Feb. 3 was supposed to be a big day for 3-year-old racing, with 3 Derby prep races scheduled. But it told us more about who’s not Derby material than who is.
Firenze Fire, considered by many to be a Derby hopeful, couldn’t even beat a field of five as he lost by two lengths to Avery Island in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. Avery Island stalked the front-runner, Coltandmississippi, as Firenze Fire laid back in perfect position, third by a length. Avery Island took the lead around the far turn, and Firenze Fire went with him, but simply had nothing as Avery Island drew away at the finish.
Much was the same in the Holy Bull when Free Drop Billy and Tiz Mischief failed to catch Audible in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. The favorite, Enticed, could settle for no better than fourth. Audible stalked the favorite, Master Manipulator, until the beginning of the far turn, when he took the lead and never looked back, Free Drop Billy settling for second five lengths behind and Tiz Mischief in third.
At Santa Anita, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes saw an upset as Lombo led from start to finish, beating the favorite, Ayacara, by about two lengths. Longshot Dark Vader finished third.