The scene at the racing office is pretty quiet. Only jockey agents Steve Bass, Joe Ferrer, and Jerry Hissam are present, chewing the fat with retired rider Bobby Ussery.
Staff members and security guards at Churchill Downs are preparing for a visit from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, who will attend Saturday's running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
From Aristides in 1875 to Barbaro in 2006, homebred runners have a successful history in the Run for the Roses, with 49 of 132 winners carrying the colors of their breeders into the winner's circle at Churchill Downs.
Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Curlin was installed the moderate 7-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $2 million, 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when post positions were drawn Wednesday.
The connections of Storm in May will have first choice when post positions are selected later this evening thanks to pulling the No. 1 pill during the pill pull at the racing office. In all 22 horses were entered. Reporting for Duty and Delightful Kiss did not draw into the body of the field due to lack of enough graded earnings.
It was 11:15, and the 11 a.m. post position selection draw at the racing office still had not begun, as owners and trainers of Kentucky Derby horses paced back and forth or just stood anxiously waiting to see if all their hard work was about to be nullified by some random, ominous-sounding number.
Although trainer Doug O'Neill has played a significant role in some of racing's biggest days, on May 5 he will experience saddling a Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender for the first time. After the defection of his trainee Cobalt Blue, O'Neill will be saddling two horses in the Derby, Great Hunter and Liquidity
In a year filled with synthetic surface preps and extended layoffs between races, most of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contenders are looking to break some kind of trend.
This is the year of the Usual Suspects in the Kentucky Derby. Not in over a decade have so many horses highly regarded as 2-year-olds made it into the Derby field--and offered a chance for a Dual Qualfier to once again take the Roses.
Three Kentucky Derby contenders will be a few days shy of their actual third birthday prior to the First Saturday in May.
The pill pull at the racing office for the Derby is one of the most dramatic moments of the week.
It wasn't quite like a scene from Noah's Ark, but four of trainer Todd Pletcher's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contenders arrived Tuesday afternoon two by two in separate vans.
Federico Stakes winner Xchanger will not run in Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), moving Bill Kaplan-trainee Imawildandcrazyguy to 20th on the graded earnings list.
- By Esther Marr
The $1-million Yum! Brands bonus that will be offered to this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) victor if he posts a margin larger than Barbaro's 6 1/2-length triumph in 2006 received cautious responses from Derby-bound trainers Tuesday morning on the backstretch at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Doug O'Neill confirmed Tuesday that Merv Griffin's Cobalt Blue would not be entered in Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), opening the door for Teuflesberg to get in the classic.
Organizers of the Mint Jubilee Derby-Eve Gala announced today that bids for the saddle worn by Barbaro in the 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will be accepted from interested buyers from both inside and outside the venue.
In 49 of the last 52 runnings of the Kentucky Derby, the winner was either on the lead with an eighth of a mile to go in the race, within a length of the lead, or running second although more than a length off the leader at that point.
NBC has switched gears, and will air "Barbaro: A Nation's Horse" Saturday, May 5, at 8 p.m. ET, an hour and a half after the network signs off from covering the Kentucky Derby.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - For some, just getting a horse to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May is the realization of a dream. For others who've been there before, it's about winning -- pure and simple.
Jim Tafel's Street Sense completed his final preparations for Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when he worked five furlongs in 1:01 at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, May 1.
Trainer Doug O'Neill said Monday night there is a "slight chance" that Merv Griffin's Cobalt Blue would not be entered in Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas holds court for an assembling of media in front of his spotless barn. He's the only trainer without a Derby horse who can still provoke a good half-hour worth of questioning.
Welcome to Derby Week, or week 11 of the "Starting Gate," one person's look at this year's Kentucky Derby lineup. As we approach Wednesday, entry day, this how we would handicap the top 20 contenders for the May 5 Run for the Roses. Actual entry into America's greatest race is reliant on graded stakes earnings -- this lineup is based on some speculation, past performances, and potential performance on Saturday.
The connections of Maryland-based Xchanger continue to point the Federico Tesio Stakes winner toward Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
It takes a lot to steal the spotlight from Curlin, but at approximately 8:35 Monday morning, Hard Spun made Curlin's half-mile work two hours earlier seem like a distant memory. That's when the Lane's End (gr. II) winner went out and worked five furlongs in :57 3/5, all but leaving sparks as his feet hit the ground.
Yum! Brands, presenting sponsor for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), announced Monday, April 30, that it will offer a $1-million to the connections of any horse that wins this year's Derby and beats Barbaro's winning margin of 6 1/2 lengths.
