Increase purses and they will come. That fact was proven Aug. 31, as 11 horses, many of them high-profile, were entered in the 28th running of the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II).
Zanjero carried a six-race losing streak into the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. III), having last been to the winners circle in an allowance at Belmont Park in November. The 3-year-old colt outfought Bwana Bull in a heart-pounding finish to take the feature at Mountaineer Park Aug. 4.
Of the field of 10 running in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. III) Aug. 4, five have run in American Classicsno--none of them with any success. If one of them can break through in the 1 1/8-mile trek around Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort's main track, it will go a long way to help separate itself in a competitive 3-year-old division that is beginning to take shape.
Centennial Farms' even-money choice Chelokee, passed mid-stretch by Zanjero in Saturday's $223,800 Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs, fought back along the inside to win by a long neck for jockey Ramon Dominguez.
Trainer Michael Matz hopes Centennial Farm's Chelokee, winner of the Barbaro Stakes at Pimlico and third in the Florida Derby (gr. I), can launch the second half of the colt's 3-year-old campaign with a victory over a strong field of seven 3-year-old rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Arriving in Kentucky two weeks ago, the feeling here was that there were two horses in particular to concentrate on who looked to be coming into the Derby with enough angles to make them live at a decent price. After watching most of the Derby horses work and gallop at Keeneland and Churchill, things have changed a bit, as has track condition.
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.
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.
The weather today in Louisville couldn't be better. A good-sized crowd has amassed under the Twin Spires.
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.
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.
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.
There was one disappointing aspect of Tuesday morning's brief activity at Churchill Downs. With 11 days still left until the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), it would come as a major surprise - no, make that a shock - if any horse turns in a more impressive workout than Street Sense's five-furlong masterpiece.
Starlight Stable and Paul Lucarelli's Sam P. tuned up for an expected run in the $2 million Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a sharp five-furlong workout at Churchill Downs on Monday.
It was all in the genes for Tiago, the half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo who registered a timely come-from-behind victory in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) Saturday.
Liquidity, hoping to bounce back from a sixth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on March 10, has been installed as the 5-2 favorite for Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) for 3-year-olds.
With the withdrawal of Ravel from the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) due to an injury, Todd Pletcher and co-owner Jack Wolf have decided to run Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) runner-up Sam P. at Santa Anita, instead of the Illinois Derby (gr. II), as originally planned.
J. Paul Reddam's grade I winner Great Hunter unleashed a big move leaving the quarter pole and rolled to an impressive victory in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Saturday.
Grade I winner Great Hunter will be favored to provide trainer Doug O'Neill and jockey Corey Nakatani with their second major stakes victory on Saturday when the colt joins a field of nine 3-year-olds for the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
Elizabeth J. Valando's homebred Nobiz Like Shobiz, highly regarded among this year's Triple Crown hopefuls, got his campaign off to a strong start with a smart win as the odds-on choice in Saturday's $150,000 Holy Bull (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Gulstream Park.
Elizabeth Valando's homebred 3-year-old Nobiz Like Shobiz, high among early favorites for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. 1), makes his season debut as the 8-to-5 morning line favorite in the $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park.
Many times when looking back on the career of a Kentucky Derby winner, you can find one defining race or defining moment within a race that stamps the horse as a legitimate classic contender. This is the first of several attempts this winter to find such moments.
After a winning debut at Saratoga, Darley Stable's Incriminate hopes to secure his first stakes victory in the $250,000 Futurity Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park Sept. 23. The Unbridled's Song colt is trained by Eoin Harty.
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