2017 Kentucky Derby Analysis: Gormley gives trainer John Shirreffs first legitimate Triple Crown threat in years. Does he have a realistic shot of winning the Kentucky Derby?

In 2011, John Shirreffs had a decent 3-year-old threat out in the California. The horse, MR. COMMON’S would go on to run in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Maryland. He ended up running 8th in the race won by the great front-runner SHACKLEFORD. To be fair to Shirreffs, GORMLEY has been of a completely different quality than that of Mr. Common’s. He battled head and head with AMERICAN ACT in the Sham Stakes back in January. Coming out of that race, many thought that the pair of horses were two of the major Kentucky Derby threats on the West Coast. Since that point, Gormley took a major step back in the San Felipe Stakes that almost destroyed his chances of getting a chance to run for the roses in Kentucky. Shirreffs did amazing training job to get his horse in tip-top shape heading into the Santa Anita Derby a couple weeks ago and it paid off big time, Gormley proved to be best in a wide-open race with 170 Derby points at stake. By winning the race, Gormley has qualified for the Kentucky Derby and has been working towards winning the biggest race of the year. John Shirreffs is seeking his second Derby winner and first since the trainer shocked the world with 50-1 shot GIACOMO in 2005. Here is a brief pedigree profile of how Gormley rates at the 10 furlong distance he’ll face on May 6th…

Male line:

His sire Malibu Moon had an extremely short racing career due to a fracture suffered in a race as a 2-year-old. Despite the short racing career, he excelled at stud defying starting at just a $3,000 stud fee standing at Country Life Farm in Maryland. After he produced 2004 Eclipse Champion DECLAN’S MOON, winner of the Del Mar and Hollywood Futurity’s.

From that point, he moved to Kentucky where he gained more promise and his stud fee increased to first $10,000 and eventually this year he resides at Spendthrift Farm where he stands for $75,000. He was an amazing success story for a practically unraced colt.

He has sired many classic distance and graded stakes winners including: ORB, CARINA MIA, STANFORD, DEVIL MAY CARE, LIFE AT TEN, FARRELL and more. He is also the damsire of STELLAR WIND and GIRVIN.

So in other words, he is a great sire of Derby distance winners and that’s all we really need to know about his male line. He produces winners and Gormley is one of them.


RACE TO URGA finished her racing career for Christophe Clement and won four consecutive races in 2012 before being retired as a broodmare. She was predominantly a turf miler and you can definitely see that pedigree in Gormley.

Four of Gormley’s first five dam’s are ‘black type’ earners.

Race to Urga’s dam Miss Mambo raced at England and was also a turf miler. She did ship to the U.S. for a brief stint and won a stakes here as well.


Gormley has a lot of early speed and is a very muscular, physical specimen that will do very well racing in tight quarters and should be able to put good pressure on his rivals.



It’s hard to evaluate this until I have the whole field on paper in front of me, but from what I have seen from Gormley. You deal with the good and the bad. At his very best, I think Gormley is good enough to hit the board in the Kentucky Derby. If he runs an average race, he has no chance to compete for the win. It’s a cliche statement but most horses will run average races on May 6th. We need to find the five or so horses that run their peak performance and also avoid trouble at the major points of the race.

John Shirreffs has succeeded at pretty much every major level that horse racing can offer. Zenyatta was his ultimate story and he will forever go down in history as an elite trainer because of the fascinating job he did with that race mare. She won 19 of 20 starts and may have ran the best race of her career in the race she lost.

Shirreffs won the Derby with Giacomo in 2005 in one of the greatest Derby upsets. With the situation with Gormley it will be different. He is not going to be near the odds that Giacomo went off at unless something unforseen happens. I would expect somewhere around 12-1 to 18-1 if you plan on playing him. I don’t think he is one of the worst bets in the race at this point, but I don’t think he is a great bet either.

His running style can do well in the Derby if he can show burst off the far turn to open up a three, four, or five length lead. The problem is that I just can’t see him doing that. I have not seen the burst or that ability to open up on a field without asking.

I do think Gormley could lead the Derby off the turn or briefly in the stretch, but I think that he will be wore down by somebody and finish between 3rd and 8th.

Check back 10 days prior to the Derby for more information.

E-mail me at dadams0211@gmail.com if you are interested in regular handicapping selections and free picks.

The meet at Canterbury Park starts in roughly two weeks and regular picks will be available for a small monetary fee. If not interested, come back for regular information on horse racing and I would love to hear from you.




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