How about a little diversionary game on the way to next Saturday's Fountain of Youth and Risen Star stakes? Picture the Derby trail as a maze. The object is to find your way through the maze and reach Churchill Downs without running into D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert or Nick Zito. Well, we didn't say it would easy. But with racing's three-headed monster concentrating on blocking all the major roads, this past weekend's smattering of minor stakes was an excellent chance for trainers to take another step in achieving their goal. Not to mention taking home some decent cash as well.
Nick Zito announced Sunday that Pat Day will ride A P Valentine when the son of A. P. Indy makes his 2001 debut Feb. 17 in a 7-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream. Jorge Chavez had been the colt's regular rider.
A P Valentine, winner of the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) last fall, had his first test for speed at Hialeah Saturday, blazing 5 furlongs in a bullet :59 flat.
Wild And Wise wore down Swordfish in the final furlong and edged clear for a half-length victory Friday in the $96,750 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Park.
The $1-million Florida Derby, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby, will air during a special segment on SportsCenter Saturday, March 10, on ESPN2. Airtime for SportsCenter on March 10 is 6:00-7:00 p.m. (ET), with wire-to-wire coverage of the Florida Derby scheduled to be shown approximately one hour after the live running of the Grade I race for 3-year-olds from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.
First installment in series analyzing pedigrees of leading 2001 Kentucky Derby contenders.
Point Given has a scare in workout; D'Wildcat will go to Florida for the Swale; Early Flyer is likely to contest the San Rafael; Lasersport has fractured knee.
Traffic will increase on the road to Gulfstream Park's $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) next week as a field of 10, including some West Coast invaders, assembles for the grade I Fountain of Youth Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile Fountain on Saturday, Feb. 17, serves as the final major prep for the 50th anniversary running of the Florida Derby and the 3-year-old classics beyond.
The EDS "Road to the Roses Fantasy Challenge," a rotisserie-style fantasy game that lets racing fans pick their own stable of Kentucky Derby horses, trainers and jockeys, will go live this Saturday, Feb. 10. The game's top winner will receive a trip to the Kentucky Derby and a $5,000 betting voucher.
Ranked in preference order, with horse/ trainer/breeding
And you thought we were just going to flutter into February, with barely a breeze being stirred. It just goes to prove once again that the only sure thing about life on the Derby trail is its unpredictability. Instead of simply gliding along until the Fountain of Youth in two weeks, the 3-year-old picture hurtled into the new month on falcons' wings, thanks to several awesome performances.
A record number of 439 three-year-old horses have been nominated to the 2001 Visa Triple Crown and the $5 million Visa Triple Crown Challenge during the recently completed early nomination period for the world's most prestigious trio of horse racing classics. The overall nomination number outdistanced by more than a furlong the previous record of 422 set in 1986, the first year of the common nomination process under the auspices of Triple Crown Productions, headquartered at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Helping to push the nomination field to a new standard was the record number of nominations from Europe -- 53-- far surpassing last year's record total of 24.
Trainer John Ward, Jr. had his stakes-placed 3-year-old colt Holiday Thunder out for a six furlong trial on Friday. The son of Thunder Gulch was clocked in 1:14 4/5 and Ward was satisfied enough to say his next start would be in the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 17. "It was a good useful work and he finished up well," Ward said. "Mike Smith rode him this morning and he'll ride him for me in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. That's his next start."
Bob Baffert got his first big indication that he purchased a runner in Global Gait Thursday morning when the son of Concern worked a sharp 7 furlongs in 1:25, with Baffert catching him his last quarter in :23 3/5 and final three-eighths in :34 4/5.
Trainer Bob Hess Jr. is hoping Fog City Stable's D'wildcat can approximate his last performance when he meets unbeaten Lasersport Saturday in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs. D'wildcat smoked a maiden allowance field in his second career start Jan. 6 in a six-furlong time of 1:08.76, only four ticks off the track record. D'wildcat breezed four furlongs in :49.20 Tuesday in his final San Vicente tuneup.
In the first stakes of the year at Fair Grounds for 3-year-olds, Sam Lord's Castle defeated Wild Hits in the Le Comte Stakes.
Windsor Castle, purchased by a Dogwood Stable partnership after winning the grade II Remsen Stakes last year, has been dealt a setback that will cause him to miss the Feb. 17 Fountain of Youth Stakes. Dogwood president Cot Campbell said Windsor Castle developed a fever several days after a Jan. 6 workout. "It's nothing serious and he's normal now, but it's thrown a monkey wrench into (trainer) Frank Alexander's schedule for him," Campbell said.
There wasn't much separating Macho Uno and Point Given in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the Experimental Free Handicap for males. Macho Uno held off Point Given by a nose in the Juvenile and was assigned one pound more than that rival on the Experimental. Ranked a pound below Point Given was A P Valentine, who turned in a powerful run to win the Champagne Stakes (gr. I), but then ran last in the Juvenile. Overall, nine horses were weighted at 120 pounds or more, the same number as in 1999.
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.
Most Popular Stories
- Two IL Tracks File for Bankruptcy Protection
- British Racing Undertakes Education Program
- Undefeated Dortmund Wasn't Always So Popular
- Lukas Pointing 'Brandi' to Kentucky Oaks
- Golden Gate Winter/Spring Meet Starts Dec. 26
- Millionaire Kiri's Clown Euthanized at Age 25
- Baffert Quartet Faces Shared Belief in Malibu
- Secret Circle Aims for Season-Ending Win
- Intriguing Maidens in MD Juvenile Futurity
- Baltas, Pedroza Square Off at Los Alamitos