Owned by Paul Reddam, trained by Doug O’ Neill , and ridden by Cory Nakatani, Great Hunter is the next in our countdown to the Kentucky Derby. Considered a tough and consistent colt, he ran seven times in his 2-year old campaign with five of them stakes races. He had two first place finishes, four second places and ending up at the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile in third.
His sire, Aptitude, was runner up in the 2000 Derby and Belmont Stakes and is also known for being the sire of 2006 Derby third place finisher Steppenwolfer. His dame was Zenith, who is considered a solid mare who won over $205,000 in her 24 starts.
While O’Neill has a number of horses in contention for the Derby; most notably Notional, Liquidity, and Cobalt Blue who are all listed in Derby Watch top 25, it is Great Hunter that is his top horse who, as of March 2nd was listed with 15-1 odds.
But this was before he won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) on Saturday March 3rd. If you watch the race you can see that he came from eighth off the first turn, to exploding on the final turn and into the stretch. His jockey, Nakatani said that “I let him kick clear, and he galloped out strong. He was pretty handy the whole race.”
What is the key to Great Hunter? He seems to be able to run well in on any track. He has been literally all over the U.S. He showed an impressive win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Even though he appears to come up a bit one paced in single turn lengths, when running a two turn race, that seems to become a strength. I think that this horse will remain a top five contender throughout the Road To The Roses.