Both horses entered the 2004 season with big expectations. Silver Wagon won the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) as a juvenile. Value Plus was a $1.1 million Keeneland sales graduate for trainer Todd Pletcher who had finished second in the Futurity. At three, Silver Wagon hit the board in both the Holy Bull (gr. III) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) before knee injuries dashed his Kentucky Derby (gr. I) dreams. Campaigned by Aaron and Marie Jones, Value Plus finished second in the Florida Derby (gr. I), but disappointed in the Wood Memorial (gr. II) and by summer was on the sidelines. Silver Wagon is coming off a fifth-place finish in December's Kenny Noe Handicap at Calder. Value Plus hasn't raced since finishing fourth in last June's Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III). "It was a little disappointing to come back like that," said trainer Ralph Ziadie, who conditions Silver Wagon for Buckram Oak Farm. "I sent him over to Gulfstream to work earlier this week and he's been doing good ever since." While the connections of both headliners had aspirations in longer races, Silver Wagon and Value Plus will both spend most of their time in races like Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong contest.
"We tried to send him into the long races last year because that's where all the money is," said Ziadie. "Looking back, it seems like maybe sprints or races up to a mile will be where he will show his best."