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.
Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, analyzes the top pedigrees for this year's Kentucky Derby candidates. 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.
John Oxley's Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos and The Thoroughbred Corp.'s San Felipe (gr. II) winner Point Given head the list of 109 nominations to the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The 1 1/8-mile event will be televised live on ESPN April 14 from Keeneland Race Course.
The road to Louisville right now is like something out of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," where everyone is scurrying frantically about in different directions trying to get to a single destination. Many trainers are still confused as to where to send their steeds, whether they're trying to avoid the big guns, like Monarchos and Point Given, or looking for the best possible spot for their horse. Derby winners usually have set plans and stick to it, so it's almost time for those trainers who are still vacillating to make up their minds.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- In some ways, Maria's Mon was a forgotten champion when he arrived at Pin Oak Stud near Versailles, Ky., for the 1997 breeding season.
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.
Just over a week ago, the clouds over the Derby trail were so thick, everyone was fumbling along in the dark, trying to get even the slightest glimpse of the Twin Spires. Now, all of the sudden, the clouds have lifted and the stars are shining brightly. First Monarchos lit up the sky in the Florida Derby. And at Santa Anita this past Saturday, two more stars emerged, as visible against the night sky as the top of Bob Baffert's head.
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Now, we're not one to indulge in hyperbole, but the fact is, Monarchos was a million lengths the best in Saturday's Florida Derby. OK, so we will indulge once in a while. After all the waiting, listening to nothing but faint rumblings, the smoldering volcano finally has erupted. Although metaphoric cataclysms on the Derby trail normally signify uplifting events, such as Monarchos' explosive display, that is not true when mentioning Sunday's Louisiana Derby. This was more like an earthquake that nearly swallowed up favorites Dollar Bill and Hero's Tribute.
Pool two of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) future wager closed at 4:30 p.m.(EST) Sunday, prior to the running of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), with Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos the 5-1 favorite. Point Given was the narrow 6-1 second choice, with slightly more money wagered on the Bob Baffert-trained colt than the mutuel field, which also closed at 6-1.
It will go down in Florida Derby (gr. I) history as "The Move." As a dozen tightly-bunched 3-year-olds jostled for position nearing the far turn in the golden anniversary edition of the Florida Derby, one horse was running by the rest of the field with electrifying ease. THE horse, making THE move, was Monarchos.
A dazzling victory in the Florida Derby lifted John Oxley's Monarchos into the favorite's role heading into the final day of Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' 2001 Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
Monarchos (Maria's Mon -- Regal Band, by Dixieland Band) posted his first stakes win in the Florida Derby (gr. I) to remain undefeated this year. The March 10 race was his first attempt in stakes company in five lifetime starts.
For a million-dollar purse, and with no clear-cut favorite, it's no surprise that 13 horses passed the entry box for Saturday's grade I Florida Derby. The likely choices will be Songandaprayer, Monarchos, and Outofthebox. The only real surprises in the field are California invader Trailthefox, last year's Arlington-Washington Futurity winner who was supposed to stay in sprint races, and the Nick Zito-trained It's So Simple, an impressive allowance winner at the meet whom Zito called "the best kept secret on the backstretch."
Monarchos, Cee Dee, Dream Run, City Zip, and Talk Is Money were sent out for works Sunday morning in South Florida in preparation for Saturday's Florida Derby (gr. I).
Trainer John Ward, Jr. had his highly regarded 3-year-old Monarchos out for a five-furlong workout on Monday. With jockey Jorge Chavez in the saddle, Monarchos had a very easy trial and was clocked in 1:04 1/5 breezing. According to Ward, the colt is right on schedule for his next start, the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) to be run over 1 1/8 miles here on March 10.
When a non-winners of two allowance race at Santa Anita and the Herat Stakes at Laurel are the two biggest races of the week, then it's time to step off the Derby trail, get out a blanket and some cheese and crackers, and take time to ponder where we've been and where we're heading. But in a year like this, not only do we not know where we're heading, we're really not quite sure where we've been. The only 2-year-olds within 10 pounds of the leader on the Experimental Free Handicap that we can sink our teeth into are Dollar Bill and Millennium Wind. For the sixth straight year, the Experimental topweight will be a non-entity in the Triple Crown.
With the final major preview event in the books, the field for Gulfstream Park's $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) on March 10 is starting to take shape. The top three finishers in last week's grade I Fountain of Youth Stakes – Songandaprayer, Outofthebox and City Zip – are expected to top a field of eight or nine in the 50th anniversary running of the Florida Derby, centerpiece of the winter meeting for 3-year-olds.
The mutuel field remained the fans' favorite in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but an upset in the weekend's major Kentucky Derby prep race resulted in a shuffling of the odds on several Derby contenders heading into the final day of wagering in the pool. The biggest move of the day was made by Songandaprayer, the upset winner of the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. Songandaprayer opened Saturday's wagering as the longest shot in the field at 99-1, but the odds on that colt had dropped to 30-1 by the end of Saturday's betting
The mutuel field, which includes all 3-year- olds other than those 23 individual horses, was a heavy favorite at the mid-point of first of three four-day pools in the 2001 Kentucky Derby Future Wager. At the close of Friday's second day of Pool 1, the mutuel field was an odds-on favorite at 4-5.
And you thought we were just going to flutter into February, with barely a breeze being stirred. It just goes to prove once again that the only sure thing about life on the Derby trail is its unpredictability. Instead of simply gliding along until the Fountain of Youth in two weeks, the 3-year-old picture hurtled into the new month on falcons' wings, thanks to several awesome performances.
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