James Cassels and Bob Zollars' Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Private Emblem arrived at Churchill Downs Sunday morning to continue preparing for the May 4 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
While many Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders were in action Saturday in one of the three major prep races, Perfect Drift and Ethan Man simply put in morning works in Louisville.
Though supplemented to the Arkansas Derby after being scratched from last Saturday's Illinois Derby, One Tuff Fox won't be making the trip to Oaklawn Park afterall.
The Kentucky Derby picture may not be getting any clearer, but at least all the combatants are lined up for their final engagement to determine who goes on to the big battle.
Following Officer's six-length romp in the restricted Zany Tactics Stakes at Santa Anita Sunday, trainer Bob Baffert is considering the 1 1/16-mile Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland for the colt's next start.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Easyfromthegitgo will have his final Kentucky Derby prep in the April 20 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland. Meanwhile, 11 3-year-olds entered Wednesday's Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and the ever-changing list of horses probable for the April 13 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) is currently down to 10.
Sharp Performance, rising to the stakes ranks after winning an allowance and maiden race in consecutive starts, scored a one-length victory Sunday in the $150,000 Lexington Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park.
The talent pool of this year's crop of 3-year-olds runs deep, as witnessed over the last few weeks in major Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep races. An armada of lesser crafts set out April 21 at Keeneland for the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) to test the waters one final time before the main event takes place at Churchill Downs in two weeks. Instead of a boat race, the majority of them found choppy seas and roiling water that all but grounded their Derby dreams on the rocks. Just the opening of the starting gate alone had several starters bailing instead of sailing.
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.
He's the last chance for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas to participate in the 2001 Kentucky Derby, but his trainer says Turnberry Isle will have to earn his way into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs. Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier's Irish-bred son of Deputy Minister is scheduled to run in Saturday's $325,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) at Keeneland and Lukas said Monday that a good performance by the colt in that 1 1/16-mile race could put him in the Kentucky Derby. If so, that would keep Lukas' record streak of Derby participation alive. The four-time Kentucky Derby winner has started at least one horse in every Derby since 1981.
Paraneck Stable's recent Lafayette Stakes (gr. III) winner Griffinite will race next in the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) on April 21 at Keeneland, according to trainer Jennifer Pedersen. "He had been training awesomely," Pedersen said. "We were very happy for the win, but we knew that it was a just a prep for the Lexington. He came out of the race full of himself. He knows he won."
In a surprise move, trainer Nick Zito has entered A P Valentine in a 1 1/16-mile race at Hialeah Saturday. It was originally planned to run the son of A.P. Indy in the Flamingo Stakes on April 7, but Zito felt it was time to find out just where the colt stood on the Kentucky Derby trail. Iin Saturday's race, A P Valentine will carry 108 pounds as he faces older horses in the optional claiming test for non-winners of two other/than. A P Valentine is one of two starters in the six horse field not running for the claiming price of $150,000.
Rob's Spirit swept to the lead at the top of the stretch and pulled away to win the $150,000 Lexington Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths over soft turf Sunday at Belmont Park.
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