Plus Que Parfait Odds to Win the 2019 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
This horse pioneered a path to the Kentucky Derby that other colts are sure to try to follow. He had been off to a very disappointing start to his three-year-old campaign on the Derby trail in the U.S., so instead of trying another prep race here, he headed to Dubai for the UAE Derby. It's a major Derby prep points race - the same as the big races like the Florida Derby or the Santa Anita Derby. And it has a massive $2.5 million purse, which American prep races can't touch. He won that race, and suddenly he is a Derby entrant. It's a lot of travel, but he has well over a month between races, so he will have time to get comfortable. Is it enough to make him a factor in the Derby?
Last race: This was far from the strongest group of horses ever to line up for the UAE Derby, but this colt still gets credit for coming out on top, beating another potential Derby-bound American colt Gray Magician. He beat a couple of Dubai-based horses, a Japanese colt, and two decent Euros.
Prior experience: The colt made his debut on turf last July in a maiden race at a mile. He finished third there, and again on dirt at Churchill Downs, before breaking his maiden at Keeneland in October. Late in November he jumped into stakes company, finishing second to Signalman, a horse likely to wind up on the wrong side of the Derby bubble. It set him up for some reasonably high hopes in the spring, but he failed to live up to them. In the LeComte at Fair Grounds, he was a dismal fifth after a horrible start. And then in the Risen Star at the same track he was a horrific 13th. He had shown no spark whatsoever despite being among the favorites both times. Dubai really was a Hail Mary play.
Trainer: Brendan Walsh has followed a heck of a path to get here. He started as a groom is his native Dubai. He spent most of a decade working for the world's richest stable in Dubai as a groom and then barn manager. Eventually wanting to become a trainer, he became an assistant in Britain, and then to Eddie Kenneally in the U.S. before going out on his own in 2012. His business has grown nicely, though he has yet to win a domestic Grade 1. He is making his Derby debut here but has made Triple Crown appearances in the 2017 Preakness and Belmont with Multiplier, who was an also-ran in both races. Walsh's familiarity with Dubai was obviously a big part of the success in the UAE Derby.
Jockey: Jose Ortiz was aboard the colt for the first time in Dubai, and he had a heck of a ride - as we expect from him. But he isn't likely to choose this horse in the Derby. He also rides Derby contenders Bourbon War and Tacitus, and the latter, the Wood Memorial winner, is a much better horse than this one. Julien Leparoux had ridden the horse for the three races before the trip to Dubai and could get the call again.
Breeding: The pedigree offers plenty of stamina influence. Sire Point of Entry was a turf horse who had multiple stakes wins at a mile and a half. This colt is by far the best of that sire's offspring. Point of Entry was a son of Dynaformer, a stallion best known for siring Derby winner Barbaro. Plus Que Parfait's damsire is Awesome Again, the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner against a ridiculously strong field, who has sired Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game on Dude, and 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow. The distance won't be a concern for this horse - though being fast enough is a bigger question.
Odds: The colt wasn't given much respect in the final Kentucky Derby futures pool, going off at 55/1. BetOnline has him at a less attractive +3300 to win the race.
Can Plus Que Parfait Win the 2019 Kentucky Derby?: Probably not. He showed some good heart in winning the UAE Derby. But horses out of that race haven't done great in the Kentucky Derby, and past fields have been dramatically better than this one was. He did not stack up well in prep races here, and the colts in Louisiana this spring weren't the best ones in the country. He doesn't obviously do enough things well enough to be a threat in the Derby unless he gets a perfect trip and things really fall apart.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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