Zenyatta, as expected, has made her presence felt, attracting huge crowds.
Post position may play a big role in this year's Breeders' Cup especially in the Classic, Mile and Ladies Classic.
Track superintendent Butch Lehr is confident the track surface will not be an issue
Paddy O'Prado is heading for the Classic; now it's decision time for Gio Ponti's owners
Coolmore must decide whether to go for the BC Classic or Mile with Rip Van Winkle.
Keep an eye on two juveniles and an older horse heading for the Breeders' Cup.
American Lion looks to be the early overlay in the wide-open betting.
With the wide-open nature of the race and impending rain, it's longshot time.
Lookin at Lucky and Sidney's Candy draw far inside and far outside.
Five Todd Pletchers and Sidney's Candy topped Saturday's Kentucky Derby works.
All the obvious thoughts on this year's bizarre, but memorable Triple Crown have been discussed regarding the major players. But there were unsung heroes as well who did not wind up in the winner's circle, yet contributed to the memories.
One of the strangest Triple Crowns in memory has come to an end, leaving being a flood of memories and wild and wacky moments.
Warning: what you are about to read should be taken with extreme skepticism. Not to sound self deprecating, but yours truly is on one nasty losing streak in the Triple Crown, and the selection for the Belmont Stakes will be made as a means of self defense.
Ok, I am officially smitten with Mine That Bird. I admit to being one of those misguided souls who paid no attention to him before the Kentucky Derby other than to comment what a beautiful mover he was. After the Preakness and seeing him on the Belmont track Thursday morning, I have to say in simplest of terms this is one cool horse.
The two key figures in the pace scenario for Saturday's Belmont Stakes are Miner's Escape and Charitable Man. The former will be a longshot in the field of 10, while Charitable Man was made the 3-1 second choice behind Mine That Bird. So, let's see how this may play out.
Remember when D. Wayne Lukas won an amazing six Triple Crown races in a row and seven of eight from 1994 to 1996? Remember when Lukas sent out one of the most improbable Belmont Stakes winners ever in Commendable? Well, before you dismiss Lukas' pair of longshots this year, remember who you're dealing with.
"Between :49 and :50." That has become your standard instructions by a trainer to his rider prior to a horse's final work for the Belmont Stakes. Gone are the days when trainers would work their horse at least seven furlongs, more likely a mile or even a mile and an eighth for the grueling "Test of the Champion."
Whatever the reasons for Jess Jackson delaying his decision on Rachel Alexandra's Belmont Stakes status, Chip Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird, is prepared to wait him out and will not name a rider for the Kentucky Derby winner until Jackson announces his decision.
And so the racing world waits anxiously for Jess Jackson to announce his decision regarding Rachel Alexandra's Belmont Stakes status. Notice it says announce his decision, not waits for him to decide.
There was a quote from D. Wayne Lukas in Saturday's New York Post suggesting the distances of the Triple Crown races be changed to 1 1/8 miles, 1 3/16 miles, and 1 1/4 miles. Lukas said, "Nobody cares about mile and a half horses any more."
William K. Warren's Charitable Man, impressive winner of the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II), will make his next start in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 6, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin confirmed May 20.
Can Rachel Alexandra come back in two weeks and beat the boys after earning outrageous speed figures that suggest a bounce is imminent? Was Mine That Bird's shocking Kentucky Derby score a fluke or the birth of a superstar?
There was little new activity Thursday morning, although Pioneerof the Nile did have his first feel of the Pimlico track. Rachel Alexandra went unseen, walking the shed at around 4:30, but did show up for all to see in the afternoon, schooling in the paddock before the fourth race.
There is no denying that Ahmed Zayat started a firestorm of controversy when he went on HRTV and TVG to announce and then take back his intentions of trying to keep Rachel Alexandra out of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The predicted fallout occurred, but it is now time to cut him some slack.
Friesan Fire, who grabbed his quarter and suffered a several cuts while finishing 18th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will ship down to Pimlico next Monday from Delaware Park and will work on Tuesday under jockey Gabriel Saez to determine whether the colt will run in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Well, we saw one bird fly over the rainbow. The vast majority of experts and racing fans were astounded, aghast, and amazed at Mine That Bird's otherworldly performance in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), in which he took off on a demonic dash as if he were being chased by a swarm of angry hornets.
To start, this is as tough a Derby as I have ever had to decipher, with a case to be made for at least dozen of the horses. I will break the race down in several categories and then put it all together and come up with something that resembles a wagering strategy.
