Oh! Susanna Don't You Cry For Me, it's a post-Flag Day Saturday night card at Mr. Churchill's place featuring $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap.
The Steve Foster for older horses goes for 32nd consecutive year. Since its inception in 1982, it’s always been 1 1/8 miles on the Churchill dirt. Despite popular rumor, it has never been held at Camptown Races. It's also always been held during June of the Spring Meet with the exception of 1984, when it was held in August (during the second of Churchill's two years of summertime racing). Local favorites Mythical Ruler & Jimmy McKnight teamed up to win that one.
For the Beautiful Dreamer who created this race, congrats...it's evolved into a championship caliber event.
Last year, Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron The Greek nosed out eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan. Off the board was Fort Larned, who would upset Breeders’ Cup Classic five months later. Ron The Greek & Fort Larned are back again this year. Jeanie, With The Light Brown Hair did not show up in the entries though.
Blame used his Foster win in 2010 as springboard towards his win in Breeders' Cup Classic later that year. Curlin, the '08 winner was crowned Horse of the Year.Saint Liam '05, Awesome Again in '98 & Black Tie Affair '91 used their Foster wins to also win Breeders' Cup Classics later in those years. Awesome Again defeated Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm in both his Foster & Breeders' Cup Classic wins.
Mineshaft, '03 Horse of the Year, suffered the only defeat of his championship year in the Foster (like Wise Dan last year), being upset by Perfect Drift. Robby Albarado, three times the Foster hero, swung & missed w/Mineshaft that day. From '07-'09 though, Albarado was unbeatable in the Foster.
Recoup the Cash ('94-'95) & Vodika Collins ('82-'83) are the only repeat winners.
Flashing back again to a time when it was morning in America, as the first Stephen Foster Handicap field went to post that June day of 1982, Ronald Reagan had awoken the slumbering American economy & the Reagan Revolution was on.
An era of peace & prosperity would follow for more than 15 years. Not everything was wine & roses yet though, America was trudging through the 6th week of "Ebony & Ivory" being the #1 song. Mercy would come to the airwaves two weeks later. "Dallas" was in its heyday as America's most popular TV show. Ironically, "Dallas" returned to the airwaves a year ago w/new original episodes appearing on TNT. RIP J.R.
Just out in June of '82 were a couple of movies you might have heard of..."E.T." & "Poltergeist." It wasn't all milk & honey for Hollywood though..."Grease 2" was fresh in the theatres too.
The Lakers had just wrapped up the NBA title in six games over the '76'ers. Denny Crum's Cardinals had made theFinal Four, losing to Georgetown in New Orleans. Joe B. Hall's Wildcats had suffered a much crueler fate, losing to Middle Tennessee State (thus avoiding an NCAA showdown w/Louisville; the first dream game would take place the next season).
Joe Montana & the San Francisco 49'ers were Super Bowl champs. They'd rallied late to beat Cincinnati inSuper Bowl 16 in Detroit.
And, politically in that mid-June of 1982, somehow, 12 people masquerading as jurors found John Hinckley "Not Guilty" of shooting President Reagan. They must've missed the replay of the shooting shown a ga'zillion times on TV. The only insanity in that courtroom was in the jury box.
Hope you have a Great Flag Dayweek-long celebration!! Until then, My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night.
145th Running of the Belmont Stakes
Three-year-olds going 1 1/2 miles
$1,000,000 Grade 1
Morning breaks at Belmont Park w/more than 3 inches of rain greeting the day, although track should be drying throughout the Belmont Card.
1. Frac Daddy (30-1 w/Alan Garcia)…Kenny McPeek has won this dance before on horse just as hopeless as this one. Garcia was on board once prior, in maiden debut at Belmont last October (running 2ndat 12-1). Daddy was complete bust in Derby & only his moderate second in weak Arkansas Derby would constitute decent run in his three-year-old campaign. You deserve a lot more than 30-1 here.
2. Freedom Child (8-1 w/Luis Saez)…seriously, how tough was the second half of the early double last November 24 at Aqueduct? Orb won, Freedom Child was 2nd& Revolutionary was 3rd. Three Belmont starters, all 8-1 or less to win America’s last jewel of its Triple Crown. Lost all chance at a Derby run when gate crew messed him up in Wood Memorial. Came back five weeks later though & romped by 13 lengths in super sloppy Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont. Shares same dad as Derby winner Orb (Malibu Moon). Confirmed front runner, Saez has his work cut out getting him 1 ½ miles, but if track remains sloppy…
3. Overanalyze (12-1 w/John Velazquez)…outclassed in Derby following nice win over weak Arkansas Derby field at Oaklawn Park. First of five Todd Pletcher trainees ran lights out in only Belmont start, winning Grade 2 end of September last year at nearly 6-1. Certainly a better animal in New York than he’s been in Kentucky. Just sensing he’s cut below this cloth.
4. Giant Finish (30-1 w/Edgar Prado)…last minute Derby entrant wasn’t disgraced in Louisville, splitting the 19-horse field. New York-bred has never come close to beating salty bunch like he’ll see here & he figures to have company up front. Probably doesn’t disgrace himself again, that’ll be it though.
5. Orb (3-1 Joel Rosario)…not certain I can handle TV announcer Larry dropping another load in his drawers if Orb strikes the lead mid-stretch (as he did in Derby). Please save us the false dramatics. Any-who…Orb peaked Derby week & was much the best in Derby 139. Bloom came off his rose when taken out of his game in Preakness two weeks later. No reason to think he can’t rebound, but he’ll have to earn this one & not certain he’s going to like that last quarter mile as much as you might think.
6. Incognito (20-1 w/Irad Ortiz)…only start at Belmont was train wreck when uncomfortable in soupy Peter Pan Stakes. Spending all winter in New York for colt owned by sheiks doesn’t scream “potential.” Bit of a buzz horse, not seeing where it comes from though. Replacing Mike Luzzi w/hot local rider Ortiz will move him up though, alot & papa (A.P. Indy) won this race.
7. Oxbow (5-1 w/Gary Stevens)…the King is dead, long live the King (Wayne Lukas). Feel good story of the Sunshine Boys ruled the day in Baltimore after solid run in Derby. Zero chance he’ll be able to steal away on ultra slow pace in this one though. That song’s been played. Fine on breeding side, but has never paired up any wins. Has run really well in both jewels, suspect he might have a say at some point during stretch, but not near finish pole.
8. Midnight Taboo (30-1 w/Garret Gomez)…No Go Gomez accepts hopeless assignment on Pletcher trainee #2. Only a moderate maiden win at odds-on in three career starts. Bred to go a mile or less, but his owner is dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, so insert Belmont fever here. Candidate to see ‘em all that long, last quarter mile.
9. Revolutionary (9-2 w/Javier Castellano)…what can I say, my Derby pick’s 3rdplace finish five weeks ago won my Derby 139 trifecta. Unbridled joy remains. Rallied from 17thin Louisville w/typical Calvin Borel rail job. Never came close to threatening Orb though. Knock on him has always been is he good enough at to win at the very top? Bred short on top, but long on bottom. Borel dumped for New York rider Castellano on Pletcher entrant #3. Bet against Castellano away from Empire state, but he’s at home now. Just think he’ll come up w/minor prize again.
10. Will Take Charge (20-1 w/Jon Court)…can he carry all his excuses for lousy Derby & Preakness runs w/him & prevail? Lots of excuses. Two nice wins at Oaklawn this spring & Court gets back on board. All three of this colts wins have seen Court aboard, but rider has precious little experience on Big Sandy. Breeding doesn’t move him up & this guy looks a lot like Wayne Lukas ’13 version of last year’s Optimizer (ya’ can’t win ‘em if you’re not in ‘em, so…) Wouldn’t be a shocker & you’ll be paid well for your faith.
11. Vyjack (20-1 w/Julien Leparoux)..why would oft-tainted trainer Rudy Rodriguez bring Leparoux out from California to ride this fella? Came into play late on Derby day w/sloppy track expected to favor him. It didn’t, he ran awful 18th. Another who spent the winter in New York beating up lesser lights. Could see it happening, but can’t understand the rider angle & certainly wouldn’t want to see those odds dip anywhere below 20-1.
12. Palace Malice (15-1 w/Mike Smith)…blinkers on put him into jet stream Derby Day & he set race up for deep closers. Hood comes back off for Belmont. Has some game & some competitive sprit, like that. Pops (Curlin) just missed in Belmont & mom was turfer. Pletcher pony #4 looks pretty light on credential for this one.
13. Unlimited Budget (8-1 w/Rosie Napravnik)…giving Rosie shot to join Julie Krone as upset Belmont winner. Ran 3rdin Oaks, but that was w/Castellano aboard & he’s low-to-no percentage rider at Churchill Downs. Pletcher’s 5th& final entrant could be his second filly winner in the classic, joining ’07 Kentucky Oaks heroine Rags to Riches, who upset Curlin that Belmont. Style fits this field & she uncorked a great one w/Napravnik aboard this winter at Fair Grounds. Would like to get better than 8-1 on her, but she’s got real shot.
