In the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby two years ago, all the action swirled around Barn 43, where trainer Bobby Frankel gave daily press conferences that were only a chorus or two of "Hail to the Chief" short of presidential.
The $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Sept. 6 is both a bettor's delight and nightmare, as 12 evenly matched 3-year-olds were entered in the 1 1/8-mile race, with almost every one of them having a legitimate shot to win.
The $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Sep. 6 may draw as many as 12 to 13 starters, in what promises to be a competitive race. Although the absence of Smarty Jones will be felt by the expected large holiday crowd, the 1 1/8-mile race is expected to draw some of the top 3-year-olds in the country.
C. K. Woods' Timo, thanks to a well-timed ride from Richard Migliore, defeated Icy Atlantic by a nose in the $250,900 Kent Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds on the turf at Delaware Park Saturday.
Master David is entered in the $250,000 Kent Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) on the Delaware Park turf Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile Kent has attracted a field of nine 3-year-olds.
Notes on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runners other than the Nick Zito-trainer Birdstone and Royal Assault and Smarty Jones, which have been reported in other stories.
Eddington, the third-place finisher in the Preakness (gr. I) and 10-1 on the morning line for Saturday's 136th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds, galloped a mile and three furlongs over Belmont's main track Friday. "He's ready," trainer Mark Hennig said. "He's doing as well as can be expected."
Shortly before he arrived at Belmont Park after a 2 1/2-hour van ride, Someday Farms' Smarty Jones was installed as the 2-5 morning line favorite when he breaks from the outside nine post position in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Tuesday morning that Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Purge will attempt to disrupt Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid in Saturday's $1-million Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Tapit will not run in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr.I), it was reported on trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm web site Saturday. With Tapit's defection, as well as the defection of The Cliff's Edge, the connections of Purge and Master David are considering entering, although both are still doubtful starters.
Trainer Bobby Frankel said that Peter Pan third-place finisher Master David came out of the race in good shape, but is extremely unlikely to run in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Frankel said a switch to the turf is likely for the son of Grand Slam.
Jockey John Velazquez got the high-spirited colt Purge to relax while racing on the outside of the pacesetters and the colt responded to the easy handling with a quarter-mile to go to register a sparkling victory in the $200,000 Peter Pan (gr. II) at Belmont Park Saturday.
Yes, believe it or not, there are other 3-year-olds who inhabit the wild and wacky world of Smarty Jones, and several of them will be using Saturday's $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) as a dress rehearsal for their big showdown with America's wonder horse in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
TVG will present live coverage of the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) from New York's Belmont Park on Saturday. The Peter Pan is the final major prep race for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Scheduled post time is 4:45 p.m.
Saturday's $200,000 Peter Pan (gr. II) at Belmont Park brings together a group of 3-year-olds taking their last shot to show they could possibly spoil Smarty Jones' quest to become racing's 12th Triple Crown champion.
So, we're suddenly down to 18, and Eddington's and Rock Hard Ten's connections can only wonder what if. Now, finally comes the question: how do you make sense of one of the wildest and most perplexing Kentucky Derby's (gr I) ever.
The works have all but wound down, there's one more day of anxiety left for Bob Baffert before he and Jerry Bailey are officially united, and only Tapit remains of those missing in action. Starting tomorrow, the focus will be on gallops, as well as a pair of blowouts, to see just who's looking super out there.
As Saturday's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) draws closer, the number of horses working at Churchill Downs in preparation for the season's first classic diminishes daily.
Edited notes from Churchill Downs tracking the daily activities of leading contenders for the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
All eyes were on Wood Memorial (gr. I) runner-up Master David, who was the only Kentucky Derby (gr. I) worker at Churchill Downs this morning, and the pocket-sized chestnut brought a smile to trainer Bobby Frankel's face when he worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, which was exactly what Frankel was looking for.
Wood Memorial (gr. I) runner-up Master David worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning as the Grand Slam colt displayed his readiness for the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Grand Slam, whose oldest offspring just turned four this year, could have two sons entered in this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I)--Limehouse and Master David. The more accomplished of the two, Limehouse, has four stakes victories to his credit, and quality connections on his side.
OK, so who's in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and who's out? Who will be the favorite? Who really are the fast horses and who are the slow horses? Who's going to ride whom? Oh, yes, who's going to win? The answer to all these questions: Who knows?
The Nick Zito-trained Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) winner The Cliff's Edge and Champagne (gr. I) winner Birdstone arrived Tuesday afternoon at Churchill Downs after a brief van ride from Keeneland.
In spite of a lung infection that caused him to lose training time, Ronald Winchell's Tapit rallied powerfully in the stretch to get up in the closing yards of the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct Saturday.
