When Harlan's Holiday won last year's Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) in a time of 1:51.51, it was the slowest winning time in the 1 1/8-mile race since Granacus (1:52) beat Intensive Command by three lengths in 1988. On Saturday, Peace Rules creeped home slower than Harlan's Holiday, finishing the key Kentucky Derby prep race in 1:51.73 on the fast track.
The Kentucky Derby lost another of its major stars Friday when Badge of Silver suffered a fractured cannon bone in his right front leg. The son of Silver Deputy, who had romped in his first three career starts before tasting defeat in the Louisiana Derby, would have been one of the favorites in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes.
This weekend's big Derby prep extravaganza looks pretty clear cut on paper, with Empire Maker, Peace Rules, Badge of Silver, Eugene's Third Son, Region of Merit, Man Among Men, and Aristocat expected to dominate the three races. But don't ignore several others, including one D. Wayne Lukas.
It looks a like a big weekend coming up for Todd Pletcher, who will have starters in all three Kentucky Derby preps. Indy Dancer runs in the Wood Memorial, Aristocat goes in the Arkansas Derby, and Lion Tamer is a likely starter in the Blue Grass Stakes.
D. Wayne Lukas has decided Ten Cents A Shine will race in Kentucky this weekend instead of his original plan of running the colt in Arkansas. Crowned Dancer is also slated to run at Keeneland Saturday.
Offlee Wild and Lots of Sizzle, both pointed toward Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, made their final moves over the Central Kentucky oval Tuesday morning.
On Friday Keeneland's 15-day spring meet opens in Lexington. The track has some new and improved ways to watch its races, whether you're on the grounds or at home.
Michael Tabor's Blue Grass Stakes bound Brancusi, a strong third in the March 16 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), had his first work since then on Wednesday morning. He went six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 handily over Santa Anita's fast main track.
Edmund Gann's Peace Rules, winner of the Louisiana Derby in his first start of the year, showed he's lost none of his sharpness by working a half-mile in :46 4/5 at Hollywood Park Saturday.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Badge of Silver, who displaced his soft palate when finishing sixth in the Louisiana Derby, returned to the work tab Friday, breezing 5 furlongs in 1:02 at Fair Grounds with jockey Robby Albarado aboard.
The 79th running of Aqueduct's grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs on Saturday, April 12, 2003 will once again be the first leg of the Big 3 Pick 3. The Big 3 Pick 3 is a $1 national wager in which fans try to pick the winner of three important prep races for 3-year-olds planning on running in the upcoming Visa Triple Crown races.
Calumet Farm's favored Region Of Merit wore down front-running Hear No Evil in deep stretch and held off a determined late run from Aristocat to take Sunday's $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III).
Peace Rules and Ocean Terrace are among the 141 horses nominated to the April 15 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
NBC will air the Bluegrass Stakes, Arkansas Derby, and Wood Memorial on April 12 as part of its 2003 horse racing coverage.
Keeneland achieved several wagering records during its 16-day spring meet that ended April 26.
As difficult to believe as this may seem, we're actually going to keep it relatively short this week, as everyone saw what transpired on Saturday and has formed their own opinions. We are starting from scratch and tossing the past performances. We've looked at them so many times over the past four months, they no longer register in our brain.
Aqueduct registered its largest attendance figure since 1993 for Saturday's card and attendance at Keeneland for the Blue Grass Stakes was the fifth highest total in the Lexington track's history.
Harlan's Holiday stalked the early pace then pounced in the stretch to pull clear to a 4 1/2-length win in Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
This weekend in New York, Kentucky, and Arkansas, everyone will be picking up rocks, hoping to find the one that reveals the winner of the Kentucky Derby, or at least the winners of a couple of Saturday's big stakes.
The rivalry between Booklet and Harlan's Holiday will be renewed for the fourth time Saturday when the two 3-year-olds hook up again in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
The Kentucky Derby picture may not be getting any clearer, but at least all the combatants are lined up for their final engagement to determine who goes on to the big battle.
John C. Oxley's Booklet drilled five furlongs in :59 3/5 at Keeneland Sunday morning under Allen Rennie.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Easyfromthegitgo will have his final Kentucky Derby prep in the April 20 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland. Meanwhile, 11 3-year-olds entered Wednesday's Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and the ever-changing list of horses probable for the April 13 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) is currently down to 10.
The trainers of Azillion and Bunk N Ted have decided on jockeys Corey Nakatani and Angela Owens, respectively, to guide the colts when they go postward in the April 13 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Harlan's Holiday, winner of the Florida Derby, and Sunday Break, winner of his last three starts, worked Wednesday for their respective engagements in the April 13 Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial.
Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) winner Equality and Fountain of Youth (gr. I) winner Booklet put in morning works at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
ESPN's coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and the Wood Memorial (gr. II) attracted slightly more than 435,000 viewers April 14.
The Big Three Pick Three wager, which linked Saturday's three major Kentucky Derby prep races, returned $121 for every $2 wagered on the correct combination.
One week before the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), Laffit Pincay Jr. sat comfortably in a rocking chair half a continent away from Keeneland in the Santa Anita Park jocks' room. Asked to pick his biggest thrill in racing, Pincay could be forgiven if he tussled awhile with the question. After all, there have been 35 years of memories: the ascension to all-time leading rider; induction into the Hall of Fame; six Eclipse Awards; seven wins on one card; historic stakes wins on horses like Affirmed and John Henry. Yet his answer came before the question had time to dry--his win aboard Swale in the 1984 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Thoroughbred Classics Presented by the NTRA will feature 17 program this year, with the first segment focused on the Triple Crown. Thoroughbred Classics will debut Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN Classic with a retrospective on this Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
Top trainers from New York to Kentucky to Arkansas are gearing up for this weekend's three big Kentucky Derby preps, after which we should have a good idea who will provide the main challenges to Santa Anita Derby winner Point Given. On the foreign front, the two Godolphin invaders, Street Cry and Express Tour, arrived safe and sound at Churchill Downs today at approximately 1 p.m. after clearing quarantine at Keeneland.
Devil Eleven Stable and D J Stable's Fountain of Youth (gr. I) winner Songandaprayer worked five furlongs in a quick :59 2/5 at Keeneland Racecourse Friday morning in preparation for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The workout by the bay colt with the distinctive blaze was held up for more than an hour when Keeneland's main track was closed due to a training accident.
In a surprise move, trainer Nick Zito has entered A P Valentine in a 1 1/16-mile race at Hialeah Saturday. It was originally planned to run the son of A.P. Indy in the Flamingo Stakes on April 7, but Zito felt it was time to find out just where the colt stood on the Kentucky Derby trail. Iin Saturday's race, A P Valentine will carry 108 pounds as he faces older horses in the optional claiming test for non-winners of two other/than. A P Valentine is one of two starters in the six horse field not running for the claiming price of $150,000.
John Oxley's Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos and The Thoroughbred Corp.'s San Felipe (gr. II) winner Point Given head the list of 109 nominations to the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The 1 1/8-mile event will be televised live on ESPN April 14 from Keeneland Race Course.
The road to Louisville right now is like something out of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," where everyone is scurrying frantically about in different directions trying to get to a single destination. Many trainers are still confused as to where to send their steeds, whether they're trying to avoid the big guns, like Monarchos and Point Given, or looking for the best possible spot for their horse. Derby winners usually have set plans and stick to it, so it's almost time for those trainers who are still vacillating to make up their minds.
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