Nehro's maiden win, his third career start, a two turn mile at Oaklawn Park.
Nehro (Post Position 10, Michael Baze) breaks slightly to his left and makes some inconsequential contact with a competitor. Baze elects to stay far off of the rail and travels around the clubhouse turn about five wide. He gets a superb setup up front (23, 47.18) and in a flash Nehro rifles past eight competitors, widest of them all to take the lead coming into the stretch. He strides out well to a powerful four and a half length win.
There's no doubt, visually, that Nehro's move on the far turn was quite dashing but it turns out to be fool's gold. Nehro was rallying into very slow fractions (furlongs four through six were run in a lethargic 26.11) and he didn't finish up very fast either (furlongs six through eight went in 25.91). So while many of us thought we may have been looking at the next coming of Afleet Alex, Nehro's win had much more to do with this group of maiden's inability to get the mile distance.
Couldn't find a chart for the race but note that Nehro earned a 79 beyer speed figure here.
The Grade Two Louisiana Derby, a mile and an eight around two turns at the Fair Grounds.
Nehro (Post Position 3, Michael Baze) breaks a bit off balance and makes minor contact with Mavericking to his right. He draws a nice spot, two wide, in third and fourth around the first turn. As they round the final turn, Nehro finds himself inconvenienced for a moment when becomes trapped along the rail. He finds running room after losing momentum and closes well down the stretch, still down on the inside, coming up a half length short to a tiring Pants On Fire.
Much to decipher here - first, there is Nehro's trip. Having expected to see him lope along in the back off the pack off of his maiden win, his versatility to sit closer to the lead is encouraging (but maybe the reason why Baze was taken off him after this race). And had he not found trouble at the top of the stretch he would have likely won the race.
The pace - it certainly held up, with the first three finishers having run 2-3-4 just about the entire race, but I'm not totally inclined to point to the, somewhat, slow pace as much of an aide. The best closers here were Elite Alex, Machen, and Wilkinson - not exactly any world beaters. The race was slow enough (94 beyer) that this group of closers had no excuse not to make any noise, so perhaps the pace didn't have as much to do with the result as we might have originally thought.
The Grade One Arkansas Derby, a mile and an eight around two turns at Oaklawn Park.
Nehro (Post Position 1, Corey Nakatani) has no trouble at the gate and quickly drops out of it along the rail. He gets a dream setup with J P's Gusto craving out swift fractions (22.54, 46.53) and begins to advance, swinging out wide, on the second turn as the pace begins to collapse. Nehro puts up a notable run down the stretch to just miss, the also closing, Archarcharch at the wire.
A terrific race from Nehro, although he got a dream setup pace wise (fast early fractions, slow late) - to have made up almost three lengths on Archarcharch, who also reaped the benefits of the fast pace, in the stretch to only lose by a neck was fantastic. Note Nehro also galloped out far very well.
Final thoughts - Nehro, particularly in his final prep, has shown a honed, much desired (particularly in the Derby), quality to sit back and pick up the pieces late. Nehro will be closing late, how potent his kick will be depends on the amount of early speed in the race, and if you're looking for a closer he has displayed he's, quite possibly, the class of that group. His run in the Louisiana Derby also proved his versatility, which will be called on a week from today. His pedigree confirms, as well as his gallop out in the Arkansas Derby, that the final furlong should be no problem. I'm lastly encouraged with his professionalism, despite only five lifetime starts.
If you subscribe to the thinking that they'll be a hot pace come Derby day, this is probably your guy. Here's to hoping he floats up to 10-1.