14. Golden Soul (10-1 w/Robby Albarado)…Bogart & Bergman had Paris, I’ll always have Golden Soul tripping my light fantastic in Derby exacta & trifecta. Thank YOU Dallas & Robby!! Did get flawless ride & pace set-up in Louisville & how often does that repeat? Outside post in short run to first turn won’t help, but will keep clear of traffic concerns. Has never failed to move forward in any stretch run of his six career starts, only once though did he pass ‘em all & that was December 30 in New Orleans. Robby’s won alot of big distance races over Belmont race track. Absent change of tactics, e.g. getting into his race much quicker, sad suspicion he’s up against it in this Belmont Stakes.
And the lights on Broadway will shine brightest for…
13. Unlimited Budget (8-1)…flawless until uninspired Kentucky Oaks 3rd. Laying that on Javier Castellano & he’s replaced today by Rosie Napravnik. Can this be first-ever filly to win Triple Crown race w/lady rider? Damn, that breeding on the bottom gives me pause, she might just open up enough to last late.
14. Golden Soul (10-1)…wanted to put him on top, wanted to toss ‘em. Loyalty will get ya’ killed in handicapping usually. Loyalty wins out here though. He’s as legit as any of ‘em in here & his recent form is as good as any other (save Orb). Robby’ll give ‘em smooth trip & he’s never failed to be moving up late.
6. Incognito (20-1)…sons of A.P. Indy must get hard looks in races like this. His resume is painfully thin & his last on sloppy track was awful. If you can forgive that last one, 20-1 w/one of New York’s rising star riders ain’t so crazy Doc.
5. Orb (3-1)…came into Derby great & ran great. Came into Preakness better than ever & tanked. Know one thing…Rosario will have him racing wide & on the outside as quickly as he can. He’ll get his run & he’s proven to be of highest quality. Thinkin’ he’s rounding out of his best form, but will give his all (much like the Preakness when he never quit when hopelessly beaten late).
It was June 19, 1867 when the first Belmont Stakes went postward at Jerome Park, built by Leonard Jerome w/financing from August Belmont. For his financial wizardry, Augie got the eventual third leg of the American Triple Crown named in his honor.
That first Belmont Stakes saw America in its post-Civil War reconstruction era that late spring on 1867. TheCincinnati Red Stockings (now Cincinnati Reds) were in their second season of professional baseball. By the way...the Reds are on the Radio(and heard EXCLUSIVELYon ESPN 680in Louisville).
Earlier in 1867, Nebraska was admitted as the 37th of the United States. The previous summer,President Andrew Johnson had officially ended the Civil War & re-admitted Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee & Virginia. In retrospect, maybe the south shouldn't have asked back & the Southeastern Conference could've today been it's own country.
Shortly after the first Belmont, Congress would grow weary of President Andrew Johnson's lenient treatment of southern states & impeach him (and there wasn’t even a blue dress). His Senate conviction would fail by a single vote of removing him from office. There's no record of whether the deciding vote turned on what the definition of the word "is" is (or was). And, unlike modern times, Johnson couldn’t even turn the IRS loose on his opponents. There was no IRS. Simpler times.
America plunked down 2 cents an acre & purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. Ridiculed at the time, looks like a pretty good land deal these days.
Jerome Park would host the Belmont Stakes through 1889. Nearby Morris Park hosted from 1890-1904. Belmont Park took the reigns in 1905 & has hosted every year except 1911-12 (when gambling was outlawed in New York) and 1963-67 when Belmont Park was being rebuilt & Aqueduct hosted.
The Belmont has been run at 1 1/2 miles since 1926. When Man o' War won in 1920, the race was 1 3/8 miles & run clockwise (English style) v. today's American standard counter-clockwise running.
Jim McLaughlin & Eddie Arcaro each rode six winners. No current jockey is close to this record. McLaughlin won the race six times in 7 years (1882-1888). James G. Rowe. Sr. trained eight Belmont winners between 1883-1913 AND previously had ridden two Belmont winners (1872-73).
Julie Krone, aboard Colonial Affair in 1993, remains the only female jockey to win the Belmont, or any Triple Crown race. Her Belmont was marred by the fatal breakdown of Derby runner-up & Preakness winnerPrairie Bayou.
Well…if you could combine the five horse Aristides Stakes w/the seven horse (for now) Opening Verse Stakes…12 horse field. Sadly, six furlongs on God’s own dirt (Aristides) & a buck 16 on His own grass (Opening Verse) don’t blend well.
Small fields a’plenty at Churchill all Saturday. Is what it is. Cryin’ won’t help us, prayin’ won’t do us no good. Big fields all day at Canterbury. Neat track, black dirt. Aristides ran in 15-horse field when he won inaugural Derby...for you math-challenged folks, that's 3x larger field than what honors him Saturday.
Couple notable Aristides winners of recent years include Fabulous Strike w/Ramon Dominguez in ’07,& the ill-fated Lost In The Fog w/Russell Baze in ’06. The blazing west coast sprinter would suffer fatal illness shortly thereafter. Orientate ran the fastest running of the Aristides when it was 6 ½ furlongs (from 1989-2003), winning the ’02 edition in 1.14.41. That’s cookin’.
Aristides Stakes (Grade 3)
$100,000 for 3-year-olds & up
1. Rothko (9-5 w/Ricky Santana Jr.)…his only win since November 2011 was in this race last year & that was nifty score. Really fell off form after though. Comeback race on Derby week Wednesday was flat 4th(of 6) in high-end allowance. Steve Asmussen trains ‘em as well as any & this race was targeted. No fan of 9-5 on horse that is win challenged.
2. Scatman (5-2 w/Sean Bridgmohan)…has never been competitive against older stakes company. Ran career best in allowance win in Louisville last November. Only beaten a length in that Derby week Wednesday prep & he was well clear of Rothko. Proved unsuccessful going long, maybe going short is the answer. Seems like Bill Mott is just searching for answers in a race that came up tragically light.
3. St. Maximus Gato (8-1 w/Marlon St. Julien)…Illinois-bred makes his first appearance under twin spires. Has uncorked some big speed figures at Mountaineer & Hoosier…last year. His two starts this year were unremarkable. Throw out his poor try on the snow tires in Lexington, but last at Indiana Downs when solid favorite didn’t speak volumes of confidence. Guessin’ he’s hunting piece of big pot in small field. Does bring his rider w/him, but St. Julien has never impressed in Louisville.
4. Good Lord (3-1 w/Fernando De La Cruz)…six-year-old turned into really solid sprinter after running 4th in this race last year. Won stakes at Charles Town, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, Mountaineer & Tampa following last year's Aristides. Respect the heck outta that! Numbers stack up as well as any in here. De La Cruz is on the pedestrian side, can get this job done though w/small field to navigate. Rootin’ for him.
5. Jasizzle (3-1 w/Robby Albarado)…almost took that Derby week Wednesday prep, coming up half-length short at 18-1. No such price today & Robby returns to saddle. Speed figures lend he’ll have tough time in this 25th running of the Aristides. Should get the perfect trip, just can’t see him hoisting trophy.
And the tote board says…
4. Good Lord (3-1)…professional, workman-like effort gets him graded stakes score at his home track. Good for him.
1. Rothko (9-5)…runs better than last, will come up short though.
5. Jasizzle (3-1)…another who’ll run workman-like, honest effort. If you can’t be first or second, third’s the place to be.
3. St. Maximus Gato (8-1)…maybe last was better than it looks. Can uncork some speed.
Maybe next week, Saturday feature will be decent. Hard pressed to believe it could be worse.
Winning Colors Stakes (Grade 3)
$100,000 @ Six Furlong for Fillies & Mares, three-years-old & upward
Alrighty then…coming off Derby tri & Louisville Handicap super in last three posts, not bad (if you box ‘em up & you should). Winning Colors Stakes goes for the 10thtime Monday, small field of seven. Smallest field in stakes history.
With fast track likely, this’ll be 9th(of 10) Winning Colors run on fast surface. In each previous fast track, winner’s time was under 1.10 for the six furlongs.
1. Funnys Approval (15-1 w/Marcelino Pedroza)…became sprint monster once switched to dirt, reeling off four straight wins. First three at Mountaineer, but last win was 21-1 shocker in Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel in February. Tried New York Grade 2 in last & also stretcedh to a mile. Didn’t like either & her win streak stopped. Considering she ran last at almost 40-1 in her maiden debut against $15k claimers, this girl’s got game. Low percentage rider. Not today for this one.
2. Vuitton (4-1 w/Alan Garcia)…another one that became dirt monster after starting as turfer. Won three straight at Oaklawn Park culminating w/score in $100,000 Carousel Stakes in last. One lingering question is her speed, does she have enough? Bred to be nice & her form is stellar.
