One of the most successful renewals of the Kentucky Derby in the 129-year history of Churchill Downs saw the historic track shatter across-the-board records for on-track and simulcast wagering and demolish its year-old North American record for betting on a single event and race day.
Nelson Bunker Hunt's Chilean-bred Gondolieri, ridden by Frank Alvarado, scored an easy victory in Saturday's $103,782 Inglewood Stakes, which was transferred from the turf to the dirt track.
Four years after watching Woodcarver win the 1999 Queenston Stakes, Trainer Mike Keogh and owner Gustav Schickedanz were in familiar territory on Saturday, as Mobil captured the 2003 edition of the $160,500 race at Woodbine.
Funny Cide, who was beaten just a half-length by Kentucky Derby (gr. I) favorite Empire Maker in the Wood Memorial (gr. I), sprung the upset Saturday at Churchill Downs. He became the first New York-bred to ever win the Derby and the first gelding to take the roses since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.
Spite the Devil, at odds of 16-1, motored down the middle of the track and caught Alysweep at the wire to win the $150,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) Saturday at Aqueduct.
Delta Princess and leading rider Mike Luzzi squeezed through on the inside in the stretch, then held off a challenge from second-place Wonder Again to win the $112,400 Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Saturday at Aqueduct.
A longshot was due, and it came at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard in the form of Honor In War, who won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) under David Flores at 24-1.
After Juddmonte Farms' filly Sightseek won the Humana Distaff (gr. I), trainer Bobby Frankel had his third graded stakes winner on Saturday's card, leading up to his sending out Empire Maker in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Heat Haze walked out of the gate, was dead last for most of the running, and then exploded down the stretch to circle the field and win the Citgo Distaff Turf Mile (gr. III) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
Limehouse, a 2-year-old Grand Slam colt, won the first important juvenile stakes of the year, the Three Chimneys at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
Aldeberan, known for his many second-place finishes, did not finish second Saturday in the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II). Under Jerry Bailey, he won the seven-furlong stakes as the 6-5 favorite, withstanding an objection from Tony Farina, who rode second-place finisher Pass Rush.
Edmund Gann's You shook off a game Fly Borboleta and ran off to easily take the $325,500 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) by eight lengths.
Refuse To Bend remained unbeaten in four starts after taking the English 2,000 Guineas(Eng-I) today at Newmarket over Zafeen and Norse Dancer.
Last year, the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) favorite was an incredibly high 6-1. Unlike Harlan's Holiday a year ago, Empire Maker was supposed be lower than 2-1. Well, it doesn't look like that is going to happen.
Wagering Friday on Kentucky Oaks Day was up both on and off track, Churchill Downs officials announced.
The races on the Derby Day undercard have become richer and more important over the last six years. This year four graded stakes races will be run before the Run for the Roses.
Despite the fact many feel this year's North American 3-year-old crop could be ripe for the picking, this year's Kentucky Derby will be strictly an all-American affair as Godolphin Racing and trainer Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle stable will not have representatives in America's classic horse race.
If Empire Maker is to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), he'll be bucking 52 years of history. This fact and more stats on the First Saturday in May...
At the conclusion of advance wagering Friday on today's Kentucky Derby, Illinois Derby winner Ten Most Wanted was the surprising 9-2 favorite for the classic. Empire Maker, the colt that Churchill oddsmaker Mike Battaglia made the shortest priced morning line favorite since Arazi in 1992, was fifth choice at 8-1.
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