By Trent Ledbetter (@23ledbetter on Twitter)
As they round the turn and head for home on the first Saturday in May look for the familiar light blue stripes and gold crown of G M B Racing to be making a run from the back of the pack. After a two horse contingent in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, G M B makes their 2018 return with Lone Sailor. He comes in at 16th in the Derby standings amassing 42 points. A second place in the Louisiana Derby gave him the forty points he needed adding on to the two he collected with a third place finish in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity.
Trained by Tom Amoss, Lone Sailor is a deep closer who likes to come from off the pace. He turned heads with his derby workout, but is projected to be 30-1 or higher come post time. Let’s dive in and see how Lone Sailor stacks up against the Derby competition.
With a record of 8-1-3-1 Lone Sailor isn’t going to attract the attention of a lot of horses in this field. However, he did race in the best early prep, the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He sat way back in that one at a distant 11th and the ground was too much to make up as he closed late five-wide for fifth.
He made his three-year-old debut in the Lecomte Stakes finishing ninth and not showing much of anything. He was entered into an allowance where he came in second by a head and following that race he was entered into the Louisiana Derby. He again made a deep closing run this time from ninth and battled in the stretch with Noble Indy, finishing second by a neck. With 42 Derby points, he had punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
The son of Majestic Warrior, Lone Sailor brought $120,000 from Tom Amoss and the G M B Racing Team at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. Lone Sailor is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Ambitious. Ambitious raced nine times, but failed to break her maiden resulting in a record of 9-0-1-1 and earnings of $15,401. She is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Altesse and stakes winner Where’s the Moon. This is where most of the questions regarding his pedigree lie.
Mr. Greeley was known as an elite level sprinter and that’s where his progeny has had the most success. Going 10-11 furlongs his progeny has succeeded at an 11/76 mark, or 14%. The question is when you look at the dam side compared to other horses in the Derby. Can Lone Sailor find success? For the answer to that we must first look at the sire of Lone Sailor. Majestic Warrior exploded onto the scene as a two-year-old winning in come from behind fashion in the G1 Hopeful at Saratoga. However, after a lackluster three-year-old season with a handful of finishes out of the money, he was retired to stud.
Majestic Warrior is from the AP Indy line that touts some of the greatest sires in the sport, he is most prominently known for filly Princess of Sylmar. She won the Kentucky Oaks and went on to win multiple other graded stakes in her very impressive career. Overall Lone Sailor seems to be taking more of his sire’s shape in that he is progressing as his career heads forward. Come the first Saturday in May though will he have improved enough?
What it’ll take to Win
Improvement. Every derby horse must improve from their last prep, but here’s why Lone Sailor is capable of doing so. His pedigree. He’s out of Majestic Warrior and out of the AP Indy line that get better with experience and age. His works at Churchill. Veteran Churchill clocker John Nichols clocked his work at 57 3/5 seconds for a five-furlong bullet of a work.Nichols said he hasn’t seen a derby work that fast since Hard Spun, who set a blistering pace and finished second in the 2007 derby.
Now, granted that was on a fast track, but there’s not many better signs as far as showing improvement than a fantastic work two weeks out.
What does trainer Tom Amoss want to see? “I’d like for him to draw somewhere inside. Obviously every horse that runs off the pace like Lone Sailor is going to run into traffic, so horses with that style have to get a little lucky. It’s in James Graham’s hands and the horse god’s hands and hopefully it goes our way.”
In my eyes to for Lone Sailor to take the 144th Kentucky Derby he needs it to be a 2009 Mine That Bird-esque run. He needs a horse like Promises Fulfilled to set a blistering pace and for a lot of the front running/pressing type horses to get sucked in. He’ll need good positioning and for James Graham to work him up the rail in order to save ground against a few other deep closers in this race.
If Lone Sailor can avoid excess traffic and the race plays out his way, look for him to be barreling down the stretch late making a run for the roses. While it’ll take a lot of factors for this horse to win the derby, he’ll be worth a look underneath on tri’s and super’s.
photos by Holly M. Smith (@kyholmarie on Twitter)