3. Beat The Blues (9-2 w/Miggy Mena)…second in this race last year w/same rider. Came up nose short against Vuitton in last. No question about her speed, it’s there. Wee bit of question about her ability to win consistently. Nine for 23 lifetime but sports five race losing streak w/four of the losses at 2-1 or less.
4. Judy The Beauty (5-2 w/Joao Moreira)…never worse than second in eight career starts & just a dirty nose away from being Grade 1 winner. After breaking her maiden as a two-year-old at Keeneland, trainer Wesley Ward took her to France & she promptly won. That aint’ easy to do from here. She came off the shelf w/nice allowance win over at Keeneland last month & definitely looks the filly to beat. Her rider, in for working vacay from Singapore, took Sunday’s nightcap at better than 20-1 & is champion quality overseas.
5. Holiday Soiree (5-1 w/Corey Lanerie)…ran 3rd on Derby Day in Grade 1 Humana Distaff at 17-1. That was a good one for her. She’s not ultra consistent, nor is she a high percentage winner. Usually game, but others in here are bit better.
6. Blueeyesintherein (5-1 w/Leandro Goncalves)…lightly raced three-year-old won her first two last year under the Twin Spires, including Debutante Stakes. Suffered first loss in Eight Belles Stakes on Oaks Day w/Jon Court pushing into pace scenario she didn’t welcome. Tough spot for lightly conditioned filly & rumor on Saturday was she was going to pass on this one. Has talent, others look faster. Absolutely could get a piece though w/switch to Goncalves.
7. Burban (7-2 w/Sean Bridgmohan)…race sets up nicely for her early speed as this edition of Winning Colors is light on pace. Three wins & two seconds at Churchill & you can forgive both losses. First was to the champion Groupie Doll in her career debut & last was second on Derby Day in Grade 1 Humana Distaff. She’ll have to uncork her best to hold off Judy the Beauty. Thinking she does.
7. Burban (7-2)…she’s rock solid, Bridgmohan is once again in career best form at Churchill Downs & believe she can control this race from outset.
4. Judy the Beauty (5-2)…only knock, oh-for-3 on dirt (all seconds, all in Grade 1 or Grade 2 races). Razor thin margin of error between top 2 so I’ll go w/hometown rider & filly that’s proven over the course. Judy the Beauty will be fun to watch all year though.
5. Holiday Soiree (5-1)…puts in her run, she’s game. Top two are notch better though. Lanerie gives her a chance though.
3. Beat the Blues (9-2)…nothin’ to be proud up w/all these chalky plays, not much you can do w/six or 7 horse field w/couple solid choices. Go see Percy at the Clubhouse bar & watch a really nice Grade 3 race. Can always double down in the nightcap (wagering and/or w/Percy).
Louisville Handicap (Grade 3)
$100,000 @ 1 ½ Miles (Turf)
Memorial weekend beneath the Twin Spires features another solid edition of the venerable Louisville Handicap. First run in 1895, race has been at its present 12 furlongs on the grass since 1996. It’s been run every year following its last hiatus during World War II.
1. Prime Cut (8-1 w/Corey Lanerie)…fifth race back from an 18-month layoff. Ran second in Lexington Stakes as three-year-old before finishing 11th(of 12) in ’11 Belmont Stakes. His race early on Derby Day card was solid, but he’ll need to bring more to his effort today. Picking up Corey Lanerie will give him every chance to do so. Legit player at 8-1.
2. Harrods Creek (4-1 w/Shaun Bridgmohan)…ponies up w/meet’s hottest rider. Ran 4th in Louisville Handicap last year, tiring late. Only two starts since & none after August 3 at Saratoga last year. That was a nice restricted stakes win though. Bill Mott always has ‘em ready, so little concern about the time off. Red flag w/no top three finishes in two tries on the grass at Churchill Downs. Inclined to try & beat at lower odds. Speaking of Harrods Creek, delightful time last evening at Captain’s Quarters, grilled salmon on the cedar plank? Tasty!
3. Mack’s Blackhawk (15-1 w/Ricardo Santana Jr.)…Minnesota-bred showed little in his first try at Churchill Downs, running 7thfor $50,000 tag in mile turf race Derby week Wednesday. Only grassy try at 1 ½ miles was rousing win at low odds at Remington Park. Twenty top two finishes in 40 tries, respect that. This won’t be his finest hour though. Love Minnesota, gotta pass on Mack.
4. Atigun (7-2 w/Alan Garcia)…turf debut at Churchill Downs was very impressive allowance score in 3rd race on Derby morning. Beat Prime Cut solidly. Was favored in Breeders’ Cup Marathon last November, so no concerns about his long-windedness. Plus, he has that 3rd to his credit from last year’s Belmont Stakes. Not yet convinced he’s a front running turf horse & low odds on him also has me inclined to try & run him out. He's rock solid though.
5. Ioya Bigtime (3-1 w/Jeffrey Sanchez)…trainer Chris Block has dropped into Louisville & had a lot of success lately. Brings his rider w/him for this one too. Illinois-bred won pair of Grade 3s last year, shocking Arlington Park at 41-1 in Stars & Stripes, then also taking Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs (wish they’d go back to Dueling Grounds, but…) Three tries in ’13, all against Grade 2 company & he was found a bit wanting. Seems to be quite a bit of early pace in this race & he hasn’t showed much heart late in his races. Gonna lean against another w/low odds.
6. Dark Cove (5-2 w/Rosie Napravnik)…shocked Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes last out at 8-1 over at Mr. Keene’s place. He had Joel Rosario up that day & he was riding sawhorses to wins there during his record run. Picks up Rosie today & she’s been riding a bit on the pedestrian side in her first full meet at Churchill Downs. Seems logical choice & stalking style is perfect for this field. Keeneland turf form doesn’t always transfer west. Geez, think we can beat him too at low odds?
7. Najjaar (20-1 w/Leandro Goncalves)…winless in four career turf starts, but did finish 3rd at 13-1 in last year’s grassy Arlington Classic. Gonna see ‘em all for about 10 furlongs & then come running. Pace scenario seems to flatter him at juicy odds. He’s never proven to be this class, but he’s bred to take his swing & this could be the day he steps forward.
8. Al Qasr (20-1 w/Jesus Castanon)…South American import did his best running in Peru, then Argentina. First two starts in US were 6thin Grade 3 at Gulfstream & non-threatening 4th in Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland. Connections obviously fancy him up to this & perhaps he is rounding into form after taking nearly a year off to get accustomed in his new country. Not feelin’ it.
9. Heathcote (15-1 w/Emma-Jayne Wilson)…former Michigan State coach makes his turf debut after seven starts on the chewed up snow tires at Woodbine in Canada. Last out he took 1 ¾ mile stake, that was last December though. Another w/early pace & see his lack of seasoning taking effect. Did bring his lady friend w/him to ride though. Having said that, Magic Johnson ain’t loading into his starting gate post today.
1st - Dark Cove (5-2)…just seems to be in best form & while Rosie isn’t movin’ ‘em up, she should be able to hold this together.
2nd - Najjaar (20-1)…so much early pace screams to give him a shot. He’ll be running late, just depends upon how much race falls apart late.
3rd - Prime Cut (8-1)…Lanerie will have him looming large turning for home & he’ll also be pickin’ ‘em up late.
4th - Atigun (7-2)…puts in another solid try. Derby morning race set up better for him than today’s Louisville handicap.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
1. Black Onyx (50-1)…for a heckuva nice guy, trainer Kelly Breen sure has the worst Derby post draw luck. Three Derbies, two #1 posts. Lethal. First met Kelly Breen personally year or two ago when his good friend…and ESPN 680 guest analyst Will Perdue…brought Kelly into my office to watch one of his horses run at Penn National or Philly Park. Not often Belmont Stakes winning trainers pop into Bluegrass Park to catch a race. Only dirt race was not good & his upset win in Spiral Stakes was on polyturf. Bred for the trip & in best of hands…can’t make his case coming off the pace from one hole. Shame.
2. Oxbow (30-1)…lot of buzz for long-shot. Modern era Sunshine Boys (rider Gary Steven & trainer Wayne Lukas) teamed to win two Derbies a generation ago (Winning Colors & Thunder Gulch). Only two wins in 9 starts, but one of those did come in Louisville. Figures to sit just off the pace, but any misstep coming out of the gate & it’s over early. Bred to enjoy trip as dad won Breeders’ Cup Classic & Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Not enough, figures to eat a lot of dirt (or mud).
3. Revolutionary (10-1)…first of five Todd Pletcher trainees. Owner-trainer-rider teamed up three years ago to win Derby w/Super Saver. Favored in all six trips to post, but took four races to find winner’s circle. Bit short on breeding up top, plenty on the bottom though. His last two were super game stretch efforts & his deep closing style will be tested in field w/out much early pace. Inside post is perfect for Calvin Borel…does he get through though? Betting is this game dude finds a way late.
