Gary and Mary West's Dollar Bill stalked early leader Gracie's Dancer while racing in third-place on the backstretch before collaring that rival in the stretch en route to a 2 1/2-length win in the $125,000 Risen Star Stakes Sunday at Fair Grounds. Under jockey Chris McCarron, Dollar Bill completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.45 on a fast track.
The mutuel field remained the fans' favorite in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but an upset in the weekend's major Kentucky Derby prep race resulted in a shuffling of the odds on several Derby contenders heading into the final day of wagering in the pool. The biggest move of the day was made by Songandaprayer, the upset winner of the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. Songandaprayer opened Saturday's wagering as the longest shot in the field at 99-1, but the odds on that colt had dropped to 30-1 by the end of Saturday's betting
Under jockey Jorge Chavez, Hero's Tribute pressed the early pace set by Liberty Township and drew away to a four-length win over Dream Run in a seven-furlong allowance race Saturday at Gulfstream Park. 11-10 favorite A P Valentine finished another 2 1/2 lengths back in third.
The mutuel field, which includes all 3-year- olds other than those 23 individual horses, was a heavy favorite at the mid-point of first of three four-day pools in the 2001 Kentucky Derby Future Wager. At the close of Friday's second day of Pool 1, the mutuel field was an odds-on favorite at 4-5.
Kentucky Derby fans across the nation made the mutuel field a strong favorite among 24 wagering interests on the opening day of Pool 1 of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager. The mutuel field, which includes all 3-year-olds other than the 23 individual Kentucky Derby contenders on the list of wagering interests, was a 3-2 favorite after the first day of wagering on the four-day pool ended at 11:00 p.m. (EST) Thursday evening. Derby fans in 26 states wagered a total of $43,318 on the opening day of Pool 1 - including $14,186 wagered on the mutuel field.
TVG announced Wednesday that the company would offer exclusive interactive online wagering and special television programming for each leg of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which begins today (Thursday). TVG subscribers can wager online and access real-time field, odds and pool information, free past performances from Equibase and special handicapping capsules on each horse in the mutuel field.
One of the most intriguing Fountain of Youth Stakes in memory is set for this Saturday, as 11 top-class horses from all over the country converge on Gulfstream Park for the first major 3-year-old prep of the season. Favoritism will be up for grabs in this competitive 1 1/16-mile event, as a case can be made for several of the participants.
Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, analyzes the horses included in Churchill Downs 2001 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1. During his 29 years with the Daily Racing Form, Haskin became known for his insightful coverage of the Triple Crown races. Haskin won the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby writing in 1997, 1999, and 2000 and received the David Woods Award for best Preakness story in 1997.
It's been 24 years since Seattle Slew became the 10th Triple Crown winner and 17 years since a son of his (Swale) won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The Derby arguably is the toughest of all races to win, and any horse who attempts to handle the 1 1/4 miles the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs against as many as 19 rivals needs a competent trainer and jockey, along with the proper blend of speed and stamina, and a good deal of racing luck. With all that in mind, it's time to take a look at one of Seattle Slew's grandsons, A P Valentine, and see how he fits into the Derby picture.
Macho Uno, last year's champion 2-year-old colt, will be sent to Rood & Riddle clinic in Lexington, Ky. Wednesday to be evaluated due to prolonged stiffness in his hind end, Adena Springs farm trainer Danny Vella told The Blood-Horse on Monday. "This will cost him time, and it's not our way of doing things to rush a horse who's not a hundred percent," Vella said.
The defection of Macho Uno, the co-third choice on the original list of Churchill Downs' 2001 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1 wagering interests at 10-1, and the addition of Songandaprayer have prompted track oddsmaker Mike Battaglia to adjust his morning line for the Future Wager pool. Songandaprayer has been installed at 30-1 in Pool 1, while the odds of three other horses have been adjusted downward. A P Valentine had been installed at odds of 12-1 and is now listed at 10-1,
Ranked in preference order, with horse/ trainer/breeding
Windsor Castle, who came down with a high fever several weeks ago, finally seems to be coming back to himself and should be back under tack sometime this week. But trainer Frank Alexander said the colt lost some muscle tone and he does not anticipate a start before April, which would all but eliminate him from Derby consideration. "It'll be hard for him to make the big one," Alexander said.
