Horseplayers looking for a sneak peek at some potential 2023 Kentucky Derby prospects and one Kentucky Oaks prospect need look no further than Santa Anita Park’s 11th race Saturday, where you’ll find Doug O’Neill charges Tahoma and Absolutely Zero.
It won’t take much effort to find the pair. They’re the two lowest-priced entries in the nine-horse, five-furlong Fasig-Tipton Futurity. Absolutely Zero is the 8/5 morning line favorite, while Tahoma is 5/2.
It should be noted Absolutely Zero is the one filly in this field. Owned by O’Neill’s top client, Paul Reddam, Absolutely Zero is the daughter of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, another Reddam-owned, O’Neill-trained product.
In her debut outing May 21, Absolutely Zero captured a 4 ½-furlong maiden race by nearly two lengths. That she left the gate as the 7/10 favorite illustrated the filly was no betting secret. Absolutely Zero’s 85 Equibase Speed Figure from that outing puts her clearly in the competitive mix here.
O’Neill, Reddam know what they have here
That kind of explains why O’Neill sends Absolutely Zero out against the boys in only her second outing. Leandro Mora, O’Neill’s longtime lieutenant, opted his own guess why.
“I don’t have the exact answer, but I know Paul thinks big and likes to go big,” Mora told Santa Anita’s Ed Golden. “If he thinks the filly is good enough to beat the colts, that’s why he put her in the race.”
Absolutely Zero’s time of 52.82 seconds was a full second-and-change faster than Tahoma’s 53.89 seconds for the same distance.
Tahoma the first Justify colt to race
Speaking of Tahoma, he’s no betting secret either. Not after he won his 4 ½-furlong debut by two lengths the day after Absolutely Zero won hers. Tahoma went off as the 4/5 favorite. He won his debut in similar fashion as Absolutely Zero. Both trailed in fourth after a quarter mile, then hit the afterburners and cruised home. Tahoma earned an 89 Equibase for his victory.
Tahoma too, comes from Kentucky Derby-winning stock. He’s the son of 2018 Derby winner Justify, who went on to win the Triple Crown. Tahoma was the first Justify colt to enter a starting gate.
“They’re both very mature mentally and physically, so it’s exciting,” O’Neill said from Monmouth Park, where he is with Hot Rod Charlie for the Salvator Mile.
Other colts to watch in the Fasig-Tipton Futurity are Midnight Lightning (5/1) and Pure Fire (10/1).