4. Golden Soul (50-1)…late addition smartly picked up Robby Albarado to ride. Racing gods might owe the Louisville favorite one after he was bumped off 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom on race morning. Will probably have to pass 19 of ‘em late but will be running at the end. Bred to do this & his only start at Churchill Downs was near miss 2ndat 9-1 last November. Trainer Dallas Stewart stunned the Oaks a few years back w/Lemons Forever. Not crazy that he could be the next Mine That Bird. Worth a shot at 50-1, no question.
5. Normandy Invasion (12-1)…still eligible for entry level allowance race. Claim to fame is charging runner-up finish in Wood Memorial four weeks ago. Not all that certain how much was in that race though. Javier Castellano isn’t the guy I’d want guiding my charge in 20-horse field. Gonna let others storm the Derby beach w/this one.
6. Mylute (15-1)…most compelling question coming from post draw on Wednesday was how in the world Mylute was 15-1? Most were thinking 50-1…is it all on Rosie Napravnik? Ran 3rdlast June in debut at Churchill Downs & failed to win twice in big money tries at Delta Downs last year. Came from the clouds to just miss in game effort at 19-1 in Louisiana Derby last out. Napravnik’s only time aboard was 10 length allowance win in New Orleans to close out ’12 campaign. Bred top-to-bottom as sprint type. Fan of Rosie, fan of trainer (Famous) Tom Amoss. Not a fan of Mylute this Derby.
7. Giant Finish (50-1)…when the trainer has to be convinced to come saddle the horse, not encouraging. Never off the board in five starts, but couldn’t win in two stakes tries at Turfway Park, both at long odds. Will contest the pace early, but this New York-bred will be sleepin’ early & late. Legit candidate to be last.
8. Goldencents (5-1)…ya’ know, was going to stay clear of all the Rick Pitino mojo on this guy, then, saw that Banker’s Gold breeding on mom’s side. “You see, your honor, my friend had always wanted to be…a banker.” As future resident of U.S. Virgin Islands, fun to see St. Croix native Kevin Krigger get his moment. How many of you have been to the race track in St. Croix…hands? Yep, I found it. Has never run poorly, but man-oh-mighty-me, can he lead this field around for 1 ¼ miles? Don’t think so, but as huge fan of dad’s dad (Harlan’s Holiday) & mom’s dad (Banker’s Gold), gonna include this guy just because it would haunt me forever if I didn’t & he got there first.
9. Overanalyze (15-1)…Pletcher pony #2. Runs hot & cold. Gotta like Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, but not much to like w/his complete shut-out in top three finishes in 8 Derby mounts. That very poor 3rdlast October in Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs when heavily favored can’t escape me. Arkansas Derby win was smart but field came up very soft.
10. Palice Malice (20-1)…Pletcher pony #3 has been buzz horse at a price all week. Only one maiden score in 6 lifetime starts. Just missed as one of the favorites in soft edition of Blue Grass Stakes over Keeneland’s polyturf. Considering his only win was when he was favored at 1-5 odds, was beaten in his only off track try at 4-5 & he’s bred equally for turf & dirt, not buying into his buzz.
11. Lines of Battle (30-1)…mystery horse from Europe by way of Dubai brings his Euro rider w/him. American dirt breeding & distance breeding at that too. Could shock the field, but the Euro/Dubai types have rarely, if ever, come close in the Derby. First start on dirt…and 30-1…usually means take a chance.
12. Itsmyluckyday (15-1)…rider Elvis Trujillo scored his first-ever Churchill win in his first ever try aboard Commonwealth Racing’s Casey’s Jet in ’08. 19-1 too. Tasty! Florida folks were giddy about this guy & he has won half of his 10 lifetime tries. Oh, but that breeding doesn’t scream Derby (even though dad Lawyer Run was a heckuva runner). His two wins at Gulfstream were stellar, but Orb ran right past him last out in Florida Derby. If he’s forgotten on the tote board, maybe. If he trickles down, not gonna do it.
13. Falling Sky (50-1)…okay, yes, candidate for last but hear me out. His pop (Lion Heart) was gamer & ran 2ndin Derby almost taking field gate-to-wire. Mom’s dad (Sea Hero) won Derby. Yet, five-star race pedigree went for just $16,000 as weanling. Could only win once in three starts at, gasp, Tampa Bay & faded in last two (Tampa Bay & Arkansas Derby). Only off track start was a win at tough Gulfstream Park. Gonna get all of 50-1 or better, why the heck not shock the world? Okay, he won’t, but he’d certainly juice to trifecta/superfecta.
14. Verrazano (4-1)…has there ever been less buzz or excitement about an unbeaten Derby favorite (or near favorite). Not only is the band off the wagon, the wagon’s gone too for Pletcher entrant #4. What’s not to like…figures to sit just off the pace from favorable near outside post (assuming rider John Velazquez doesn’t mess up the break). Dad was speedball that almost carried it Derby distance in game 4thplace effort for his shot at roses. Giant’s Causeway on bottom, all good. Was brilliant in his first two wins, but bit too business-like in last two. Not certain he’ll have the answer when question gets asked Saturday.
15. Charming Kitten (20-1)…oh that Ken Ramsey & his Kitten’s Joy offspring. They do run…almost always on polyturf or turf though. Pletcher entrant #5 has never started on dirt, but does have that pedigree on his mom’s side. Has never really posted speed figures that he’ll need in Derby. Near miss 3rdin Blue Grass at 22-1 was nice, but that was polyturf & Blue Grass Stakes has lost almost all its Derby relevance since putting in the ground up snow tires. Nope.
16. Orb (7-2)…man, what a good lookin’ beast this dude is! Has the Derby glow about him. Dad’s dad (A.P. Indy) won Belmont & Breeders’ Cup Classic, mom’s dad (Unbridled) won ’90 Derby. Took awhile to figure it out but has been brilliant ever since, winning last four. Repeat of his Florida Derby probably gets it done w/clean trip. Sprinkle in country’s hottest rider in Joel Rosario. Hard to get excited about betting favorite in 20-horse field. Can’t name a winner’s price though. Would be shocked not to see him charging hard that last 1/8thof a mile.
17. Will Take Charge (20-1)…what happened to (King) Wayne (Lukas) who used to run ‘em for breakfast & again for lunch? This guy upsets mid-level Derby prep at 28-1 by a head at Oaklawn Park & Lukas takes him back to the barn for almost two months? Something feels amiss w/his “Handle With Care” approach. Dad was beaten Derby favorite (Unbridled’s Song) w/dad’s dad (Unbridled) winning Derby. Take Charge Lady was classic Kentucky-based horse who was upset at heavy odds in her Oaks try. Only attempt on off track was not good at all. Gotta believe if Lukas thought there was more there-there, we’d have seen Will Take Charge run in something bigger than Rebel Stakes.
18. Frac Daddy (50-1)…first of two Kenny McPeek horses & second U.S. Virgin Island rider (Victor Lebron). Have seen McPeek shock the world too many times w/lesser of two entrants, or a bomber. Not much to like on paper & breeding had no success at Churchill Downs. Scat Daddy was lit up in his Derby as were both gramps, Skip Away & Johannesburg. Only mud try was 2ndin debut at Belmont Park in off-the-turfer. Got here w/2ndat 23-1 in Arkansas Derby. So little to like, but that McPeek lesser angle, maybe.
19. Java’s War (15-1)…rider Julien Leparoux has had some real stinker rides in Derby past aboard very legit horses. This time he legs up w/deep closer. Off the board in both his Churchill Downs starts. Did finish 2ndat 32-1 to Verrazano in Tampa Bay Derby, but somebody had to be second in that soft prep. Rallied from 14th& last to win weak Blue Grass Stakes. Sprint breeding on top, grass on bottom. No.
20. Vyjack (15-1)…Garrett (not-so-much-anymore Go-Go) Gomez will certain not worry about getting trapped early, but of the belief he’s not close to the rider he was…but can always uncork a big one on back class. All five starts were at Aqueduct. Pretty consistent, but can he take his form w/him from the Apple? Distance breeding on top, sprinter on bottom. Hard pressed to name a decent horse he’s beaten. Can make the case certainly for his upset win, just not buyin’ it.
- Calvin hasn’t been Calvin at all since his bizarre fight in Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle couple years ago. He is on a very game horse though & if Calvin can get him uncorked & clear for last 3/8ths mile, believe he’s best equipped to get up late.
- Runs his race, gets the trip, just think he’ll came up short.
3rd Golden Soul
- Save the women & children, he almost shocks the world.
4th Frac Daddy
- Chalky exacta, but trifecta & superfecta please Obama’s IRS to no end. Someone has to pay for those new 16,000 IRS agent the (Not So) Affordable Health Care Act mandates be hired for "healthcare.". You’re welcome.
