A record crowd of more than 120,000 went from a roar to silence today at Belmont Park as Birdstone upset Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and denied racing its 12th Triple Crown winner.
Eddington, the third-place finisher in the Preakness (gr. I) and 10-1 on the morning line for Saturday's 136th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds, galloped a mile and three furlongs over Belmont's main track Friday. "He's ready," trainer Mark Hennig said. "He's doing as well as can be expected."
Shortly before he arrived at Belmont Park after a 2 1/2-hour van ride, Someday Farms' Smarty Jones was installed as the 2-5 morning line favorite when he breaks from the outside nine post position in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Tuesday morning that Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Purge will attempt to disrupt Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid in Saturday's $1-million Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Tapit will not run in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr.I), it was reported on trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm web site Saturday. With Tapit's defection, as well as the defection of The Cliff's Edge, the connections of Purge and Master David are considering entering, although both are still doubtful starters.
Trainer Nick Zito says he has until Saturday to get a work into The Cliff's Edge, who suffered a foot bruise before the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), or he will be forced to miss the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The son of Gulch's problems started when he lost both his front shoes during the running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Marylou Whitney's Champagne (gr. I) winner Birdstone breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track Saturday morning.
Although the blistering five-furlong works by Smarty Jones and Birdstone dominated the morning activities Saturday, it was the well-conceived plan by Song of the Sword's owner Ernie Paragallo that set several major events in motion.
Smarty Jones and Birdstone, among the 3-year-olds vying for favoritism in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), sizzled in Saturday morning workouts at Churchill Downs.
With scattered showers and predictions of heavy rains in the afternoon, what little activity there was on the track this morning came early. In addition to the arrival of Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Friends Lake at 9:40, there was a mini buzz about the possible addition of the top-class filly Ashado to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) field.
Edited notes from Churchill Downs tracking the daily activities of leading contenders for the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Marylou Whitney Stable's Birdstone, who was scratched from last week's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, resumed serious preparation for Kentucky Derby 130 (gr. I) May 1 with a five-furlong workout on Thursday at Churchill Downs.
The Nick Zito-trained Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) winner The Cliff's Edge and Champagne (gr. I) winner Birdstone arrived Tuesday afternoon at Churchill Downs after a brief van ride from Keeneland.
Birdstone was declared out of Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) after tests showed an elevated white cell count.
With the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) only three weeks away, NBC Sports kicks off coverage of horseracing's 3-year-old picture on Saturday, with the 90-minute telecast of "NTRA Road to the Kentucky Derby."
Lion Heart was installed the 5-2 morning line favorite against eight other 3-year-olds for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland and trainer Patrick Biancone agreed. "He's that good and I hope he gets to show it on the track," Biancone said.
Dogwood Stable's Limehouse, the recent winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), breezed an easy five furlongs just after the track renovation on Sunday morning, his final work for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) to be run Saturday.
Lion Heart, St Averil, and Wimbledon have been installed as the 10-1 co-favorites in the third and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool, which opens Thursday at noon Eastern and closes Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone tuned up for the April 10 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) Monday morning, breezing an easy six furlongs in 1:15 2/5 at Keeneland, his first work since his fifth-place finish in the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) March 20.
Although we're fascinated with numbers at TheDowneyProfile.com, we are not into numerology. However, it doesn't take much imagination to conjure up a projected field of 13 in Kentucky Derby 130.
It seems as if each Monday brings with it a new set of excuses for beaten favorites in Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps. Some will prove to be legitimate and some won't. But the bottom line is no one has a clue who is going to win this year's Derby, which is as muddled as any in memory at such a late date.
Under a steady rain, top Kentucky Derby prospect Birdstone never got going in Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), clunking home fifth as 16-1 frontrunner Sinister G scored a major surprise at Turfway Park.
On paper, The 33rd running of the Grade II, $500,000 Lane's End Stakes looks like a one horse race. You guessed it, Birdstone, the even money morning line favorite.
Trainer Nick Zito is beginning his assault on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) by shipping three of his top contenders to Keeneland. The plane carrying Eurosilver, Birdstone, and The Cliff's Edge was expected to land in Central Kentucky today.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone was installed the even-money favorite against 10 rivals for Saturday's Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. The 3-year-old son of Grindstone drew post one for the 1 1/8-mile race.
There are eight firm candidates for Saturday's Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), according to the racing office at Turfway Park, with as many as four others riding the fence.
