Horse of the Week 3-23-16: Cupid

Horse of the Week 3-23-16: Cupid

Congratulations to the promising Kentucky Derby contender Cupid, whose impressive victory in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) on March 19th at Oaklawn Park has earned him the title of “Horse of the Week” on The Turf Board!

In a poll on The Turf Board’s Twitter page, Cupid received an impressive 83% of the votes, while Razorback Handicap (gr. III) winner Upstart received 11% and Santa Margarita Stakes (gr. I) winner Tara’s Tango received just under 6%.

In the Rebel Stakes, Cupid broke a step slowly and was in dangerous of getting boxed in behind horses, but jockey Martin Garcia urged Cupid for run, and the grey colt responded by splitting horses and rallying up the rail to grab the lead on the first turn. From there, Cupid carved out fast fractions of :22.96 and :46.82, and when he was challenged by the late-running Whitmore in the homestretch, Cupid battled back and triumphed by 1 1/4 lengths. His final time of 1:43.84 translated to a solid Beyer speed figure of 95.

“I am so happy that he ran so well, especially for Martin,” trainer Bob Baffert was quoted as saying on the Oaklawn Park website. “He works so hard getting these horses ready and he got the win. I’m happy for the Coolmore (owners) gang, too. I knew going in he was a nice horse. But he never had been tested and that was a pretty strong bunch.”

“You never know what they’re going to do when they ship, and when there are 14 horses (in the field). He missed the break a little bit, and I had told Martin (Garcia) that the last time we went there we got destroyed leaving the gate. Once he got the lead down the backside, he was going pretty fast. He showed he’s improving and he’s a fast horse. Down the backside, he looked like he was really doing it easier than the time said. Turning for home, I don’t know what it was, but he looked a little green there and lost a little momentum. He was on the rail tight and was probably looking around. He was maybe too close to the rail, and I’ve seen horses do that. He’s a lightly raced horse.”

“I was sweating at the break when he didn’t break. I was worried they were going to close up on him like that they did with Collected last time. But once he got him rolling….When that horse [Whitmore] came rolling down the middle of the stretch I thought we’ll see what he’s made of. That’s when we realized what he’s made of. He started to kick back in. That what you want to see this time of year, them showing some grits and some guts. He looked fantastic in the paddock and the post parade. He was ready to run and he ran like he looked.”

Martin Garcia was also pleased with Cupid’s performance. “It’s hard for horses to break their maiden and then step up to this kind of company with this many people around and win, but he did. He’s still green. When we hit the top of the stretch, he got lonely and he locked in on the other horse that was coming up on the outside he responded one more time. He showed a lot of ability and we know he can run. He really proved today that he is improving. The distance doesn’t matter, he can go as far as he wants.”

Cupid is expected to return to Oaklawn Park to run in the $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby (gr. I) on April 16th.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for email newsletters and special offers from The Turf Board! Also, if you’re a fan of horse racing history, please check out my upcoming book Lost to the Ages: 10 Forgotten Champions of U.S. Horse Racingscheduled for release later this year!

Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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