Zayat Stables' Halo Najib worked a half-mile on the grass in :50.40 at Churchill Downs on April 22, with exercise rider Gennero Garcia up.
He has a new first-rate home base (California) and a new first-call trainer (Bobby Frankel), but Rafael Bejarano, 25, will be back in Kentucky to ride Anak Nakal for trainer Nick Zito in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) the first Saturday in May.
He can't live without his cell phone. If he could choose another profession, he would be a rock star. He once drove 165 miles per hour to reach the track in time for the first race. And May 3, E.T. Baird will be riding to the post aboard Recapturetheglory in the 134th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)
Colonel John and Smooth Air jog at Churchill, Big Truck and Visionaire work at Keeneland, Halo Najib works on the turf, and Pyro arrives at Churchill Downs.
Another Kentucky Derby is upon us, and most of the talk has been about the inconsistencies and slow speed figures of this year's crop of 3-year-olds. Before we get into all the observations and analyses, and attempt to figure out this daffy Derby there is one point that must be addressed first.
Team Valor International and Vision Racing LLC's Visionaire returned to the work tab April 22 at Keeneland for the first time since he finished fifth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
Eric Fein's Big Truck, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), worked a half-mile in :48.8 over the Polytrack at Keeneland April 22.
In spite of the shocking news of the Triple Crown trail-ending injury to 2007 juvenile champion male War Pass and the apparent decision to forego the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) for a run in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) by the connections of Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) winner Behindatthebar, a 20-horse field is still being predicted for the 134th Run for the Roses May 3 at Churchill Downs.
Fox Hill Farms' Eight Belles and Brereton Jones' Proud Spell, two fillies who have either the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) or the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in their immediate futures, each worked a half-mile April 20 in their final moves at Keeneland before they are shipped to Churchill Downs April 25.
Two weeks ago, Todd Pletcher was sitting on the outside of the Derby picture looking in. But when Padua Stables and partners' Behindatthebar followed the hard-knocking efforts of Monba and Cowboy Cal in the April 12 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) with an impressive performance of his own in the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) April 19, the venerable trainer could count not one, but three potential contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Mount Joy Stables' hombred Smooth Air turned in a strong seven furlong work at Calder Race Course April 19 in preparation for a start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Robert LaPenta's War Pass, the champion 2-year-old of 2007 and winner of the $2 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Grade I) at Monmouth Park, has suffered a leg injury that has knocked the colt out of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
Consider this chilling scenario: Customers of several advance deposit wagering companies - and possibly some large off-shore rebate shops - won't be able to place wagers on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) through those entities.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said April 18 that he has not decided when he will ship Monba and Cowboy Cal, his one-two finishers in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and is considering giving the two colts their final works at Keeneland the weekend before the Run for the Roses.
A warrant has been issued in a California county for the arrest of jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who failed to appear at a recent hearing associated with a charge against him for driving under the influence.
With the Derby getting closer, we're doubling up this week to take a look at the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) and mostly to discuss what may turn out to be one of the most important works on this year's Derby trail.
General admission tickets for Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) are now available for advanced purchase through Ticketmaster. The tickets will be available for purchase at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
Charles Fipke's Tale of Ekati worked a half-mile in :49.20 April 17 at Keeneland. Trainer Barclay Tagg described the move as "a little maintenance work after his race."
Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner Recapturetheglory, a potential contender for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), worked five furlongs at Churchill Downs April 17.
Prepping for a run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Zayat Stables' Z Humor worked four furlongs in :47.50 at Churchill Downs April 17.
For several 3-year-olds pointing toward the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, the April 19 event offers a final chance at graded earnings and entry into the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). But the horse whose form points to a likely win in the 1 1/16-mile event has no aspirations of making the Derby -- and he could spoil the plans of those who do when a field of 11 goes postward in the final Derby prep of the season.
Trainer Eric Guillot was refreshingly candid during an April 15 teleconference hosted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, calling his horse "one of the 15 who might not belong," but saying a trip to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) is definitely under consideration for Salute the Sarge.
Owner Rick Porter has always known Eight Belles is a solid contender -- but he's thinking about putting the 3-year-old filly's class and stamina to the ultimate test May 3. Porter said April 13, if all goes well, the daughter of Unbridled's Song will be entered in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Courtlandt Farm's homebred Adriano is now considered "likely" for a run in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) following a four-furlong workout April 13 at Churchill Downs.
Four new names entered the fray that's called the Road to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday with wins and placings in the grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and grade II Arkansas Derby. And with their good fortune, the dreams of others were dampened if not outright doused.
