the Triple Crown.
William Haggas trains the winner for owner Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum. Word is that Haggas plans to take the son of Mukhadram to the UAE Derby on March 30.
Spanish Mission (KY), the only Triple Crown nominee in the field, finished fifth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths as part of that blanket finish for the runner-up spot behind the winner. His chances were compromised after he broke a step slow under Jamie Spencer.
Eight ran in ran in all after two scratches. The remaining order of finish was Amplify (IRE), Greybychoice (IRE) and Daafr (IRE).
Kentucky Derby points go only to the first four fiinishers, and then only if they are nominated to the Triple Crown, so Spanish Mission was shut out, and the top four finishers aren't eligible for points unless late-nominated to the Triple Crown.
The winning time was 1:38.78.
Playa del Puente (IRE) took the Patton Stakes, the 7:15 fixture at Dundalk, in Ireland. Like its counterpart at Kempton, the race is a one-turn mile on synthetic track. Unlike its counterpart, the horses travel counter-clockwise, the same as they do in the U. S.
After sitting off the pace in third or fourth in the initial stages, Playa del Puente surged in the stretch to take the lead and won by a half-length over favored Western Australia (IRE). Numerian (IRE) finished third, another 1 3/4 length back, nosing out Van Beethoven (ON). Another head back was Cofler Me (IRE), folowed by Manjeer (IRE), Barys (GB) and Albequerque (IRE). The race was timed in 1:37.37.
Colfer Me led into the stretch by three lengths and for a few moments maintained that advantage while looking like a winner, only to drift out, perhaps bothering Western Australia a bit. No objections were filed and no inquiry was made.
The winner, ridden today by Ronan Whelan, is trained by Michael Halford and is owned by Huang Kai Wen.
European Road to the Derby points were awarded to the only two Triple Crown nominees in the field: eight to Western Australia and two to Van Beethoven. Western Australia now has 10 total points after earning two last fall.
Only one horse can make the Kentucky Derby from the European Road. One race remains on the European Road to the Derby, the Cardinal Stakes on April 11. The Cardinal has a 30-12-6-3 point structure.