Kendrick Carmouche in First Derby
April 5th, 2021
by Dick Jerardi
When 2021 began, there were serious hopes that a Parx-based horse would make the Kentucky Derby.
Well, there won’t be a horse, but there will be a jockey (albeit a graduate), one of the very best in the nearly 50-year history of the track.
Kendrick Carmouche rode 72-1 shot Bourbonic in the Wood Memorial for Calumet Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher. The horse was so far behind during much of the race that it was hard to see him watching the video.
But there the colt was, passing horses one by one, until finally only stablemate Dynamic One was in front of him. In the final strides, Bourbonic got by Dynamic One, winning by a head.
And Carmouche, a member of the Parx Hall of Fame, had his first Derby mount.
“I’m thrilled for Calumet Farm. I won my first Grade 1 with True Timber in the Cigar Mile for them and now I won the Wood for them,” Carmouche said. “These past six months of my career have just been what you dream of.’’
There were three Parx-based horses intended for the Wood. Jerome Stakes winner Capo Kane was not entered after an ankle issue that will keep him sidelined for a few months. Remsen Stakes winner Brooklyn Strong, who missed serious training time this winter due first to an illness and then to weather-related track closures, was admittedly rushed by trainer Danny Velazuez to make the race. Market Maven, who had won two straight at Parx for trainer Penny Pearce, was also entered in the Wood.
Market Maven, under Parx jockey Dexter Haddock, set the pace at 70-1 before fading in the stretch to finish eighth. Brooklyn Strong, sent off at 7-1, was making his first start in four months. The gelding was kind of stuck inside most of the way, never really comfortable. Still, Brooklyn Strong ran respectably, considering the circumstances with just 5 weeks of serious training, finishing fifth, beaten by 5 lengths. Could be better days ahead.
Carmouche was originally supposed to ride Nicky the Vest in the Wood. When that colt was not entered due to an injury, Carmouche got the mount on Bourbonic, a colt Pletcher had not planned on running. But Brad Kelly, owner of Calumet Farm, wanted his colt in a Derby points race, just in case.
So that is how Bourbonic ended up in the Wood Memorial winner’s circle with more than enough points for a spot in the Derby starting gate.
“Todd asked me what I was going to do and I told him I wouldn’t move,” Carmouche said. “I was just going to sit, sit, sit, sit and hopefully get out the last quarter of a mile. I knew he would go on from there. My horse was in a good stride. Each pole I was picking them up one by one without even asking.”
Bourbonic did not run very fast, getting the mile and an eighth in 1:54.49 which computes to an 89 Beyer figure. So the colt will be a huge longshot in the Derby. But, as Carmouche knows better than anybody, you can’t win it if you are not in it.
You can’t make it up. Now, Parx’s favorite son will be riding in his first Kentucky Derby on May 1.
MISCHEVIOUS ALEX WINS GRADE I CARTER
Mischievous Alex, owned by Parx regulars Chuck Zacney and Glenn Bennett, continued his perfect 4-year-old season with a blowout win in the Carter Handicap while getting a career-best 109 Beyer figure.
The colt, a son of Into Mischief, the hottest sire around, broke his maiden at Parx on June 25, 2019. He won the Swale and Gotham last year for trainer John Servis.
Now trained in Florida by Saffie Joseph, Mischievious Alex likely will be pointed for the Grade I Metropolitan Mile on Belmont Stakes Day. There is a reasonable chance he could meet up that day with Charlatan, most recently second in the $20 million Saudi Cup.