It's not quite the Sunshine Millions, but this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is looking like a regional battle between California- and Florida-based horses, who at this point appear on their way to occupying the top four favorite roles in the Run for the Roses.
A lack of pace changed the game plan for odds-on choice Pioneerof the Nile, but jockey Garrett Gomez improvised, enabling the son of Empire Maker to hold off Chocolate Candy for a one-length win in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on a picture-perfect day in Arcadia, Calif.
Morning line favorite The Pamplemousse was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby early on the morning of the race by trainer Julio Canani after a state veterinarian check turned up a possible physical problem that needed further examination.
Featuring previews of the Santa Anita Derby (including words from Bob Baffert and Julio Canani), Wood Memorial, and Illinois Derby, and recaps of the Florida Derby and the UAE Derby. Plus, updates on Charitable Man and Dunkirk.
Triple Crown Talk blog, with host Jason Shandler, analyzes the Wood Memorial, and the Santa Anita and Illinois Derbies. Plus, join Jason and Dick Downey from the TheDowneyProfile.com for a live chat at noon Eastern on April 4.
Jason, Suzanne, and the Wizard analyze the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and the Santa Anita Derby. Watch Video
Trainer Julio Canani says The Pamplemousse doesn't need the lead to win the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 4. After a couple of interesting developments when entries were taken, that theory could be put to the test.
The Pamplemousse, with his regular rider Alex Solis aboard, turned in a sharp final tune-up March 31 for the April 4 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). The 3-year-old son of Kafwain worked three furlongs in :34.80 seconds at Santa Anita Park in California. He was the fastest of 15 workers at that distance.
Gallant Son is "99 percent sure" to run in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 4, trainer Frank Lucarelli said on the morning of March 28.
The Pamplemousse, Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy, the three top choices for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 4, each worked on the track's Pro-Ride racing surface March 25.
El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) winner Chocolate Candy was expected to arrive at Santa Anita on the afternoon of March 21 from the Bay Area to begin final preparations for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 4.
Joel Rosario, Santa Anita's third-leading rider, will ride El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) winner Chocolate Candy in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 4, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.
The Pamplemousse, prepping for the April 4 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and a showdown with Pioneerof the Nile, worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride March 18 in :59 4/5 under regular rider Alex Solis.
Leading West Coast Triple Crown contender Pioneerof the Nile worked five furlongs on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride March 8 in a bullet :58.80 under regular rider Garrett Gomez for the grade II San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. At Oaklawn, Old Fashioned worked a bullet five furlongs in :59.
Trainer Julio Canani insists he doesn't have Derby fever yet. But after the way his The Pamplemousse glided to victory as the 1-2 choice in the $200,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Feb. 28, that's going to be more difficult to believe as time marches on toward the first Saturday in May.
Stardom Bound, champion 2-year-old filly of 2008, could be headed for the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) after turning in a big effort in winning the $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) for new connections in her 2009 debut Feb. 7 at Santa Anita.
Georgie Boy, a three-time graded stakes winner and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender before suffering an injury in late March, has resumed training and is being pointed towards a return to the racetrack in October, his owner-breeder George Schwary said Sept. 19.
With any luck, Yankee Bravo could have been a Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) starter. But it was not meant to be for the son of Yankee Gentleman, who finished fourth in the April 5 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) after being cut off in mid-stretch, which resulted in the dark bay colt falling short of the required graded earnings.
California trainer James Kasparoff may only have three horses in his barn, but since one of them is May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) starter Bob Black Jack, right now there is not much to complain about.
WinStar Farms' Colonel John worked four furlongs in :47.40, and Bob Black Jack went :48.00 on the Cushion Track at Santa Anita Park the morning of April 14.
Well, we're down to our final two major preps, the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) and Arkansas Derby (gr. II), with the Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) and Holy Bull (gr. III) thrown in for good measure. The question right now is: what did we learn from last Saturday's preps?
Colonel John was all set to run for the roses the morning after his late-running victory in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), but the trainer for the runner-up, the persevering Bob Black Jack, plans to weigh his options.
WinStar Farms' Colonel John emerged as the West Coast's leading Triple Crown contender with a clutch late-running victory before a crowd of 50,358 in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 5.
HRTV's originally produced weekly show on top Derby prospects and the road to the Triple Crown. This week's episode includes an update on the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, a recap of the Florida Derby, an interview with Eoin Harty, trainer of Colonel John; and previews of the Wood Memorial, Illinois Derby, and Santa Anita Derby.
