Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) winner and 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) starter Big Truck was euthanized after suffering an injury while training at Tampa Bay Downs March 4.
Ramon Dominguez hustled Wishful Tomcat to the early lead in the Discovery Handicap and they never looked back, the duo leading every step of the way in posting a 1 3/4-length victory on Aqueduct's main track.
Winter Park Partners' Wishful Tomcat, a late-blooming 3-year-old with four wins in his last five starts, tries to notch his first graded stakes score when he takes on seven rivals in the $100,000-added Discovery Handicap (gr. III) Nov. 22 at Aqueduct.
Tin Cup Chalice, owned, bred, and trained by Michael Lecesse, became the first horse to sweep the OTB's Big Apple Triple on Aug. 20 at Saratoga, when he held off an upset bid by That'srightofficer to win the 31st running of the $150,000, nine-furlong Albany Stakes for 3-year-old New York-breds by a head.
The Barclay Tagg-trained Big Truck will be "Running for Re-Run" in the May 3 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Poet T.S. Eliot labeled April "cruelest month," but it is not a bad month on stud farms for foaling winners of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). In fact, over the last eight years, April foals have won three runnings of the Derby. February, the month that gives us both Groundhog Day and Presidents Day despite being the shortest month of the year, has been responsible for five winners.
In what trainer Barclay Tagg described as a "perfect" work, Big Truck zipped five furlongs in :59 2/5 at Churchill Downs on Monday, April 28, in preparation for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Javier Castellano buys you a drink, then wraps the glass in a napkin so your hands don't get cold. If you're standing and he's sitting, he jumps up to offer his chair. In the paddock, greeting owners, he doffs his helmet with remarkable chivalry. And he loves puppies and kittens, which has nothing to do with racing, but adds to his delightful personality. We've dubbed him the most charming jockey riding in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
The first morning at Churchill Downs brought sunny skies and warm temperatures, as the Kentucky Derby horses began their final stretch to racing's biggest day. From here on, there is no room for error. We'll give a brief rundown of the day's activities and continue with the plusses and minuses of each contender.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said April 24 that Starlight Stable, Donald Lucarelli and Paul Saylor's Monba and Stonerside Stable's Cowboy Cal remain on schedule to work at Keeneland either April 26 or April 27 in their first works since finishing one-two in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I). Pletcher said the pair would then ship to Churchill Downs probably April 28, for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 3.
Eric Fein's Big Truck, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), worked a half-mile in :48.8 over the Polytrack at Keeneland April 22.
Charles Fipke's Tale of Ekati worked a half-mile in :49.20 April 17 at Keeneland. Trainer Barclay Tagg described the move as "a little maintenance work after his race."
Robert Evans' Elysium Fields, runner-up in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), will be sidelined indefinitely, said trainer Barclay Tagg.
Well, should we talk about the vagaries of Polytrack form for the umpteenth time or concentrate on the weekend's racing?
One day after his 3-year-olds ran 1-2 in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), trainer Todd Pletcher said he will take a few days before deciding when Monba and Cowboy Cal will ship to Churchill Downs in preparation for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Pyro may be on fire going into the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 12, but 11 other runners will attempt to douse his Derby dreams in the 1 1/8-mile event.
Trainer Barclay Tagg worked Big Truck and Elysium Fields four furlongs April 8 over the Keeneland Polytrack. Big Truck got the distance in :46.60, the fastest of 56 works at that distance for the day. Elysium Fields was clocked in :47.60.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Pyro turned in his final major prep for Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) by working a half-mile in :50.60 early Monday morning at Keeneland.
Entries for the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II) won't be drawn until March 31, but from the looks of the nominations, the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) prep is shaping into a deep and competitive field with many of the nation's top trainers and horses participating.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
Even though he had Tale of Ekati in his barn, trainer Barclay Tagg suggested Big Truck might be his most promising juvenile. The potential Big Truck possessed finally turned into performance in the Tampa Bay Derby, which he won with a gutsy drive against Atoned. Tagg believes Big Truck can handle the Kentucky Derby distance of a 1 1/4 miles. His pedigree raises some doubt.
So, the undefeated 2-year-old champion, sent off at 1-20 in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), had a fever the week before the race and the public was unaware of it. There is nothing that can be said here that won't be said in the weeks to come by those who bet War Pass, including the bridge jumpers, and those who had invested in him emotionally.
Trainer Barclay Tagg had prophetic words of wisdom for jockey Eibar Coa before he sent Eric Fein's Big Truck to the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). He told Coa to ride for second, remarking that they'd win if 1-9 favorite War Pass did not. And that's exactly what happened.
Handicappers who take on the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) will probably find their challenge not in choosing a winner, but in selecting the order of finish behind Robert LaPenta's prohibitive favorite War Pass.
The Smooth Jazz colt defeated seven rivals to earn his first stakes score Jan. 5 at Gulfstream Park.
Bill Mott has a barn full of promising juveniles. But of all of them, Court Vision may have the pedigree, speed and talent to give the trainer a legitimate Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender.
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