In this edition of our Derby Profile, we look at KEEPMEINDMIND, the Robertino Diodoro trainee who has moved down to 20th on the Leaderboard after the results from last weekend's prep races took effect. Important questions for this big striding colt to answer include: will he earn enough points to make it to the Derby? Will he rebound from his disappointing Rebel Stakes (G2) effort?
Earlier in the year, KEEPMEINMIND was a top contender in the Kentucky Derby trail due to his great efforts during his 2-year-old season. He finished second to ESSENTIAL QUALITY in the Breeder's Futurity (G1), then third to him in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile (G1), and returned with a winning effort in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). He was then given a layoff, which took longer to come back from than planned. Then he turned in a dismal performance in the Rebel Stakes which was his comeback race. It was so dreary that he finished sixth and probably scared fans off of his bandwagon. He's not even listed on the Kentucky Derby Future Pool 5! But we shouldn't dismiss him so easily because his Rebel Stakes performance isn't quite as discouaraging as papers report it. We'll discuss that shortly.
KEEPMEINMIND has run into trouble when he's not given enough time to lengthen his stride in the stretch. His style is to grind it out and mow the field down for the win. But if his early speed doesn't put him in contention and he has to maneuver about, he has to build the up his momentum again. On the contrary, when he's swung wide into the clear, we've seen him effectively reel in his opponents in deep stretch. He's dangerous when he can unleash an uninterrupted run.
KEEPMEINMIND's Breeder's Cup Juvenile effort is one of his better performances, which puts him smack dab in the Kentucky Derby mix. They went a fast clip that day; the field was strung out, and he closed from far out of it, beginning with a strong move entering the turn. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough stretch to reach the winner. Nevertheless, KEEPMEINDMIND is dangerous if his rivals goo fast early. He has recorded faster late speed than six of the Top 10 horses currently on the Leaderboard. If the pace horses cook each other up front, KEEPMEINMIND could come home flying.
If we look at his most recent race, the Rebel Stakes (G2), KEEPMEINMIND was sent off at odds of $4.80 to win, against CONCERT TOUR and CADDO RIVER. The betting public favored him that much, despite the fact that he fell behind in his training due to bad weather.
According to the results chart, KEEPMEINMIND "did not fire." But if we watch the Rebel Stakes again, we see he actually initiated his rally as they approached the turn, even though he tired right after. That's at least some semblance of a return to form. His mind was on running but his body wasn't. Lack of fitness? He was away for almost four months.
His most recent work was a major improvement from last month's. Previously he was clocking five furlong breezes in 1:03.20 and 1:02.20. Fastforward to today, he's fit and sharp. A few days ago he drilled five furlongs in 1:00 flat, the 4th fastest of 40 works at that distance. This work is in preparation for his upcoming start in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
KEEPMEINMIND is hunting for some urgent qualifying points. If he hits the board, he'll at least earn 20 points, which significantly raise his chances of getting in. Obviously, the ideal goal would be to win first place and earn 100 points. The fact that he's ranked 20th and fighting to stay in, suggests he'll be all business on Saturday.
What other advantages does KEEPMEINDMIND have for the Kentucky Derby? Well, we can give him credit for his smart win in the Kentucky Jockey Club — where he earned a win over the Churchill Downs dirt. Plus he achieved experience in passing horses and winning. The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes was his only win afterall. But to win the Kentucky Derby, he'll stil need to outrun some pedigree limitations.
KEEPMEINMIND's breeding suggests that he'd be more effective going shorter; around a mile to a mile and an eigth. His damsire Victory Gallop might have some influence over his ability to stretch his running. But apart from that, his sire LAOBAN ran his highest speed figure going shorter, winning the Jim Dandy Stakes at one mile and one-eighth. KEEPMEINDMIND's dam INCLINATION did not compete on the track, but produced his half brother IN JACK'S MEMORY, who ran his highest speed figure while finishing third, sprinting six and half furlongs in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2). But despite these sprinting influences, KEEPMEINDMIND's sire and damsire were graded stakes winners at age three and won prestigious races against their crop. Perhaps this could influence KEEPMEINMIND's upside and help him step forward in the longer races to come.
KEEPMEINMIND deserves another chance to prove his authority in the division. We will learn alot about him after his next race: whether he's back to his normal self, whether he's interested in stretching out, and how he measures against the current Kentucky Derby favorite, ESSENTIAL QUALITY, who he competes with for the third time. Stay tuned!