The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) isn't just about the horse. This edition boasts an unusually fertile crop of human-interest stories in the connections behind the horses.
There's lots to catch up on, with several works of interest over the weekend and a star-studded array of works this morning, which unfortunately were played out against a horrific backdrop.
General Quarters, the "feel-good" horse of this year's Kentucky Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 over a fast track at Churchill Downs April 23.
Zayat Stables' Pioneerof the Nile brought a smile to the face of three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert with a sharp five-furlong work over a fast Churchill Downs track on April 21.
Four-time Churchill Downs' riding champion Julien Leparoux has been named to ride owner/trainer Tom McCarthy's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner General Quarters in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 2 at Churchill Downs.
We're getting close to judgment day -- finding that single horse or betting angle or most attractive overlay possibilities. Until the horses can be observed in the flesh starting next week, here are some of the most memorable moments on this year's Derby trail in one person's opinion that will help in finding potential overlays.
A quarrel between jockey Eibar Coa and his agent, Matt Muzikar, has been resolved, Muzikar said April 13.
Like all quarters, General Quarters is a two-sided coin. So far, it's only come up heads, with the face of Tom McCarthy and his Cinderella story receiving all the press. But a flip of the coin to the tails side will reveal the faded and forgotten face of Mark Miller.
Some thought General Quarters' Sam F. Davis (gr. III) win two starts back was a fluke. But the son of Sky Mesa proved them wrong by powering to a 1 1/2-length victory in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on April 11 at Keeneland, and he will now head to next month's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) as a legitimate contender.
Hold Me Back was made the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on April 11 at Keeneland.
WinStar Farm's Hold Me Back, winner of the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park, was installed as the moderate 3-1 morning-line favorite when 11 horses were entered for the April 11 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Adele Dilschneider's Terrain put in his final major move for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) by working five furlongs in 1:01 at Keeneland on April 4 with exercise rider Keith Harris up.
Eric Fein and Vic Carlson's Musket Man found his best stride inside the sixteenth-pole and edged out longshot Join in the Dance by a neck to win the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) March 14.
Triple Crown Talk blog, with host Jason Shandler, looks at the Rebel, the Tampa Bay Derby, and the San Felipe. Don't forget to join Jason and professional handicapper "TopTurfTeddy", for a live blog from noon-1 p.m. EDT on Saturday, March 14.
Tom McCarthy's General Quarters, impressive winner of last month's Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III), will try to prove that his runaway victory was no fluke when he returns for $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) on March 14.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
One generally doesn't expect to find Kentucky Derby hopefuls hurtling down 4 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs in May of their juvenile season. Even less expected would be for that debut to be in a $20,000 maiden claiming event. That, however, was the launching point for the career of General Quarters.
HRTV's weekly series analyzing the pursuit of the Triple Crown. The debut episode includes a recap of last week's action, the Southwest, the San Vicente, the Sam F. Davis, and the UAE 2000 Guineas. Plus, Dunkirk's allowance win, Jeff Siegel's Top 10, and a look back at the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Although there was nothing over the weekend to knock your proverbial socks off, there were a few races that could steer you toward a horse or two as potential Derby material. With the Southwest Stakes having just been run, we'll briefly discuss the race and go over it in more detail next week.
Sky Mesa, whose son General Quarters entered the Triple Crown picture with an upset victory in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) on Feb. 14, has been taken out of service after undergoing surgery for colic over the weekend. Colic is acute abdominal pain.
Thomas McCarthy's General Quarters pulled a shocker and threw his name into the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) mix, as he stalked the pace, took over rounding the far turn and pulled away for a convincing 3 1/2-length score in the $221,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 14.
Silver Wing Stable's Free Country, undefeated in two starts including an impressive nine-furlong allowance win at Gulfstream Park last month, makes his highly-anticipated stakes debut in the $225,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 14 at Tampa Bay Downs.
It seemed only fitting that Calvin Borel would reach a career milestone victory in a familiar manner, at Churchill Downs, on a longshot, and by flying up the rail. The 41-year-old rider recorded his 4,500th victory aboard 18-1 Screen Your Friend in the $164,550 Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) July 5 in Louisville, Ky.
Steve Asmussen has an excellent chance to capture the Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) for the third time in his career, as the leading training sends out the top two choices in the $150,000-added event July 5 at Churchill Downs.
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