Daredevil: Pletcher’s Sideshow Act

High-level success by a two-year-old is not often followed by the same in the horse’s three-year-old campaign. Daredevil’s win in the Grade 1 Champagne last fall is therefore—if ironically—a reason to actually downgrade his status as a Kentucky Derby contender.

Another reason is how he won the race: on the lead on a wet track at Belmont, the same way he won his maiden race.

In the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile, he went to post as the second choice but, hung wide on the first turn, unable to be on or close to the lead early, he showed little and finished last. His two-year-old campaign certainly suggests the possibility he’s a need-to-lead type and perhaps also a horse whose best will be seen only on off tracks.

Daredevil was not injured in the Breeder’s Cup but was given a long break before returning in the Swale as the odds-on choice, where Ready for Rye took the lead and held it strongly as Daredevil got second, well ahead of the other entrants. Jockey Castellano said after the race that the horse’s connections weren’t disappointed with the race and that “… unfortunately today he came back in a sprint race.” Both assertions are shaky: how could there be no disappointment when the horse was so heavily favored, and why shouldn’t he have run well in a sprint when he had shown so much early speed?

Daredevil is a front-runner who has not shown the class necessary to win the Kentucky Derby. He is unlikely to emerge victorious on or off the pace.

Trip Taylor