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Posted by on 4/14/2014 8:55:45 PM

Television sitcom fans of Who’s the Boss could have a Kentucky Derby vehicle as Todd Pletcher’s student Danza got an ideal trip and shocked the Arkansas Derby field at 41-1.

Danza relished the rail at Oaklawn Park as he got an ideal trip, never sitting more than 2 and a half -lengths off the lead from the onset.

He stalked the pace set by Bayern and the splits were solid at :23.72, :47.71 and 1:12.29 for the 6 furlongs. Joe Bravo made a great move getting Danza to rally through an opening along the inside into the stretch as he increased his winning margin. The time for the 9 furlongs was 1:49.68.

He powered off winning by nearly 5 lengths and earned a solid 102 Beyer Speed Rating.

To put Danza’s performance in perspective, know that Curlin won this race in 2007 in 1:50. Smarty Jones won this race in 1:49.41 before winning the Kentucky Derby and Pletcher’s student Overanalyze won the Arkansas Derby last year in 1:51.94 before running 11th at Churchill.


Bravo, who is a near legend as he is knows as Jersey Joe for his exploits at Monmouth Park, was elated, Bravo: “That was a pretty great effort. Everything unfolded like a dream. That was pretty cool down the lane. It’s really fun to have a special horse like that and have him run like that. I’m not a fortuneteller, but hopefully, in a couple of weeks we can do that again. I’m crossing my fingers he’s my Derby horse. This is what dreams are made of.”

Danza’s trainer voiced his thinking about this race, Pletcher: “We were searching for the right race and the right option and it seemed like the Arkansas Derby was the race for us to step out and take our shot. I don’t remember winning a Grade 1 at 40-1, but it’s not very often that our horses pay those types of mutuels. We narrowed it down to the Blue Grass and this race and the dirt was the tiebreaker.

Danza has had a short and sweet career so far. He had to run every step of the way to win the debut last year and connections thought enough of him to try the Saratoga Special next out. He was far from disgraced in that Grade 2 race. He was flattered a bit when the place horse in his race before the Oaklawn triumph beat entry-level allowance foes with an 83 Beyer. Although his sire was sprint only, his dam won 4 times, twice routing and the two foals that won cashed routing including Grade 3 winner and near $350,000 earner Majestic Harbor.

With the 100 points Danza earned on Saturday, he punched his ticket into the Kentucky Derby if everything goes right. He has also proven to be a bargain as he cost $105,000 and has now earned nearly $670,000.

The rich just get richer as it looks like Pletcher will have as many as 4 starters for the Kentucky Derby. He does it with number every year and with Danza’s style, the runner figures to be able to get first run on the deep closers on Derby Day.

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