- Three Dog Night had it right…Rick had Pieces of April, but it’s a morning (or evening) in May. Luuuuuuuuuuuuuke!!
Post Time 5:45p (Friday, May 3, 2013)
1. Silsita (20-1)…lightly raced with two wins in 4 starts, both by a nose, both at odds of 9-1 or greater. Only poor effort was only dirt try, though against much easier than what she faces here. Bred to get the trip, Hall of Fame rider & trainer. Lots to like, including 20-1 odds. Gotta pass on her this time though.
2. Midnight Lucky (9-2)…poster child for new breed of ridiculously light-raced horses. Two starts, two romping wins, both while heavily favored. Speed pedigree & both wins were on speed-friendly tracks including romping win at Sunland Park in New Mexico last out. Baffert/Bejarano jockey/trainer combo lethal. Others will run w/her early & believing her lack of race experience will catch up to her late.
3. Beholder (7-2)…two-year-old filly champ has been rock solid over her eight race career. Battle tested against all kinds. Like Midnight Lucky, she’s bred to be quick, but not long-winded. Class will carry her into stretch, but someone on the front end is going to get soft. She figures a risky short price.
4. Unlimited Budget (7-2)…never tested late in four career starts and wins (only twice favored). Last two wins were at Fair Grounds, boding well for Churchill Downs form. Her dad won the Derby (Street Sense), mom was sprinter type. Race sets up well for her stalking form. If rider Javier Castellano doesn’t get in her way, thinkin’ Lillies for this filly.
5. Seaneen Girl (30-1)…what to make of this three-time claimer who shipped down from Canada to upset Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes last November at Churchill Downs (at 31-1). Only start this year wasn’t awful, decent 3rdto Unlimited Budget. Bargain basement $5,000 yearling will settle at the back & see if the race comes apart in front of her. Figures to get more action than she merits w/Rosie Napravnik aboard. Rosie nearly won ’11 Oaks at big price & did win last year’s Oaks at generous price.
6. Princess of Sylmar (20-1)…reeled off four straight at Penn National & winter meet at Aqueduct before running second last out to Close Hatches. Speed figures aren’t up to the heavy hitters in here & breeding doesn’t do her any favor either. Her style does fit this field though. Not feelin’ it.
7. Pure Fun (30-1)…senior member of this year’s Oaks w/10 career starts. Parlayed 14-1 allowance win at Churchill Downs last November into Grade 1 win in Hollywood Starlet. Best laid plans have gone south in two starts this year, both under bit quirky circumstances. She can uncork a big on her best day & her style fits the race. 30-1 is tasty price on filly that can land a knock out punch.
8. Dreaming of Julia (3-1)…blew the doors off this division last out w/21 length win in Gulfstream Park Oaks. Was really good, not great prior though & they don’t usually pair up career best efforts. Will be sitting off the pace from eight hole & certainly bred to be an Oaks winner. On her best day, she takes this. If she brings her average best, she’s fighting for lesser award.
9. Rose to Gold (15-1)…five wins & a second in 6 career dirt starts. Last two at Oaklawn Park were gate-to-wire stakes wins w/Calvin Borel in saddle. Her dad, Friends Lake, was a bust in Derby but she does have this distance written all over her. Calvin on the lead isn’t the best play & he’s not stealin’ this race. Having said that, this $1,400 yearling purchase has banked $717,000. No fault found here. She’s earned her shot.
10. Flashy Gray…broke my heart when I had her at 25-1 in career debut at Keeneland last October, dropping a bobbing decision. She’s scratched, so that’s that.
11. Close Hatches (6-1)…hottest rider in the country (Joel Rosario) moves her up & she’s already unbeaten in three starts. Came from far back in debut to win by seven, while last two have been wire-to-wire wins. On surface, she doesn’t look quick enough, however, hot rider & world class trainer bears close look, especially if those odds creep noticeably past 6-1.
At the wire...
1st Unlimited Budget
- Has never failed to deliver knock-out punch, she overcomes Javier Castellano to win
2nd Close Hatches
- Uncorks career best & comes up second best
3rd Pure Fun
- Chewing up ground late, not in time
4th Midnight Lucky
- Very game try on front end, best of the speed, wire comes up too late
Tune into ESPN 680 this Friday for our Final Furlong Friday from Keeneland. Bob Valvano is back from brief freshening at the farm & ready to go gate-to-wire w/the best local sports radio in Louisville from 12noon-3:00p.
And, Derby week launches Saturday night as Churchill Downs opens for its 139th spring meet. Titletown Five, owned in part by Paul Hornung & David Miller looks to secure the 20th & final entry in next Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
Next week...ESPN 680 will be LIVE all week on the backstretch at Churchill Downs w/"The Deener Show" hosted by, wait for it...Drew Deener! "The Deener Show" from 7:00a-10:00a will be joined on Wednesday (through Derby) by HRRN "Countdown to Derby" from 10:00a-12:00n. That's five hours of Oaks/Derby coverage each day.
Big game...BIG RACE...only one place...ESPN 680!
With Louisville favored to win its first NCAA National Championship since the glory years of the '80s, picture the weekend through Rick Pitino's eyes...
On Friday he learns he'll be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame...
On Saturday, his gritty Cardinals beat back an inspired effort by the Wichita State Wheat Shockers in the Final Four...Louisville's 16th consecutive win over Wichita State. Most of the wins coming during the teams membership in the Missouri Valley Conference between 1965-75. As a note, Louisville is 2-0 all-time v. Michigan (beating the #9 Wolverines on the road in '78 & then winning at home the following year when Michigan was ranked #6).
And at half-time of the Final Four, Pitno's Goldencents upset the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 6-1 & will now head to Louisville with a puncher's chance to upset the 139th Kentucky Derby.
In the words of our own Bob Valvano...TASTY!!
Not certain Goldencents will stack up on the first Saturday in May, but w/Pitino in w/ownership group & w/St. Croix native Kevin Krigger riding, it figures to receive ALOT of attention. Die-hard racing fans may remember Krigger riding at Churchill Downs during the meet when the local jockeys went on strike. Krigger had come in from Washington state in search of bigger purses.
Across country, Verrazano looked that part of serious Derby horse when he held off Normandy Invasion & Vyjack to win the $750,000 Wood Memorial in New York. The top three are all legitimate contenders & Verrazano may go postward as the favorite for this year's Derby. His rider, John Velazquez now must choose between Verrazano & his Florida Derby winning mount, Orb. Look for Velazquez to stay w/Verrazano.
Up next...$750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on Keeneland's polyturf & $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby. BOTH...HOPEFULLY...to be run w/Louisville as the reigning NATIONAL CHAMPION. So let it be written.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Tuesday, April 2, 2013) - Mylute, who finished a neck behind Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby (Grade II) after a thrilling stretch battle, passed through the Churchill Downs stable gate at 3:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) Tuesday morning after vanning from Fair Grounds and was bedded down in Stall 20 of Barn 29 for trainer Tom Amoss.
Mylute earned 40 points for his runner-up effort in the Louisiana Derby and improved his total to 42, placing him No. 11 on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com" Leaderboard. His point total virtually assures him a spot in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) starting gate on the First Saturday in May.
"If he has the points and he's healthy, then he'll run in the Kentucky Derby," said Amoss, who was in route to Louisville and is scheduled to arrive Tuesday evening. "He ran a nice race in the Louisiana Derby. We changed his style from being aggressive with blinkers on to taking the blinkers off and letting him relax and letting him make one run. It worked well."
Amoss added that GoldMark Farm LLC and Whisper Hill Farm's Mylute will likely walk the shedrow Wednesday and visit the Churchill Downs track for light training on Thursday.
"He'll get a good amount of training on the Churchill Downs surface," Amoss said. "He's familiar with the track and trained and raced on it as a 2-year-old. We're happy the (Kentucky Derby) is in our backyard."
Amoss, who tied Steve Asmussen for the training title at the recently concluded Fair Grounds meet, has started two horses in the Kentucky Derby: Lone Star Sky (15th in 2003) and Backtalk (20th in 2010).
Also arriving at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning was Sam F. Davis (GIII) winner Falling Sky, who most recently finished third behind Verrazano and Java's War in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII). He was bedded down in Barn 36 for trainer John Terranova II.
"He's been fantastic and worked sensational (on March 31 at Palm Meadows)," Terranova said via telephone from his barn at Palm Meadows. "He's real fit coming off the two good races at Tampa.
"Right now, we are leaning toward running in the Blue Grass (at Keeneland on April 13), but the Arkansas Derby (at Oaklawn Park on April 13) is not ruled out. He'll work Sunday or Monday at Churchill Downs or Keeneland and then we'll get together and decide on the best race for him."
Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello and Joseph Bulger's Falling Sky, who arrived at Churchill Downs at 9:45 a.m., was accompanied by his groom on the van ride from Palm Meadows and will be joined by assistant Ronaldo Abreu on Tuesday afternoon. Terranova said he expects to arrive in Louisville later this week.
