For the connections of Flashy Bull and Sunriver, there are three things on their mind this week - Showing Up's puncture wound, Seaside Retreat's workout on Thursday, and Mister Triester's performance in Saturday's Derby Trial Stakes. Only after that will they know whether they've made it into the Derby field.
Where are all the Derby horses? Times have changed from the days when trainers shipped their Derby horses to Churchill Downs several weeks before the big race. Here we are less than two weeks out and only one shipper has arrived.
Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Bob and John and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) runner-up Point Determined both worked five furlongs in a bullet :59 1/5 at Santa Anita Tuesday as they begin their serious training for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
The Louisville Thoroughbred Club invites all Kentucky Derby (gr. I) fans to gather at the Kentucky Derby Museum April 28 to raise a glass with three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Gary Stevens and several of the Thoroughbred industry's top racing analysts as they toast America's greatest race and dice out the odds and chances of all the 132nd Derby contenders.
Put up or shut up; now or never; do or die. You get the picture. With the running of Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and Arkansas Derby (gr. II), we finally will have a good idea who will be in the starting lineup for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Fresh is best. Those are the words Barbaro's trainer Michael Matz is living by. Whether he's right or wrong, you have to admire him for going against history and public opinion and sticking to his guns, much like another former equestrian rider, Tim Ritchey, did last with his unorthodox training of Afleet Alex.
Simon Crisford, racing manager for Godolphin Racing, said Monday they are in no hurry to make a decision on the status of UAE Derby (UAE-II) winner Discreet Cat for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) presented by Yum! Brands.
Rafael Bejarano, whose list of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) mounts grows each day, has been named by trainer Bob Baffert to ride Point Determined in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 8. Victor Espinoza, who was originally named to ride the colt, has a prior commitment that day aboard Balance in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I).
With many of the leading 3-year-olds in Florida skipping town because of what most horsemen feel is the unfavorable scheduling of the Florida Derby (gr. I), Gulfstream's premiere event drew a wide variety of horses, most of them non-stakes winners. The headliner will be the undefeated Barbaro, winner of all four of his starts.
Cot Campbell pioneered the concept of Thoroughbred racing partnerships when he formed Dogwood Stable in 1969. The seed he planted has produced numerous other successful partnerships, including West Point Stable. On Saturday, Dogwood and West Point square off in the $1-million Florida Derby (gr. I).
Perhaps it is time to stop poring over every bit of minutia concerning this year's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and just go with the flow. If you don't, your brain will be fried by the time the Twin Spires come into view and the scent of roses is in the air.
- By Steve Haskin
By Steve Haskin - Mom's Command has slipped through the cracks again. After having her name on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2005, the 1985 New York filly Triple Crown winner was conspicuous by her absence this year.
This year's road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) has only a few more doors left to pass through. But the scene so far at each one has resembled a slapstick comedy routine where everyone tries to go through a door at the same time, and no one gets through.
The roller coaster career of Rockport Harbor finally came to an end Monday when owner Rick Porter officially announced the colt has been retired following his latest injury suffered in the Razorback Handicap (gr. III).
Rockport Harbor, who re-injured his right, hind foot in the March 12 Razorback Handicap (gr. III), will remain in training after an encouraging report from blacksmith Sonny Broadus, owner Rick Porter said Thursday night.
If you're tired of the same old cast of characters that have been playing the major roles so far, you're going to love next weekend's mixed bag of stakes races. After Saturday, many questions will be answered, and don't be surprised to see some new, exciting faces take center stage on the Triple Crown trail.
Fox Hill Farms' Rockport Harbor, who has had more than his share of bad luck during his racing career, came out of his fifth-place finish in the March 12 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) with a foot injury that may force his retirement.
After agonizing for days whether to ride Bluegrass Cat in the March 18 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) or Keyed Entry in the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) the same day, John Velazquez and agent Angel Cordero decided to stick to their commitment and ride WinStar Farm's Bluegrass Cat.
You know it's a strange day on the Triple Crown trail when you have four stakes and the two most impressive horses seen are in a maiden race and a workout. Although heavy favorites Brother Derek and First Samurai emerged victorious, the latter on a disqualification, it still left most people wanting more.
First Samurai finally gets his opportunity to show what he can do going two turns when he heads a field of nine in the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), one of four 3-year-old stakes to be run on Saturday. The other big-name horse in action is Brother Derek, who will be a heavy favorite in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II).
Lawyer Ron took another step forward with his victory in Saturday's Southwest Stakes, extending his winning streak to four. But he still left a major question unanswered. Despite the lack of stakes action last week, there were several horses around the country who stepped up and made people take notice.
Friends, associates, and industry leaders pay tribute to Thoroughbred owner and breeder Bob Lewis, who died at his Newport Beach, Calif., home on Friday at the age of 81.
What has happened to the Sam F. Davis Stakes? Saturday's race has drawn a field that in the past would have been considered a super field for the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), for which the Davis has been an obscure prep. Perhaps the presence of so many accomplished horses can be attributed to Gulfstream Park's configuration.
John Shirreffs, who won last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with Giacomo, has replaced Eoin Harty as trainer of last year's Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) runner-up A.P. Warrior.
It is mid-February, and although the 3-year-olds look to be a solid bunch, there are few standouts. With question marks surrounding some of the leading contenders and the top spots up for grabs, it's time to check out the second wave, which includes several horses whose bandwagons are ready to take on passengers.
