On Thursday Todd Pletcher made a pretty wise decision. He scratched Stanford from the Kentucky Derby. The horse had not been working great and did not have much of a chance in the race even if he was at his best. That opened up a spot in the gate, and the first also-eligible who is poised to step up and grab it is Frammento. It would be a great story if he were to wear the roses after only barely making the race. So, can Frammento shock the world and win the Kentucky Derby? Short answer - no. I can't submit a 110-word article, though, so let's go into more detail:
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Blue Grass Stakes: Frammento is the fourth horse out of the Blue Grass Stakes headed to the Derby now - the top three of Carpe Diem, Danzig Moon and Ocho Ocho Ocho are already set. I don't suspect that any of those three will be particularly scared of this rematch. Frammento was near the back of the pack for much of the early part of the race. He made a decent move in the stretch but only got up for fourth and was no threat for any more. It wasn't a horrible effort, but it was also a pretty average one that lacked any solid excuses. In other words, it's hard based on that outing to believe that this horse has a whole lot of undiscovered upside.
Prior experience: The horse isn't short on seasoning - he ran four times as a two year old alone, which is more times than Derby rival Materiality has run in total. He made his debut way back in August at Saratoga then broke his maiden next time out at Keeneland - his only win to date. He finished out the year with two allowance performances - including a flat effort at Churchill Downs. In the new year it was time for stakes action. He started in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream. He finished sixth, and that result was flattering - he was a total non-factor. He was behind early and never really did much to change that. Any horses he passed were only because he was fresh from not running hard and he was passing ones that had cooked themselves. Next up was what stands as the best race of his career - or at least best stakes race. In the Fountain of Youth he again started way back but moved up nicely and wound up third - though he was no threat to fellow Derby rivals Upstart and Itsaknockout. So, his best showing in a race that matters is a non-threatening third. You can understand why I am not that high on the horse.
Trainer: Nick Zito is a Hall of Famer and a legend. He has won the Derby twice - with Strike the Gold in 1991 and Go For Gin in 1994. He also has a Preakness and two Belmonts to his credit and was the first trainer to start five horses in the Derby in the same year for five different owners. Zito is getting older - though still a baby next to D. Wayne Lukas - and he isn't training at the same pace or with the same effectiveness as he once did. In fact, his win percentage this year is pretty dismal - just seven wins in 94 starts. He is a big-day trainer, though, so he is certainly an asset for the horse. Even a legend can't work miracles, though.
Jockey: It's never a good sign when there is a revolving door on a saddle. Corey Nakatani, who has the Derby mount, will be the colt's sixth jockey in eight career starts. Ouch. To be fair, though, the last three jockeys to ride him were already committed to other mounts in the Derby. Nakatani has no shortage of Derby experience. He has been a fixture in the race for two decades, but he has never done better than second. He has done very well in big races over the years - he has won 10 Breeders' Cup races - but he is far from the top of his game lately. In fact, this year he has been pretty lousy.
Breeding: I wish I could find at least some reason for optimism, but I can't here. His sire is Midshipman, the two-year-old champion of 2008 who was injured on his way to the Triple Crown the next year. He did not look like a horse that was going to handle the Derby distance anyway. Frammento's dam is Ginger Bay, a moderately-successful sprinter. She is a daughter of Golden Missile, who had some decent wins himself en route to more than $2 million in earnings but who has been undistinguished as a sire to date. Throughout the rest of the pedigree there is remarkably little to get excited about. You have to go back a long way - six generations - to find Citation. Zito insists that the reason he is excited about this horse here is because he will love the distance. His breeding doesn't scream that that will be the case.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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