William Farish's Gradepoint, winner of the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), suffered a slab fracture of the right knee after a workout at Churchill Downs Monday in preparation for the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and will not race again this year, trainer Neil Howard said.
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.
On Thursday Midway Road is scheduled to make his first start since June. His trainer Neil Howard is also looking ahead to the next starts for Breakaway, Gradepoint, and Shadow Cast.
A field of 11, including shippers from Florida and California, was entered for Sunday's $600,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II), with the William S. Farish entry of Gradepoint and Breakaway heading a strong local contingent.
Neil Howard said Tuesday he will run Risen Star (gr. III) winner Gradepoint in Sunday's $600,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II), as well as runaway allowance winner Breakaway, both owned by William S. Farish.
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.
The connections of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft may have a prime Triple Crown candidate this year with lightly-raced Gradepoint, who posted a resilient come-from-behind win over odds-on favorite Mr. Jester in the $150,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Fair Grounds Sunday.
Mr. Jester, winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot last December, makes his 3-year-old debut in Sunday's $150,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III). Among his six opponents will be the Neil Howard-trained Gradepoint, winner of his last two starts.
Saturday's Fountain of Youth (gr. I) and Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) and Sunday's Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) are only some of important 3-year-old races this weekend, along with allowance races featuring Birdstone, Value Plus, and Shaniko.
We're all pretty well set in our minds who the leading Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders are based on 2-year-old accomplishments. But now, the second wave has made its initial impact and it's time to seek out new budding stars.
This is the eighth in a series of early looks at next year's potential Derby horses. With the Remsen Stakes and Kentucky Jockey Club to be run Saturday, and the Hollywood Futurity next month, there still are a number of exciting 2-year-olds who could vault into prominence.
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