A P Valentine continues to top Steve Haskin's list of top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders, with Talk Is Money the newest addition to the list.
Talk Is Money
The cry of "Go, Big Blue" resounded throughout the New York area on Super Bowl Sunday. Although it was silenced following the New York Giants' defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, don't be surprised if it is resurrected by Gang Godolphin around the first Saturday in May. That's when Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum and his faithful followers will invade Churchill Downs bearing gifts and exuding confidence. Boxloads of Godolphin jackets, shirts, and caps will turn Churchill Downs into a sea of blue. Over the past two years, three members of Maktoum's Marauders made it to the starting gate on Derby Day, their coats shining like burnished copper. But there really wasn't a Derby horse beneath those glistening exteriors.
Daniel M. Borislow's Talk Is Money was tested all the way to the finish line by Marciano but prevailed in an all-out drive to win the $50,000 Miracle Wood Stakes, Saturday's co-feature at Laurel Park. In successfully negotiatiing two turns for the first time, the $1.8 million yearling purchase remained undefeated in two career starts.
A field of 11, led by City Zip and Yonaguska, has been entered for Saturday's Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. The seven-furlong, $150,000 race is the third leg in the series of races leading up to the Florida Derby. City Zip, a multiple grade II winner, is the 122-pound topweight in the Hutcheson. Yonaguska, who finished in dead heat with City Zip for first in the Hopeful Stakes, will tote 119.
City Zip, the speedy Carson City colt who vaulted to national prominence last summer by becoming the first horse in 40 years to sweep Saratoga's major 2-year-old stakes, arrived in South Florida last Sunday to prepare for Saturday's grade II Hutcheson Stakes. Meanwhile, Daring Pegasus will be seeking his second straight stakes victory when he starts in the Hutcheson, his first start outside the state of Kentucky.
After Saturday's seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, just one more stakes preview will remain on the Gulfstream Park schedule for the March 10 Florida Derby. Likely to await the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) are the major 3-year-olds in Florida – Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Macho Uno, and Champagne Stakes (gr. I) winner A P Valentine. Another pointing directly to the mile and an eighth Florida Derby is Buckle Down Ben, winner of the Laurel Futurity (gr. III) last season and second in the Holy Bull.
Champagne Stakes winner A P Valentine, trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Nick Zito, tops Steve Haskin's first list of top 20 contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown racxes. Haskin, The Blood-Horse magazine's senior correspondent and Triple Crown authority, will be updating the contenders list weekly between now and the Kentucky Derby.
NTRA Productions has released the "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby" series, which will feature 15 races that lead up to the first leg of the Triple Crown. The series begins Feb. 18 and concludes with a Triple Crown Special April 29.
The re-entry of Magna Entertainment's seven racetracks into the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is expected to have an immediate impact on the NTRA's winter television schedule on ESPN and ESPN2, beginning with its first telecast on Feb. 3. That telecast will feature the Donn Handicap (gr. I) from Gulfstream Park and the Strub Stakes (gr. II) and San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) from Santa Anita. Both tracks are owned by Magna, whose chairman, Frank Stronach, announced on Jan. 17 in a joint statement with the NTRA that he has made a two-year commitment to rejoin the organization.
The grade 1 Fountain of Youth, to be run February 17 as the last major prep for the $1 million Florida Derby March 10, is the next scheduled stop on the agenda for grade 3 Holy Bull winner Radical Riley. Runner-up Bukcle Down Ben could also try the Fountain of Youth or may go directly into the Florida Derby off Saturay's effort.
The Harrah's Reno casino and race book has posted early future odds for the 2001 Kentucky Derby.
Has Derby fever begun its annual rose-colored rise up the old thermometer, or do you still have samurais and geisha girls on the brain? It seems like only yesterday that dusk was settling on Churchill Downs and we were all rejoicing over racing's newest hero. We all felt as if the messiah had finally been delivered in the form of an Adonis-like creature named Fusaichi Pegasus. Then it all disappeared into the murk of a misty Maryland afternoon, leaving us to start our search all over again.
Millennium Wind, a $1.2 million son of Crytoclearance, took a major step towards the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7 with a hard-earned half-length victory over 31-1 outsider Palmeiro in Sunday's $107,700 Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Ridden by Chris McCarron, who won three stakes races at Santa Anita over the weekend, Millennium Wind covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.38. The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt paid $3.20 as the favorite in the field of six and earned $64,620 for owners David and Jill Heerensperger of Seattle, Washington.
A P Valentine, winner of the grade 1 Champagne and a prospect for the $1 million Florida Derby March 10, breezed a half-mile in :51 at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning at Hialeah Park. The Zito-trained Albert The Great, a leading candidate for the grade 1 Donn Handicap February 3, also worked Saturday morning at Hialeah, getting a half-mile in :47 3/5 in handy fashion.
Macho Uno, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in his last start of 2000, arrived safely at Gulfstream on Saturday. The newly turned 3-year-old was shipped by van from Frank Stronach's Adena Springs South Farm in Ocala, and is bedded down with trainer Joe Orseno's stable.
Radical Riley, a 15-1 shot, came from next to last to edge Buckle Down Ben by a head Saturday in the grade III, $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream. Cee Dee, a 20-1 shot, was third, only half a length behind the first two. Master Planner, the 2-1 favorite, was fourth in a field of eight.
Trainer Frank Alexander worked Remsen Stakes (gr. II) winner Windsor Castle on Saturday at Gulfstream in preparation for the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) over 1 1/16 miles here Feb. 17. With Robbie Davis in the saddle, Windsor Castle was timed in 1:13 4/5 for six furlongs (handily) and got the half-mile in :48 4/5.
Steve Haskin, whose exclusive coverage of the Triple Crown -- including weekly updates and list of top contenders -- begins Monday, will also answer e-mail questions about the Triple Crown.
Turnberry Isle will be looking to recapture his European form when he faces off against Millennium Wind in the grade III, $100,000 Santa Catalina Stakes Sunday. The Santa Catalina is the first major prep race for aspiring 3-year-olds on the road leading into the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby. Turnberry Isle and Millennium Wind will break alongside each other as they have drawn post positions No. 5 and No. 6 respectively.
Trainer of Giant's Causeway has 21 horses under consideration for this year's Triple Crown events.
Macho Uno, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the leading candidate for champion 2-year-old honors, is scheduled to arrive at trainer Joe Orseno's barn at Gulfstream Park Friday, where he'll begin preparing for the classics. Danny Vella, farm manager of owner Frank Stronach's Adena Springs in Ocala, said Macho Uno has been galloping and swimming on a regular basis, and is just about ready for a half-mile work.
Buckle Down Ben, third in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), has been installed the 5-2 morning-line favorite among eight 3-year-olds entered in Saturday's $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/16 mile Holy Bull is one of the steppingstones to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on March 10. All four of Buckle Down Ben's races have been around two turns and he has won two them, including the Laurel Futurity (gr. III) at 1 1/8 miles in Maryland on Nov. 4.
Due to the date of Easter weekend this year, Churchill Downs has amended the schedule for the third pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Pool 1 is scheduled for Feb. 15-18; Pool 2 is set for March 8-11; and Pool 3 will run from April 5-8. The 127th renewal of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 5. Pool Three will be conducted a week earlier than in the first two years of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
Global Gait, a multiple stakes winner in Maryland who has captured his last three starts at Laurel by a combined 22 1/2 lengths, has been sold to Robert and Beverly Lewis for an undisclosed sum and was scheduled to arrive at trainer Bob Baffert's barn Monday night, former trainer Anthony Dutrow said Monday morning.
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