Arriving in Kentucky two weeks ago, the feeling here was that there were two horses in particular to concentrate on who looked to be coming into the Derby with enough angles to make them live at a decent price. After watching most of the Derby horses work and gallop at Keeneland and Churchill, things have changed a bit, as has track condition.
From Aristides in 1875 to Barbaro in 2006, homebred runners have a successful history in the Run for the Roses, with 49 of 132 winners carrying the colors of their breeders into the winner's circle at Churchill Downs.
With Curlin installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), it's interesting to take a look at favorites throughout history to see how they performed on the first Saturday in May.
Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Curlin was installed the moderate 7-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $2 million, 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when post positions were drawn Wednesday.
The connections of Storm in May will have first choice when post positions are selected later this evening thanks to pulling the No. 1 pill during the pill pull at the racing office. In all 22 horses were entered. Reporting for Duty and Delightful Kiss did not draw into the body of the field due to lack of enough graded earnings.
It was 11:15, and the 11 a.m. post position selection draw at the racing office still had not begun, as owners and trainers of Kentucky Derby horses paced back and forth or just stood anxiously waiting to see if all their hard work was about to be nullified by some random, ominous-sounding number.
Although trainer Doug O'Neill has played a significant role in some of racing's biggest days, on May 5 he will experience saddling a Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender for the first time. After the defection of his trainee Cobalt Blue, O'Neill will be saddling two horses in the Derby, Great Hunter and Liquidity
Three Kentucky Derby contenders will be a few days shy of their actual third birthday prior to the First Saturday in May.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - For some, just getting a horse to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May is the realization of a dream. For others who've been there before, it's about winning -- pure and simple.
Jim Tafel's Street Sense completed his final preparations for Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when he worked five furlongs in 1:01 at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, May 1.
Welcome to Derby Week, or week 11 of the "Starting Gate," one person's look at this year's Kentucky Derby lineup. As we approach Wednesday, entry day, this how we would handicap the top 20 contenders for the May 5 Run for the Roses. Actual entry into America's greatest race is reliant on graded stakes earnings -- this lineup is based on some speculation, past performances, and potential performance on Saturday.
When I hear about the Yumfecta and Yum! Brands, I suddenly have an urge for a Root Beer Float...
The weather today in Louisville couldn't be better. A good-sized crowd has amassed under the Twin Spires.
To aid in unscientific handicapping (and for the entertainment of trivia aficionados), here are the stories behind the titles of this year's contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
One Kentucky Oaks and four Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (both gr. I) contenders will be helping young people to obtain a college degree. As part of the Race For Education's Racehorse Nomination Program, a portion of any earnings by Street Sense, Cowtown Cat, Any Given Saturday, Sam P., and Appealing Zophie will go to the non-profit organization, which funds scholarships and educational grants for young people in the equine industry.
The racing industry's equine stars have one shot at winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr.I). Their riders, on the other hand, keep coming back for more. Here are the Derby records of several jockeys with prospective mounts in this year's Run for the Roses.
There was one disappointing aspect of Tuesday morning's brief activity at Churchill Downs. With 11 days still left until the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), it would come as a major surprise - no, make that a shock - if any horse turns in a more impressive workout than Street Sense's five-furlong masterpiece.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - This year brings us to a couple of tried and tested chapters from the unwritten trainers' manual regarding the Kentucky Derby: the "two-prep" and "unraced juvenile" rules.
James Tafel's champion colt Street Sense turned in his final serious Kentucky Derby workout Tuesday, April 24, going five furlongs in an impressive :59 over a fast track at Churchill Downs.
Sheikh Mohammed's broodmare band has taken a powerful turn. Late last year in the name of Darley, Sheikh Mohammed privately purchased the dams of top Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) hopefuls Street Sense and Scat Daddy.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has assigned jockeys to all of his potential starters for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Meanwhile, with 15 days remaining until the running of the 133rd Derby, top agents are ironing out plans for their riders' May 5 mounts.
The death of Buddy Holly on Feb. 3, 1959 was "the day the music died." April 14, 2007 was the day dirt racing in America died. That may sound harsh and premature, but if races like the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) are what we have to look forward to in the future, then we have indeed seen the beginning of the end of dirt racing as we know it.
Unbeaten Curlin, a dazzling winner of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) on Saturday, emerged as a strong favorite over such accomplished rivals as 2006 2-year-old champion Street Sense and Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Nobiz Like Shobiz when betting drew to a close in the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
The first five finishers in yesterday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) -- Dominican, Street Sense, Zanjero, Teuflesberg and Great Hunter -- are all, according to their connections, pointing toward a start in the May 5 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Four of those five were separated by only a neck at the wire in yesterday's race.
Silverton Hill's Dominican moved into the Triple Crown picture when he came from well behind to nose Street Sense, last year's 2-year-old champion, on the wire of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) Saturday on the all-weather track at Keeneland.
