(Edited press release)
“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.
Included in the show is live coverage of the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. Also on tap is same-day coverage of the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) from Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla., and highlights of the March 10 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) from New York’s Aqueduct Race Course.
In the San Felipe, Doug O’Neill sends out the Merv Griffin-owned Cobalt Blue, who comes off an allowance race win last month, to take on a small field in the 1 1/16-miles race. Also entering off a recent allowance win is the Bob Baffert-trained Air Commander. The Todd Pletcher-trained Grapelli, Noble Court, and Level Red are also expected to start.
In the Rebel, Teuflesberg, winner of last month’s Southwest Stakes, faces a rematch in this 1 1/16-miles contest with Officer Rocket, who was second in the Southwest. Also expected to run is the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Flying First Class, a maiden winner his last time out. Rounding out the field are U D Ghetto, Wannabeincluded, Curlin, Xchanger, and Going Ballistic.
Street Sense, last year’s Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner and 2-year-old colt champion, is expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the 1 1/16 mile Tampa Bay Derby. The race will be the first for the Carl Nafzger-trained colt since his record setting 10-length victory in the Juvenile. Street Sense can expect competition from the Pletcher-trained Any Given Saturday, who enters off a win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes.
The show will be hosted from Santa Anita by Randy Moss, who will be joined by analyst Jerry Bailey, reporter Jeannine Edwards, and handicapper Jay Privman.