Before the Arkansas Derby, I only knew Creator as a horse that closed for third behind Cupid and Whitmore in the Rebel. I liked his form in that race but did not give him enough credit for it going into the Arkansas Derby. I had not even looked at his pedigree. All I knew was that he was a son of Tapit.
All right, so what was so special about him to be able to defeat a seemingly good horse in Cupid? I had no answer, until he spurted through the herd and won his first Grade I race. Cupid folded like a piece of paper, which I had guessed, and, now, my sights are set on Creator.
Let’s look at what makes him Derby material.
Creator took six tries to finally break his maiden, eventually winning for the first time going 1-1/16 miles on the dirt at Oaklawn Park. Then, trainer Steve Asmussen threw his dappled grey colt into the Rebel Stakes to take on a number of good horses, including Suddenbreakingnews, Cherry Wine and Whitmore. Creator did not get as fast of a pace in the Rebel as he subsequently got in the Arkansas Derby. However, he was still able to close well — better than other closers in the race.
The pace also did not collapse in the Rebel as it did in the Arkansas Derby. Creator capitalized on the pace and took rider Ricardo Santana Jr. and trainer Steve Asmussen to the winner’s circle for owners WinStar Farm.
Pedigree matters, we all know that. So what makes Creator such a good horse for the Kentucky Derby? Not only does the attractiveness of sire Tapit come into play, but the ability of Tapit to throw route runners so long as the mare has a good amount of stamina in her pedigree is also on display.
Tapit was a good racehorse, but seemingly has matured into a better stallion. Tapit raced only six time between ages two and three. In 2003, his two-year-old season, Tapit won a maiden race and the Grade III Laurel Futurity. After that, Tapit did not race again until March of his 3-year-old year, finishing sixth in the Florida Derby behind a horse named Friends Lake.
Tapit then shipped to New York and trained for the Grade I Wood Memorial, which he impressively won, holding off Master David at the finish. The Kentucky Derby came and went, with Smarty Jones winning two-thirds of the Triple Crown while Tapit finished ninth in the Derby. Tapit suffered a lung infection afterward, which also kept him out of the Belmont Stakes. Tapit returned in the Pennsylvania Derby, but again finished a disappointing ninth. He was retired to stud at Gainesway in Lexington, Kentucky.
Creator was produced from a mare that only has two other offspring of racing age, but neither has hit the track running, as Creator is her only starter and winner. Morena (PER) did not win a race in the United States, but was highly competitive in her native Peru, competing in only graded stakes events and finishing in the money in five of her eight races. She also won on dirt and at the Derby distance (2000 meters).
Morena (PER) also has siblings that won going longer distances. Her sire, Privately Held, was not a stakes horse, but did win races on both turf and dirt while winning races ranging from seven to eight and one half furlongs. He currently stands stud in Peru.
Creator has already shipped into Churchill Downs and looks to get back to jogging soon. Steve Asmussen does not have a Kentucky Derby winner to his credit and, yet, he remains one of the best North American trainers. He has, however, finished second with Nehro in 2011 and third with Curlin in 2007. He also campaigned Curlin to a win the Preakness and a second in the Belmont Stakes. If Asmussen can keep Creator both fit and healthy, there is no reason this colt will not relish the Kentucky Derby distance or the hectic schedule.