Our choice to win the Grade I Wood Memorial is VALUE PLUS. This strapping, gray colt is versatile, fast and has the breeding to get the 1 1/8 mile distance. In last year's Wood, Funny Cide and Empire Maker were prominent throughout the race. We believe that early prominence will dominate this year's running as well.
Saturday's big afternoon of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps will kick off with the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I), as 11 3-year-olds, headed by Value Plus, Master David, and Eddington, try to earn a starting berth in the 130th Run for the Roses.
Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) hopefuls Lion Heart and Preachinatthebar led the Monday morning worktab at Santa Anita. Lion Heart earned the bullet for five furlongs in :58 2/5 and Preachinatthebar posted a time of :59 1/5 for the same distance.
An unsettling wave of upsets in this year's prep races left fans without an individual favorite in the final pool of the 2004 Kentucky Derby Future Wager. They opted instead for the field at odds of 6-1 as wagering closed Sunday.
With the Pool 3 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Future Wager bets locked in before the big April 10 preps, this is when you can actually get good value for your money. Just find a Funny Cide-type of horse and get past one more hurdle next weekend..
Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams' Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) candidate Lucky Pulpit, eighth in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) in his last start after displacing his palate, worked a half-mile in an easy :50 3/5 over Santa Anita's fast main track Tuesday morning.
Although the afternoon action will be hot and heavy this weekend, there still was a good deal of morning activity around the country Friday and Saturday, as several top 3-year-olds prepared for upcoming stakes.
Georgica Stable's Master David, who was expected to be one of the favorites in Gulfstream's $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) March 13, spiked a temperature on Thursday and will not be shipped to Florida, trainer Bobby Frankel said.
Read the Footnotes, winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), worked a sharp six-furlongs in 1:12 2/5 breezing Friday at Palm Meadows Training Center in preparation for the March 13 Florida Derby (gr. I). The race lost one of its favorites when Master David came down with a fever.
The lineup for the March 13 Florida Derby (gr. I) has gained another stakes-winning contender as Tapit's connections have announced they will enter the colt for the race.
Almost all of the leading contenders for the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, including trainer Nick Zito's highly regarded twosome of Birdstone and Eurosilver, are among 157 nominees to Keeneland's $750,000, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds will be run on Saturday, April 10, three weeks before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). It will be televised live on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET).
Trainer Bob Baffert sent out a slew of his top sophomores for workouts Monday over Santa Anita's fast main track and leading the parade was San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) candidate Consecrate, who worked five furlongs in 1:00 2/5.
With Tuesday's break in the recent rainy weather hitting California, several top horses were out on the track at Santa Anita getting workouts in before the next wave of wet weather is scheduled to pass through the area on Wednesday.
Birdstone's easy victory in his 2004 debut moved him above stablemate Eurosilver as the Nick Zito-trained pair remained atop the list of leading contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) compiled by Steve Haskin, senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse.
Kentucky Derby fans backed such promising young stars as Eurosilver, Lion Heart, Action This Day and Read the Footnotes, but the heavy favorite at the end of four days of wagering in Pool 1 of Churchill Downs' 2004 Kentucky Derby Future Wager was the "mutuel field."
Future wager odds on both Fountain of Youth (gr. II) winner Read the Footnotes and runner-up Second of June for the May 1 Kentucky Derby dropped significantly following the Gulfstream Park prep race Saturday.
Caifornia-based colts Lion Heart and Master David emerged from the second day of wagering in pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager as the most fancied of 23 individual horses listed for the May 1 Derby.
A $30,000 wager on the mutuel field – all 3-year-olds other than the 23 assigned to the pool – by an unidentified patron enlivened the early minutes of the first of four days of betting in Pool 1 of Churchill Downs' 2004 Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
Favored Master David won a game stretch battle in the $81,400 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Sunday by a length as 2003 juvenile champion Action This Day ran a close fourth.
Action This Day, last year's 2-year-old champion, makes his long-awaited return in Sunday's nine-furlong Sham Stakes. Trained by Richard Mandella, Action This Day will face six opponents, including promising Derby hopefuls trained by Bob Baffert and Bobby Frankel.
If someone told you right now, the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner will come out of Sunday's Sham Stakes, you'd obviously run to the windows and put down a bundle on Action This Day. But it might not be wise to rush to any hasty conclusions.
David Flores says he is unconcerned about whether there will be sufficient pace for Action This Day when the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) champion makes his 3-year-old debut in Sunday's $75,000 Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
Action This Day, the champion 2-year-old male of 2003, faces a likely field of six other 3-year-olds in Sunday's $75,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.
What Second of June accomplished in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) was nothing short of sensational, and you don't have to go farther than his name to realize why. The son of Louis Quatorze was born on the second of June, which basically makes him a baby compared to his contemporaries.
Stan Fulton's Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) winner St Averil will continue on down the California trail to the Triple Crown, trainer Rafael Becerra said Sunday morning.
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