BRITAIN'S prospective Kentucky Derby contender Awesome Act finished third after losing a shoe in Saturday's Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, where he was among those slammed by the totally authoritative Eskendereya.
On a big night of Kentucky trials, last year's champion juvenile Lookin At Lucky was beaten into third after meeting in trouble in running in the Santa Anita Derby, which went to Sidney's Candy. American Lion also earned a spot at Churchill Downs with a game front-running triumph in the Illinois Derby.
He had warned before the race that his representative might regress after a visually impressive dirt debut a month ago in Grade 3 company.
Sent off second favourite, Awesome Act stumbled at the break and lost a shoe before being held up at the rear of a six-runner field by jockey Julien Leparoux.
Although a slowish pace cannot have helped his cause, he looked to be travelling easily under a tight rein as he moved up on the far turn but found little in the stretch as 1-2 favourite Eskendereya drew clear in the manner of a really good horse to rubberstamp his credentials for the Kentucky Derby on May 1.
"It was a great performance by the winner, but for my horse the pace of the race was wrong," said Noseda, speaking to the Daily Racing Form.
"He lost a front shoe coming out of the gate, which wouldn't be ideal. Take nothing away from the winner, but for my horse to run his best race, that wasn't the type of [pace] that I need. We'll move forward onto Kentucky. You'd be surprised if we didn't get pace in Kentucky, and well see how we get on from there."
The winner, a son of Giant's Causeway, raced in third before moving past the leaders without any semblance of pressure from rider John Velazquez as they turned for home and powering home.
The winner is trained by multiple champion Todd Pletcher, yet to win the Kentucky Derby despite having had 24 runners in the race, and owned by Ahmed Zayat, who recently involved in bankruptcy proceedings.
"The horse is amazing," said Pletcher, speaking to the Blood-Horse. "The further he goes the stronger he gets. The horse has natural stamina. It would be big to win the Derby. We'll tryto make that happen."
Below form on a synthetic surface at last year's Breeders' Cup, Eskendereya was taking his record on dirt to four out of four. He covered the 1m1f trip in 1m49.97s.
On his previous outingat Gulfstream, he had won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth by more than eight lengths. "He ran as well as he did in the Fountain of Youth," added Pletcher. "The thing that Johnny did today was take pretty good care of him from the eighth pole to the wire. There was more there than what we saw, even as impressive as it was.
"He's not at the mercy of anyone's pace. He sets his own pace. We just wanted him in his rhythm. I said to Zayat, thishorse literally improves every week. A lot of times they improve to a certain point and then level off. He keeps doing it."
SOURCE : www.racingpost.co.uk