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2012 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Dullahan

Horse: Dullahan
Trainer: Dale Romans
Pedigree: By Even the Score out of a Smart Strike mare (Mining My Own); half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird
Career Record: 8-2-2-2
Career Earnings: $872,091
Notable Races: G1-Blue Grass Stakes (1st); G3-Palm Beach (2nd); G1-Breeders' Cup Juvenile (4th); G1-Breeders' Futurity (1st); G2-With Anticipation (3rd)

Can He Win The 2012 Kentucky Derby?:

Dullahan is one of those horses that will create a lot of disagreement among the horseplayers handicapping the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Many believe that Dullahan is simply a turf/synthetic horse that will be unable to replicate his form on the dirt at Churchill Downs. Others believe that Dullahan's stone-cold closing running style is an excellent fit for this year's Derby. As usual, the truth generally lies somewhere in the middle.

All of Dullahan's best races have occurred over the turf or the Polytrack surface at Keeneland, so it's clear he has an affinity for non-dirt surfaces. However, his effort in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile wasn't that bad. He never seriously threatened the top 3 finishers, but he appeared to handle the dirt surface after getting bumped while leaving the starting gate. In fact, if you go inside the Trakus statistics for the Juvenile, Dullahan ran the final 3/8ths of a mile faster than Hansen (31.99 vs. 32.16), and slightly slower than Union Rags (31.99 vs. 31.86). Normally, when a turf/synthetic horses doesn't like the dirt, they throw in the towel fairly early in the race and fail to make up significant ground in the final furlongs.

Dullahan is typically a deep closer, preferring to run six to ten lengths behind the leaders in the early stages. If the Derby pace is as fast as many are expecting, then Dullahan should be able to make up a good amount of ground in the final furlongs. The key for Dullahan, and for any horse coming from off the pace in the Derby, is to avoid falling too far behind in the early stages. If Dullahan is 15+ lengths back after a half-mile, it will be very hard to make up that much ground, while at the same time navigating all of the horses that are running in front of him.