Unbeaten Curlin, the morning line favorite for Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, is a slight favorite over juvenile champion Street Sense and Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Scat Daddy as betting on the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Derby Future Wager reached its midway point.
The silks of owner James B. Tafel will be prominent in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland in Lexington--and during Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend in California.
Well, this is it, the final major Derby prep weekend. After this, there is only the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) for horses hoping to hop aboard at the last minute. All eyes now turn to Street Sense, who can emerge from the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) as a solid Derby favorite. But he has to get by Great Hunter first.
Great Hunter and Street Sense face each other for the third time in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Which one will come out on top? Or will either?
Street Sense drew post four for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. James Tafel's homebred champion was also made the 4-5 morning line favorite for the nine-furlong race. Great Hunter, the 9-5 second choice, will break from the outside seven post.
James Tafel's Street Sense, a major contender for the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 5, tuned up for a run in Saturday's $750,000-added Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland with a five-furlong workout on Tuesday at Churchill Downs.
Trainers Darrin Miller, who has Dominican in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), and Bob Holthus, who has Officer Rocket in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), discuss their chances as the Triple Crown trail continues.
Juvenile champion Street Sense and grade I winner Nobiz Like Shobiz loom as the strong morning-line favorites heading into third and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool.
After the defection of Hard Spun, five horses remain as "probable" contenders for Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), including Street Sense, Great Hunter, Zanjero, Dominican, and Teuflesberg. Starbase, from the stable of trainer D. Wayne Lukas, is also possible for the field.
James Tafel's Street Sense, a major contender for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the reigning 2-year-old champion of American racing, tuned up for a scheduled run in next week's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland with a sizzling five-furlong workout of :58 2/5 on Wednesday at Churchill Downs.
James Tafel's homebred Street Sense, America's reigning 2-year-old champion, has returned to familiar surroundings at Churchill Downs, where he is to continue his preparations for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 5.
Street Sense and Any Given Saturday, the respective 1-2 finishers in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), made the largest moves in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's weekly 3-Year-Old Thoroughbred Poll.
Not even a change to green silks on St. Patrick's Day for Any Given Saturday could deny 2-year-old champ Street Sense a hard-earned victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). Also on Saturday, rapidly emerging stars Cobalt Blue and Curlin burst on the Derby scene with impressive scores in their two-turn debuts.
James B. Tafel's 2006 juvenile champion Street Sense returned to action in gutsy style Saturday when he defeated 7-10 favorite Any Given Saturday by a nose in a tremendous finish to the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III).
The Derby trail hits four fronts this weekend, with all eyes on Tampa Bay Downs, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita, and Sunland Park. Although the races in general are more about potential stars than proven stars, that certainly doesn't apply to the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) which features the match-up of the year, so far.
The March 17 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) has a long tradition of sending entrants to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and other premier 3-year-old stakes. Heading the field this year appear to be Street Sense, who is making his 3-year-old debut and Sam F. Davis winner Any Given Saturday.
"NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby," a seven-show series on ABC and the ESPN networks that provides comprehensive coverage of Triple Crown prep races, kicks off its season March 17 from 7-8 p.m. (EST) with four races from coast-to-coast on ESPN.
Carl Nafzger, who trains champion and Kentucky Derby contender Street Sense, will be the guest for Thursday's edition of bloodhorse.com's "Talkin' Horses" online chat.
The second of three pools of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Derby Future Wager ended on Sunday with 'all others' a narrow favorite in a scramble with reigning 2-year-old champion Street Sense, Remsen (gr. II) and Holy Bull (gr. III) winner Nobiz Like Shobiz, and Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Circular Quay.
James Tafel's reigning 2-year-old champion Street Sense, winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), and Elizabeth Valando's Nobiz Like Shobiz, winner of the Remsen (gr. II) and the Holy Bull (gr. III), continued to share the role of favorite as pool 2 of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager reached its midway point.
Champion Street Sense and Nobiz Like Shobiz each closed at odds of 9-2 during the first of four days of betting in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2. The mutuel field, the betting interest that includes all 3-year-olds other than the 23 individual horses in Pool 2 and the 4-1 morning line favorite for the pool, stood as the 10-1 third choice at the end of the first day of betting.
The "all others" bet remains the morning line favorite for the second of three pools of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Derby Future Wager ("KDFW"), which launches its four-day run March 8.
James Tafel's Street Sense, winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and champion 2-year-old colt, and Elizabeth Valando's Nobiz Like Shobiz, who captured the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) in his season debut, lead a list of 179 3-year-olds nominated to Keeneland's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
Carl Nafzger, who had been considering the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-old champ Street Sense, says the colt is not ready for a hard sprint and will make his debut in either the Tampa Bay Derby Derby (gr. III) or Rushaway Stakes before having his final Derby prep in the Toyoya Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
When outnumbered, retreat. Times are no doubt changing, and with so many leading contenders looking at only two preps before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), perhaps it is time to loosen our tight grip on the history books and accept the fact that one of these years some horse is going to write its own chapter.
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