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Kentucky Confidential

Profile: Master of Hounds

Master of Hounds training at Churchill Downs. (Eclipse Sportswire)

European invader Master of Hounds will be making his second trip to post at Churchill Downs, having finished sixth, beaten three lengths, last November in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Master of Hounds steadied early in the Juvenile Turf. He came running with a decent closing move, getting his final quarter in about 23.93 seconds.

Master of Hounds was the favorite in the Juvenile Turf, based on a third-place finish in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and the reputation of his owners, powerful Coolmore Stud.

How Master of Hounds will run on dirt in the Kentucky Derby is a big question. He ran second in the Group 2 UAE Derby on the synthetic Tapeta surface in his first and only race as a 3-year-old. Tapeta form is far from a guarantee of dirt form. It was a good effort, however.

Master of Hounds was a stalker/closer in his turf races last year at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile. Stretched out to 1 3/16 miles in Dubai, he galloped right on the pace and still put in his closing kick. He lost a tough photo to the good filly Khawlah.

Master of Hounds showed versatility in Dubai, and he has a good running style for the Derby. However, he has never run on dirt, and his pedigree leans heavily toward turf. The Dubai path failed to produce a Kentucky Derby winner when the surface there was dirt. It appears even more unlikely now that Meydan Racecourse has a synthetic surface.

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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  ›