By Jason B. (@JasonNYM on Twitter)

With undefeated Justify being the likely favorite for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby trainer Bob Baffert’s other derby hopeful, Solomini, has dropped off many handicappers list of contenders. However, the $270K son of Curlin has never finished worse than 3rd in his 6 race career for Zayat Stables. The Zayat’s, while owning many successful racehorses, are mostly known for their 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah; who was also trained by 4 time Kentucky derby winning trainer Bob Baffert. As the field has taken shape for the derby it appears that Solomini will wind up being right around 20-1 on the morning line, and should be somewhere in that range come derby day. This colt is one that shouldn’t be completely ignored as Bob Baffert usually has all his horses cranked and ready to go on big race days, and has won the Kentucky Derby in the past with his “other horse” when Real Quiet took the 1998 edition while his more heralded stable mate Indian Charlie faded late.

Solomini began his career winning at first asking in a Del Mar allowance race last September under Flavien Prat who has been his pilot for every race of his career and will once again have the call on Derby day. Solomini followed up his maiden win by stepping right up into the Grade 1 Front Runner at Santa Anita where he finished a soundly beaten 2nd to highly regarded Bolt d’Oro. He continued his 2 year old campaign by once again finishing 2nd in the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Del Mar. In that race, Solomini, defeated his rival Bolt d’Oro, but couldn’t withstand the run of eventual two year old eclipse champion Good Magic. Solomini would end his 2 year old season by crossing the wire first in the Los Alamitos Futurity, but was disqualified and placed 3rd for a bumping incident in the stretch.

The Rebel at Oaklawn Park would mark Solomini’s return to racing as a three year old and he would find himself once again finishing 2nd best, this time to highly regarded derby hopeful Magnum Moon. Solomini’s final derby prep would also come at Oaklawn in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and would once again be on the wrong end of a decision to Magnum Moon, this time finishing 3rd behind the undefeated 3 year old from Todd Pletcher’s powerful stable.

Solomini, while never running a bad race, probably wouldn’t be a horse I want to use on top of my tickets but I can see him running underneath for your trifecta and superfecta wagers. His running style is usually more forwardly placed, but he won’t find himself on the lead, and should be sitting in an ideal stalking position. The distance shouldn’t be a problem as he is well bred for route racing, the question will be whether he is good enough to turn the tables on some of the top horses that have already beaten him, and take on other top contenders.

One knock I have on Solomini is that he hasn’t really improved from his two year old season to now. He has certainly been consistent posting Brisnet numbers of 94-96-100-101-96-95 over his six race career, but the Kentucky Derby is a race where you usually want to look for a horse that is gearing up to run his peak performance. With Solomini there is a good chance that we have already seen his best, and that doesn’t bode well for finding the winners circle on the first Saturday in May. So I think Solomini is a horse you might want to consider using underneath in exotics, especially on larger tickets, but not necessarily as a win or place contender. However, anything is possible when 20 horses compete for a shot at glory.


photo by Holly M. Smith (@kyholmarie on Twitter)

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