Concert Tour, one of the Kentucky Derby futures darlings throughout the winter and early spring, will bypass the Derby and run in the Preakness Stakes.
The news came via a Bob Baffert text to Churchill Downs, which announced the move in a Saturday morning press release. The Hall of Fame trainer conditions the progeny of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
“Concert out. Wait for Preakness,” read Baffert’s text to Churchill Downs’ public relations department.
Just a day earlier, Baffert told Santa Anita Park’s Ed Golden that he was undecided on running the colt at Churchill Downs. This, despite the fact Concert Tour was already in Kentucky.
Departure not as surprising as you might think
“I’ll be talking to Gary, but we wanted to give the horse a week and see what’s happening,” Baffert told Golden.
Concert Tour exits with 70 points, which put him ninth on the Derby points ladder. But after his surprising third in last week’s Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, his departure from the Derby gate wasn’t as shocking as it might seem on first glance.
As the 1/5 favorite, Concert Tour found himself in a speed duel with Caddo River and came up flat at the end. Unheralded 12/1 shot Super Stock seized that opportunity to pass them both in deep stretch, snatching the Arkansas Derby.
Concert Tour was the future book’s nemesis
With that, Baffert and owners Gary and Mary West began hedging their Derby options on a horse that, before the Arkansas Derby, was the second favorite behind Essential Quality. After Concert Tour won the Grade 2 San Vicente and the Rebel Stakes, he was as low as 4/1 on Las Vegas futures boards.
But Concert Tour jumped to 12/1 after his also-ran, show finish at Oaklawn Park.
Perhaps the more shocking byproduct of Concert Tour’s Derby defection is that Baffert will only have one bullet in his gun when he shoots for his seventh Derby victory. You know that bullet as Medina Spirit who comes into Churchill Downs with three seconds and a victory in four 2021 races. Medina Spirit finished second in the Grade 3 Sham, the Grade 2 San Felipe, and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.
Baffert now all-in with Medina Spirit
In the first two, he trailed Baffert’s No. 1 Derby prospect, Life Is Good. After that colt departed the Derby trail with an ankle chip after a March workout, Medina Spirit chased Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World across the finish line. His lone victory this year came in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita.
At one time, Baffert had four colts making serious Derby trail dust: Life Is Good, Concert Tour, Medina Spirit, and the ubiquitous Spielberg. Of the four, only Medina Spirit remains. Nothing clearly illustrates the perilous nature of nurturing 3-year-old colts through a demanding winter and spring of prep races more than this turn of events.
Concert Tour takes O Besos off the bubble
The preeminent sophomore trainer of his era — perhaps of all time – is coming into a Kentucky Derby with just one colt. It’s almost surreal.
Meanwhile, this opens up a Derby post for O Besos, the next colt up. His trainer, Greg Foley, already said O Besos and his 25 points would run in the Derby if they got in.
O Besos’ points came from two Fair Grounds races: a third at the Louisiana Derby and a fourth at the Risen Star.