Virginia Kraft Payson's homebred Scipion is the latest casualty on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail after X-rays revealed a condylar fracture of his right hind cannon bone.
So, where are the best 3-year-olds based? Florida, Arkansas, California, and New York can all make a case for being the hot spot right now following Saturday's stirring and strange turn of events. With Declan's Moon and now Roman Ruler out of the picture, and Afleet Alex and Wilko facing uphill battles, last year's top 2-year-olds are fading fast.
Roman Ruler, who finished last as the 3-1 favorite in Saturday's San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), has been taken off the Kentucky Derby (gr. II) by trainer Bob Baffert and owner Fog City Stable to allow the colt's quarter crack to heal.
With champion Declan's Moon on the sidelines, the 3-year-old throne in California is up for grabs in Saturday's San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), which has attracted a field of eight, headed by Wilko, Roman Ruler, and Consolidator. But there are at least three others with credentials who will attempt to seize the crown.
The March 19 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) drew a field of eight, but the race for all intents and purposes comes down to Sun King vs. Sun King. The Nick Zito-trained colt is the class of the field, and the race his to lose. Only two others in the field have even been nominated to the Triple Crown.
Saturday's $150,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct drew three strong Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders in Galloping Grocer, Naughty New Yorker, and Survivalist in the field of nine. While all three would prefer two turns, Galloping Grocer has the brilliance to bounce back off his fourth in the Whirlaway with a big performance.
Bettors across North America settled on "all others" as the lukewarm favorite when Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' 2005 Kentucky Derby Future Wager ended its four-day run on Sunday evening.
Just when it looked as if Rockport Harbor's luck had run out and he'd be unable to make the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III), trainer John Servis, while still cautious, said the foot looked much better Sunday.
Cash Is King Stable's Afleet Alex and Harry Aleo's unbeaten Lost In The Fog emerged as the favorites at the midway point of Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager following the defection of the injured Declan's Moon.
With wagering beginning today on the second of three pools in the 2005 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Steve Haskin, senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, analyzes the 23 individual horses and mutuel field and their respective morning-line odds.
Declan's Moon, champion 2-year-old and early favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), has been taken off the Derby trail after X-rays disclosed a small chip fracture in his left knee, trainer Ron Ellis said Friday morning.
Nick Zito, who already has four solid Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders, will try to add to his roster when he sends out the newly acquired Bellamy Road, winner of the Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes (gr. III), in a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby Museum has announced the receipt of Smarty Jones' "Garland of Roses", which has been donated to the museum by Roy and Patricia Chapman, the owners of the 130th Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner.
The Kentucky Derby (gr. I) picture finally cleared up a bit last Saturday as Declan's Moon and Afleet Alex returned in grand style and Nick Zito put the finishing touches on his powerful four-horse Derby package, all of whom are coming off impressive victories. But the weekend's events still left us with several questions.
The second of three pools in the 2005 Kentucky Derby Future Wager will open four days of betting with co-favorites in unbeaten juvenile champion Declan's Moon and the mutuel field, the wagering interest that includes all 3-year-olds other than the 23 individual horses in the March 10-13 pool.
Thanks to High Fly's victory in the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and Noble Causeway's stylish win in a $33,000 allowance, trainer Nick Zito is building a stockpile of Kentucky Derby contenders and crystallized his hold on favorite status for the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) April 2.
Undefeated Declan's Moon, the early favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), pulled away from challengers Going Wild and Spanish Chestnut in the final furlong to register an impressive victory in the $200,000 Santa Catalina (gr. II) Saturday at Santa Anita.
Nick Zito is licking his chops after last weekend's impressive victories by Sun King and Andromeda's Hero. Now, he tries to put the finishing touches on his four-horse feast when he saddles High Fly in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Noble Causeway in an allowance race. All indications are that Zito will be flying high once again.
Trainer Nick Zito, always a threat along the Triple Crown trail, was sitting comfortably Sunday after two of his 3-year-olds posted wins Saturday and a third, High Fly, cruised through his workout and into the picture for the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) on March 5.
Although there are only two minor stakes this weekend, Nick Zito and Shug McGaughey will have important tests for two of their big horses. This also is a good time to see if there are still any live longshots in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) future book lurking out there who might be worth taking a hard look at.
Tracy Farmer's Sun King, third in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and Champagne Stakes (gr. I), will make his 3-year-old debut in a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park Feb. 26.
Total wagering on the TV Games Network increased 42% in 2004, and grew 29% in the fourth-quarter of 2004, the network said in a Feb. 24 release. The increase in business was punctuated by record single-day total wagering of $5,148,375 on May 1, Kentucky Derby (gr. I) day.
You could say that So Long Birdie has some awfully big wings to fill. Last year, his half-brother, Birdstone, won the grade I Belmont and Travers, and the year before, his half-sister, Bird Town, captured the grade I Kentucky Oaks and Acorn on her way to an Eclipse Award.
Rockport Harbor, unbeaten in four starts and the future book favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), is being treated for a bruised left front foot, leaving his planned start in the $250,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) March 19 on hold.
B.B. Best, most recently fourth in Gulfstream Park's $250,000 Sunshine Millions Ocala Stud Dash Jan. 29, worked one mile handily in 1:44 4/5 at Calder Race Course Friday and is being pointed for the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream March 5.
