It looks a like a big weekend coming up for Todd Pletcher, who will have starters in all three Kentucky Derby preps. Indy Dancer runs in the Wood Memorial, Aristocat goes in the Arkansas Derby, and Lion Tamer is a likely starter in the Blue Grass Stakes.
John Velazquez, who is the regular rider for all three horses, has chosen to ride Indy Dancer. Rene Douglas will get the mount aboard Aristocat, and Cornelio Velasquez will be on Lion Tamer.
Two of Pletcher's colts – Indy Dancer and Aristocat -- will wear blinkers for the first time. If all three horses perform well and go on to the Kentucky Derby, not only will Pletcher have three starters, owner Michael Tabor will as well, although he'll have two running against each other at Keeneland. Tabor also has Brancusi, trained by Patrick Biancone, running in the Blue Grass Stakes.
The main star of the afternoon, Empire Maker, arrived at Aqueduct Wednesday morning and took up residence in trainer Rich Dutrow's barn. Expected to face the Florida Derby winner are Indy Dancer, Funny Cide, Senor Swinger, New York Hero, Kissin Saint, and Sky Soldier. It is possible Allen Jerkens could enter Spite the Devil as well.
The Blue Grass is expected to draw a field of nine, with Badge of Silver looking to avenge his defeat to Peace Rules in the Louisiana Derby. Also scheduled to run are Lion Tamer, Brancusi, Offlee Wild, Ten Cents a Shine, Great Notion, Lots of Sizzle, and Crowned Dancer.
On the Arkansas Derby front, Region of Merit, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, arrived at Oaklawn Park, where he'll face Aristocat for the third time. The son of Touch Gold has two victories over Aristocat, including the Tampa Bay Derby. Regular rider Eibar Coa will be aboard. A field of 12 was entered Wednesday. In addition to Region of Merit (post 7) and Aristocat (post 9), other starters are Man Among Men (post 10), Christine's Outlaw, Eugene's Third Son, Cat Genius, Comic Truth, Defrere's Vixen, Sir Cherokee, Crowned King, Sir Liam, and Sell to Survive.
Shane Sellers picked up the mount on Eugene's Third Son, who breaks from post 12, while Mark Guidry will ride Christine's Outlaw (post 4) for the first time.