It's not quite the Sunshine Millions, but this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is looking like a regional battle between California- and Florida-based horses, who at this point appear on their way to occupying the top four favorite roles in the Run for the Roses.
I Want Revenge, who overcame a poor start and significant traffic concerns to win the Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct April 4, emerged the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) as the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager completed its four-day run.
Even as he prepares to ship Pioneerof the Nile to Churchill Downs April 14 for the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), trainer Bob Baffert says he's still trying to figure out what kind of running style the son of 2003 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker possesses.
A lack of pace changed the game plan for odds-on choice Pioneerof the Nile, but jockey Garrett Gomez improvised, enabling the son of Empire Maker to hold off Chocolate Candy for a one-length win in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on a picture-perfect day in Arcadia, Calif.
Edward P. Evans' Quality Road, winner of the Florida Derby (gr. I) for his third victory in four career races, remained the favorite to win the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 2 as the third and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2009 Kentucky Derby Future Wager reached its midway point on the evening of April 3.
Featuring previews of the Santa Anita Derby (including words from Bob Baffert and Julio Canani), Wood Memorial, and Illinois Derby, and recaps of the Florida Derby and the UAE Derby. Plus, updates on Charitable Man and Dunkirk.
Saturday's big three Kentucky Derby preps should be pretty formful, with one or two standouts in each race. But, there's a lot more to these races than who is going to win. While they are all prestigious events, let's not forget the fact that they are indeed preps.
Jason, Suzanne, and the Wizard analyze the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and the Santa Anita Derby. Watch Video
Trainer Julio Canani says The Pamplemousse doesn't need the lead to win the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 4. After a couple of interesting developments when entries were taken, that theory could be put to the test.
The Pamplemousse, with his regular rider Alex Solis aboard, turned in a sharp final tune-up March 31 for the April 4 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). The 3-year-old son of Kafwain worked three furlongs in :34.80 seconds at Santa Anita Park in California. He was the fastest of 15 workers at that distance.
Featuring previews of the Florida Derby (including an interview with Todd Pletcher, trainer of Dunkirk) and UAE Derby, a recap of the Lane's End, and works for Chocolate Candy and Pioneerof the Nile.
On several occasions over the past few years, Todd Pletcher has reached into his hat to pull out a rabbit, and in most cases the trick didn't go quite as planned. Despite some bad hare days, Pletcher has decided to try his luck at prestidigitation once again in Saturday's Florida Derby (gr. I).
The Pamplemousse, Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy, the three top choices for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 4, each worked on the track's Pro-Ride racing surface March 25.
Joel Rosario, Santa Anita's third-leading rider, will ride El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) winner Chocolate Candy in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 4, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.
As often happens on the Kentucky Derby trail, they fell like proverbial bowling pins last weekend, although two of the bigger names reinforced their strong position. Not all the vanquished will be taken off the trail, as some deserve another chance after racing on less than desirable surfaces, but they have put themselves in a desperate situation.
Odds-on choice Pioneerof the Nile got the test he needed in preparation for his big showdown with The Pamplemousse next month, turning back a challenge in the stretch to win the $200,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita March 14.
Racing fans continue to have a difficult time deciding who should be the favorite in Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' 2009 Kentucky Derby Future Wager as "all others" edged unbeaten and untested Dunkirk as the narrow choice among 23 betting interests as the pool reached the midpoint of four days of betting on Friday, March 13.
A pair of unbeaten horses and the betting interest that represents "all others" drew the strongest fan support on the opening day of second of three pools in Churchill Downs' 2009 Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
This week, Jason, Evan, and the Wizard look at both the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds, and the San Felipe (gr. II) at Santa Anita. Both races are Saturday, March 14. Watch Video
In this episode, Lenny and Steve discuss the upcoming Derby preps, including the Louisiana Derby, the San Felipe, and the Rebel, Bob Baffert's Hall of Fame quest, and Helen Pitts and Einstein. Plus, win a Backside Tour Derby Week, with the Derby Contest!
Pioneerof the Nile, heading into the $200,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) March 14 as the West Coast's top Triple Crown contender, takes on an ambitious group of six up-and-coming colts at Santa Anita.
Pool 2 of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Future Wager opens its four-day run on Thursday, March 12 and bettors will be able to wager on an exacta for the first time in the pool's 11-year history.
Leading West Coast Triple Crown contender Pioneerof the Nile worked five furlongs on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride March 8 in a bullet :58.80 under regular rider Garrett Gomez for the grade II San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. At Oaklawn, Old Fashioned worked a bullet five furlongs in :59.
Because of the lack of 3-year-old races this week, we're going into full detail on Dunkirk's race. Another reason we're giving it a good deal of space is the big buzz it created. The question is, was it warranted?
