Another Kentucky Derby is upon us, and most of the talk has been about the inconsistencies and slow speed figures of this year's crop of 3-year-olds. Before we get into all the observations and analyses, and attempt to figure out this daffy Derby there is one point that must be addressed first.
Eric Fein's Big Truck, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), worked a half-mile in :48.8 over the Polytrack at Keeneland April 22.
Charles Fipke's Tale of Ekati worked a half-mile in :49.20 April 17 at Keeneland. Trainer Barclay Tagg described the move as "a little maintenance work after his race."
Robert Evans' Elysium Fields, runner-up in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), will be sidelined indefinitely, said trainer Barclay Tagg.
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?
Unbeaten Big Brown, the dominating winner of last week's Florida Derby (gr. I), took on the look of the ultimate favorite for the $2-million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when he finished as a solid 3-1 choice in the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2008 Derby Future Wager.
Charles Fipke's homebred Tale of Ekati may have turned in a sub-par effort in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), but he sparkled at Aqueduct when he ran down War Pass in the final strides of the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I) April 5.
Nick Zito has not lost faith in War Pass. True, the colt has questions to answer after finishing last as the 1-20 choice in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). But the trainer saw his 2007 juvenile champ at his best during a five-race winning streak that carried over into this season, and he's hoping that side is revealed again when the son of Cherokee Run heads a field of 10 in Aqueduct's $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I).
- By Claire Novak
Robert LaPenta's War Pass has drawn post position number five in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I), an April 5 prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) that has drawn a field of 10 3-year-old contenders.
Robert Evans' Elysium Fields, runner-up in last month's $350,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), worked March 12 at Gulfstream Park in preparation for the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) Mar. 29.
The doubters said that Pyro's last-to-first victory in the Risen Star (gr. III) was not as good as it looked. There won't be much for the skeptics to say after the Pulpit colt's latest performance, a commanding three-length score in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 8 at Fair Grounds, a victory that cemented the Steve Asmussen trainee as one of the top two 3-year-olds in the country.
With less than two months until the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), it is time that some of the highly-touted 3-year-olds begin to answer our questions. Many of those answers will be provided March 8 at Fair Grounds, when nine top challengers will do battle in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II).
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pyro, who stamped himself as a leading Triple Crown contender after his win in last month's Risen Star Stakes (gr. III), is the 7-5 morning-line choice in a field of nine 3-year-olds entered in the March 8 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds.
Robert LaPenta's undefeated Eclipse champion War Pass continued to prep for his seasonal debut when he worked a bullet half-mile in :46.80 at Palm Meadows training center Feb. 2. Anak Nakal and Tale of Ekati also worked.
Once more, War Pass has proven that no one can run with him. Robert LaPenta's undefeated colt set a fast pace on a sloppy Monmouth Park strip and took command early on the far turn, finishing up nicely to register a 4 3/4-length in the $2 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Oct. 27.
Nick Zito trainee War Pass, winner of the Oct. 6 Champagne Stakes (gr. I), has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the $2- million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27.
Breeders' Cup prospects Tale of Ekati and Benny the Bull both breezed on the fast Monmouth Park track Oct. 16 in preparation for their respective races, the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).
Juvenile racing in New York treated us to Tale of Ekati and Proud Spell, a pair of 2-year-old stakes winners Sept. 15, with intriguing, and somewhat linked, pedigrees.
Many have attempted to dethrone racing's supreme monarch, Rags to Riches, this year, from the fairest of maidens to the bravest of knights. They all failed. But then, in the Sept. 15 Gazelle Stakes (gr. I), came a stately, kindhearted damsel named Lear's Princess, who dared to look the "Belle of Belmont" in the eye.
Tale of Ekati had a couple of excuses if he did not score in the $250,000 Futurity Stakes (gr. II). But thanks to a brilliant ride by jockey Eibar Coa and a thunderous move in the final 16th, the 2-year-old colt won the important juvenile prep by two lengths over favorite Kodiak Kowboy at Belmont Park Sept. 15.
Todd Pletcher trainee Ready's Image took advantage of an erratic performance by Fed Watcher to win the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. II) by four lengths Thursday at Saratoga Race Course for owner James Scatuorchio.
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