The Steve Asmussen-trained duo of Curlin and Zanjero each worked a half-mile at Churchill Downs as Kentucky Derby week got off to a warm and busy start Monday, April 30.
The work of the morning at Churchill Downs Monday was Hard Spun's :57 3/5 scorcher, but other Derby hopefuls went through their final paces over the main track just after the renovation break. Trainer Bill Kaplan sent out Storm in May and Imawildandcrazyguy while trainer Darrin Miller worked Silverton Hills' Sedgefield.
Multiple stakes winner Bwana Bull, who was added to the contenders list for this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) over the weekend, worked six furlongs in 1:14 2/5 at Churchill Downs Monday, April 30.
Richard Porter's Hard Spun scorched the Churchill Downs main track Monday morning, blazing five furlongs in :57 3/5 under regular rider Mario Pino. Hard Spun worked in company, for a while at least, with graded stakes winner Wildcat Bettie B.
When I hear about the Yumfecta and Yum! Brands, I suddenly have an urge for a Root Beer Float...
Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Nobiz Like Shobiz worked five furlongs in :59.98 over the main track at Belmont Park Sunday morning as he continued preparations for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Todd Pletcher's stay at Keeneland, for all intents and purposes, is over, and he went out with a bang, with three of his Derby horses - Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay, and Scat Daddy - turning in excellent works before heading over to Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
During the crisp, clear early morning of Sunday, April 29, less than a week before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), trainer Todd Pletcher watched the final workouts of three of his contenders, Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay, and Scat Daddy over Keeneland's Polytrack surface.
Look past unknown jockeys, unbeaten starters, unfamiliar owners, and other contributors to this year's intriguing Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). More noticeable than the presence of uniqueness is the absence of three trainers who held the Triple Crown spotlight for several decades.
Southwest Stakes winner Teuflesberg showed Sunday why trainer Jamie Sanders is optimistic about the colt's chances in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when he worked five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 over a fast track.
Dominican, surprise winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) two weeks ago, worked five furlongs Sunday morning at Churchill Downs in :59 3/5.
Most people feel Sam P. has a high mountain to climb in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). But it's not nearly as high as the human Sam P. climbed during World War II. So if you want a good story to root for, Sam P. could be your horse.
Calling the :58.91 move "as good as a horse could work," trainer Todd Pletcher expressed great pleasure with the five-furlong performance of Cowtown Cat over the Keeneland Polytrack Saturday morning.
As Churchill Downs prepared for Saturday's opening-day card, a case of Derby fever was making its way around the stable area as trainers of Bwana Bull and Teuflesberg said their horses would be pointed toward the May 5 classic.
Trainer Michael Matz was enthused with a strong gallop by Centennial Farm's Chelokee on Friday at Keeneland, but said a bid for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) had been ruled out for the third-place finisher in the Florida Derby (gr. I).
To aid in unscientific handicapping (and for the entertainment of trivia aficionados), here are the stories behind the titles of this year's contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Doug O'Neill ruled the Derby roost Friday morning, sending out seven workers at Keeneland, including his three starters for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). When it was over, O'Neill and exercise rider Tony Romero were all smiles.
Great Hunter, Liquidity, and Cobalt Blue all worked sharply at Keeneland Friday in their last major preps for the May 5 Run for the Roses.
Many of this year's candidates for the Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I), were offered at public auction before they began their racing careers. Two sold for more than $1 million apiece, but you could have purchased some of them for less than $100,000.
At TheDowneyProfile.com, we utilize thirteen factors more common to Kentucky Derby winners than non-winners, based on our 34-year study, in order to create an objective, weighted-factor predictor of Kentucky Derby success. One factor that we do not use is the "horse for the course" handicapping angle, the one that looks to horses that have run well at Churchill Downs.
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle five contenders to this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 5. Here, he reviews his horses' running styles and talks strategy before the big race.
Slew's Tizzy, 40-1 winner of the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), will not run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 5, trainer Greg Fox said April 26.
With speed the primary ingredient in the Thoroughbred, and true stamina being pushed deeper and deeper into a horse's pedigree, we have to try to find staying power wherever we can. Although old-fashioned stamina on the sire's side no longer is necessary to win the Derby, it still has been a main factor on the dam's side.
One Kentucky Oaks and four Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (both gr. I) contenders will be helping young people to obtain a college degree. As part of the Race For Education's Racehorse Nomination Program, a portion of any earnings by Street Sense, Cowtown Cat, Any Given Saturday, Sam P., and Appealing Zophie will go to the non-profit organization, which funds scholarships and educational grants for young people in the equine industry.
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