Complications with travel arrangements could keep the undefeated Denis of Cork from coming to New York for the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr.I) at Aqueduct April 5. Denis of Cork's trainer, David Carroll, said the other option for the winner of the Southwest Stakes (gr.III) is the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr.II) at Hawthorne Race Course April 5.
A full field of 12 was drawn for the March 29 Florida Derby (gr. I), which on paper has turned out to be the most intriguing prep race for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) this year.
Trainer Mike De Kock aims for his fourth UAE Derby (UAE-II) triumph with Royal Vintage and Honour Devil. Massive Drama is best American hope in the about nine-furlong event.
Entries for the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II) won't be drawn until March 31, but from the looks of the nominations, the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) prep is shaping into a deep and competitive field with many of the nation's top trainers and horses participating.
Airdrie Stud's-homebred filly Proud Spell has been nominated to the Triple Crown. She is slated to make her next start against fillies in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) April 5 at Keeneland.
Dogwood Stable has finalized plans for their two Kentucky Derby hopefuls Atoned and Blackberry Road. The former will make his next start in the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II) April 5, while Blackberry Road will have his final prep in the $1-million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) April 12.
Normally a grade I race like the Florida Derby would be pretty clear-cut, filled mostly with horses who have proven themselves. Not so this year; not with unknowns such as Big Brown and Tomcito, two of the most intriguing Triple Crown hopefuls seen in quite a while.
Despite being ranked No. 1 or 2 on just about every Derby poll, Pyro, for some reason, has been branded by many a slow horse and simply the best of a bad lot. Yes, the pace in his two starts this year has been slow, and his final times have not exactly set the Fair Grounds teletimer aflame, but is this horse really as slow as many of the experts say he is?
Halsey Minor's 3-year-old Fierce Wind drilled a bullet half-mile in 46 4/5 over a fast track at Palm Meadows March 24 for trainer Nick Zito in preparation for the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park March 29.
Despite a "muddy" track at Gulfstream Park, Garland Williamson's Cool Gator and jockey Eddie Castro got to know each other the morning of March 24 with a five-furlong breeze, the final workout for the 3-year-old son of Macho Uno before the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pyro, early favorite for the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), worked five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 the morning of March 24 over Keeneland's main Polytrack surface.
Craig Dollase thinks grade III winner El Gato Malo will be even tougher in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 5 thanks to his recent defeat.
The mere mention of 1971 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes hero Canonero II to most horsemen from Latin America immediately invokes pride. Trainer Dante Zanelli Jr. is no different, and he has a healthy respect for the achievements of the Venezuelan star who swept the first two legs of the American Triple Crown. He's just not ready to compare his charge, Jetset Racing's Tomcito, to the legend.
Adriano gave trainer Graham Motion plenty to think about with an impressive win in the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park March 22.
Big Glen, guided confidently by Rene Douglas, found room along the inside and finished in a full drive to the wire to defeat favored Miner's Claim by a short neck in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes for 3-year-olds at Turfway Park.
Jose Lezcano took a test drive on Bea Oxenberg's 3-year-old Hey Byrn, expected to be one of the favorites in the Florida Derby (gr. I), during a five-furlong work at Calder Race Course the morning of March 22.
HRTV's originally produced weekly show on top Derby prospects and the road to the Triple Crown. This week's episode includes an interview with Robert LaPenta, owner of War Pass and Cool Coal Man, a detailed analysis of the San Felipe Stakes, a look at the Graded Earnings List, and a preview of the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II).
Mid-morning on Turfway Park's backside March 21, Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) contenders were pulling at hay nets or dozing, blanketed against the morning chill. Horses and trainers alike are, as trainer Grant Hofmans said, "on cruise control" until March 22.
It's been said that special Thoroughbreds have a certain look and feel about them that is different than your average horse. Pyro is proof.
Sierra Sunset, a three-length winner of the $300,000 Rebel (gr. II) March 15 at Oaklawn Park, has a hairline fracture of his left front ankle and is out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), trainer Jeff Bonde reported.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pyro, likely favorite for Keeneland's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) April 12, stretched his legs in an easy mile gallop March 20 over the main Polytrack.
Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Elysium Fields and impressive allowance winner Big Brown turned in works this week in preparation for the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29.
It's time for the annual head-to-head matchup of Dick and Cheap Speed in the grade II Lane's End Stakes. This race almost always produces substantial payoffs.
Zayat Stables' Halo Najib looks to the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) with a chance to punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
The American Association of Equine Practitioners announced the "On Call" program will run for an 18th season of live Thoroughbred racing on the major television networks March 19.
Churchill Downs Inc. has partnered with Truly Indie and filmmakers John and Brad Hennegan to distribute their award-winning documentary The First Saturday in May to U.S. theaters for a week-long national run in 18 major markets starting April 18. A special one-night Louisville premiere is scheduled for April 13 at The Louisville Palace Theatre.
