If you're tired of the same old cast of characters that have been playing the major roles so far, you're going to love next weekend's mixed bag of stakes races. After Saturday, many questions will be answered, and don't be surprised to see some new, exciting faces take center stage on the Triple Crown trail.
Cecil Peacock's Brother Derek heads an impressive list of 137 3-year-olds nominated to Keeneland's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 15. The race will be televised live by ABC Sports from 5 to 6 p.m. (ET).
You know it's a strange day on the Triple Crown trail when you have four stakes and the two most impressive horses seen are in a maiden race and a workout. Although heavy favorites Brother Derek and First Samurai emerged victorious, the latter on a disqualification, it still left most people wanting more.
Santa Catalina (gr. II) winner Brother Derek shot to favoritism at 10-1 among individual horses as Pool 2 of the 2006 Kentucky Derby Future Wager closed on Sunday. But the field entry of all 3-year-olds not listed in the pool was a solid overall choice of bettors at odds of 3-1.
Brother Derek came out of his victory in Saturday's Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park with a minor scrape but trainer Dan Hendricks said it won't impede his schedule en route to the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 8.
It's hardly a leap of faith to make Brother Derek the early favorite for this year's Run for the Roses after his impressive win in the $200,000 Santa Catalina (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Saturday.
The mutuel field remained the favored betting interest at the midway point of Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but unbeatens Barbaro and Strong Contender gained solid support as well Friday.
Racing fans made "all others" the favorite on the opening day of the second pool of Churchill Downs' 2006 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but had trouble deciding on which of the individual horses deserved backing.
First Samurai finally gets his opportunity to show what he can do going two turns when he heads a field of nine in the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), one of four 3-year-old stakes to be run on Saturday. The other big-name horse in action is Brother Derek, who will be a heavy favorite in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II).
Brother Derek is the consensus top-rated 3-year-old based in California. Yet, there are eight others of varying aptitude taking aim at him in Saturday's grade II Santa Catalina Stakes, including one shipping in from Louisiana via Texas. We deduce that connections of these rivals aren't taking it for granted that Brother Derek will win this race.
With convincing victories in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) to remain unbeaten around two turns, Brother Derek is expected to take another long stride on the Triple Crown trail as the 6-5 favorite in the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park.
Brother Derek will take another step toward the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) Saturday when trainer Dan Henricks sends him out in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
The second of three pools of Churchill Downs' 2006 Kentucky Derby Future Wager opens its four-day run on Thursday, March 2 with "all others" as a narrow favorite over multiple stakes winner Brother Derek as the morning line favorite among 24 wagering interests.
Brother Derek, California's leading contender for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 6, worked six furlongs Thursday at Santa Anita in a bullet 1:12 1/5 under regular rider Alex Solis.
Triple Crown contenders Bluegrass Cat and Private Vow were among several 3-year-olds working at Palm Meadows and Gulfstream Park Sunday morning.
San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) winner Brother Derek, preparing for a rematch with 2-year-old champion Stevie Wonderboy and new face Bob and John in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) on March 4, breezed four furlongs early Sunday morning in :49 2/5.
Racing fans across North America made the field a solid favorite over individual stars First Samurai and Stevie Wonderboy in the first 2006 Kentucky Derby Future Wager as betting drew to a close on Sunday evening.
Before we get to this week's races, any trainers out there happen to catch the Colts' surprising loss to the Steelers? Did the Colts look rusty, out of sync, a bit soft, not battle tough? Remember how they basically phoned it in the last few games, resting their stars? Well, it's possible that's what can happen when horses are rested too long before the Kentucky Derby.
A day after Brother Derek squared his record with Stevie Wonderboy at one win apiece with a gate-to-wire victory in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes (gr. II), the 3-year-old colts were on course to meet once more in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita on March 4.
In spite of his grade I victory in the Hollywood Futurity last month, Brother Derek has been ignored on the national scene, his trainer, Dan Hendricks feels. But after Saturday's impressive win over Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) champ Stevie Wonderboy under steady handling by Alex Solis in the $150,000 San Rafael (gr. II) at Santa Anita, that shouldn't be the case any longer.
It's not often we get to see the probable 2-year-old champ and early favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) running in January. But not only is Stevie Wonderboy making his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes (gr. II), he'll be facing another leading juvenile and major Derby contender in Brother Derek.
Merv Griffin's Stevie Wonderboy, this year's early Kentucky Derby (gr. I) favorite, begins the Triple Crown trail Saturday when meeting Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) champion Brother Derek and four other 3-year-olds in Santa Anita's $150,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II).
Trainer Doug O'Neill has mapped out a program that would keep Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Stevie Wonderboy in Southern California until the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 6.
Stevie Wonderboy, winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), worked six furlongs on Hollywood Park's fast main track Thursday in 1:12 3/5, breezing, for his 3-year-old debut in the grade II San Rafael Stakes at one mile on Jan. 14.
Cecil N. Peacock's Brother Derek, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), showed he's the best West Coast-based 2-year-old not named Stevie Wonderboy with a comfortable win over favored Your Tent Or Mine in the $407,250 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) Saturday.
Your Tent Or Mine will be tested by seven other 2-year-old colts Saturday in Hollywood Park's $401,250 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I), a 1 1/16-mile event that has produced six Kentucky Derby (gr. I) champions.
Brother Derek and Bob and John, a pair of leading candidates for Saturday's Grade I Hollywood Futurity, each worked five furlongs at Santa Anita on Sunday.
California-bred Brother Derek broke sharply for jockey Alex Solis and never looked back in winning the $200,000 Norfolk (gr. II) for 2-year-olds Sunday by three-quarters of a length over favored A.P. Warrior at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) winner Stevie Wonderboy passed Sunday's Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita, leaving a wide open field in the 1 1/16-mile event for 2-year-olds.
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