Saturday's Kentucky Derby appears to have its deepest field since 1973. That's the year Secretariat won the 1�-mile classic in 1:59 2/5, still the record time, and led a parade of quality horses over the line—from the second-place Sham to the future sprint champion Shecky Greene to the mighty Forego, who finished fourth but went on to a Hall of Fame career.
No one is saying that Point Given is another Secretariat, but the out-sized chestnut has been evoking shouts and murmurs for months, especially since he pan-fried five other 3-year-olds in his last start, the April 7 Santa Anita Derby. After tracking the front-running speedster, Crafty C.T., along the backstretch, with jockey Gary Stevens standing nearly straight in the saddle, Point Given swooped past the leader and sailed off to win by 5� lengths. It was the most dominating performance in a Derby prep in years. Indeed, after Millennium Wind won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland a week later—another eye-popping performance in this exceptional year—his trainer, David Hofmans, conceded that Point Given remained the horse to beat. "We have to come up with a strategy to beat that monster," Hofmans said.
That won't be easy, but if Point Given does falter, at least four of the 17 other horses expected to start will have solid chances: not only Millennium Wind but also Congaree, the dazzling, if lightly raced, winner of the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and a stablemate of Point Given's; Balto Star, who has won his last three starts by a combined 29� lengths and led all of them from wire to wire; and Monarchos, the Florida Derby winner, who wasn't pressured in finishing second in the Wood. Even long shots Thunder Blitz and AP. Valentine have a coterie of followers. This year's blue plate special? Express Tour, winner of the UAE Derby in Dubai.
Still, Point Given has it all: a 1�-mile pedigree; a tested jockey ( Stevens rode Point Given's sire, Thunder Gulch, to victory in the 1995 Kentucky Derby); sufficient tactical speed to stay close and out of trouble; a two-time Derby-winning trainer, Bob Baffert; and enough seasoning for any two horses. Point Given is the horse right here.