2018 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Flameaway
Flameaway on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard
After closing out his 2017 season with an eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, the Mark Casse-trained Flameaway made his second start of 2018 in the (G3) Sam F Davis Stakes, where the win gave him 10 Derby points, and prompted his connections to pony up the nomination fee for the Derby. Next out he ran second in the (G2) Tampa Bay Derby, and then was second again in the (G1) Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland to complete his Derby qualifying. He finished with 70 Derby points, good for tenth place on the leaderboard.
Flameaway's Race Record
An Ontario-bred colt, he started his career by winning his maiden race on the all-weather track at Woodbine, but since then all of his races have been in the US. He tried stakes company next out at Saratoga sprinting on dirt, then went to Churchill where he was sixth in the (G3) Iroquois Stakes. He then went to Keeneland where he won the (G3) Dixiana Bourbon at 1 1/16 miles on dirt. After the Breeders' Cup disappointment, he stayed on turf to open 2018 with a wire-to-wire win in the Kitten's Joy Stakes at Gulfstream going 7 1/2 furlongs.
Then came the Derby qualifying series, where as noted above he won once and was second in his final two preps, the last at 1 1/8 miles. Overall his record stands at five wins and two second-place finishes in nine starts.
Sired by Scat Daddy, Flameaway is a half-brother to fellow Derby runners Justify, Mendelssohn and Combatant. Scat Daddy won four graded-stakes races, including the 2007 (G1) Florida Derby at 1 1/8 miles before running 18th in the Kentucky Derby that year. His grandsire won the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and four Group 1 races on the turf in Europe. Flameaway's dam is Vulcan Rose, who only won once in 13 lifetime starts sprinting on the all-weather track at Woodbine, but his damsire is Fusaichi Pegasus, who won the 2000 Kentucky Derby.
Why Flameaway Can Win the Kentucky Derby
Watch his previous races, and listen to some professional handicappers, and one theme emerges - this horse will simply not give up. No matter the track surface or distance, on the lead or trying to stay in contention, he battles every step of the way, and that's a valuable trait for a horse in the large Derby field trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time. He has very good early speed, and will likely be one of the leaders as the field goes down the backstretch at Churchill.
Why Flameaway Can't Win the Kentucky Derby
He lacks the overall speed of some of the other top contenders, and grinds his way down the stretch rather than speeding up. He's going to have to contend with several others that also want the early lead, so he's going to have to run faster earlier than he has before and might have little left in the tank when they hit the top of the stretch. Based on his pedigree, there's a question if whether he can carry what speed he does have for the 1 1/4 miles of the Derby.
Flameaway Betting Odds
As mentioned off the top, he's a longshot contender, and that's reflected in his Bovada racebook future odds of 33-1. Still, he probably won't be quite that high on race day (especially in Canadian wagering pools), so if you're a fan of the underdog, he might be worth a future bet right now.
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