Denk on Horses Derby contender profiles
Archarcharch training at Churchill Do. (Eclipse Sportswire)
Archarcharch enters the Kentucky Derby off the best race of his life, a neck victory over Nehro in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, and judging by his bullet five furlong work in 59.40 seconds at Churchill Downs on Friday, the Arch colt remains very sharp.
Archarcharch has a good finishing kick, but he is no deep closer. Following a green but very promising second-place finish in his debut at Churchill on November 27, Archarcharch broke his maiden in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds. He sat just off the pace in that race and came home in 24.20 seconds, very good for a horse that pressed the pace in a dirt sprint.
Archarcharch then stretched out to a mile in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Still accustomed to sprint fractions, Archarcharch eagerly pressed the pace while three-wide between horses. He got bumped once or twice on the first turn (the video is foggy). He battled on the front end until tiring turning for home and finishing fourth.
Archarcharch found a more effective stalking style in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes. After getting caught four-wide on the first turn, Archarcharch crept up on the pacesetters without urging on the backstretch. He got caught four-wide on the second turn but swept past the leaders turning for home and persevered to post a one-length victory. The final quarter mile was slow at 26.19 seconds, although Archarcharch gets extra credit for the very wide trip.
In the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes Archarcharch made a premature move along the inside on the backstretch, and that robbed some of the punch from his stretch move. He couldn’t catch The Factor, and although Archarcharch was game, he could not hold off Caleb’s Posse for second place.
In the Arkansas Derby Archarcharch found a more effective energy distribution sitting about six lengths off the hot early pace. Not only was JP’s Gusto gunned to the lead through unreasonable fractions, Sway Away came with a premature move that prevented anyone up front having an easy time. The race set up beautifully for an off-the-pace type, and Archarcharch’s move was timed perfectly to overtake the tiring frontrunners and hold off hard-charging Nehro.
Archarcharch’s pedigree is a decent fit at 1 1/4 miles thanks to the stamina he inherited from his sire Arch. Relaxing early and timing his move have been the keys to Archarcharch’s victories, and that should again be the case in the Derby for this hard-trying horse.
If he can get a clean trip through the first six furlongs, his natural speed should allow him to be creeping up behind the winners at the quarter pole. Historically that is a good place to be in the Kentucky Derby.