Jockey Edgar Prado, who has won the Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT) three consecutive years, won't have a chance to go down swinging for his own "Grand Slam." Prado had opportunities to ride in the $750,000 grass test for 3-year-olds but kept his commitment to ride other horses.
"I already had a commitment that I made a while ago to ride somewhere else," explained Prado on Wednesday afternoon. "I couldn't break my agreement. I had to stay with my commitment."
Prado will be at Delaware Park on Saturday and rides Trapped Again in the $100,000 R.R. M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial, Sis City in the $500,000 Delaware Oaks (gr. II), and Honey Rider in the $300,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial. Since he will be aboard Trapped Again and Honey Rider for the first time, his prior commitment must have been with trainer Bobby Frankel to ride Sis City, whom he will ride for the third time.
"So far, the Virginia Derby has treated me super. I have a good reason to come back," Prado elaborated. "It's a nice place. I enjoy riding in Virginia. I have made a lot of good friends there, and it will be good to come back."
Prado won the Virginia Derby in 2002 with Orchard Park, 2003 with Silver Tree, and 2004 with Kitten's Joy. It is absolutely stunning that he was never aboard the favorite in any of those three races.
Also at Delaware Park this weekend, Scrappy T will be making his first start since the Preakness (gr. I) where he finished second after trading horsehair with Afleet Alex at the top of the stretch. Trainer Robbie Bailes gave Scrappy a chance on the turf in a workout at Colonial, but it was obvious that the Fight to Fit gelding didn't take to it.
"We knew it wasn't a sure thing. If he were bred for the grass, I would have been more disappointed. We knew more than likely that it wasn't going to work out, but we gave it a shot," explained Bailes as Scrappy was being shipped to Delaware Park on Wednesday.
Scrappy T's owner, Marshall Dowell, lives within half an hour of Colonial Downs and frequently attends the races there, often to watch his horses. As Scrappy T began to show promise in New York over the winter, Dowell's questions to Bailes were directed more towards the Virginia Derby than the Triple Crown. Scrappy is the favorite (9-5) in the $300,000 Leonard Richards (gr. III) on Sunday on the dirt.
"I'm not as confident as I would be if we didn't try to change his schedule, but his attitude has been great," said Bailes. "This is where I wanted to go if the turf didn't work out. The time period was better than the other races. Between a mile and a mile and a sixteenth is his best distance. From a pace factor, he has the ability to lead or stalk. Any farther back takes him away from his game which you don't want to do."