- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Contenders gallop in advance of Blue Grass
From Keeneland Friday barn notes:
Trainer Tom Albertrani has been down this road before.
In 2006, Albertrani won the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) with Deputy Glitters. He repeated the feat this spring with ODYSSEUS (Malibu Moon), who will break from post position 1 under Rajiv Maragh in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. Odysseus is listed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
"It is hard to compare horses. You have to look at the whole crop," Albertrani said Friday morning after Odysseus completed his morning exercise of jogging a mile and galloping a little more than a mile. "Does he belong with this group? Definitely. You just hope he peaks at the right time."
Odysseus came to Albertrani's barn at Saratoga last summer.
"He came in with a good reputation and he looked the part," Albertrani said. "It took awhile for him to come around and show his ability. His first couple of breezes didn't really get my attention, but then he started putting it together. His first race when he ran second was very creditable."
That was the end of October, but then Odysseus hit a bump in the road.
"A lot of my horses got temperatures in November and December," Albertrani said. "I'm not talking about just two or three, but 40. I never had had anything like that. It set him (Odysseus) back about a month.
"He was in Florida in November and we were aiming for the opening week of the Gulfstream Park meet. He did get to run the second week of the meet, but we have been playing some catch up. He has run about every four weeks and done a lot of racing."
Also out for a Friday morning gallop was close Florida Derby (G1) runner-up PLEASANT PRINCE (Indy King), who had a strong run under exercise rider Brian Pena.
"That's what you want to see a day before a big race," trainer Wesley Ward said of Pleasant Prince, the 3-1 morning line favorite who will break from post position 6 under Julien Leparoux.
Ward, 42, has had four runners compete in the Breeders' Cup but never had a starter in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
"Everyone in horse racing has the ultimate goal to go to the Kentucky Derby," Ward said. "Now I stand one race away. If you get in the gate, you have a one in 20 chance of winning, but at least you have that chance."
Pleasant Prince is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who have had one Kentucky Derby starter, Ten Cents a Shine, who ran eighth behind Funny Cide in the 2003 Run for the Roses after finishing eighth in that year's Blue Grass.
"(The late Hall of Fame trainer) Bobby Frankel recommended to Mr. Ramsey that he give me a shot," Ward said, "and the first conversation I had with him he told me that he was a Kentuckian and his ultimate goal is to get to the Kentucky Derby."
Palm Beach S. (G3) hero PADDY O'PRADO (El Prado [Ire]), had a schooling session at the starting gate Friday morning and then galloped a mile under Mary Doser. The Dale Romans trainee was scheduled to have a paddock schooling session during Keeneland's Friday afternoon race card.
Listed at 10-1 on the morning line, Paddy O'Prado will break from post 7 in the Blue Grass on Saturday and be ridden by Kent Desormeaux. Desormeaux has won two of the four stakes run during the meet, both of them Grade 1s. He won last Saturday's Ashland aboard Evening Jewel (Northern Afleet) and Thursday's Madison on Dr. Zic (Milwaukee Brew).
Romans will have a second starter in the Blue Grass in FIRST DUDE (Stephen Got Even), who was fifth in the Florida Derby last out. Stabled at Churchill Downs, First Dude will ship to Keeneland Saturday morning and be ridden by Ramon Dominguez.
Arriving from California on Thursday, trainer Alexis Barba was at Keeneland Friday morning to watch MAKE MUSIC FOR ME (Bernstein) continue his preparations for Saturday's Blue Grass. The bay colt, with Andy Durnin aboard, headed to the track about 9:30 a.m. (EDT) accompanied by Brian Ange, assistant to trainer Eoin Harty, on a pony. The pair walked through the paddock on the way to the main track, where Make Music for Me galloped 1 1/2 miles.
Make Music for Me enters the Blue Grass off his lone victory, which came in the Pasadena S. over the Santa Anita turf course on March 6 in his 2010 debut. Last year, he faced eventual champion Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) three times. He ran second to that rival in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Best Pal S. (G2) and third to him in the CashCall Futurity (G1).
Make Music for Me left California last October for the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, finishing fourth.
"He ran OK in that race," Barba said about Make Music for Me's performance in the Keeneland race. "He got in a little bit of trouble. We'll see what he does now. We've got blinkers on this time, and he's a little fresher."
Make Music for Me was scheduled to school in the paddock with the horses for the 5TH race at Keeneland on Friday. Mike Smith will be aboard Make Music for Me for the fourth consecutive race. The colt, who will break from post 4, is the fourth choice on the morning line at 6-1.
"I think it's a very competitive field," Barba said about the Blue Grass. "I think it's anybody's race."
In other Blue Grass updates, AIKENITE (Yes It's True) galloped about 1 1/4 miles and CODOY (Bernstein) jogged a lap around the five-furlong training track before galloping about 1 1/2 miles.