February 10, 2010

Heralding Drosselmeyer

WinStar Farm is in the best position of any owner at this point on the Kentucky Derby highway. Their hand is stacked with four major players ready to march on Louisville the first of May. Three of the four secured their position as early favorites by impressively winning stakes late last year, with Super Saver winning the Kentucky Jockey Club, Rule winning the Delta Jackpot, and American Lion accounting for Hollywood’s Prevue. The final horse of their big four may not be as well known, or even run in a stakes race yet, but he just might have what it takes to be the one horse draped in roses at Churchill Downs. His name is Drosselmeyer. Named for a character from Tchaikovsky's ‘The Nutcracker’, Drosselmeyer is a chestnut colt by Distorted Humor, who has already sired a Derby winner in Funny Cide, out of the grade 1 winning mare, Golden Ballet, a daughter of Moscow Ballet. The well bred sophomore, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, also has a stronger foundation of experience than many of the top candidates, with four two-turn races and a win over the Churchill Downs strip under his belt. He has already run on turf, synthetics, and dirt, but it was his two dirt races that really caught my attention.

After three solid, but losing, efforts on East Coast lawns and Keeneland’s synthetic course, his first try on dirt was a race at Churchill originally scheduled for the turf. In the maiden special weight, Drosselmeyer broke from the outside post and toyed with his overmatched opponents in the one mile affair to the tune of a six length tally. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, he ran a solid time on the same strip that will host the derby, and it was one of the more visually impressive maiden scores of the year. That November 18 race would be his last of the season, and it stamped him as a horse to watch in 2010. I will admit, the maiden win was not quite enough to crack my Down and Derby Top 20 list, but he was very close, and he had my full attention for his return.

We did not need to wait too long for him to reappear. It happened on the last day of January at Gulfstream Park. The nine furlong allowance race gave Drosselmeyer another opportunity to run over a route of ground, and allowed for his first dirt race around two-turns. He passed the challenge with flying colors. Drosselmeyer, ridden again by Kent Desormeaux, had to find room on the turn and for awhile it looked like he might be in trouble. Drosselmeyer was patient and professional and when the hole opened up he showed excellent acceleration and easily edged away from the solid allowance field by 1 ¾ lengths. Once again the final time was solid, 1:49.52, and the way he did it was impressive. I always look for a horse that can be patient and maneuver through openings once presented in the Derby. Drosselmeyer appears to be that type of horse. His two dirt races are impressive enough for him to sky rocket up my list of Derby contenders, which will be out on Saturday.

All things look full steam ahead for the powerful colt. Elliott Walden, the Vice President & Racing Manager at WinStar, tells me that Drosselmeyer is doing good and his next race will most likely be the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on February 20. If that is indeed where he runs next, it will mark his sixth race at six different tracks and his fifth race around two-turns. Along with impressive experience already at Churchill Downs, and being trained by one of our sport’s masters, you would have to think that Drosselmeyer will be one of the most well prepared horses in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Yes, I know I might be jumping the gun a bit with that last statement, but this is one colt I really like.


Ciarán said...

thanks for bringing him to my attention Brian! will be looking to be impressed feb 20th!!

Brian Zipse said...

No problem Ciarán, thank you for commenting. The only problem is he will be running against one of my other favorites, Ron the Greek...decisions, decisions.

Unknown said...

I'll put my money on anything Mott runs, DRF, unseen!!
But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this one is exceptionaly special!
You mention Eliott Walden..is this the same Eliot Walden from Vinery??

Thank you for another nice write, Brain.

Ciarán said...

jus watched the video u posted of him..not half bad!!

Brian Zipse said...


Elliott Walden is the son of Kentucky Breeder Ben Walden Sr., and brother of Ben Walden Jr., who founded the successful Vinery Farm/Kentucky. Elliott was a very successful trainer in Kentucky (Victory Gallop was probably his best horse) before becoming a key man at WinStar.

NetworkEmpowerment said...

There is definitly something there, some talent for sure, but like with many who have only won against maidens or allownence competition, I will sit back and watch before I crown him a Derby contender instead of a "pretender."

tencentcielo said...

I love his dam Golden Ballet.

Did you know she is the last horse to win a 2f two-year-old maiden race at SA to go on to win a Graded Stake?

Unknown said...

I thought that might be the same Eliott! When my husband & I went to work for him in the winter of 89/90, he didnt know what a Furosone sweat was!!
Yrs later, I was totally beside myself when I saw he was the trainer of Victory Gallop!
How far he had come!
I'm kinda sad that he's not training now, but I can understand. Thats a lot of pressure!

The_Knight_Sky said...

Drosselmeyer will indeed be well prepared on May 1st.

The key will be to quickly accrue graded stakes earnings in the next two efforts. Perhaps both of them will take place at the Fair Grounds which is conducive to his running style.

I look forward to his recurring mention on many folks' Derby Dozen lists. ;-)

Brian Zipse said...

Interesting tidbit tencentcielo, nice story Jane, and great points TKS. It will not matter how high the Derby Dozen crew have him rated if he does not start piling up the graded stakes earnings.

Horse Racing Nation said...

Drosselmeyer is definitely on the right path and could be a great play in the Derby Future Wager if the price is right.

He's a 20-1 ML price, but a lot will depend on how the others racing this weekend look.

Brad Auger said...

Rule is grossly inbred..He will be lucky not to break down before the derby..