That should provide some excitement, provided any is needed after today's United Arab Emirates Derby (USAE-II) and Florida Derby (USA-I). In the first, Mendelssohn---last seen winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (USA-IT)---absolutely humiliated the other Dubai-based 3-year-olds with any pretensions to some ability while making it clear that he can handle dirt just fine, thank you. In the second, Audible proved his impressive victory in the Holy Bull Stakes USA-II) was no fluke by dominating the Florida Derby, coming home a three-length winner.
Oddly enough, the two colts are uncle and nephew in human terms, as Mendelssohn is a Scat Daddy half brother to four-time champion Beholder and to 2007 CashCall Futurity (USA-IA) winner Into Mischief, sire of Audible. Both have the pedigrees to indicate that 10 furlongs should be within their scope, and Mendelssohn appeared to have any amount left in the tank at the end of his romp over 9.5 furlongs. Like the other Derby contenders, Audible has yet to be tested over more than the 9 furlongs he covered with aplomb at Gulfstream, but his professionalism and amenability to rating will help him out. Further, while his first two dams are by speedy sires, the family in back of them has plenty of stout Claiborne Farm breeding behind it.
By the time the dust has settled enough to reveal the likely field for the 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, there will probably be at least a couple more impressive performances to savor and consider. Nonetheless, the bar for being considered a top contender for this year's Derby has just been raised quite a bit from where it was on Friday.