What could have been a revealing weekend at Gulfstream Park was instead a muddy mess that left us with just as many questions as we had going in. We also had to try and digest some huge performances by former claimers in lesser races and several defeats that may have outshone the victories.
A new era is about to begin for Triple Crown Productions, with a first-time sponsor and new name for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), a new television contract, a significant increase in nominations from 2005, and a record number of nominations from trainer Todd Pletcher.
This weekend's February feast of 3-year-old races promises to unveil several leading Triple Crown contenders, with a heavy emphasis, as usual, on Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, and Nick Zito. The focal points will be the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) and the return of First Samurai in the Hutcheson (gr. II).
Several of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps fell apart last weekend, and the Southern California invaders got hammered by the boys up North in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III), but we did see an honest, classy colt in Cause to Believe, and there was plenty of other news on the Derby trail.
It's hard to believe that betting in the first Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Future Wager pool is here already. We all are aware this is pretty much a riskier bet in January, considering most of the horses in the starting field will be grossly under-priced and many will not even make it to the race. With that said, here are 10 new faces to the Derby trail that bear watching.
Before we get to this week's races, any trainers out there happen to catch the Colts' surprising loss to the Steelers? Did the Colts look rusty, out of sync, a bit soft, not battle tough? Remember how they basically phoned it in the last few games, resting their stars? Well, it's possible that's what can happen when horses are rested too long before the Kentucky Derby.
It's not often we get to see the probable 2-year-old champ and early favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) running in January. But not only is Stevie Wonderboy making his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes (gr. II), he'll be facing another leading juvenile and major Derby contender in Brother Derek.
The journey on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Trail officially began last weekend, and although none of the major stars were in action, there were enough solid performances – both gutsy and explosive -- to start the year off in a positive way.
The new year has begun, and all across the country, 3-year-olds are preparing for the grueling march to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The horses that remain from last year's classic crop are just beginning their journey to the Breeders' Cup. But the main headlines should belong to Proven Cure, who truly is the star of the year so far.
Saturday's one-mile Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream provides an interesting look into this year's 3-year-old picture. The 14-horse field is an indication of what a competitive group we have in Florida, and the number of trainers who can't wait to hit the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail.
It's time once again to officially embark on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Now is as good a time as any to preview what's to come by listing the most accomplished and promising youngsters. Many of these names will be only that in a few months, but for now, this is how the classic division shapes up as we begin the road to the May 6 Derby.
The circumstances surrounding where dual classic winner Afleet Alex would stand at stud began the week after Thanksgiving and moved quickly, culminating in Sunday's announcement that the colt would go to Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Ky.
Not to take anything away from the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, or Saint Liam's grade I victories in the winter, summer, and fall, or Giacomo's stunning upset in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), or Lost in the Fog's remarkable cross-country odyssey, but 2005 will be remembered for the heroic deeds of Afleet Alex.
Racing seems to have its share of ills these days, which is why the first injection of Derby Fever is being given out earlier and earlier each year. Even taken in small doses in November, it can start the blood pumping, and what better way to brace for the long winter than by getting a brief whiff of roses or hearing even the faintest strains of "My Old Kentucky Home?"
It was a sunny December afternoon, with temperatures reaching the 50s and gusty winds blowing in from the northwest. The 2,453 hardcore racegoers who ventured to Aqueduct Racetrack on this Friday in 2003 had no way of knowing that they were witnessing the birth of a future winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) and the leading candidate for Horse of the Year honors.
If it's the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, you can bet (literally) that there will be several longshot winners. With so many of the grade I races this year appearing to be wide-open, with full fields, there is no reason to think this year will be any different from past Breeders' Cups.
Trainer Richard Mandella said he is disappointed that an injury will prevent Rock Hard Ten from running in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), but that he is glad the injury was detected before the colt ran in Saturday's race.
The battle lines have been drawn for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships and it is now time to plot strategy and assess the competition. And nowhere will that place with more intensity than in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
It was a chaotic Monday morning on the Belmont work tab, with 21 Breeders' Cup horses having their final tune-ups for the World Thoroughbred Championships. And over at Aqueduct, Rick Dutrow worked his two Breeders' Cup horses, Saint Liam and Silver Train.
Steve Haskin, senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse was honored with his fourth Red Smith Award writing award Friday, it was announced by Churchill Downs.
The 2001 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, held only 45 days after the World Trade Center attack, came to symbolize the human spirit and the courage and determination of the Thoroughbred...
It is still too early to make final selections for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Most of the important works are finished, and the majority of the mounts have been assigned. So, basically there is nothing much to do but wait for the shippers to arrive and concoct lists that may or not prove helpful.
- By Steve Haskin
By Steve Haskin - When Afleet Alex returned to Belmont Park July 28 following surgery to repair a small hairline fracture of his ankle, it was concluded by most everyone that two possibilities existed regarding his future: he either would recover sufficiently to race as a 4-year-old, or his career as a racehorse was over.
When Lord Derby's Ouija Board seeks to defend her title in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Oct. 29, she could have the services of Jerry Bailey, whose 14 wins is first among all jockeys in World Thoroughbred Championships history.
Lord of the Game, a $10,000 claim who has gone on to become a grade II winner and bankroll nearly $540,000, worked Thursday morning over a fast track at Hawthorne Racecourse under jockey Eusebio Razo, as he prepares for the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. II).
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