Solidly In Derby Picture Now
By Dick Downey
Corrected final paragraph concerning Thousand Words' 2020 race record.
Thousand Words upset the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar, defeating 1-5 favorite Honor A. P. by three-fourths of a length after leading at every call. The win propelled him to eligibility for the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Ridden by Abel Cedillo, Thousand Words broke best of all and led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.89, with Cezanne in closest pursuit in the first turn. Early in the backstretch, Mike Smith asserted Honor A. P. past Cezanne, but it was Thousand Words still holding a lead of a half-length with a half-mile run in 47.93. Heading toward the far turn, Cezanne, ridden by Flavien Prat, switched places with Honor A. P. again, and they ran that way into the turn with six furlongs in the book in 1:12.23 and Thousand Words still clinging to a narrow lead. Kiss Today Goodbye trailed throughout this sequence.
Leaving the turn, Cezanne and to his outside Honor A. P. mounted a serious challenge to Thousand Words. Just as it looked like Cezanne would get the best of it, Honor A. P. lost ground. A few strides later, Cezanne flattened out as well, and Thouand Words made it to the wire first in 1:43.85 for the 1 1/16-mile Shared Belief.
The race for the place went to Honor A. P., who got past Cezanne for the second time in the shadow of the wire. So did Kiss Today Goodbye, who nipped Cezanne for third by a neck. Only 1 1/2 length separated the field at the finish.
Thousand Words cemented a place in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. The 50 points he earned today ran his total to 83, placing him ninth on the Derby points leaderboard. The 20 points going to Honor A. P. increased his total to 140, and remains third in the points standings. Kiss Today Goodbye would have 10 points but for the fact he isn't nominated to the Triple Crown. Cezanne earned his first five points.
The other two entries, Uncle Chuck and Anneau d'Or, was scratched. The former is on his way to the Travers Stakes, and the latter is bound for the Ellis Park Derby.
Payoffs for the winner, who was sent off at 9-1 odds, were $20.40 to win and $3.40 to place. Honor A. P. paid $2.10 to place. There was no show wagering.
It was the second win of 2020 for Thousand Words, who was beaten a combined 40 lengths in the San Felipe and Oaklawn Stakes before finishing second by four lengths behind Uncle Chuck in the Los Alamitos Derby. He won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes early this year.
Thousand Words was purchased for $1 million at the Keeneland September 2018 Yearling Sale. The winner is owned by Albaugh Family Stable and Spendthrift Farm. He was bred in Florida by Hardacre Farm and is by Pioneerof the Nile out of the Pomeroy mare Pomeroys Pistol.
Bob Baffert: “I told Abel to jump him out of there, and I thought he and Cezanne would be one-two. Turning for home, I could tell that Honor A.P. wasn’t running like he usually does. Cezanne got really tired, but Thousand Words, I could tell when we got down here that he was a different horse from Los Alamitos and the real Thousand Words showed up today. His whole mind changed. His color has changed. He had soured out on me, but we got him going the right way. I think he earned his way to the Derby.”
Abel Cedillo: “He just told me to warm him up real well, then get him out of there. Then see what happens. He broke well and I saw I could take the lead, so I did. He was going along there steady, steady, steady. Then we got it done.”
Mike Smith (Honor A.P.): “He ran well, but we’re disappointed he didn’t win. I haven’t been able to get on him in the mornings, and I think that’s made a difference. He’s just been going along there not doing much in the mornings. I need to be on him and get more out of him. But that’s the way it is now; that’s just the way it is. This distance is too short for him, too. Just not his day.”