Meet Cupid, the Kentucky Derby Contender

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Cupid isn’t your typical racehorse. Most Thoroughbred races are a sea of bays and chestnuts, but Cupid stands out as a strikingly flashy gray; in fact, he’s more of a pale gray than you would expect for a three-year-old colt. On the racetrack, he’s even more eye-catching—he wears a hood with blinkers to keep him focused, and the black hood stands out like a superhero mask against his gray face. Add in the blue shadow roll that he wears on his nose, and there’s no way you can miss Cupid, even when viewing him from a distance.

Read about Other 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders You Should Know >>

But perhaps the most appealing aspect of Cupid is his competitive spirit and apparent love for racing. On the track, he exudes confidence and seems to know he’s the best horse in the race. On February 7th at Santa Anita racetrack, Cupid ran in a race for horses that have never won a race before, and after getting off to a slow start, he eagerly moved up near the leaders before settling down in fourth position. On the final turn, Cupid passed a tiring runner to gain third place, but saved his best run for the homestretch. When his jockey finally asked him to run, Cupid accelerated like he’d been shot out of a cannon, leaving his rivals far behind in an impressive performance.

A little more than a month later in the Rebel Stakes on March 19th at Oaklawn Park, Cupid ran even better. After drawing an inside post position with eleven horses outside of him, Cupid was forced to change tactics and take the early lead, a disadvantage since he had to set a very fast pace to keep the lead. But when a late-running horse named Whitmore came charging from the back of the field and took the lead in the homestretch, Cupid’s competitive spirit took over, and he tenaciously turned back the challenge and pulled away again to be the clear-cut winner.

It is relatively rare to see a racehorse battle back so impressively after losing the lead, which says something about Cupid’s personality. His victory in the Rebel Stakes has stamped him as a major contender to win the Kentucky Derby, but before heading to Louisville for the “Run for the Roses,” Cupid will race in the Arkansas Derby on April 16th at Oaklawn Park. Last year, the Arkansas Derby was won by Cupid’s stablemate American Pharoah, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, sweeping the elusive Triple Crown. Only time will tell if Cupid can duplicate American Pharoah’s success, but this eye-catching young colt is off to a good start!

In the Arkansas Derby, Cupid will run against eleven talented Kentucky Derby contenders, including Whitmore—who is ready for a rematch—and the exciting American Pioneer, who won a race at Oaklawn Park on March 19th in easy fashion.

Another major race being run this week at Oaklawn is the Apple Blossom Handicap for fillies and mares, a race that has been won in recent years by Horse of the Year winners Zenyatta and Havre de Grace. The 2014 champion three-year-old filly Untapable, who won the Apple Blossom in 2015, will be back to defend her title this year. Links to replays of the Arkansas Derby and Apple Blossom will be posted on the Oaklawn Park website after the races—be sure to check them out to see who won!

Farther north in Kentucky at Keeneland, racing fans will be in for a treat when the breathtakingly fast Tepin runs in the Jenny Wiley Stakes. After showing promise early in her career, Tepin improved significantly as a four-year-old in 2015 and dominated some of the most prestigious races in the United States. Her most impressive performance came in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, where she defeated a top-notch group of horses—including some shipping in from England, France, and Canada—with ease. Tepin does her best running on grass as opposed to dirt (she won a national championship for her races on grass), but unlike some horses, she doesn’t mind when tracks gets wet from rain—in fact, the wetter the track, the better she runs!

If you want to watch Tepin race this Saturday, you can watch a livestream of the race on the Keeneland website. The race is scheduled to be run at approximately 5:32 p.m. Eastern—be sure to tune in a little early so you don’t miss it!

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and racing enthusiast who considers Zenyatta to be his all-time favorite racehorse. He is the founder of the horse racing website TheTurfBoard.com and writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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