Trainer Todd Pletcher had won just a single race at Keeneland going into the April 12 card. But he won again where it counted, and with Monba and Cowboy Cal finishing 1-2 in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), it looks like North America's leading trainer of 2007 will be headed to the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) after all.
Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Big Brown drilled five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 under regular exercise rider Michelle Nevin Saturday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center.
HRTV's originally produced weekly show on top Derby prospects and the road to the Triple Crown. This week's episode includes an update on Graded Stakes Earnings, a detailed analysis of the Santa Anita Derby, previews of the Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby, and an interview with Mike Smith who rides Gayego in the Arkansas Derby.
The April 19 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II), the final chance for Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) hopefuls to pick up graded stakes earnings, closed April 11 with 39 nominations.
Last year, Steve Asmussen and Robby Albarado teamed up with eventual Horse of the Year Curlin to clobber eight other contenders in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I). On April 12 at Oaklawn Park the trainer/jockey duo will collaborate again with Zayat Stables' Z Fortune, but this time their starter has a lot to prove.
Jet Set Racing Stable's Tomcito, third in the Florida Derby (gr. I) in his United States racing debut, traveled to Churchill Downs April 9 for a test run over the track which the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will be run May 3.
Pyro may be on fire going into the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 12, but 11 other runners will attempt to douse his Derby dreams in the 1 1/8-mile event.
International has been named the official truck of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, officials said April 8. Churchill Downs Inc. and Navistar International Corp. have agreed to a two-year deal.
- By Claire Novak
Jockey Edgar Prado has teamed with Baltimore Sun writer John Eisenberg to produce a book that reaches deep into his soul, giving readers a taste of the powerful connection between horse and rider. My Guy Barbaro: A Jockey's Journey Through Love, Triumph, and Heartbreak with America's Favorite Horse hit stores April 1.
Well, we're down to our final two major preps, the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) and Arkansas Derby (gr. II), with the Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) and Holy Bull (gr. III) thrown in for good measure. The question right now is: what did we learn from last Saturday's preps?
NBC Sports announced April 7 it has added 30 minutes of coverage to its broadcast of the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) from Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 3.
Eight Belles continued her quest to become the best 3-year-old filly in the nation, as the daughter of Unbridled's Song overcame a poor start to win by three-quarters of a length in the $250,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) April 6 at Oaklawn Park, her third consecutive stakes triumph.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
Where have we seen this before? A modestly-bred Danzig-line horse, after leading throughout to score a devastating win in a grade I classic trial on his second start of the year, becomes a favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Nick Zito has not lost faith in War Pass. True, the colt has questions to answer after finishing last as the 1-20 choice in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). But the trainer saw his 2007 juvenile champ at his best during a five-race winning streak that carried over into this season, and he's hoping that side is revealed again when the son of Cherokee Run heads a field of 10 in Aqueduct's $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I).
Who was the best Derby Starter in the last 30 years that did not win? Poll says: Point Given
Who was the best horse since 1979 to fall one leg short of the Triple Crown? Vote today.
Fresh off his impressive victory in the March 29 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin shipped into Belmont Park April 2 to begin his quarantine period after spending the past several weeks in Dubai.
No denying, Big Brown's Florida Derby win was sensational. But let's not hand him the Derby so soon.
Robert LaPenta's Cool Coal Man, a major contender for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), prepped for a planned run in the April 12 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland with a sharp half-mile work at Churchill Downs April 3.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano was back in the saddle April 2, just 21 days after sustaining compressed fractures to his T-5 and T-6 vertebrae in a Santa Anita spill.
By now, just about every superlative has been used to describe Big Brown's performance in the Florida Derby (gr. I). How many times do you think the word "freak" has been uttered since Saturday? Well, there is no doubt that the colt has accomplished freakish things in his brief career, but so did Curlin, and he couldn't win the Derby off three career starts.
The fillies Eight Belles and Proud Spell are among the late nominees for this year's Triple Crown
Despite suffering from a case of laryngitis and unable to speak much, trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said that Florida Derby (gr. I) runaway winner Big Brown came out of the March 29 event in good shape.
Denis of Cork, Blackberry Road, and My Pal Charlie worked at Churchill Downs March 30 as they prepared for final starts before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.'s highly-touted Big Brown proved that all the hype was justified, as he led from start to finish in the $1-million Florida Derby, crushing 11 rivals to win by five lengths March 29 at Gulfstream Park while making just his third career start.
BloodHorse.com announces the launch of a fun new interactive game entitled "March into May." For the five week period leading up to this year's Kentucky Derby, Thoroughbred racing fans can cast their votes to determine "the greatest Thoroughbred of all-time."
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