This final Derby Trail column before departing for Louisville is more of a potpourri of thoughts, scenarios, angles, trivia, and a touch of nonsense.
Saturday's big three Kentucky Derby preps should be pretty formful, with one or two standouts in each race. But, there's a lot more to these races than who is going to win. While they are all prestigious events, let's not forget the fact that they are indeed preps.
On several occasions over the past few years, Todd Pletcher has reached into his hat to pull out a rabbit, and in most cases the trick didn't go quite as planned. Despite some bad hare days, Pletcher has decided to try his luck at prestidigitation once again in Saturday's Florida Derby (gr. I).
Looking at the Thoro-Graph numbers for Saturday's Gotham, there is one horse whose numbers stand out far above the others. That's not to say someone won't make a big move forward and he won't regress, but for speed purposes right now he stands alone, and is "the most likely winner," according to Thoro-Graph's Jerry Brown.
I Want Revenge is a horse on a mission. The son of Stephen Got Even has traveled across the country to get a head start on his compatriots back home to see how he handles the dirt in the Gotham Stakes.
Last year's champion 2-year-old Midshipman will miss the Triple Crown after he sustained a minor soft tissue injury to his left fore leg during routine exercise at Godolphin's Al Quoz Stables in Dubai Feb. 28.
Take the Points, who shipped to California Thursday for Saturday's $200,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III), is a gamble that has already paid off big-time for the colt's breeders Ramiro Salazar and his wife Denise Belcher of Phoenix Farm.
March means horses shuttling all over looking for graded earnings and moving forward on the Kentucky Derby trail. One of the more interesting 3-year-olds is Imperial Council, who will head up to New York for the $250,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) March 7, which promises to be a bang-up race.
Although this weekend's action is headed by the grade III Southwest Stakes, El Camino Real Derby, and Sam F. Davis, and the 3-year-old debut of Imperial Council, a race to keep a close eye on is the 8th at Fair Grounds on Saturday.
Few maiden winners have garnered the kind of respect Imperial Council has, and the Shug McGaughey-trained 3-year-old will attempt to justify his high regard as a potential Kentucky Derby horse when he makes his long-awaited debut in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
So, 23 "elite" 3-year-olds have been chosen to make up the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager field. Well, several of those who didn't make the cut are up in arms over the selections and are offering a challenge to the so-called leading Derby contenders.
It was an excellent weekend on the old trail, with some first-class performances, not only by the winners, but several of the losers as well. The latest Top 15 follows the column.
Following a record 450 nominations to the 2007 Triple Crown and a near record 449 in 2008, the number has decreased to 401 in 2009.
We have an interesting assortment of 3-year-old stakes this weekend, even though the Whirlaway and WEBN Stakes came up pretty thin. Will the Derby winner be in the Robert Lewis (gr. III) or Risen Star (gr. III)? We could have a much better idea once certain questions are answered.
Because the Top 30 list took up a great deal of Monday's column, we'll go double duty this week and catch up on some updates and ramblings and look at the Risen Star Stakes.
Either tracks like Gulfstream and Oaklawn are getting noticeably slower or the horses are. From all indications, it is the tracks, which is fine if they keep horses sounder. (See end of text for first official Top 30)
The first Derby Dozen comes out next week, but we'll get a jump on it with a more comprehensive look before this weekend's stakes. Then we'll make any adjustments based on the results. So, this is more of a speculative list, with a great deal riding on the Hutcheson and Holy Bull Stakes.
As the only member of the elite crop of 2007 3-year-olds to return to racing as a 4-year-old, Curlin had the hopes of racing fans across the country resting on his shoulders as he embarked on an ambitious campaign that was designed to break new ground in international racing.
Big Brown's championship campaign in 2008 was predominantly about his long list of accomplishments, several which were history-making and unlikely to be duplicated for a long time.
It takes a great deal to dethrone a champion, and after Midnight Lute's powerful repeat victory in the Sentient Flight Group Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), it was assumed by many that the defending sprint champion had accomplished enough in that race alone to secure a second Eclipse Award.
Dunkirk, a $3.7 million yearling purchase owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, made that price look like a potential bargain when he overcame traffic problems and blew his opposition away in his career debut.
What do the following horses have in common? Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Spectacular Bid, Affirmed, Alydar, Damascus, Buckpasser, Easy Goer, Riva Ridge, Holy Bull, Spend a Buck, and Swale?
Before we get to this past week's races, including Monday's Smarty Jones Stakes, there is a pedigree pattern developing this year that you don't normally see to this degree.
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