Will Cupid Find Love in Arkansas Derby?

Despite ducking in and running erratically down the stretch at times, Cupid won impressively in his stakes debut.

Despite ducking in and running erratically down the stretch at times, Cupid won impressively in his stakes debut.

The Arkansas Derby this weekend will answer a lot of questions about a certain horse that is the likely favorite: Cupid.

Cupid won the Rebel Stakes in front-running fashion, fending off late runs from Whitmore, Creator, Cherry Wine and Suddenbreakingnews. All but Cherry Wine are back to challenge the grey son of Tapit, who, if he wins the Arkansas Derby, would be Bob Baffert’s main Derby charge.

He’s had some good maintenance works at Santa Anita and should be in top shape coming into the Arkansas Derby.

Cupid was a $900,000 yearling purchase in 2014 — after his full brother, Dream Team, brought an even $1 million the year before. Both sold at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

When Cupid was old enough to race, he was sent to Bob Baffert, who unveiled the colt in a six-furlong contest at Los Alamitos in December 2015; he finished fourth.

Next, Cupid went in a 5 ½-furlong race at Santa Anita, finishing second to a horse named Denman’s Call, who was third in the San Vicente behind Nyquist and Exaggerator. Following that, Cupid went to an 8 ½-furlong maiden special weight event at Santa Anita, where he finally broke his maiden against a horse named Trojan Nation, who finished third. Trojan National recently finished second in the Wood Memorial to Outwork.

Cupid then stepped into stakes competition and did so impressively. He took the field on a game of catch-me-if-you-can and led from flag fall to finish. He got a breather in the middle of the race and, then, rebroke when Whitmore took his late run to Cupid.

Cupid is not particularly bred to be effective at nine and ten furlongs. While Tapit can sire good distance horses if the mare has a stamina-infused pedigree, Cupid is quite the opposite of that. His dam, Pretty ‘n Smart, broke her maiden on debut and went on to be Grade II placed, finishing third in the Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park. Her highest winning level was in the allowance ranks. She has produced some mentionable offspring, however, including minor stakes winner Indianapolis and Grade III winner Ashley’s Kitten. Ashley’s Kitten won the Grade III Railbird Stakes.

Cupid’s damsire, Beau Genius, had his best season in 1990, winning the Grade II Michigan Mile and One-Eighth Handicap and the Grade I Philip H. Iselin Handicap. Most of the stallion’s wins were in listed stakes. He finished out his 1990 season in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he finished 10th.

Beau Genius stood stud at the Vinery in Lexington, Kentucky. The son of Bold Ruckus was mainly an influence of speed throughout his career, siring thirty-two stakes winners.

Overall, Cupid does not exactly have a pedigree to gawk at and his female family does not contain a stakes winner in the first five generations. We all know that Cupid is fast. With a pedigree like his, it would be a surprise that he wouldn’t be. He is also relatively young, not officially turning three until May 19.

Cupid could be a huge threat in the Arkansas Derby, as he likely could return to his running style he used in his maiden and rate just off the pace. There is speed in the Arkansas Derby that was not in the Rebel Stakes. Also, the competition knows that Cupid is dangerous on an uncontested lead. Cupid looks to earn more points and truly make his final Kentucky Derby prep a beneficial, winning one.

Casey Laughter
Casey Laughter has been following horse racing since 2003, when Funny Cide stole her heart and took Louisville by storm. After that, Casey had succumbed to the horse racing bug — and has been unable to shake it after all these years.

Casey has visited tracks in Ohio, Kentucky and New York, covering events from a weekend at Keeneland to the defeat of a Triple Crown winner. As a student, Casey is hoping to break into the racing world with her photos and her writing.

She has a personal blog named A World Full of Furlongs and a photography portfolio on Flickr named Casey Laughter Photography. She also writes for another horse racing website named Lady and the Track.

Posted on