As Saturday's Group 1 Two Thousand Guineas draws near, attention is already turning toward the Epsom Derby Festival on June 1-2.
As Saturday's Group 1 Two Thousand Guineas draws near, attention is already turning toward the Epsom Derby Festival on June 1-2.
The Group 1, £376,500 One Thousand Guineas, run on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket Sunday, has attracted 18 runners. The final field for the first fillies' classic of the season includes the well supported ante-post favorite Maybe, who rounded off an unbeaten juvenile campaign with a smooth victory in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes in August. The daughter of Galileo and her stablemate Homecoming Queen, who won the Leopardstown One Thousand Guineas Trial in April, will be bidding to give their trainer Aidan O'Brien a second success in the race after Virginia Waters' runaway victory in 2005.
MAY 4, 2012
by James Scully
Saturday's Kentucky Derby has a pair of top contenders in Bodemeister and Union Rags, but I've never seen a Kentucky Derby field so deep with viable win options. A compelling case can probably be made for half the field.
I've identified eight logical win candidates (in alphabetical order) -- Bodemeister, Creative Cause, Dullahan, Gemologist, Hansen, I'll Have Another, Take Charge Indy and Union Rags -- and could've included Alpha and Daddy Nose Best in the mix as well.
With such a competitive field, the post position draw was critical and I felt Bodemeister (post 6) and Union Rags (post 4) were hurt by the draw.
Bodemeister excelled from post 11 against a soft field in the Arkansas Derby, earning the top last-race BRIS Speed rating (105), but he's an inexperienced colt who was late to develop and probably needed an outside post to have his best c
Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. may be a new name on the Arlington racing program this summer, but she's hardly a new name to racing fans around the nation.
KENTUCKY DERBY THEY SAID IT
Zayat Stables LLC and Michel and Tiffany Moreno's Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Bodemeister galloped 1 1/2 miles Thursday, the morning after drawing post 6 in the 20-horse field.
Few in the crowd on Saturday will feel the emotional weight of the Kentucky Derby quite like the team with a chance to relive the great opportunity that took them to the pinnacle of American racing 12 months ago.
The waiting and anticipation is now almost over with the first classic of England's 2012 Flat turf season, Saturday's Group 1, £376,500 Two Thousand Guineas on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. Final declarations were made Thursday morning, and 18 colts are set to go to post in the famous mile contest.
Get Stormy failed to turn an uncontested lead into a repeat victory in the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland three weeks ago, but will have an opportunity to make amends in his title defense of Saturday's Grade 1 $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. The nine-furlong grass test, the traditional race before the Kentucky Derby, highlights a blockbuster Derby Day undercard that includes four other graded stakes.
Sassy Image won numerous battles in the race for champion female sprinter honors in 2011, but ultimately lost the war when Musical Romance was awarded top honors after winning the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in Sassy Image's absence. The two will square off for a second time in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs over seven furlongs.
The finish of Friday's Grade 2, $300,000 La Troienne could wind up looking a lot like that of the 2011 Kentucky Oaks as Plum Pretty and St. John's River renew acquaintance over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs. The La Troienne is the first of six stakes on the Kentucky Oaks Day program.
Winter Memories, whose explosive turn of foot propelled her to four graded stakes wins last season, including the Grade 1 Garden City, makes her four-year-old debut Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay at Belmont Park. The gray daughter of El Prado should find the conditions ideal in the 1 1/16-mile grass test as she's undefeated in three attempts over Belmont's two turf courses.
Grace Hall, who exits an impressive 6 1/2-length tally in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks, arrived at Churchill Downs late Tuesday morning following a flight from South Florida, where she had been training at Palm Meadows Training Center for a start in Friday's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.
A pair of grass stakes for three-year-olds attracted overflow fields on Friday's Kentucky Oaks Day undercard at Churchill Downs. The Grade 2, $200,000 American Turf at 1 1/16 miles, features a wide-open cast of males, while Breeders' Cup heroine Stephanie's Kitten looks to be favored in the $150,000 Edgewood for fillies, also at 1 1/16 miles.
Rousing Sermon is expected to be a longshot in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, but his final pre-Derby workout Tuesday pleased Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Alpha visited the track at Churchill Downs for the first time this year on Tuesday morning when he galloped approximately 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Rob Massey.
Trainer Larry Jones removed Mark Valeski from Kentucky Derby consideration .
Increased purses, larger fields, great weather and placement of races led to a very strong spring thoroughbred meet at Hawthorne as the season concluded on Sunday. With the release of the impact fee funds prior to the start of last fall's Thoroughbred meet, an increase in overnights of 50 percent helped to keep more horsemen on the grounds through the winter dark period in preparation for the spring meet.
They might not win, but they could hit the board at long odds read blog
HOLLYWOOD PARK NOTEBOOK
Brereton Jones' homebred Believe You Can was in tip-top shape the day after her bullet five-eighths work for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in :58 2/5, according to trainer Larry Jones, who gushed about both the breeze and her demeanor 24 hours later.
Shivananda Parbhoo's Trinniberg open-galloped two furlongs under jockey Willie Martinez through the stretch at Churchill Downs Monday morning. The planned leg-stretching exercise was not an official recorded workout.
Godolphin Stable's Alpha had a very light exercise at Belmont Park Monday morning before being shipped by plane to Churchill Downs. He is scheduled to arrive at the track between 5 and 6 p.m. (EDT).
Churchill Downs and TwinSpires.com have partnered to guarantee the Pick 6 pools on Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby days. The Kentucky Oaks Day Pick 6 will carry a $200,000 guaranteed pool and the Kentucky Derby Day Pick 6 will feature a $500,000 guarantee.
