Hit Show Looking In Direction Of Kentucky Derby

Time Of Info By TOI Staff   February 15, 2023   Update on : February 15, 2023

Kentucky Derby

The picture for the Kentucky Derby 2023 is becoming slightly clearer by the week, with important prep races taking place across the United States every Saturday.

In the 2023 Road to the Kentucky Derby Bob Baffert-trained Arabian Knight seems like the one to beat, but the contender is yet to record any qualifying points, given that the Hall of Famer is banned from making entries to the race at Churchill Downs once again this year.

However, we potentially saw one of the star performers on the early Road to the Kentucky Derby recently, as Hit Show took a massive step in the right direction to put himself fourth in the overall standings.

Hit Show Lands Withers Stakes

We are likely to see some of the big stars from the Brad Cox yard over the coming weeks, with Victory Formation set to go off favorite in the Risen Star Stakes. However, Hit Show could be one of the contenders that many had overlooked.

The three-year-old firmly put himself in the picture for a place in the Kentucky Derby at Aqueduct on his latest start, as he landed the G3 Withers Stakes over 1 1/8 miles. It was a pleasing display by the Cox-trained runner, as he finished clear of Arctic Arrogance and General Banker to score an Equibase speed figure of 93.

Kentucky Derby

Image by Paul from Flickr

However, it was the manner of his victory that really captured the imagination, as he finished over five lengths clear of pre-race favorite Arctic Arrogance. The three-year-old contender could give owners Gary and Mary West a second shot at Derby glory, as they were famously disqualified with Maximum Security in 2019 despite crossing the line first. Maximum Security was found to have interfered down the stretch, which handed the victory to 65/1 outsider Country House.

Previous Displays

That run was one of the strongest displays that we have seen by this year’s Classic contenders, as it was among the first preps that was run over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. The form was certainly there in the book, as he had previous landed a victory over a mile at Oaklawn Park, recording a speed figure of 90.

However, it was a pretty huge step-up from his effort at Churchill Downs in November, where he could only score a speed rating of 81 over 1 1/16 miles when finishing behind Confidence Game, Rocket Can, and Ten Days Later. That form remains relatively solid overall, as Confidence Game has come out and finished a decent third in the G3 Lecomte behind Instant Coffee and Two Phil’s since.

But, the fact that his most disappointing outing came at Churchill Downs would be a concern as we edge closer to the Kentucky Derby in 2023. We will likely learn more about Hit Show once again when he possibly lines up in the G2 Wood Memorial.

Cox’s Strong Hand

Brad Cox last landed a victory in the Kentucky Derby back in 2021, as Mandaloun was awarded the victory of the opening leg of the Triple Crown following Medina Spirit’s disqualification. That remains his only victory in the race to this point, but he did land the Belmont Stakes later in the same year with Essential Quality.

There is a growing feeling that Cox could be primed for a strong run at a second Derby success this year, as he has a number of solid contenders already in the betting. Victory Formation remains his best contender, and he could further his claims with victory in the Risen Star Stakes in February, a race that was won by Mandaloun on his route to Derby victory two years ago.

Instant Coffee also looks another strong contender from the yard this season. The three-year-old defeated Confidence Game in the G3 Lecomte Stakes on his return to action in January, recording a strong speed figure of 93.

It will be fascinating to see whether the runners all avoid each other before the Derby in May, and should they all line-up at Churchill Downs, it will be extremely interesting to see the jockey bookings for all of his leading selections.

At present, the odds currently have Instant Coffee as Cox’s leading Derby chance this year.



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