‘He’s a very, very fast horse’ – Bob Baffert strengthens Kentucky Derby hold as Concert Tour blitzes rivals

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Horse Racing Concert Tour
Arkansas Derby next: Concert Tour (Joel Rosario) is clear in G2 Rebel. Photo: Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography

By Nicholas Godfrey

7-1 (price for the Kentucky Derby) Concert Tour (Bob Baffert/Joel Rosario)
Oaklawn Park (March 13): Rebel Stakes G2 $1m, 1m½f, dirt
Sire: Street Sense
Owner: Gary & Mary West

Time: 1m43.18s
Likely target: Arkansas Derby (Oaklawn, April 10)

Bob Baffert already has the Kentucky Derby favourite in Life Is Good. Now he has the second favourite as well as Concert Tour emulated his stablemate by extending his unbeaten record to three with a brilliant display in the $1m Rebel.

Baffert loves the Oaklawn path to Churchill Downs, having won this race a record eight times – all since 2020, and subsequent Triple Crown winner American Pharoah among them.

Making his two-turn debut, Concert Tour was highly impressive. Breaking from gate seven, he rocketed from the traps to beat market rival Caddo River to the lead and the pair hooked up early doors before the favourite had to cede the advantage. 

The effort required for this battle was to become clear in the closing stages, as Caddo River faded to fifth, while Concert Tour sped home from his Baffert-trained stable companion Hozier, who stayed on nicely for second, albeit more than four lengths adrift. 

The Arkansas Derby is the obvious route for the winner, who carries the pink-and-black colours of owner-breeders Gary and Mary West – still unpaid for Maximum Security’s Saudi Cup success 13 months ago by the way.

Bob Baffert (Concert Tour’s trainer): “That was nice, impressive I’m just happy to run one-two. That’s pretty huge. I’m just glad they showed up. I just told Rosario, he’s fast. I know Caddo River’s fast. This horse going two turns first out, just play the break and do what you think is right. He’s a very, very fast horse. He looked like he was doing it pretty easily, though. They slowed up a little bit down the backside. Joel, you could really tell he was controlling the race. This is a really top horse. I was going to be disappointed if he didn’t do what he did today.”

Joel Rosario (Concert Tour’s jockey): “It was a very good race. He broke very good and I just let him go on with it. It was impressive for his first time going two turns.”

Kentucky Derby betting

William Hill: 3 Life Is Good, 7 Concert Tour, 8 Essential Quality, 12 Greatest Honour, 16 Prevalence, 20 Mandaloun, Risk Taking, 25 bar.

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Prevalence prevails at Gulfstream but needs points next time

16-1 Prevalence (Brendan Walsh/Tyler Gaffalione)
Gulfstream Park (March 11): allowance optional claimer $52,000, 1m, dirt
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Owner: Godolphin LLC

Time: 1m35.82s
Likely target: Wood Memorial (Aqueduct, April 3) or Arkansas Derby (Oaklawn, April 10)

Godolphin are assembling an impressive portfolio in their bid to win a first Kentucky Derby, with Breeders’ Cup hero Essential Quality heading the Dubai team’s list ahead of Risen Star Satkes runner-up Proxy and highly regarded Prevalence, who took his next step towards Churchill Downs via a straightforward victory.

Okay, there is still a long way to go in a short time for the homebred son of Medaglia d’Oro, who has yet to register a single Kentucky Derby qualifying point. Mind you, that is hardly surprising as he has yet to taste stakes company, having scored by open lengths on his Jan 23 debut at Gulfstream Park before a less visually striking effort in this optional claimer.

It didn’t look the most testing assignment on paper, as a 1-10 dividend suggests. But you couldn’t ask for much more as he took the one-turn mile by three lengths, having raced just off the pace before easily assuming control on the far turn and opening a clear lead in the stretch.

Prevalence will now be tested in one of the main Derby prep races – as he must, or he’ll be watching from the sidelines on the first Saturday in May.

Brendan Walsh (trainer): “I think it was a good step up for the horse going from the seven to a mile. It seemed like he got the distance good; the time was good. We can’t ask for much more than what we saw.  It was very important that we did what we did today, and not throw him in too deep. I’m very pleased we got this race. Hats off to the guys at Gulfstream for getting the race to go, because I think it was very important for the horse.”

Tyler Gaffalione (jockey): “It was probably not as flashy as his first race, but I think we’re going to get a lot more out of this race. He was definitely more green. He was looking up at the grandstand down the lane. He kind of got lost by himself. I just had to remind him to keep to his task. He has a really bright future. I’m really looking forward to getting to the bottom of him.”

• Visit the Kentucky Derby website and the Oaklawn Park website

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