Liaison made his case for a start in the 138th Kentucky Derby with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 4/5 Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
Unbeaten Group 1 Racing Post Trophy winner Camelot heads 22 horses going forward in the Group 1 Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, while 21 fillies remain in the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas on Sunday.
The Irish-bred Quiet Oasis, who nearly doubled her bankroll to $122,413 from her 8-3-1-1 line, had previously shown glimmers of talent. Originally based with Brian Meehan in England, the daughter of Oasis Dream finished a close fourth in her stakes debut in the Group 3 C.L. Weld Park Stakes and seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
After a brief scare Thursday, Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, was declared fit and ready by trainer Don Warren and could run in the Grade 2, $150,000 Mervyn Leroy Handicap Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Brereton Jones' homebred Mark Valeski galloped 1 1/2 miles Sunday during the Derby and Oaks training period under trainer Larry Jones, who said it's not a given they'll enter the Kentucky Derby unless the Proud Citizen colt impresses in his final breeze Monday.
Broadway's Alibi was confirmed for a start in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks Sunday morning after coming out of the previous day's four-furlong workout at Palm Meadows Training Center in good order.
Known internationally for siring such top-class athletes as Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro, Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) winner Americain, and $4.7 million-earner Perfect Drift.
The Empire Maker colt named for trainer Bob Baffert's youngest child -- who in turn is named for American Alpine skiing star Bode Miller -- worked in company with stablemate Jemima's Pearl, who is headed to Friday's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. Jemima's Pearl completed her five-eighths in 1:00 2/5.
Believe You Can turned in her final official workout prior to Friday's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, a bullet five-furlong breeze in :58 2/5 during the Oaks and Kentucky Derby training session over the muddy main track at Churchill Downs on Sunday.
After winning Grade 1 turf races in 2011 with European imports Stacelita and Zagora, trainer Chad Brown is primed to make a similar assault on major grass events in America this year after receiving an influx of talented international runners.
Stonestreet Stables LLC's Hierro rallied four wide in the stretch to run down favored Paynter to win the 88th running of the Grade 3, $232,600 Derby Trial by 1 1/2 lengths before a crowd of 26,527 on opening night of Churchill Downs Friday.
Willa B Awesome might have bypassed on running in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, but the Walther Solis trainee didn't find the $288,000 Melair Stakes to be a walk in the park on Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Chappell Alpine Farm's Hudson Landing, who had shifted barns five times via the claim box since last July, is unlikely to be moving away from trainer Blaine Wright anytime soon after a half-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields. Overcoming a wide journey down the backside, the five-year-old gelding caught 2011 Mile runner-up Gallant Son inside the eighth pole and held off a belated rally by 1-2 favorite Jeranimo to register his second stakes win in a time of 1:37 1/5 over good ground. He returned $19.60, $5.20 and $3.80 at odds of 8-1.
Grade 3 Illinois Derby winner Done Talking worked five furlongs at Laurel Park Saturday morning in his final work before next Saturday's $2 million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
With an eye on the first Saturday in May, Alpha worked over the Belmont Park training track Saturday morning, turning in a :59 2/5 five-furlong breeze with Rajiv Maragh aboard.
Endorsement made a name for himself when taking the Grade 3 Sunland Derby by three lengths in 2010 but an injury sidelined the son of Distorted Humor until December 2011. Following three conditioning starts at Gulfstream Park, the Casner Racing colorbearer returned to stakes competition on Saturday and easily went two-for-two against black-type company with a two-length victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Texas Mile Stakes at Lone Star Park.
Live Oak Plantation's To Honor and Serve coasted in his comeback in Saturday's Grade 3, $142,500 Westchester Stakes at Belmont Park, stamping himself as the horse to beat in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap over the same mile trip on Memorial Day. Under confident handling by regular rider Jose Lezcano, the 3-5 favorite took over with a minimum of effort turning for home and won easing up by 5 1/4 lengths.
Grade 1-placed And Why Not tuned up for a start in Friday's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks with a bullet four-furlong workout Saturday morning over the fast main track at Churchill Downs.
With jockey Julien Leparoux aboard, Union Rags breezed the distance in :59 4/5, third fastest of 53 moves at the distance on the fast main track. The Michael Matz colt posted fractions of :12, :23 3/5 and :47 1/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 4/5.
Australia's unbeaten wonder mare Black Caviar returned from a two-month holiday to dust an overmatched field in Saturday's Group 1 Robert Sangster before a packed house of 30,000 at Morphettville. As her fans waved flags with the color scheme of her silks -- salmon pink and black dots -- the world's best sprinter registered her 20th straight win, breaking the Australasian record for a winning streak at metropolitan (as opposed to bush) tracks.
After tracking a slow pace throughout, Utopian edged Smug in the final strides to win the Grade 3, $98,000 Inglewood Handicap Friday evening at Hollywood Park.
Keeneland's 2012 spring race meeting proved to be an enormously successful finale for President Nick Nicholson, posting several records for attendance and wagering and boasting field sizes that are among the largest in the country. More importantly, it also marked the sixth consecutive spring meeting in which there were no catastrophic breakdowns during racing on Keeneland's all-weather main track.
Phipps Stable's homebred Point of Entry made his turf stakes debut a winning one in Friday's Grade 2, $150,000 Elkhorn on closing day of the Keeneland spring meet. Guided by John Velasquez, the Dynaformer colt defeated a group that included two-time Elkhorn winner Musketier, as well as recent Grade 2 winners Newsdad and Simmard.