The Toyota Blue Grass (GI) and Arkansas Derby (GI) are both a part of the Second Leg of the Championship Series on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" and points will be awarded to the Top 4 finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale. Currently ranked No. 20 with 20 points, Falling Sky likely will need a Top 3 or 4 finish in the Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Arriving at Churchill Downs on Monday morning for trainer Mark Casse was Dynamic Sky, runner-up to Falling Sky in the Sam F. Davis and most recently fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby. He is stabled in Stall 2 of Barn 36 and will train at Churchill Downs for a run in the Blue Grass at Keeneland.
"He vanned from Palm Meadows Monday and is doing well," assistant trainer Norman Casse said. "He walked the shedrow today (Tuesday), he'll gallop tomorrow and he'll breeze on Saturday or Sunday."
Currently No. 25 on the Leaderboard with 13 points, John Oxley's Dynamic Sky likely will need a Top 3 finish in the Blue Grass to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Casse and Oxley's other Kentucky Derby contender, Uncaptured, also is pointing to the Blue Grass and is stabled at Keeneland. Runner-up to Black Onyx in the Spiral (GIII) at Turfway Park, Uncaptured is currently ranked No. 13 on the Leaderboard with 30 points. A Top 4 finish in the Blue Grass could secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
‘ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY’ CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES CONTINUES WITH TAMPA BAY DERBY & SAN FELIPE
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, March 7, 2013) – The First Leg of the Championship Series on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” continues Saturday with the 33rd running of the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade II) and the 76th running of the $300,000 San Felipe (GII).
The field of nine for the Tampa Bay Derby, which has produced Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winners Street Sense (2007) and Super Saver (2010), is headlined by Verrazano, who was made the individual favorite in the first two pools of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager after winning his first two races by a combined 24 lengths. Despite not earning any Kentucky Derby points yet, a victory in the Tampa Bay Derby would vault Verrazano into the Top 5 and all but guarantee him a spot in the “Run for the Roses.”
Verrazano, a half-brother to Risen Star (GII) winner and 2012 Kentucky Derby runner El Padrino, made his career debut on Jan. 1. The lone winner of the Kentucky Derby that did not race as a 2-year-old is Apollo in 1882.
The group that will line up to face Verrazano includes Falling Sky (ranked No. 17 on the Kentucky Derby Point Standings) and Dynamic Sky (No. 22), the 1-2 finishers in the Sam F. Davis (GIII), Hutcheson (GII) winner Honorable Dillon and undefeated stakes winner Purple Egg.
Falling Sky, who bested Dynamic Sky by a neck in the Sam F. Davis, is a Pennsylvania-bred son of Lion Heart, who finished second in the 2004 Kentucky Derby to Smarty Jones, the last Pennsylvania-bred to win the historic 1 ¼-mile race.
Dynamic Sky, owned by 2001 Kentucky Derby winner John Oxley, broke his maiden at Woodbine in the Simcoe and won the Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs in January. Should he earn his way to the Kentucky Derby and win, Dynamic Sky, bred in Canada by Arosa Farms, would become the first foreign-bred winner of the Derby since Sunny’s Halo in 1983.
Honorable Dillon and Purple Egg both will have questions to answer Saturday. Honorable Dillon will be tested beyond seven furlongs for the first time in his career and Purple Egg, who also is untested in route races, will be making his first start since December.
The field of eight entered in the San Felipe, a race that has produced 11 Kentucky Derby winners, is topped by the undefeated Robert B. Lewis (GII) winner Flashback (No. 18) and Goldencents (No. 5), who is coming off victories in the Sham (GIII) and Delta Jackpot (GIII).
Prior to winning the Robert B. Lewis, Flashback, who is trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, broke his maiden on the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. Three of the last four Derby winners, including I’ll Have Another (2012), Animal Kingdom (2011) and Mine That Bird (2009), broke their maidens on a synthetic surface.
Goldencents, who is co-owned by University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, has won three of his four career starts with his lone loss coming in the Champagne (GI) to eventual juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby. A bay son of Into Mischief, Goldencents is trained by 2012 Kentucky Derby winner Doug O’Neill. The last trainer to saddle back-to-back Derby winners was Baffert, who won with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998.
The Top 4 finishers in the Tampa Bay Derby, which is scheduled as Race 10 at Tampa Bay Downs at 5:15 p.m. (all times Eastern), and the San Felipe, which will go as Race 7 at Santa Anita at 6:35 p.m., will be awarded points on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
10 THINGS TO WATCH THIS WEEK
1. Verrazano, the individual favorite in the first two pools of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, makes his stakes debut in Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs.
2. Undefeated Robert B. Lewis winner Flashback makes his third career start in Saturday's San Felipe at Santa Anita.
3. Goldencents, co-owned by University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, will seek his third straight stakes victory in the San Felipe.
4. Falling Sky and Dynamic Sky, separated by just a neck in the Sam F. Davis, rematch in the Tampa Bay Derby.
5. Flashy Gray, favored in the lone Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, makes her stakes debut in Saturday's Honeybee at Oaklawn Park.
6. Delta Princess winner Rose to Gold seeks to bounce back from a runner-up performance in the Martha Washington in the Honeybee under new rider Calvin Borel.
7. Hutcheson winner Honorable Dillon will stretch out beyond seven furlongs for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby.
8. Undefeated Whiskey Romeo and impressive Jimmy Winkfield winner Clawback headline the field for Saturday's Fred "Cappy" Capossela at Aqueduct.
9. Noble Tune, runner up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, makes his 3-year-old debut in a turf allowance on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs against a field that includes Grade III winner Pataky Kid.
10. Close Hatches, a winner by seven lengths in her career debut, makes her second career start in the Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday.
HOW TO GET INTO THE KENTUCKY DERBY STARTING GATE - The "Road to the Kentucky Derby" is a 36-race series that awards points to the Top 4 finishers in each race. The Top 20 point earners nominated to the Triple Crown will earn a spot in the starting gate for the 139th running of the Grade I, $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 4. The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975. At least 20 horses have entered the 1 ¼-mile race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds every year since 2004, and 12 of the last 14 years.
1. Ive Struck a Nerve 51 Big Chief Racing, LLC (Matt Bryan) Keith Desormeaux $268,000
2. Vyjack 50 Pick Six Racing (David Wilkenfeld) Rudy Rodriguez $405,000
3. Orb 50 Stuart Janney III & Phipps Stable (Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps) Shug McGaughey III $240,000
24 Starlight Racing (Jack & Laurie Wolf & Donald & Barbara Lucarelli et al), Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
24 W.C. Racing (Josh Kaplan & Glenn Sorgenstein), Dave Kenney & RAP Racing (Rick Pitino)
6. West Hills Giant 20 Long Island Racing Stables, Sunrise Stables, Bentivegna John Terranova II $89,000
7. Code West 20 Gary & Mary West Bob Baffert $80,000
8. Oxbow 16 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) D. Wayne Lukas $196,000
9. Speak Logistics 11 Hardway Stables, Inc. (Ralph Nabavi) Eddie Plesa Jr. $52,500
10. Itsmyluckyday 10 Trilogy Stable (Marion Montanari & David Melin) & Laurie Plesa Eddie Plesa Jr. $393,600
11. Overanalyze 10 Repole Stable (Mike Repole) Todd Pletcher $308,381
12. Uncaptured 10 John C. Oxley Mark Casse $292,374
13. Den's Legacy 10 Westrock Stables LLC (Scott & Joe Ford) Bob Baffert $265,000
14. Power Broker 10 Gary & Mary West Bob Baffert $210,000
15. Super Ninety Nine 10 Tanma Corporation (Susan Chu) Bob Baffert $200,000
16. Will Take Charge 10 Willis D. Horton D. Wayne Lukas $152,971
17. Falling Sky 10 Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello & Joseph Bulger John Terranova II $122,500
t-18. Flashback 10 Gary & Mary West Bob Baffert $120,000
t-18. Revolutionary 10 WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt) Todd Pletcher $120,000
t-20. Elnaawi 10 Shadwell Stable (Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum) Kiaran McLaughlin $40,000
t-20. Palace Malice 10 Dogwood Stable, Inc. (W. Cothran "Cot" Campbell) Todd Pletcher $40,000
