Immediately after his impressive win in the Blue Grass Stakes, the connections of Dance With Fate indicated that they were leaning against racing him in the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Peter Eurton immediately after the race was very unenthusiastic about the Derby bid indicating an unfamiliarity with racing on dirt and a quick turnaround time. That apparently has changed–on Friday Britney Eurton,the daughter of the horse’s trainer informed the TVG horse racing network that Dance Will Fate will race in the Kentucky Derby after all:
“Obviously there was a lot of discussion about the timing and surface he was running on. But I talked to my dad this morning. They have decided that because the horse is doing so well, and if he’s doing as well up until the race, they are going to run in the Derby.”
Dance With Fate has never run on dirt, spending the early part of his career on turf before winning the Blue Grass Stakes on Keeneland’s synthetic polytrack specialist. His trainer’s comments immediately after the Blue Grass Stakes indicated his reticence to try him on an unfamiliar surface:
“He doesn’t have the power to get through dirt. It will break away from him. I’ve seen him train over synthetics, and he gets over it so much easier.”
Maybe Eurton’s daughter is being candid suggesting that the change in plans was made ‘because the horse was running so well’ but more than likely someone did the math on how much more Dance With Fate would be worth in the breeding shed after his career is over with a Kentucky Derby on his resume. Even so, there’s no real harm in trying him on a dirt surface. He may not do particularly well but there’s not anything inherently dangerous or unsafe for the horse in making the switch. Then again, he could surprise everyone and turn in an impressive effort in his first outing on dirt. Jockey Corey Nakatani, who was aboard Dance With Fate in the Blue Grass Stakes, will return as his jockey.
One more ‘X factor’–if the weather is bad on Derby day and the track conditions or less than ideal it could benefit Dance With Fate. Many horse handicappers consider a horse’s experience on turf as somewhat predictive of his ability to run on an ‘off’ track.