Bob LaPenta and Nick Zito have always taken pride in their honesty, and with the nightmare of War Pass' shocking performance in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) still causing them sleepless nights, LaPenta feels the need to address his comment after the race that the colt had a fever earlier in the week.
So, the undefeated 2-year-old champion, sent off at 1-20 in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), had a fever the week before the race and the public was unaware of it. There is nothing that can be said here that won't be said in the weeks to come by those who bet War Pass, including the bridge jumpers, and those who had invested in him emotionally.
Liberty Bull, third behind Denis of Cork and Sierra Sunset in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) last time out, made that race look even better with a sharp two-length victory in the rich $600,000 WinStar Derby at New Mexico's Sunland Park March 16.
Looking for a new favorite for the Derby after the disappointing efforts by 3-year-old stars War Pass and Z Fortune? Why not Georgie Boy? A grade I winner at 2, the favored California-bred son of Tribal Rule used a late burst to pass Gayego in deep stretch and win the $200,000 San Felipe (gr. II) in his first try around two turns March 15 at Santa Anita.
California-bred Sierra Sunset threw his name smack into the middle of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) mix March 15 at Oaklawn Park, dominating eight rivals to win by three lengths in the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II).
Trainer Barclay Tagg had prophetic words of wisdom for jockey Eibar Coa before he sent Eric Fein's Big Truck to the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). He told Coa to ride for second, remarking that they'd win if 1-9 favorite War Pass did not. And that's exactly what happened.
HRTV's originally produced weekly show on top Derby prospects and the road to the Triple Crown. This week's episode includes a detailed analysis of the Louisiana Derby, an Into Mischief update, and more on Big Brown, plus previews of the San Felipe, Rebel, and Tampa Bay Derby.
One year ago, Carl Nafzger was the hottest name in horse racing, as Street Sense, starting with his Tampa Bay Derby victory, was just beginning his run towards the Kentucky Derby. In this exclusive Q & A, see what Nafzger remembers most about Street Sense's Derby win, and who the veteran trainer likes in this year's Classic.
On Monday, Steve Asmussen sent two colts out to breeze on the track, one at Oaklawn Park, and one at Fair Grounds. But both are entered in the Grade II Rebel Stakes.
War Pass has never raced behind another horse, so an intriguing aspect of the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby will be to see whether something jumps out in front of him early, and how War Pass reacts in such case. There's one in this field that just might do that.
Handicappers who take on the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) will probably find their challenge not in choosing a winner, but in selecting the order of finish behind Robert LaPenta's prohibitive favorite War Pass.
Stone Bird will try to pull off the upset in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) March 15 at Oaklawn Park. Making his stakes debut, he will have to take down eight rivals, including Z Fortune and Anak Nakal.
TVG broadcasts live from Tampa Bay Downs on March 15, covering four stakes races including the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), the anticipated start for undefeated 2-year-old champion War Pass.
The most accomplished entrants in the $200,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) March 15 have done all their work sprinting. So the question is which of them is ready to stretch out in Southern California's last major prep race before the April 5 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
These days, much of Steve Asmussen's focus is on his pair of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contenders, Pyro and Z Fortune. But on March 16, Asmussen has an opportunity to score some serious earnings with another pair of 3-year-olds, as he will enter Poni Colada and Ablaze With Spirit in the $600,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park.
Robert Evans' Elysium Fields, runner-up in last month's $350,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), worked March 12 at Gulfstream Park in preparation for the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) Mar. 29.
Saratoga Russell, who finished eighth as the 8-5 favorite in the March 8 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) Aqueduct, will undergo a myectomy March 13, according to trainer Rick Violette.
Autism Awareness, 62-1 winner of Bay Meadows' El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) March 8, is off the Triple Crown trail with an injured left foreleg, owner Johnny Taboada said March 11.
Denis of Cork, the undefeated winner of the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) who was expected to vie for favoritism in Saturday's Rebel Stakes (gr. III), will not run in the race, and instead will await either the April 5 Wood Memorial (gr. I) or Illinois Derby (gr. II) the same day.
Mount Joy Stables' Smooth Air became a prime contender for the $1-million Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29 at Gulfstream Park after working a mile March 9.
On Saturday, in one corner of the country, the mighty Pyro once again crushed his foes, winning the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in grand style. On the same day, in the opposite corner of the country, a humbly-bred colt who sold for meager $1,000 as a yearling, Autism Awareness, mowed down his field to win the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III).
Despite three losses to reigning 2-year-old champion War Pass, Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Pyro is the 4-1 favorite as Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' 2008 Kentucky Derby Future Wager closed March 9.
Pyro, winner of the March 8 Louisiana Derby (gr. II), will stand at Sheikh Mohammed's Darley operation in Lexington upon completion of his racing career.
Trainer Michael Matz said that Gotham winner Visionaire appears to have come out of his March 8 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) victory in good shape, and will ship back to Palm Meadows in Florida March 11.
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