22. Dynamic Sky 8 John C. Oxley Mark Casse $271,668
23. Siete de Oros 7 Ramon Preciado Ramon Preciado $80,000
24. He's Had Enough 6 Reddam Racing LLC (J. Paul Reddam) Doug O'Neill $442,000
25. Fear the Kitten 6 Frank Irvin Mike Maker $84,890
26. Tesseron 5 Donver Stable (Donna & Vern Dubinsky) Josie Carroll $49,017
27. Majestic Hussar 5 Joseph Witek Eddie Kenneally $22,000
28. Bern Identity 4 George & Lori Hall Kelly Breen $572,000
29. Capo Bastone 4 Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners (Aron Wellman et al) Todd Pletcher $246,000
30. Texas Bling 4 Hall's Family Trust (Lewis A. Hall) Danele Durham $211,200
31. Know More 4 Reddam Racing LLC (J. Paul Reddam) Doug O'Neill $210,000
32. Fury Kapcori 4 Rick Awtrey or Jerry Hollendorfer or George Todaro Jerry Hollendorfer $205,050
33. Normandy Invasion 4 Fox Hill Farms Inc. (Rick Porter) Chad Brown $58,000
34. Golden Soul 4 Charles Fipke Dallas Stewart $44,000
35. Frac Daddy 4 Magic City Thoroughbred Partners (Carter Stewart) Ken McPeek $40,596
4 MeB Stables LLC & Brooklyn Boyz Stables (Anthony & Mary Bonomo)
37. Fortify 3 Godolphin (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum et al) Mahmood Al Zarooni $225,000
2 GoldMark Farm, LLC (T. Paul Bulmahn) & Whisper Hill Farm (Amanda Pope)
39. Carving 2 Jill Baffert & Bode Miller Bob Baffert $145,500
40. Clearly Now 2 Irma Desrochers & Leonard Zenith Brian Lynch $145,086
41. Java's War 2 Charles Fipke Ken McPeek $131,772
42. Heaven's Runway 2 K.K. Jayaraman & V. Devi Jayaraman Joseph Martin $111,198
43. My Name Is Michael 2 Watchel Stable, Barry Butzer & Dominion Bloodstock Bill Mott $50,171
Always in a Tiz
2 MeB Stables LLC (Mary Ellen Bonomo) & Brooklyn Boyz Stables (Anthony Bonomo Sr.)
2 WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt) & Twin Creeks Racing (Randy Gullatt & Steve Davison et al)
46. Dewey Square 2 Siena Farms, LLC (Anthony Manganaro) Dale Romans $16,298
47. Manando 2 Kaleem Shah Inc. Bob Baffert $12,000
48. Pataky Kid 1 Swifty Farms Inc. (Don & Dana Myers) Tom Proctor $110,714
49. Amerigo Vespucci 1 Aldie Germania Farms Inc. Timothy Tullock Jr. $70,000
50. Dry Summer 1 Michael Britt or Sam House Joel Marr $66,000
51. Joshua's Comprise 1 Rose Family Stable Barry Rose $56,000
52. Quinzieme Monarque 1 John M.B. O'Connor Tom Albertrani $20,000
53. Channel Isle 1 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) D. Wayne Lukas $15,000
1 Jaam Racing, Inc. (Jason Tackitt) & Riley Racing Stable (Jerry Fialkowski)
KENTUCKY DERBY PREP SEASON POINTS EARNED THIS WEEK:
Race 1st (Points) 2nd (Points) 3rd (Points) 4th (Points)
Gotham Vyjack (50) West Hills Giant (20) Elnaawi (10) Siete de Oros (5)
NOT TRIPLE CROWN NOMINATED - Joha (10 points); Steeler-IRE (10), River Seven (10), Dice Flavor (10), Artigiano (4), Nina's Dragon (4), Indiano Jones (2), Al Waab-IRE (2), Counting Days (2), Hightail (1), Five Iron (1), Birdman-IRE (1), Archwarrior (1) & Stormy Holiday (1)
SIDELINED/OFF TRAIL - Violence (30 points)
TIEBREAKERS - If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker is earnings in non-restricted stakes races.
FILLIES - If a filly wants to run in the Kentucky Derby she can, but she'll have to earn her way into the field by accumulating points against open company just like the rest of the colts and geldings and be nominated to the Triple Crown. Additionally, any points earned by a filly in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series against open company will be credited to her point total in the "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" series.
DEAD-HEATS - In the event of a dead-heat (tie) in a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" race, those horses will divide equally the points they would have received jointly had one beaten the other.
SPLIT DIVISIONS - In the event a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" race is split into divisions and each division awards its originally published purse money, points will be awarded as scheduled for each division. If the originally published purse is halved for each division, points will be halved as well.
SCHEDULE CHANGES - No changes to the 2013 schedule are planned at this time. Churchill Downs officials will review which races will be included in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series annually. Plans call for the schedule of races to be announced each July.
NOMINATIONS - Horses born in 2010 were made eligible to run in this year's Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown with a $600 early payment that was due Jan. 26, 2013. A late period for nominations at $6,000 each will close Saturday, March 23, 2013. In addition to the Triple Crown nomination fee, owners must pay $25,000 to enter the Derby by 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, and an additional $25,000 to start. If there are less than 24 Triple Crown nominees entered, a horse may be supplemented for $200,000.
POST POSITION DRAW - The Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw - a traditional "pill pull" in which horses' entry blanks are pulled simultaneously with a numbered pill to determine what stall a horse will break from the starting gate - will be held at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at 5 p.m. ET (Live on NBC Sports Network). Up to 24 horses may enter the race and four horses can be listed as "also eligible" and would be ranked in order accordingly; they could draw into the field should any horse(s) be scratched before scratch time on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 9 a.m. ET.
PRIZE MONEY - The Kentucky Derby winner will receive a gold trophy plus an estimated $1.24 million payday. A total of $400,000 will be awarded to the runner-up, $200,000 to third, $100,000 to fourth and $60,000 to fifth.
KENTUCKY DERBY PREP SEASON
Day Date DD WD Gr. Purse Race Distance Track
Sat. Sept. 29 217 31 II $158,994 Juddmonte Royal Lodge 1 M (T) Newmarket
Sat. Sept. 29 217 31 I $250,000 FrontRunner 1 1/16 M Santa Anita
Sat. Oct. 6 210 30 I $400,000 Foxwoods Champagne 1 M Belmont Park
Sat. Oct. 6 210 30 I $400,000 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity 1 1/16 M (S) Keeneland
Sun. Oct. 7 209 30 III $229,677 Grey 1 1/16 M (S) Woodbine
Sat. Nov. 3 182 26 I $1,818,000 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile 1 1/16 M Santa Anita
Sat. Nov. 17 168 24 III $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot 1 1/16 M Delta Downs
Sat. Nov. 24 161 23 II $250,000 Remsen 1 1/8 M Aqueduct
Sat. Nov. 24 161 23 II $177,150 Kentucky Jockey Club 1 1/16 M Churchill Downs
Sat. Dec. 15 140 20 I $750,000 CashCall Futurity 1 1/16 M (S) Betfair Hollywood Park
Sat. Jan. 5 119 17 III $100,000 Sham 1 M Santa Anita
Sat. Jan. 19 105 15 III $200,000 Lecomte 1 M 70 Y Fair Grounds
Mon. Jan. 21 103 15 $150,000 Smarty Jones 1 M Oaklawn Park
Sat. Jan. 26 98 14 III $400,000 Holy Bull 1 1/16 M Gulfstream Park
Sat. Feb. 2 91 13 II $200,000 Robert B. Lewis 1 1/16 M Santa Anita
Sat. Feb. 2 91 13 III $200,000 Sam F. Davis 1 1/16 M Tampa Bay Downs
Sat. Feb. 2 91 13 III $200,000 Withers 1 1/16 M Aqueduct
Sat. Feb. 16 77 11 III $200,000 El Camino Real Derby 1 1/8 M (S) Golden Gate
Mon. Feb. 18 75 11 III $300,000 Southwest 1 1/16 M Oaklawn Park
KENTUCKY DERBY CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
First Leg of Series (Points: 50-20-10-5)
Day Date DD WD Gr. Purse Race Distance Track
Sat. Feb. 23 70 10 II $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth 1 1/16 M Gulfstream Park
Sat. Feb. 23 70 10 II $400,000 Risen Star 1 1/16 M Fair Grounds
Sat. Mar. 2 63 9 III $400,000 Gotham 1 1/16 M Aqueduct
Sat. Mar. 9 56 8 II $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby 1 1/16 M Tampa Bay Downs
Sat. Mar. 9 56 8 II $300,000 San Felipe 1 1/16 M Santa Anita
Sat. Mar. 16 49 7 II $600,000 Rebel 1 1/16 M Oaklawn Park
Sat. Mar. 23 42 6 III $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral 1 1/8 M (S) Turfway Park
Sun. Mar. 24 41 6 III $800,000 Sunland Derby 1 1/8 M Sunland Park
Second Leg of Series (Points: 100-40-20-10)
Day Date DD WD Gr. Purse Race Distance Track
Sat. Mar. 30 35 5 I $1,000,000 Besilu Stables Florida Derby 1 1/8 M Gulfstream Park
Sat. Mar. 30 35 5 II $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby 1 1/8 M Fair Grounds
Sat. Mar. 30 35 5 II $2,000,000 UAE Derby 1 3/16 M (S) Meydan
Sat. Apr. 6 28 4 I $1,000,000 Wood Memorial 1 1/8 M Aqueduct
Sun. Apr. 6 28 4 I $750,000 Santa Anita Derby 1 1/8 M Santa Anita
Sat. Apr. 13 21 3 I $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby 1 1/8 M Oaklawn Park
Sat. Apr. 13 21 3 I $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass 1 1/8 M (S) Keeneland
Wild Card (Points: 20-8-4-2)
Day Date DD WD Gr. Purse Race Distance Track
Sat. Apr. 20 14 2 III $200,000 Coolmore Lexington 1 1/16 M (S) Keeneland
Sat. Apr. 27 7 1 III $175,000 Derby Trial 1 M Churchill Downs
DD = Days until May 4 Kentucky Derby; WD = Weeks until May 4 Kentucky Derby; Gr. = Grade; M = Miles; Y = Yards; F = Furlongs; (T) = Turf; (S) = Synthetic
CONTACT - For questions or comments, please contact Darren Rogers, Churchill Downs' Senior Director of Communications & Media Services, at (502) 636-4461 (Office), (502) 345-1031 (Mobile) or Darren.Rogers@KyDerby.com<mailto:Darren.Rogers@KyDerby.com>.
