(Fair Grounds’ starting gate / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Fair Grounds Media Team:
Chris Davis may not know how far Blameworthy or Quick Tempo will eventually run, but regardless, he knows they’ll get there quickly. Both 3-year-olds have impressed at the meet, while hinting at big things to come for a trainer who is looking forward to the ride.
Two Hearts Farm and Don Janes’ Blameworthy might not be as accomplished as his stakes-winning stablemate Quick Tempo but he’s run big in his three career starts, which have all come sprinting at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The son of Blame was a clear second behind a pair of highly regarded rivals in Swiftsure and Prate in his first two starts before breaking through with a comfortable 1 ¼-length win January 16. Blameworthy has yet to run past 6 furlongs and he has been on or just off the lead in his three starts. By a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner in Blame, he has the pedigree to stretch out, which is one of the many reasons Davis thinks two turns could be well within reach.
“His mom (Roman Chestnut) has thrown a few horses that have run long,” Davis said. “He’s quick but he relaxes. He breaks sharp and he’s always been naturally a forward horse. But in the mornings, if you don’t ask him, he’ll go :52. He’s not a rank or aggressive horse, he’s just quick. I think he’ll stretch out by the sheer size of him.”
With no sprint stakes for 3-year-olds on the local calendar, and the March 20 TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) as a meet-end bullseye for any trainer with a talented sophomore in the barn, Blameworthy will get a chance to progress down that road. Davis isn’t in a rush to tackle the best 3-year-olds on the grounds in the February 13 Risen Star (G2), which figures to come up as one of the stronger Kentucky Derby preps so far this winter, though there’s a good chance Blameworthy will be seen that afternoon.
“We’ll probably stretch him out next time,” Davis said. “Obviously I’m not going to jump straight into the Risen Star but I’ll probably try the allowance race (on the Risen Star card) and see what happens from there. He’s solid and he came out of the race really well.”
Blameworthy hints that there’s more in the tank as he hasn’t switched leads late in his races, though it clearly hasn’t hindered his overall performance. It’s also something he’s only shown in his races and not in his training, which has Davis thinking there’s potentially even more talent under the surface.
“The fact he doesn’t switch leads I think is a mental thing with him because does do it in the morning, Davis said. “But he goes :10 flat on that left lead, so it’s very possible he has another big step forward.”
Blameworthy will get the chance to usurp Dare to Dream Stable’s Quick Tempo for barn supremacy as Davis has opted to back off a colt who packed a lot into four months of a racing as a 2-year-old. The son of Tapizar ended a 3-for-5 juvenile campaign with a win in the local December 19 Sugar Bowl, and while he came out of the race in fine fettle, Davis decided to look down the road, as opposed to the immediate future.
“We’re just going to gear him up for the summer,” Davis said. “We talked, and he had a rough campaign as a 2-year-old, in terms of doing a lot of shipping with him. I’m not convinced at this stage that he really wants to go two turns so we’re going to give him 45 days off and gear him for the summer.”
Quick Tempo logged a lot of travel miles last year, going from Arlington Park to Woodbine to Parx Racing to Keeneland before settling in at Fair Grounds for the Sugar Bowl. He announced his presence on the national scene when second in the Nyquist on Breeders’ Cup Weekend in November at Keeneland and used that as a springboard to a stakes win in the Sugar Bowl, when he blitzed six rivals by 1 ¾ lengths after running 21.47 and 44.57 early.
Brilliantly fast away from the gate, Quick Tempo has yet to be behind a horse at the pace call in any of his five races, which suggests one-turn will be his ultimate calling. Davis isn’t willing to concede he’s strictly a sprinter, but with several lucrative one-turn races on the schedule for 3-year-olds later this summer, the dye has been cast for the immediate future. That could include a return race under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, although likely in a spot other than the Kentucky Derby.
“Maybe (we’ll point to) the Pat Day Mile (G2) if he’s ready,” Davis said. “Then maybe the Woody Stephens (G1) at Belmont, go to Saratoga and some of those long sprints they have like the Allen Jerkens (G1) there. As long as he continues going forward, and I don’t see any reason why he won’t.”
Quick Tempo helped spearhead a career-best year for the 32-year-old Davis in 2020. He set personal highs with 181 starters and 32 wins (18%), while earning $801,393, which was just shy of his best mark of $806,373 set the year before. With Blameworthy now added to the mix, Davis’ career figures to remain on an upward trajectory, regardless of how far his talented young colt wants to run.
“If he just wants to just be a good sprinter, then heck, I’ve got two good sprinters in the barn,” Davis said.
That’s not a bad position to be in.