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Kentucky Confidential

Profile: Stay Thirsty

Stay Thirsty before the Florida Derby. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Stay Thirsty has a Kentucky Derby pedigree and has shown a lot of potential, but I wonder if he is ready for what he will face on May 7.

Stay Thirsty was a good 2-year-old. He broke his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths in his second career start at Saratoga Race Course. Next up was the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, where Stay Thirsty stumbled and bumped at the break. He recovered quickly and then dueled with the fast sprinter Wine Police to his outside. Boys At Tosconova, who later finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, sat off the duel and won by 1 3/4 lengths. Stay Thirsty showed some good grit and potential distance aptitude when he persevered along the rail to finish second.

Stay Thirsty got a wide stalking trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was in good position turning for home, but he bore inward and fell apart in the stretch drive. Clearly, Stay Thirsty was not in the class of his stablemate, champion Uncle Mo, but with projected improvement he had a right to challenge the division elite at age 3.

Stay Thirsty’s return to the races this year in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct was promising. He was looking sideways at the start of the race, and that resulted in him being a little off the pace and caught four wide on both turns.

Yet, he drew away for a 3 1/4-length victory, thanks to his final five-sixteenths of a mile in under 31 seconds. Finishing third, beaten 4 1/4 lengths, was subsequent Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes winner Toby’s Corner (who added blinkers in the Wood).

Had Stay Thirsty built on his Gotham victory, he would be an intriguing horse in the Kentucky Derby, but the opposite happened. Equipped with blinkers for the first time, Stay Thirsty completely shut down in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and finished seventh, beaten 16 3/4 lengths by Dialed In.

In order to compete in this Derby, Stay Thirsty would need to improve on his two best races — the Hopeful at 2 and the Gotham at 3. Considering the setback he suffered in his final Derby prep, that is asking an awful lot of a horse that appears behind in his development as an equine athlete.

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Author PhotoAn award winning newspaper journalist from Chicago’s south side, Pete Denk moved to Lexington, Kentucky, in 2005. He wrote for Thoroughbred Times for five years, as a staff reporter and later as sales editor. Denk headed up the Times’ auction coverage for three years. Still based in horse country, he now works as a freelance journalist and consultant. More by  ›