As everyone’s eyes are turned towards Maryland for the upcoming Preakness Stakes, I looked back at Churchill Downs this past Saturday for the unassuming ninth race on the card, an Allowance Optional Claimer run at one and a sixteenth. This particular race featured a colt who I was hoping to see in the Kentucky Derby and I spotlighted him in my ‘Bunny’s Derby Darlings’ series. Disappointed that he was unable to qualify in time, I am still looking forward to following this horse that I chose back from the 2010 April Two Year Olds In Training Sale.
Wilburn, a son of Bernardini, was racing in his third career start against a twelve horse field at Churchill Downs, coming off an out of the money finish in an Allowance Optional Claimer at Santa Anita. The loss seemed more of a strategy error more than horse error. Thus, remains my confidence in this horse.
With a sloppy Churchill Downs surface underfoot, this Steve Assmussen trainee loaded into the eighth gate with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard. Wilburn stood relaxed, but when he broke, jumped onto the inside horse. After recovering quickly, Wilburn settled behind the pacemaker, establishing fractions of :23.78, and :47.64. On the muddy dirt surface, Wilburn challenged the pace into the homestretch, and as he took the lead, he began to pull away. Wilburn would hold off a strong finishing kick from Infrattini to win by ¾ of a length.
Wilburn displayed an efficient stride, and appears to be moving in the right direction. Now proven on both fast and sloppy tracks, this bay colt is becoming an all-around solid racehorse. Never having raced as a two year old, he has a racing record of 3-2-0-0.
This colt has always impressed me with his overall pedigree and soundness of conformation. I will happily continue to keep my eyes on Wilburn.
For a more in-depth look at Wilburn, please refer to my article dated March 6, 2011
Bunny's Derby Darlings: Wilburn