Triple Crown Talk blog, with host Jason Shandler, reviews Old Fashioned's performance in the Southwest and offers a new top 10 Derby Watchlist.
The mutuel field, or "all others," was the solid 9-5 favorite among 24 wagering interests at the conclusion of betting in four-day pool. But Fox Hill Farm's Old Fashioned was a clear choice among the 23 individual horses in the Derby Future pool that ended on the eve of the colt's 3-year-old racing debut.
The traditional status of the mutuel field, or "all others," as the favorite in the opening pool of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager seems secure for another year, but unbeaten Old Fashioned has strengthened his position as the leading individual contender for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with one day of wagering remaining in the first of three 2009 Derby Future pools.
The mutuel field, or "all others" has been the favored wagering interest in every opening pool of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager since its introduction in 1999, and bettors showed little inclination to change that pattern on the first day of the 2009 action.
Hosted by Lenny Shulman and Steve Haskin, "And They're Off" is a bi-monthly online video series sponsored by Darby Dan Farm. In this Valentine's Day edition, Lenny and Steve evaluate the recent Derby preps, discuss the Preakness infield experience, touch on Nicanor's debut, celebrate the 96th Birthday of John Nerud, and more.
It was an excellent weekend on the old trail, with some first-class performances, not only by the winners, but several of the losers as well. The latest Top 15 follows the column.
Triple Crown contender Pioneerof the Nile, overcoming traffic problems on the final turn, charged from the back of the pack to win the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) in the final strides over 17-1 shot Papa Clem at Santa Anita Feb. 7.
We have an interesting assortment of 3-year-old stakes this weekend, even though the Whirlaway and WEBN Stakes came up pretty thin. Will the Derby winner be in the Robert Lewis (gr. III) or Risen Star (gr. III)? We could have a much better idea once certain questions are answered.
CashCall Futurity (gr. I) winner Pioneerof the Nile makes his eagerly-awaited 3-year-old debut and attempts to establish himself as one of the West Coast's top Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contenders, as he faces eight sophomore rivals in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 7 at Santa Anita Park.
Bob Baffert, an old hand at getting horses ready for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), starts heading down the Triple Crown path once again when he saddles Pioneerof the Nile for the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita on Feb. 7.
No prominent 3-year-old races this weekend, but plenty of action on the worktab. Triple Crown Talk blog, with host Jason Shandler, looks at this week's works for Derby contenders.
Triple Crown Talk blog, with host Jason Shandler, looks at recent works for some Derby Hopefuls.
CashCall Futurity (gr. I) winner Pioneerof the Nile remains on target for his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 7 after turning in a bullet five-furlong drill of :57 3/5 over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track Jan. 11.
Two rocket ships will be launched at Gulfstream Park on Thursday, and don't be surprised if a few of the passengers wind up landing in Louisville on the first Saturday in May.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
Pioneerof the Nile, winner of the CashCall Futurity (gr. I), is one of three Empire Maker sons whose recent performances have helped grow their sire's reputation among breeders. The others are Daiwa Prevail (JPN) and Summer's Empire.
It looks as though the upcoming crop of Derby contenders will be the most stamina-laden in years, with powerful pedigrees, especially on the female side, in abundance.
Heavily favored Pioneerof the Nile, who took over the stall of Midshipman when the Breeder's Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner departed trainer Bob Baffert's barn for Dubai this fall, proved he earned it when he narrowly held off I Want Revenge in an exhilarating renewal of the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park Dec. 20.
Jason and Tom analyze the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park on Dec 20. Also The Wizard's Spotlight Play is Fair Grounds Race 3 on Saturday, Dec. 20.
Bob Baffert will aim for a record-tying fourth CashCall Futurity (gr. I) victory when he saddles Pioneerof the Nile and Ventana in the 28th running of the $750,000 event Dec. 20 at Hollywood Park.
Martin Smith, assistant and exercise rider for English trainer John Best, hopes the stable enjoys as much success in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) Dec. 20 at Hollywood Park with Axel Foley as it did with Square Eddie in the Breeders Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland in October.
Trainer Bob Baffert gave the green light to Pioneerof the Nile and Ventana for the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) after the pair worked Dec. 14 at Santa Anita.
Yes, it is early to start thinking about Kentucky Derby future bets, but this is the time of year when you can find the megabombs if you're willing to put your money on a wing and a prayer.
Champagne Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Munnings was installed as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite when 13 horses were entered in the Oct. 25 Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
Square Eddie looks to continue winning ways in the Juvenile
J. Paul Reddam's Square Eddie moved into striking position rounding the far turn and drew off in the stretch for an easy win under Rafael Bejarano in the $500,000 Lane's End Futurity (gr. I) Oct. 4 on the Keeneland Polytrack. The victory earned the 2-year-old Smart Strike colt an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile later this month at Santa Anita.
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