Bluesthestandard, the slight 9-5 morning line favorite for Monday's $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III), will start from the outside post position in the field of eight.
Valhol, confidently ridden by Robby Albarado, won Saturday night's running of the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup at Sam Houston Park.
Fifty Stars is one of two Steve Asmussen trainees slated for the Gold Cup, while Dallas Keen and James Jackson try to replicate the 2000 win by Allen's Oop with Valhol.
Fifty Stars, unraced since suffering a right front ankle chip while finishing ninth in last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), has been sent back to the sidelines due to a broken splint bone in the same leg. The injury occurred during a Tuesday morning workout in preparation for the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), according to trainer Steve Asmussen.
Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos returned to the scene of his biggest career victory Tuesday when he exercised at Churchill Downs. With exercise rider Bryan Beccia aboard, the gray son of Maria's Mon was lively, nipping at the boots of assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff, aboard the lead pony as the pair made their way to the track.
How the horses that finished behind Monarchos came out of the Kentucky Derby and their future plans.
Another bright, mild morning saw the final flurry of Kentucky Derby works, as Millennium Wind, Fifty Stars, Jamaican Rum, and Keats all made the work tab. Now comes the task of sorting all through all the works we've seen over the past 10 days and trying to narrow down the three or four standout moves. We'll discuss these moves in Friday's Derby Report, along with the horses who have been the most impressive in their gallops and the ones who are flourishing physically and look to be sitting on a big effort. We'll combine all that with some logic, history, and speed figures, and narrow down the field to the three or four we feel will be peaking on Derby Day.
Millennium Wind turned in his last workout for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, working five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning. According to Churchill clockers, he went in splits of :23 2/5 and :48 for a half-mile and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16. Trainer David Hofmans timed the son of Cryptoclearance in the same 1:00 2/5, but got splits of :11 4/5, :24, and :48 2/5, and a gallop out time of 1:14 2/5.
We've seen some great works over the past week, but this morning we saw a super work; the best move by a Derby horse so far. Express Tour obviously has several questions surrounding him, such as having only one start this year, having missed several days training with a bruised foot, and a less than classic pedigree. But freaks have a way of overcoming such mundane obstacles, and everyone who was around this horse at Calder last year is convinced he indeed is a freak. After watching today's work, and the past few day's gallops, we're not about to argue with them.
If opposing trainers were looking for any holes in the Baffert Brigade, they sure didn't find them this morning, as Point Given and Congaree both turned in brilliant works over a deep track that trainer Bob Baffert described as demanding. Baffert, always nervous before big works, was looking forward to getting these out of the way. Heavy rains at around 8 p.m. the night before didn't help soothe his nerves any, but morning brought bright blue skies and a drop in the temperature from the previous day.
Point Given: While there are questions surrounding most of the top choices, the only question people are asking about this big chestnut is whether he's going to win the Triple Crown. Work on April 24 should be interesting.
Probable Derby favorite Point Given is scheduled to arrive at Churchill late Wednesday morning after working a quick half-mile at Santa Anita on Tuesday. The work in :46 4/5 was the fastest of the day for 26 horses working at the distance. Meanwhile, working at Churchill Downs on a brisk and windy morning Tuesday was Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Fifty Stars, who finished second in the Lone Star Derby in his most recent effort. With jockey Donnie Meche aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen, the colt breezed a half-mile in :50.
With its purse ratcheted up to $500,000, its distance stretched out to 1 1/8 miles, and its date moved to a more convenient spot on the calendar, Lone Star Park's derby became a genuine prep for the famed roseate run in Kentucky. The Grand Prairie, Texas, racetrack even created a $1-million bonus, to be paid to any horse that parlays a Lone Star Derby win into a victory in any of the Triple Crown races. It was a meaningful prep indeed--an ironic one, too. Percy Hope served up generous portions of both meaning and irony. The field, which included four stakes winners, had earned $1.2 million, or an average of $154,429 per starter, more than twice as much as the field for the grade II Illinois Derby. And Percy Hope, who previously had won the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park, once again made winning look easy.
In this analysis, we're going to add Thoro-Graph speed figure patterns on occasion to see, from that perspective, just who is likely to come into the Derby sitting on a peak performance. Thoro-Graph's Jerry Brown stated emphatically that this is "by far the best 3-year-old crop in history." Brown added, "The numbers so far have been insane, and it's probably going to take around a 2 1/2 to win the Derby," which is the same number Fusaichi Pegasus ran last year.
Several three-year-olds pointing toward upcoming Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep races stretched their legs Tuesday, with the sharpest move being put in by the Bob Baffert-trained Congaree, who got six furlongs in 1:11 3/5 handily at Santa Anita.
D'Wildcat, impressive winner of the Swale Stakes, has been withdrawn from Saturday's Lone Star Derby after suffering a shoulder strain during a gallop at Santa Anita Monday.
Ranked in preference order, with horse/ trainer/breeding
Click on horse's name to access Contender Page
It took a giant leap of faith to see Fifty Stars as a contender in the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II), much less the $43 winner. Looking down the barrel at Dollar Bill, Millennium Wind, and Hero's Tribute, the late running son of Quiet American was in deep water. Fifty Stars had not made a lasting impression in his two previous races. His late run in the Jan. 27 LeComte was good for fourth place, but three weeks later he took a step backward in the Risen Star with a dull fifth-place finish.
Grade II winners Dollar Bill and Millennium Wind are expected to vie for favoritism when entries are taken Friday for Sunday's $750,000, grade II Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.
A week ago the presence of Dollar Bill didn't scare anyone involved with bringing a top notch 3-year-old to the Louisiana Derby. And although highly touted Millennium Wind and Hero's Tribute are still on track for Sunday's grade II Kentucky Derby prep, the local flavor is simmering out.
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