Many of us were particularly taken with the debut performance of Bill Mott’s Hidden Scroll on the Pegasus World Cup undercard at Gulfstream Park in January and by all accounts, the Juddmonte-bred colt is firing on all cylinders ahead of his possible date with destiny on May 4.
His trainer claims his debut win was no surprise, but surely the manner of victory was a little out of the blue as the son of Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun made the running and pulled clear of a what looked to be a quality field of maiden special weight runners.
Make no mistake; to dominate a race like that on debut and win with your head in your chest is no easy feat and the run marked him out immediately as a top contender for this year’s Run for the Roses. Despite the off track it was hard not to be visually impressed with the performance.
It’s interesting to note that over in Europe, Hidden Scroll was immediately given quotes of 14/1 for the Derby after his maiden win and has been backed into 11/1 currently.
So what’s next for this imposing type? Well all eyes are on the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes back at Gulfstream on March 2 as rider Joel Rosario returns from his California base to once again take the ride. That in itself poses some headaches for connections of this horse, albeit nice headaches, as Rosario also regularly partners Bob Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ Game Winner.
Assuming a trouble-free run in Florida, Mott will then have to decide if, when and where to go before Louisville. For that we can take a look at the family tree, with Hidden Scroll’s sire and dam sire both having been placed second in Kentucky Derby’s in 2007 and 2003 respectively.
His daddy, Hard Spun, also made a belated debut in January of ’07 but ran his second race by February 19, giving him plenty of time to run again in March before being put away for the big one.
Dam sire Empire Maker on the other hand had raced as a juvenile and had three prep runs in February, March and finally in the Wood Memorial in April before peaking for the Kentucky Derby in early May.
On the one hand then, the family line would suggest that he may need plenty of miles before being ready to run in the first Triple Crown event on May 4 but having won on debut in the manner he did he’s perhaps the type not to waste too much energy before his big date.
Last year’s Triple Crown hero Justify also debuted as a three-year-old, this time as late as February 18, and still went on to race twice more at Santa Anita before justifying favoritism when beating Good Magic in Kentucky so all things considered it seems the way to go will be to run Hidden Scroll in a brace of races to put him right.
Where he has been lucky is the schedule. He’ll have had a five-week break between winning his maiden run on sloppy ground to running in the Fountain of Youth and there’s a four-week gap between that and the Florida Derby on March 30 which looks like being his most likely final prep.
Another five weeks goes by between that and the Derby which looks ideal so it appears the race that has given us Nyquist, Always Dreaming and of course grand daddy Empire Maker among others, will be the one to watch in the run-up to the 145th renewal of the most exciting two minutes of sports.