NBC will present live coverage of a pair of grade I preps for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when it airs the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial live Saturday, April 5, from 5-6 p.m. ET.
Colonel John has been installed as a slight favorite over El Gato Malo in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 5. A larger-than-expected field of 11 was entered in the 1 1/8-mile synthetic track test for 3-year-olds.
With the final Derby preps approaching, there is no more room for error. It's time to earn your way into the Run for the Roses or pack up and go home. The three graded stakes this weekend, the grade I Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial and grade II Illinois Derby, offer intriguing plot lines that will make or break aspiring Derby hopefuls.
Georgie Boy, winner of the grade II San Vicente and San Felipe Stakes, will miss the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) due to a pulled back muscle.
Sham Stakes winner Colonel John, one of the favorites for the April 5 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and a major Triple Crown contender, worked six furlongs in 1:10.80 March 31 at Santa Anita Park.
El Gato Malo and Georgie Boy turned in bullet moves March 29 at Hollywood Park in their final major works for next week's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Craig Dollase thinks grade III winner El Gato Malo will be even tougher in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 5 thanks to his recent defeat.
MAHUBAH'S CORNER, by Avalyn Hunter
When Fumie Takahashi's 4-year-old colt Matsurida Gogh swept across the finish line of the Arima Kinen (JPN-I), all Japan was once again reminded of the loss of Sunday Silence. A member of the stallion's last crop, Matsurida Gogh's upset victory, his first in a group I event, placed an exclamation point on the legacy of Japan's greatest sire.
Veteran jockey Mark Guidry, 21st on the all-time list of North American riders with more than 5,000 victories, plans to close out his riding career Nov. 10 at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Nick Zito said it's "all systems go" for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) after C P West worked a half-mile at Belmont Park May 14. Meanwhile, Hard Spun, King of the Roxy, Xchanger, and Mint Slewlep all prepped for their run at the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle five contenders to this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 5. Here, he reviews his horses' running styles and talks strategy before the big race.
We had a little bit of everything this week, with Nobiz Like Shobiz back to his winning ways; the dejaÂ vu-like return of Team Giacomo; and some shifts in the Todd Pletcher power structure. So, with links to Funny Cide and Giacomo providing a sense of recent history, the Kentucky Derby trail heads into its final big weekend of preps.
It was all in the genes for Tiago, the half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo who registered a timely come-from-behind victory in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) Saturday.
Hard to believe the Santa Anita Derby looks like the best betting race of the big three Triple Crown preps on Saturday. Or is it?
Liquidity, hoping to bounce back from a sixth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on March 10, has been installed as the 5-2 favorite for Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) for 3-year-olds.
Santa Anita Oaks winner Rags to Riches, who would have been only the fourth filly to start in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) in 70 runnings, will instead go "straight to the Kentucky Oaks," trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning.
With favored Ravel out of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) with an injury, new candidates Black Seventeen and Level Red have surfaced for the 70th running of the the West Coast's major 3-year-old steppingstone on April 7.
With the withdrawal of Ravel from the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) due to an injury, Todd Pletcher and co-owner Jack Wolf have decided to run Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) runner-up Sam P. at Santa Anita, instead of the Illinois Derby (gr. II), as originally planned.
Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Brother Derek breezed a half-mile in :49 1/5 over a muddy track at Churchill Downs Monday in his final preparation for Saturday's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Brother Derek breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 at Santa Anita Monday.
Rafael Bejarano missed Keeneland's card to ride nine mounts in Southern California Saturday, including Triple Crown candidate Point Determined in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). The trip proved worthwhile when six of Bejarano's horses – four in succession – brought him to the winner's circle.
The heavily backed Brother Derek heads for next month's Run for the Roses as the likely favorite after he ran as expected in an easy gate-to-wire victory Saturday in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) before 54,189.
With expected Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) contender Fast Parade taking a pass, things look even better for Brother Derek. But will he have it all his way?
The stars were out in full force Sunday morning, as many of the leading Derby contenders tuned up for next Saturday's grade I Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial.
Borderland Derby winner Indy Wildcat could have returned to New Mexico's Sunland Park for Saturday's rich WinStar Derby, but trainer and part owner Paula Capestro chose instead to stay home for the April 8 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Brother Derek, current favorite in the Kentucky Derby Future Book, breezed six furlongs Sunday morning under regular rider Alex Solis in a bullet 1:11 in preparation for the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 8.
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