How about a little diversionary game on the way to next Saturday's Fountain of Youth and Risen Star stakes? Picture the Derby trail as a maze. The object is to find your way through the maze and reach Churchill Downs without running into D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert or Nick Zito. Well, we didn't say it would easy. But with racing's three-headed monster concentrating on blocking all the major roads, this past weekend's smattering of minor stakes was an excellent chance for trainers to take another step in achieving their goal. Not to mention taking home some decent cash as well.
Nick Zito announced Sunday that Pat Day will ride A P Valentine when the son of A. P. Indy makes his 2001 debut Feb. 17 in a 7-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream. Jorge Chavez had been the colt's regular rider.
A P Valentine, winner of the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) last fall, had his first test for speed at Hialeah Saturday, blazing 5 furlongs in a bullet :59 flat.
Wild And Wise wore down Swordfish in the final furlong and edged clear for a half-length victory Friday in the $96,750 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Park.
The $1-million Florida Derby, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby, will air during a special segment on SportsCenter Saturday, March 10, on ESPN2. Airtime for SportsCenter on March 10 is 6:00-7:00 p.m. (ET), with wire-to-wire coverage of the Florida Derby scheduled to be shown approximately one hour after the live running of the Grade I race for 3-year-olds from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.
First installment in series analyzing pedigrees of leading 2001 Kentucky Derby contenders.
Point Given has a scare in workout; D'Wildcat will go to Florida for the Swale; Early Flyer is likely to contest the San Rafael; Lasersport has fractured knee.
Traffic will increase on the road to Gulfstream Park's $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) next week as a field of 10, including some West Coast invaders, assembles for the grade I Fountain of Youth Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile Fountain on Saturday, Feb. 17, serves as the final major prep for the 50th anniversary running of the Florida Derby and the 3-year-old classics beyond.
The EDS "Road to the Roses Fantasy Challenge," a rotisserie-style fantasy game that lets racing fans pick their own stable of Kentucky Derby horses, trainers and jockeys, will go live this Saturday, Feb. 10. The game's top winner will receive a trip to the Kentucky Derby and a $5,000 betting voucher.
Ranked in preference order, with horse/ trainer/breeding
And you thought we were just going to flutter into February, with barely a breeze being stirred. It just goes to prove once again that the only sure thing about life on the Derby trail is its unpredictability. Instead of simply gliding along until the Fountain of Youth in two weeks, the 3-year-old picture hurtled into the new month on falcons' wings, thanks to several awesome performances.
A record number of 439 three-year-old horses have been nominated to the 2001 Visa Triple Crown and the $5 million Visa Triple Crown Challenge during the recently completed early nomination period for the world's most prestigious trio of horse racing classics. The overall nomination number outdistanced by more than a furlong the previous record of 422 set in 1986, the first year of the common nomination process under the auspices of Triple Crown Productions, headquartered at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Helping to push the nomination field to a new standard was the record number of nominations from Europe -- 53-- far surpassing last year's record total of 24.
Trainer John Ward, Jr. had his stakes-placed 3-year-old colt Holiday Thunder out for a six furlong trial on Friday. The son of Thunder Gulch was clocked in 1:14 4/5 and Ward was satisfied enough to say his next start would be in the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 17. "It was a good useful work and he finished up well," Ward said. "Mike Smith rode him this morning and he'll ride him for me in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. That's his next start."
Bob Baffert got his first big indication that he purchased a runner in Global Gait Thursday morning when the son of Concern worked a sharp 7 furlongs in 1:25, with Baffert catching him his last quarter in :23 3/5 and final three-eighths in :34 4/5.