Time for a Change upset the unbeatable superhorse, Devil’s Bag, to win the 1984 Flamingo Stakes in the era when that race rivaled the Florida Derby. Point?
Time for a Change in Kentucky racing calendar a generation later.
Turfway Park has become an embarrassment to the prime September dates. It’s now the poster child for the steep decline in what once was a pretty decent year-round circuit in the Commonwealth. Nothing lasts forever…most horseman & horseplayers want Churchill Downs to have the September dates & they should.
Now w/lights, Churchill Downs working in concert w/University of Louisville football could make for some great times on both sides of Central Avenue each September. So let it be written. So let it be done.
NOW, let’s pretend we start from scratch & create the new Kentucky circuit for 2013…
Turfway: January 1-March 24 (3 days a week)
Mountaineer is dark in January & February and Beulah Park is relocating to northern Ohio in the next year or so; should be enough horses to fill 30 races a week.
Keeneland: March 29-April 26
C’mon Keeneland, step up & expand your Spring Meet by a week, you can drop Wednesdays to pick up an extra week if you want. Kentucky Downs wants to now run last week of March which, on the surface is nice…but, soggy weather would likely mean full card cancellations aplenty.
Churchill Downs: April 27-July 14
Churchill picks up an extra week or two as lead-in to Saratoga. Or let Kentucky Downs pick up couple weeks in July.
Ellis Park: July 19-August 25
Shorten Ellis Park’s meet to boost purses. Ellis Park has always been a big, summer pimple on quality racing. Less is more. Why should they have two of the 3 big summer holiday weekends (4th of July & Labor Day) to showcase their $5k maiden claimers going 5 ½ furlongs on the weeds?
Kentucky Downs: August 30-September 7
Keeneland: September 13-October 13
Whoa Nellie…Keeneland again asked to make a change & add a week. Move the September yearling sale back to late October & let Saratoga horses come south sooner.
Churchill Downs: October 18-November 30
Expand Churchill’s Fall Meet. Plenty of horses. It’s quality racing. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Turfway Park: December 6-31
Wouldn’t hurt if Churchill picked up week or two after Thanksgiving & perhaps Kentucky racing took last two weeks of year off, but Turfway already has its corporate panties in a wad so keep December. ‘Course Turfway CHOOSE not to install Instant Racing machines & their new casino ownership group CHOOSE to downgrade the recent September meet, so no favors for our friends in Florence anymore.
Bottom line…More Keeneland. More Churchill Downs. More Kentucky Downs (summer/early autumn only though). Less Ellis Park. Less Turfway Park. Time for a change has come. Keep hope alive.
Mountaineer stages $750,000 West Virginia Derby on Saturday (August 4), highlighted by the soon-to-be blue-tailed freak show Hansen. Dr. Hansen that it. Can’t blame the horse for his ego maniac owner. Just hope the sight of a blue-tailed horse being loaded into a horse van, or worse, doesn’t appear.
Looking for Hansen to be upset at very low odds.
Nine races on the Mountaineer card…all worth $100,000 or more. West by gawd Virginia indeed.
Fear not Kentucky race fans, Ellis Park w/its infusion of free money from Kentucky Downs’ Instant Racing proceeds & oodles of state money (KTDF) will offer 9 races with four being maiden claimers & another a bottom feeding claimer. They do have one allowance race though. Go Ellis Go!
Maybe Kentucky can put tolls on the Ohio River bridge next to Ellis to jack up its sad racing program. Or, better yet, Ellis Park should form an alliance w/Indiana, claim territorial jurisdiction by Indiana & let Kentucky piddle around for the next 20 years trying to figure out what happened.
In case you’re not aware, Ellis Park is actually on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. Poor thing. It could've had Mitch Daniels, instead it gets the Steve Beshear & David Williams show.
In one of the Mountaineer races, Calvin Borel rides Chilled for Paul McGee. Chilled factored in easily one of the worst judged DQs in Churchill Downs history this past May when novice stewards, it's reported, said Chilled “intimidated” his rival, even though the rival repeated bumped Chilled (not the other way around). It was Borel's mount that fouled Chilled, yet the stewards overturned the victory, taking money away from the rightful winners. Ironically, Borel now jumps aboard Chilled. Calvin ain’t been Calvin since that Breeders’ Cup fight a couple years ago though. And, I haven’t been back to Churchill Downs since the stewards stole my money w/their “Chilled” DQ. And another DQ in the very next race too. Have never had a Black Jack winning hand overturned by stewards.
Whew…am I bitter or what? Only cure for that would seem to be one Mr. Jimmy Buffett tonight at Riverbend next to where the surf meets the turf at ole River Downs.
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There's absolutely no depth to this Preakness field as most of the six Derby horses running back should rule the roost in this race. If not, what a lousy bunch of three-year-olds.
#1 Tiger Walk (Kent Desormeaux) 30-1….My Detroit Tigers don’t walk much, don’t hit much either. This guy could bat second for ‘em. Tigers are tame & so is this guy.
#2 Teeth of the Dog (Jersey Joe Bravo) 15-1…was 50-1 when 3rdin Wood Memorial. Only four starts & one win. Plus, horses that beat him in Wood were nowhere to be found in Derby. Hard to make his case.
#3 Pretension (Javier Santiago) 30-1…just up at wire to win minor stake at Pimlico on Derby Day while 8-1. Ran miserable 9thin Illinois Derby against much lesser than these. Guess they have Preakness fever, if there is such a thing.
#4 Zetterholm (Junior Alvarado) 20-1…three straight wins against New York-bred garbage. Rick Dutrow trains him, so he’ll be juiced up & ready to roll. First medication DQ in Preakness history? You’re right, not fair to convict a man off just 60+ suspensions for drugging his horses. He can get a piece of this race if it falls apart.
#5 Went The Day Well (John Velazquez) 6-1…not given a chance to win by Velazquez in Derby, he’ll only have to contend w/half as many horses in here. He was going great late in Derby, figures to be closer to pace & certainly rates a big chance at decent odds.
#6 Creative Cause (Joel Rosario) 6-1…never runs a bad race. Looking for him to be right there turning for home & have a big say in this race late. Can go either way. Like him a lot more if he’ll drift north of morning line odds.
#7 Bodemeister (Mike Smith) 8-5…isn't it too obvious he’s going to win? Race sets up perfect for him. Did Derby take something out of him though? Value play says you have to try & beat him, which is tough since he’s never been worse than second. Betting he’ll not get a quality start & we can get paid elsewhere. He's the obvious play though.
#8 Daddy Nose Best (Julien Leparoux) 12-1…goes from an ice cold rider (Garrett Gomez) to the guy that coughed up the last two Derbies with awful rides. Leparoux can’t ride any worse than he did in Louisville, but this guy isn’t the quality of top half of this field. Had no excuse in Derby other than lack of class.
#9 I’ll Have Another (Mario Gutierrez) 5-2…no reason he can’t win again, did get the perfect trip in Derby though & that rarely happens twice. Look for him to run big, but see him completing the exacta, tri or super, not keying it.
#10 Optimizer (Corey Nakatani) 30-1…c’mon, at some point, the racing gods have to throw King Wayne (Lukas) a bone, don’t they. This colt’s not awful, just always swimming the deep end when he’s not a great swimmer. At 30-1, I’m tossing him in exotics.
#11 Cozetti (Jose Lezcano) 30-1…Dale Romans can train the hair off a horse & that’s about all this guy has going for him. Not a big Lezcano fan, but he’s also worth a shot at the back end of the exotics.
1st- Creative Cause…grinds out narrowest of wins at a price
2nd- Went The Day Well…drops a heartbreaker
3rd- I’ll Have Another…runs well, but lightning doesn't strike twice
4th- Optimizer…something stupid has to get into superfecta