Eurton’s Dark Horse: Arkansas Derby Hopeful Shooters Shoot Getting ‘Better’ With Every Start

Trainer Peter Eurton plans to enter two horses in the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) May 2 at Oaklawn. One is a champion, Storm the Court. The other is Shooters Shoot, who will be making his stakes debut in the 1 1/8-mile major Kentucky Derby prep.

A son of Competitive Edge, Shooters Shoot has swished his last two starts for Eurton and an ownership group that includes NHL player Erik Johnson. Returning to two turns, Shooters Shoot broke his maiden by 3 ¼ lengths March 15 at Santa Anita and was a gritty winner of a first-level allowance race in his local debut April 11. Both races were a mile.

In his allowance victory, Shooters Shot, on the inside, dueled with Blackberry Wine from the start, lost the lead on the second turn, but battled back to prevail by a neck under Joe Talamo. The final time of 1:36.66 followed rapid splits of :23.10 for the opening quarter-mile, :45.87 for a half-mile, 1:09.94 for 6 furlongs and 1:23.10 for 7 furlongs.

“Blackberry’s just a tough guy,” Eurton said Tuesday afternoon. “He’s a fighter. He kept the pressure on us all the way. So proud of Shooter. He just fought back and wasn’t about to give up, especially with those early fractions the way they were.”

Shooters Shoot needed five starts to break his maiden, but his past performance lines include a third-place finish behind Eight Rings sprinting in his Aug. 4 career debut at Del Mar and a second to another highly regarded Bob Baffert trainee, unbeaten Charlatan, in a maiden special weights sprint Feb. 16 at Santa Anita.

Eight Rings returned to win the $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes (G1) Sept. 27 at Del Mar and was among the favorites for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. Charlatan, in his career debut, beat Shooters Shoot 5 ¾ lengths and cleared his first allowance condition by 10 ¼ lengths in his two-turn debut March 14 at Santa Anita.

Charlatan (2 for 2) is also expected to be entered in the Arkansas Derby. Baffert is also pointing unbeaten Nadal (3 for 3) for the Arkansas Derby. Nadal won the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14, Oaklawn’s traditional final major Arkansas Derby prep.

“He’s just got to keep getting better, obviously,” Eurton said of Shooters Shoot. “Every race he’s run has been better than the last. Coming back long with him was such a nice pleasure, a pleasant thing to see after his dismal race at Del Mar going long. He just wasn’t as good as he is now. He’s healthy. He had a little bit of a nagging shin, as you know 2-year-olds will get, and he’s healthy. We’ll just have to see if he can continue to improve.”

Shooters Shoot has a 2-1-1 record from six lifetime starts and earnings of $94,880. He was purchased for $300,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.

Storm the Court, at odds of 45-1, secured an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 2-year-old male with a front-running victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita (Eight Rings was sixth).

Storm the Court, in his 3-year-old debut, finished fourth behind Nadal in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes (G2) Feb. 9 at Santa Anita and third behind another unbeaten Baffert trainee, Authentic, in the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2) March 7 at Santa Anita in his last start

The Arkansas Derby is scheduled to offer 170 points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby was moved from May 2 to Sept. 5 (COVID-19). Oaklawn responded by shifting the Arkansas Derby from April 11 to May 2.

Shooters Shoot is part of a small division of horses Eurton has this year at Oaklawn. Storm the Court is scheduled to be flown Tuesday to Arkansas. Post positions for the Arkansas Derby will be drawn Sunday.

The post Eurton’s Dark Horse: Arkansas Derby Hopeful Shooters Shoot Getting ‘Better’ With Every Start appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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