Will Bloodline Get Necker Island to the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle in 2020?
Necker Island has some big (horse)shoes to fill: His sire, Hard Spun, finished second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, fourth in the Belmont Stakes, and third in the Preakness. Sure, not as impressive as wins, but this is the Triple Crown we’re talking about. At that rarified level of competition, it’s impressive just to show.
His dam was Jenny’s Rocket (out of Mr. Greeley), and she proved effective in the shorter distances in her handful of career starts. Mr. Greeley, by the way, finished in the money in a large fistful of graded stakes races during his career.
Under new ownership (he was claimed for $100,000 by Wayne Scherr and Raymond Daniels only three months ago), but with the same trainer, the question remains: Can Necker Island make use of both his dam’s sprinting abilities and his sire’s (and grand-sire’s) ability to answer the challenges ten-furlongs at the Kentucky Derby present?
Necker Island’s Trainer
This will be trainer Chris Hartman’s first trip to the Kentucky Derby, and in fact, he’s something of a newcomer to winning in graded stakes. And three of his four graded stakes wins were from the same remarkable horse: Alsvid.
But can Hartman use the skills he’s acquired to make Necker Island a serious challenger at the Kentucky Derby?
Necker Island’s Jockey
Although one of Hartman’s favorite jockeys, Mitchell Murrill, was flagged early on as Necker Island’s likely jockey, it has fallen to Miguel Mena to guide the colt to his destiny. No stranger to his profession, Mena has stood in the irons in more than 15,000 races, and has ranked among the top 100 jockeys in both earnings and wins every year since 2006.
So, how’s he going to help Necker Island at the Kentucky Derby? By doing his job, most likely. He appears to be pretty good at it.
Necker Island’s Recent Form
Necker Island broke his maiden on his second attempt back in September 2019. The following month, he finished first in an allowance race at Churchill Downs.
His first attempt at a RTKD score in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct resulted in a disappointing fifth (and no score), as did his next attempt at the Matt Winn Stakes.
He finished fourth in an allowance race in June that resulted in him acquiring new owners.
They must have brought something to Necker Island’s game, because he placed third in the two qualifying races that followed: The Indiana Derby in July (4 RTKD points) and the Ellis Park Derby in August (ten points).
Suddenly, he was in.
Will Necker Island be a Serious Challenger to Tiz the Law?
Short answer: Probably not.
Longer answer: Now ranked at Number 19 on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 14 points, what do the handicappers say about Necker Island’s chances?
The Kentucky Derby betting sites have him at 150-1. Translation: Not ever.
But Necker Island has proven punters and handicappers wrong before. Would I bet on him to win? No. But I would certainly consider him as a good show bet.