Trainer Bob Hess Jr. is hoping Fog City Stable's D'wildcat can approximate his last performance when he meets unbeaten Lasersport Saturday in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs. D'wildcat smoked a maiden allowance field in his second career start Jan. 6 in a six-furlong time of 1:08.76, only four ticks off the track record. D'wildcat breezed four furlongs in :49.20 Tuesday in his final San Vicente tuneup.
In the first stakes of the year at Fair Grounds for 3-year-olds, Sam Lord's Castle defeated Wild Hits in the Le Comte Stakes.
Windsor Castle, purchased by a Dogwood Stable partnership after winning the grade II Remsen Stakes last year, has been dealt a setback that will cause him to miss the Feb. 17 Fountain of Youth Stakes. Dogwood president Cot Campbell said Windsor Castle developed a fever several days after a Jan. 6 workout. "It's nothing serious and he's normal now, but it's thrown a monkey wrench into (trainer) Frank Alexander's schedule for him," Campbell said.
There wasn't much separating Macho Uno and Point Given in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the Experimental Free Handicap for males. Macho Uno held off Point Given by a nose in the Juvenile and was assigned one pound more than that rival on the Experimental. Ranked a pound below Point Given was A P Valentine, who turned in a powerful run to win the Champagne Stakes (gr. I), but then ran last in the Juvenile. Overall, nine horses were weighted at 120 pounds or more, the same number as in 1999.
A P Valentine continues to top Steve Haskin's list of top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders, with Talk Is Money the newest addition to the list.
Talk Is Money
The cry of "Go, Big Blue" resounded throughout the New York area on Super Bowl Sunday. Although it was silenced following the New York Giants' defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, don't be surprised if it is resurrected by Gang Godolphin around the first Saturday in May. That's when Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum and his faithful followers will invade Churchill Downs bearing gifts and exuding confidence. Boxloads of Godolphin jackets, shirts, and caps will turn Churchill Downs into a sea of blue. Over the past two years, three members of Maktoum's Marauders made it to the starting gate on Derby Day, their coats shining like burnished copper. But there really wasn't a Derby horse beneath those glistening exteriors.
Daniel M. Borislow's Talk Is Money was tested all the way to the finish line by Marciano but prevailed in an all-out drive to win the $50,000 Miracle Wood Stakes, Saturday's co-feature at Laurel Park. In successfully negotiatiing two turns for the first time, the $1.8 million yearling purchase remained undefeated in two career starts.
A field of 11, led by City Zip and Yonaguska, has been entered for Saturday's Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. The seven-furlong, $150,000 race is the third leg in the series of races leading up to the Florida Derby. City Zip, a multiple grade II winner, is the 122-pound topweight in the Hutcheson. Yonaguska, who finished in dead heat with City Zip for first in the Hopeful Stakes, will tote 119.
City Zip, the speedy Carson City colt who vaulted to national prominence last summer by becoming the first horse in 40 years to sweep Saratoga's major 2-year-old stakes, arrived in South Florida last Sunday to prepare for Saturday's grade II Hutcheson Stakes. Meanwhile, Daring Pegasus will be seeking his second straight stakes victory when he starts in the Hutcheson, his first start outside the state of Kentucky.
After Saturday's seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, just one more stakes preview will remain on the Gulfstream Park schedule for the March 10 Florida Derby. Likely to await the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) are the major 3-year-olds in Florida – Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Macho Uno, and Champagne Stakes (gr. I) winner A P Valentine. Another pointing directly to the mile and an eighth Florida Derby is Buckle Down Ben, winner of the Laurel Futurity (gr. III) last season and second in the Holy Bull.
Champagne Stakes winner A P Valentine, trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Nick Zito, tops Steve Haskin's first list of top 20 contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown racxes. Haskin, The Blood-Horse magazine's senior correspondent and Triple Crown authority, will be updating the contenders list weekly between now and the Kentucky Derby.
NTRA Productions has released the "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby" series, which will feature 15 races that lead up to the first leg of the Triple Crown. The series begins Feb. 18 and concludes with a Triple Crown Special April 29.
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