Triple Crown Contender Profile – Cupid

In classical mythology Cupid is the god of desire and the son of the war god Mars and the love goddess Venus. In the modern thoroughbred world Cupid is the Rebel Stakes (G2) winner and the son of all-world sire Tapit and the exceptional broodmare Pretty 'n Smart. The contemporary legend also stars Bob Baffert, who is virtually unconquerable when he flies into Oaklawn Park.

Expectations for the equine Cupid were high before he was even born on May 19, 2013. His sire, Tapit, had already risen to six-figure status when Cupid was conceived in 2012 and he's now a record-setting two-time champion sire (and running away with another title so far in 2016). His dam had already produced a pair of graded stakes winners when she visited Tapit's court. Cupid was Hip #160 at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling sale and the Coolmore partnership of Derick Smith, Michael Tabor and John Magnier won the bidding war that ended with their $900,000 salvo. By that time there was yet another stakes winner on Cupid's catalog page - Indianapolis, his half-brother by Medaglia d'Oro, who had scored in the San Pedro Stakes earlier that year at Santa Anita.

The Coolmore boys haven't placed many horses with trainer Bob Baffert over the years. So it's safe to assume they were immediately thinking 'Classics' by sending the gray colt to the white-haired trainer out west. It's also safe to say the ownership group has gotten exactly what they bargained for - a patiently handled springtime graded winner who seems to be peaking at precisely the right time (and who is already well on his way to being a top stallion prospect).

Cupid failed the find the winner's circle at short odds in his first two starts in late 2015 and early 2016, both sprints. But when sent two-turns for the first time on February 7 Cupid dominated an 8.5F Maiden Special at Santa Anita by 5 1/4 lengths. He was reportedly headed to the Sunland Derby before that race was canceled but Plan B worked out rather well with the win in Arkansas.

Talent is not the question with Cupid. What he has to prove now is that he can carry his speed a Classic distance. Pedigree-wise there are some legitimate concerns about this. His dam was a sprinter as were all three of his stakes-winning siblings. His damsire, Beau Genius, was a listed stakes winner at 10F but made his reputation as a tough-as-nails runner who racked up over a million dollars primarily in middle distance blacktype events. Of course, Tapit can sire any kind of runner and he celebrated his first Classic winner just under two years ago when Tonalist scored in the Belmont Stakes. Cupid will also be six days shy of his actual third birthday on the first Saturday in May.

Plan A for Cupid this time is the Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 9 back at Oaklawn Park, a stern 9-furlong test. A passing graded means he'll join another Tapit son, Mohaymen, in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.