The Keeneland Association honored its contestants for Saturday's running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) Thursday evening with a special dinner at the Keene Barn entertainment complex on the Keeneland grounds. The connections from most of the eight runners, Marylou Whitney Stable's Birdstone was scratched earlier in the day, were interviewed following the dinner, and following are some of the comments made by them.
April 9, 1946
Birdstone was declared out of Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) after tests showed an elevated white cell count.
Saturday's big afternoon of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps will kick off with the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I), as 11 3-year-olds, headed by Value Plus, Master David, and Eddington, try to earn a starting berth in the 130th Run for the Roses.
With the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) only three weeks away, NBC Sports kicks off coverage of horseracing's 3-year-old picture on Saturday, with the 90-minute telecast of "NTRA Road to the Kentucky Derby."
April 8, 1989
Will Rock Hard Ten qualify in graded earnings for the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and who will ride him if he does? Trainer Jason Orman doesn't know, but he plans to ship the third-place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) to Kentucky in hopes that he'll run.
Undefeated Smarty Jones, who is expected to go off a solid favorite in Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II), will break from the outside post position in the 11-horse field that was drawn Wednesday.
Following the spate of longshot winners of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep races this season, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on trainer Mike Puhich and That's an Outrage in Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Lion Heart was installed the 5-2 morning line favorite against eight other 3-year-olds for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland and trainer Patrick Biancone agreed. "He's that good and I hope he gets to show it on the track," Biancone said.
April 7, 1992
Gotham Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Pomeroy, gearing up for his next start in the April 17 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, worked six furlongs in 1:14 3/5, breezing, in company with stablemate Tarkovsky, who was clocked in 1:14 2/5, over Santa Anita's fast main track Tuesday morning.
Before the entries are drawn for this weekend's big Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps, and the races can be fully analyzed, this is a good time to briefly take one more look back at last weekend's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and offer a few odds and ends about the upcoming races.
Here are the top 35 three-year-olds in graded stakes earnings.
Team Valor's Tiger Hunt, who has not started since his fourth-place finish in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), will make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's one-mile Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and if he should run a big race, he may still be pointed for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Mark Henning knows he has a talented horse in Eddington for Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I), and after the colt's learning experience in the Gotham (gr. III), he's confident he will put it all together in the Wood and accumulate enough earnings to get in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) field.
Stan Fulton's Fire Slam, winner of the Lecomte (gr. III) at the Fair Grounds, breezed five furlongs under new rider Pat Day on Tuesday at Churchill Downs in preparation for a run in the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) on April 17 at Keeneland.
April 6, 1968
Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) hopefuls Lion Heart and Preachinatthebar led the Monday morning worktab at Santa Anita. Lion Heart earned the bullet for five furlongs in :58 2/5 and Preachinatthebar posted a time of :59 1/5 for the same distance.
Trainer Tom Bush confirmed Monday morning that Cam Allard's Cuba will run in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct. The Not For Love colt had been listed as a possible starter before working five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, breezing, over a "good" Belmont Park training track Sunday morning with blinkers on.
April 5, 1950
From out of the fog that has shrouded the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail all year comes two colts with regal-sounding names. But for Castledale and Imperialism, it's been quite an odd journey getting to the footsteps of hallowed Churchill Downs.
An unsettling wave of upsets in this year's prep races left fans without an individual favorite in the final pool of the 2004 Kentucky Derby Future Wager. They opted instead for the field at odds of 6-1 as wagering closed Sunday.
Trainer Jeff Mullins was uncommitted Sunday about starting Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Castledale in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but said a decision will come in a few days.
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's Bwana Charlie fought off Quick Action after a blistering half-mile to win the $109,500 Lafayette for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs at Keeneland Sunday.
Dogwood Stable's Limehouse, the recent winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), breezed an easy five furlongs just after the track renovation on Sunday morning, his final work for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) to be run Saturday.
The Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) did nothing to clear a muddled Kentucky Derby picture, so the mutuel field – all betting interests other than the 22 remaining individual interests – continued to be the favorite with one day remaining in Churchill Downs' finalKentucky Derby Future Wager pool.
April 4, 1992
Kaufy Mate swept to a 4 1/2 -length victory in Saturday's $250,000 Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream Park, an ungraded stakes for 3-year-olds.
In a wild stretch run, Castledale, a 30-1 shot, edged Rock Hard Ten by a head to win the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), the West Coast's major 3-year-old steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Pacesetter Pollard's Vision, the one-eyed colt, repelled the charge of Song of the Sword in the stretch and pulled away to win the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II) for 3-year-olds by 2 3/4 lengths at Hawthorne.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Tapit, who finished sixth in the Florida Derby (gr. I) in his 3-year-old debut, worked a mile in 1:47 2/5 at his home base of Tapeta Farm in North East, Md., in preparation for next Saturday's Wood Memorial (gr. I).
Undefeated Smarty Jones, the likely favorite for next Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II), worked five furlongs Saturday in a bullet :58 3/5, almost two seconds quicker than the second fastest time (1:00 2/5) at the distance.
April 3, 1965
As Eurosilver, another major contender for Kentucky Derby 130 fell out of the picture, fans returned to the mutuel field as a mild favorite at the midpoint of the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2004 Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
Trainer Nick Zito announced Friday that Buckram Oak Farm's Eurosilver has been removed from consideration for this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) due to the lingering effects of a glandular infection.
The Wood Memorial (gr. I) gained a probable starter when trainer Bob Baffert announced Friday it is likely that James McIngvale's Consecrate will ship east for next Saturday's $750,000 feature at a mile and an eighth.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas hasn't given up on his chances of making this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), as he sends out Robert and Beverly Lewis' Hasslefree in next Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II). Lukas also plans on running the Lewises' Race for Glory in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II).
The question in the 67th Santa Anita Derby, with Lion Heart going to Lexington to run in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes instead of here, is who will go to the lead.
April 2, 1978
Undefeated Smarty Jones, the likely favorite in next weekend's Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, was the surprise leader following the first day of wagering in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Thursday.
The Grade II Illinois Derby looks like an orchestra with no conductor, as the morning line odds indicate.
With the Pool 3 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Future Wager bets locked in before the big April 10 preps, this is when you can actually get good value for your money. Just find a Funny Cide-type of horse and get past one more hurdle next weekend..
The $250,000 Aventura Stakes for 3-year-olds is chock full of Florida-based and Florida-bred horses. All eight entrants made their last start in the Sunshine State, and six of the eight were bred within the state's boundaries.
In what has to be the most wide-open race of the 3-year-old season, 11 horses from all across the country converge on Hawthorne Race Course for Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II).
In the past few years, much discussion has centered around the chances of a "lightly-raced horse" winning the Kentucky Derby. But in fact, the talk has not come to much fruition. Truth holds eternal, and although there are exceptions to every rule, the truth is that it still takes seasoning and experience to win the Kentucky Derby the vast majority of the time.
April 1, 1961
Carry Back in the Florida Derby
Juvenile champion Action This Day will make his longest excursion when he ships April 5 to Keeneland for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on April 10, but Richard Mandella does not anticipate any problems with his 3-year-old.
Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Wimbledon has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Contrary to information released Tuesday by Triple Crown Productions, Gregory Kaufman's Kaufy Mate has not been nominated to the Visa Triple Crown. A follow-up press release issued Wednesday attributed the mistake to "miscommunication" between Kaufman and Triple Crown Productions.
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