The second annual AmericaTab "Road to the Derby" handicapping contest is set to begin Saturday with the running of the $100,000 Southwest Stakes from Oaklawn Park.
Cash Is King Stable's Afleet Alex, winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) and runner-up in the voting for 2-year-old champion, had his first work of the year at Oaklawn Park Wednesday, drilling a sharp half in :47 flat with jockey Jeremy Rose aboard. It was the second fastest of 40 works at the distance.
NBC will kick off coverage of the 2005 Visa Triple Crown season April 9, with the two-hour telecast of "NTRA Road to the Kentucky Derby." The show will air from 4-6 p.m. (ET) and will feature live coverage of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), Wood Memorial (gr. I), and the Illinois Derby (gr. II).
Simply put, this has been a relatively uneventful Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Until Feb. 12, no 3-year-old had done anything exciting enough to infiltrate the top spots, occupied by last year's stars, none of whom have even run yet in 2005. Then, along came Scipion.
The favorite in the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Pool, which ended Sunday, is the mutuel field – for the seventh consecutive year.
Target Louisville, a weekly program devoted to 3-year-olds on the road to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), debuts Feb. 16 on HorseRacing TV.
It's Future Wager time again, and with six of the 23 individual betting interests in Pool 1 running this weekend and six having run last weekend, you pretty much have some idea how the betting will go on more than half the field.
With each big weekend of stakes races, the 3-year-old picture is supposed to get a little clearer. But that doesn't seem to be the case any longer. In fact, over the past several years, the opposite has been true. So it was this past weekend, when we had to turn to non-stakes events to find potential Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders.
"CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby," a nine-show series on the ABC and ESPN networks that provides coverage of key Visa Triple Crown prep races, returns in March, with coverage of the March 5 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Swale Stakes (gr. II) from Gulfstream Park.
The most accomplished stars of this year's crop of 3-year-olds--including 2-year-old champion Declan's Moon, 2-year-old filly champion Sweet Catomine, and Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Wilko--are among the 24 wagering interests in the first of three 2005 Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools scheduled for Feb. 10-13.
A total of 358 3-year-olds have been nominated for the 2005 Visa Triple Crown. Although the figure is down from the 400-plus nominations in each of the previous four years, it will be of little significance once the multitude of talented 3-year-olds start making their way toward the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Gulfstream Park's reshuffled schedule of 3-year-old races gets its first test in the Feb. 5 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) when Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hopefuls are required to stretch out for the first of three 1 1/8-mile stakes.
Two undefeated colts, Declan's Moon and Rockport Harbor, worked Thursday morning at Santa Anita and Oaklawn Park, respectively, in preparation for their 3-year-old debuts. Declan's Moon turned in a sharp five furlongs in :59 4/5, while Rockport Harbor went the same distance in 1:02 1/5.
Churchill Downs Incorporated launched the official 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) Web sites Wednesday. According to a release from the company, the new and improved sites offer "the most comprehensive coverage of the Run for the Roses" and its sister race, the Kentucky Oaks. This year's Derby will be held May 7 and the Oaks May 6.
Even though folks are aware the future book is normally a bad bet, with good horses priced way too low, some still can't help taking the plunge. So, here's a look at what's out there.
Whether or not he wins an Eclipse Award as top 2-year-old male of 2004, Afleet Alex has his fans as he prepares to embark on his 3-year-old campaign.
"Too fast to last." That is an old slogan that racing fans hope does not ring true in 2005. If it doesn't, then we're in for a memorable winter and spring on the road to the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), as a legion of brilliant young horses across the country prepare to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Although last weekend saw rainouts on both coasts, including a rare cancellation at Santa Anita, there at least was a 'High Fly' hit that turned into a tape measure home run. So, while the Florida 3-year-olds moved forward, the California horses hit a brick wall and now must wait for dry weather in order to race, and even train.
Churchill Downs has appointed Stacey Meier to serve as the track's director of marketing. The native of Fort Wayne, Ind., most recently served as director of marketing for the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network, a post she had held since 2003.
With the doubling of the purse for the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) to $2 million, the total value of purses in Churchill Downs' 2005 schedule of stakes races will reach a record $10 million.
The road to the 2005 VISA Triple Crown is officially open as nomination forms have been mailed to horsemen. Representatives of Triple Crown Productions will begin gathering nomination forms at racetracks across the country beginning the week of Jan. 10.
The Derby is the Derby. But Churchill Downs doesn't want to take any chances with what it considers the signature event in Thoroughbred racing.
The journey to the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) may only be in its very early stages, but the continued adventures of Robert LaPenta -- "the Accidental Owner" -- are already unfolding. The master of Russian roulette has several guns loaded, and it will be interesting to see in what direction they'll be fired this spring.
Fox Hill Farms' Rockport Harbor, undefeated winner of the Remsen (gr. II) and Nashua Stakes (gr. III), is recovering nicely from a severe gash to his back foot and is scheduled to leave Philadelphia Park for Oaklawn Wednesday.
It's still four months and numerous heartaches and disappointments until the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but with so many exciting 2-year-olds in 2004, this is a good time for Steve Haskin to take a very early look at the leading contenders.
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