• Prep race news plus latest prices generally available with British-based bookmakers
By Nicholas Godfrey
14-1 Caddo River (Brad Cox/Florent Geroux)
Oaklawn Park (Jan 22): Smarty Jones Stakes (Listed) $150,000, 1m, dirt
Sire: Hard Spun
Owner: Shortleaf Stable Inc.
Likely target: Rebel Stakes (Oaklawn, March 13)
After winning a maiden by 9½ lengths at Churchill Downs in November, Caddo River extended the margin to 10¼ as he romped right away from his Oaklawn rivals in a seriously impressive display.
The son of Kentucky runner-up Hard Spun represents Brad Cox, who also has Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero Essential Quality towards the top end of the betting for the first Saturday in May.
In Caddo River, he has another horse of immense promise. Sent off 3-5, he made all at Oaklawn, travelling comfortably on solid enough fractions before striding clear from Cowan, last seen finishing second to another Derby hope, Senor Buscador, at Remington Park.
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015 was the last horse to follow the Arkansas route to Kentucky Derby glory.
Florent Geroux: “He broke very alertly. Very nice and relaxed; you want to see these type horses doing it the right way. It’s easy to go to the lead and keep on going. You want them to relax and do everything right. He did everything perfect. The distance doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem. Very excited about what’s coming up ahead of us with him. Looks like he can run all day, which is a good problem. Hopefully, we can go on, go up the stepping stones and have a nice horse for the first Saturday in May.”
Kentucky Derby betting (William Hill): 10 Essential Quality, 12 Life Is Good, 14 Caddo River, 16 Concert Tour, Prevalence, 20 Jackie’s Warrior, Spielberg, 25 bar.