Classic winner Point Given, the favorite for Sunday's Haskell Invitational (gr. I), arrived at Monmouth Park's Barn 15 at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday after being vanned from Newark Airport.
Stonerside Stable's 3-year-old homebred Congaree earned his first grade I stakes victory in his third attempt, winning Sunday's paceless renewal of the $500,000 Swaps Stakes by four lengths at Hollywood Park.
Six 3-year-olds, including Kentucky Derby veterans Congaree and Jamaican Rum, have been entered for Sunday's $500,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.
The connections of horses now off the Triple Crown trail have begun to plan new courses for their respective horses, with Palmeiro entered to run Monday against older horses in a Hollywood Park allowance race. Trainer John Sadler hopes to use the 1 1/16-mile race as a prep for the $150,000 Affirmed Handicap.
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.
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.
Now that this past weekend's preps have had time to sink in, is the Derby picture more or less clear than it was last week? Although only five strong horses emerged – Congaree, Monarchos, Millennium Wind, Balto Star, and Jamaican Rum – the opinion here is that the Derby picture still is very confusing, based on the number of horses trying to buck history.
Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, updates his top Kentucky Derby contenders weekly. During his 29 years with the Daily Racing Form, Haskin became known for his insightful coverage of the Triple Crown races. Haskin won the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby writing in 1997, 1999, and 2000.and received the David Woods Award for best Preakness story in 1997. In 1999, he co-authored "Baffert: Dirt Road to the Derby" with trainer Bob Baffert and wrote the book, "Dr. Fager" for Eclipse Press' "Thoroughbred Legends" series in 2000.
Those who thought Balto Star's romping win in the March 24 Spiral Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park was a fluke better think again. It appears Balto Star is indeed a star. Under Mark Guidry, Balto Star danced away from what was thought to be a competitive field of 11 3-year-olds April 14 in the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (gr. II). Finely tuned by trainer Todd Pletcher, Balto Star went fast early and late and drew off to a 4 1/2-length win in the slop. He covered the nine furlongs in a solid 1:49.04.
Cherokee Kim, winner of a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight on turf March 10, is a possible starter in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7. Probables for the race, with jockeys, are: Point Given, Gary Stevens; Crafty C.T., Eddie Delahoussaye; Palmeiro, Kent Desormeaux; Scorpion, Victor Espinoza; Startac, Alex Solis; I Love Silver, Laffit Pincay Jr., and Cherokee Kim, no rider. Possibles include: Early Flyer, Macabe, and So Urgent.
Ranked in preference order, with horse/ trainer/breeding
Click on horse's name to access Contender Page
It wasn't supposed to happen quite like this. There was nobody breathing down his neck. There was no target to home in on. All that remained up ahead was a quarter-mile of sun-baked Santa Anita dirt. With a quartet of weary rivals to his inside, Point Given, five wide and coasting, was in control of his own destiny. Atop the massive colt, Gary Stevens could sense an urgency. He felt Point Given waiting, pleading to be let loose. Turning for home in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) on March 17, Stevens shortened his cross, putting the bit firmly in his colt's mouth. For Point Given, it was a cue to roll. His response was emphatic.
Point Given, one of the early favorites for the May 5 Kentucky Derby, will make his first start of the year on Saturday when he breaks from post eight in the grade II, $250,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1-16 miles at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Trainer Bob Baffert will take the wraps off Breeders' Cup runner-up Point Given when he sends out The Thoroughbred Corp.'s colt for his first effort as a 3-year-old in Saturday's grade II San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Point Given finalized San Felipe preparations by breezing four furlongs in :47.80 Wednesday.
Hill Rise Handicap winner Jamaican Rum worked three furlongs in :36 4/5 Tuesday at Santa Anita in preparation for Saturday's San Felipe Stakes, the final two-turn prep for the Santa Anita Derby on April 7. A late nominee to the San Felipe, Jamaican Rum finished fourth in the Feb.3 San Vicente Stakes.
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