New Madrid, MO is a tiny town (Pop 3,400) on the banks of the Mississippi River about halfway between Oaklawn Park & Churchill Downs. It lies at the spot where Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee all meet. One of its claims to fame is that it is the oldest city west of the Mississippi. Another claim is that it was the site of a over a thousand earthquakes in 1811-1812, some that may have reached a magnitude 8.0 or higher on the Richter scale. While not as big a shock as an earthquake, a win would by New Madrid in the Arkansas Derby would cause some shockwaves.
New Madrid [Rock Hard Ten - Back to Earth (Theatrical)] has just a maiden win to his name, and with only three lifetime starts, is a rather unlikely Derby contender. But this colt is improving and should relish the stretch-out to a mile and a eighth Saturday. His trainer Tim Ice was down this path before last year, with a unheralded son of Birdstone (A first-crop sire last year just as Rock Hard Ten is this year) that only had a maiden win to his name, Summer Bird. With that experience behind Ice, New Madrid should benefit from what he learned last year.
While Summer Bird was a deep closer, New Madrid is a presser, sitting just off the pace. He should have a great trip behind Super Saver, Line of David and perhaps Uh Oh Bango. He will need a great trip, with the cutoff for graded stakes earnings standing right now at $215,000, before this weekend's preps. A win will be the only way to assure a starting spot in the gate for the 1st Saturday in May. He will have to hold off top contenders Noble's Promise and Dublin to secure the victory.
But the real reason this blog brings attention to this 20-1 longshot is who beat him in his start two back, where he finished second. That horse would be Endorsement, who this blog is very high on as a Derby contender. A strong effort would do nothing but enhance the resume of him. New Madrid's maiden breaker has already had at least one next-out winner, the Bob Baffert trained Broken Tango.
Is New Madrid biting of too much, too soon? Maybe, but this blog is willing to give him a fighting chance to rise from the ranks of "Derby hopefuls" to "Derby contenders".