Marylou Whitney Stables' homebred Birdstone, winner of the grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont last year, is the talk of Turfway leading up to their signature Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep, Saturday's Lane's End Stakes (gr. II). However, the diminutive son of Grindstone hasn't exactly scared anyone off from the $500,000 race with as many as 14 others considering the race.
Following a weekend of Kentucky Derby prep races in which several leading Kentucky Derby contenders suffered defeats, the field of "all other 3-year-olds" emerged as the favorite when the second of three pools in Churchill Downs' 2004 Kentucky Derby Future Wager ended its four-day run Sunday.
The field entry is the early favorite in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which started Thursday, but hardly the commanding choice that it was in the opening pool.
The "NPZ" saddlecloths of Nick Zito whizzed by one after another Saturday morning, as Zito sent out virtually his entire 3-year-old force for five-furlong breezes at Palm Meadows training center, in preparation for their upcoming preps.
Almost all of the leading contenders for the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, including trainer Nick Zito's highly regarded twosome of Birdstone and Eurosilver, are among 157 nominees to Keeneland's $750,000, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds will be run on Saturday, April 10, three weeks before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). It will be televised live on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET).
Cynics be damned, it's time to see what the Derby gods might be scheming. With the equine version of March Madness starting next weekened, this is the last opportunity in a while to look at the Derby in an ethereal sense.
The Nick Zito-trained pair of Birdstone and Eurosilver lead Action This Day in the latest installment of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contender analysis by Steve Haskin, senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, winner of his 3-year-old debut in allowance company, may skip the March 13 Florida Derby and run in the following week's $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park instead, trainer Nick Zito said Monday.
Birdstone's easy victory in his 2004 debut moved him above stablemate Eurosilver as the Nick Zito-trained pair remained atop the list of leading contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) compiled by Steve Haskin, senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse.
Even with the injury to Second of June, it's refreshing to finally have a weekend that held true to form and helped put several pieces of the puzzle together rather than creating more confusion, as has often been the case in recent years.
Second of June, a game runner-up in Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) suffered a condylar fracture of the cannon bone, and was scheduled to undergo Sunday afternoon surgery at Dr. Stephen Selway's clinic near Gulfstream Park.
Kentucky Derby fans backed such promising young stars as Eurosilver, Lion Heart, Action This Day and Read the Footnotes, but the heavy favorite at the end of four days of wagering in Pool 1 of Churchill Downs' 2004 Kentucky Derby Future Wager was the "mutuel field."
Future wager odds on both Fountain of Youth (gr. II) winner Read the Footnotes and runner-up Second of June for the May 1 Kentucky Derby dropped significantly following the Gulfstream Park prep race Saturday.
Caifornia-based colts Lion Heart and Master David emerged from the second day of wagering in pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager as the most fancied of 23 individual horses listed for the May 1 Derby.
Graded stakes winner Wynn Dot Comma will get a sharp challenge from a couple of Todd Pletcher-trained rivals, Deputy Storm and Limehouse, in the 51st running of the $150,000 Hutcheson (gr. II) Saturday, a seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.
The stars were out at Palm Meadows training center Tuesday morning following several days of bad weather, which forced the cancellation the Monday's Gulfstream card and most of Sunday's. Heading the 3-year-old workers was Read the Footnotes, who will make his debut in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Bob Durso said he will start his undefeated Frisky Spider in either the Hutcheson or the Fountain of Youth, while Nick Zito is considering those races and allowances for Birdstone, Eurosilver, and The Cliff's Edge.
Marylou Whitney's homebred Eclipse Award contender Bird Town (by Cape Town) is booked to another champion contender, Empire Maker (by Unbridled).
The Cliff's Edge won the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Saturday, after which trainer Nick Zito said he would still rank the colt behind two of his other juveniles, Eurosilver and Birdstone.
This is the first in a series of early looks at next year's 3-year-olds and where they might stack up on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Right now, it is Nick Zito, Richard Mandella, and Todd Pletcher who have the numbers.
Bird Town, a candidate for champion 3-year-old filly, has been retired from racing.
Marylou Whitney Stable's improving Birdstone put away favored Chapel Royal in the final furlong to comfortably capture the $500,000 Champagne (gr. I) for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park Saturday.
Chapel Royal, the East's leading 2-year-old throughout the spring and early summer, will be out to prove he is more than a sprinter in Saturday's grade I, $500,000 Champagne at 1 1/16 miles. Seven rivals, including Birdstone and Notorious Rogue, will stand in his way.
Although Hopeful (gr. I) winner Silver Wagon will not be heading to Santa Anita in October, that's not to say we didn't see any contenders for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) last weekend.
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