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The roster of contenders for the 137th running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) now on the grounds at Churchill Downs has grown to three with the arrivals Repole Stable’s Stay Thirsty, winner of the Gotham (GIII) and stablemate to Derby favorite Uncle Mo, and Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s Shackleford, runner-up in last week’s $1 million Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park.
Robert and Lawana Low's royally-bred ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway) now seems poised to take on the challenge of Sunday's Fantasy S. (G2), according to trainer Danny Peitz.
"It almost seems like we have to do it," Peitz said Thursday morning. "She's doing fine and I wouldn't do it if she wasn't, and with just a couple horses going, it seems like the right move."
The other newsmaker already lined up for the Fantasy is JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit), an 8 3/4-length winner of the Honeybee S. (G3) at this track and 1 1/16-mile distance on March 12.
Back in March, two horses shipped to Oaklawn Park from California for the Rebel S. (G2) March 19 and were sent off as the 7-5 favorite and 9-5 second choice in the 1 1/16-mile race. The favorite, The Factor (War Front), easily won the race and went back to California to prepare for his return in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16, while the second choice, SWAY AWAY (Afleet Alex), remained in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to lick his wounds after finishing sixth.
If PREMIER PEGASUS (Fusaichi Pegasus) is to make good on his 8-5 morning-line favoritism among 11 entrants in Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1), the show would truly belong to 68-year-old Myung Kwon Cho. The Korean immigrant, who races a small stable of six horses, would become the first person to solely own, train and have bred the winner in 74 runnings of this major stepping stone to the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Wearing a set of blinkers with the goal of producing more early kick, highly ranked three-year-old ELITE ALEX (Afleet Alex) sped through an impressive workout Wednesday morning at Oaklawn Park to prepare for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 16, the finale of the famed Racing Festival of the South.
WATCH ME GO (West Acre), a neck victor in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), tops a field of 12 in Saturday's $300,000 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne. The dark bay colt surprised in the Tampa Bay Derby for trainer Kathleen O'Connell, sent off the 43-1 third longest shot in that 8 1/2-furlong event, and will be seeking to quiet all critics with another win on Saturday.
Grade 2 heroine KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) will seek to solidify her status as one of the favorites for the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1) when she lines up in the $400,000 Ashland S. (G1) on Saturday during Keeneland's opening weekend. The Kenny McPeek charge, who was last seen taking the Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) at Fair Grounds, will be making her synthetic Polytrack debut in the 1 1/16-mile test, but is a multiple stakes winner over the turf.
The fluctuating cast of possible starters for the 87th running of the $750,000 Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland on April 16 grew to 13 on Wednesday morning with four probable additions.
Chief among the additions to racing secretary Ben Huffman's list are two colts trained by Todd Pletcher: SENSATIONAL SLAM (Grand Slam) and PRAETEREO (Giant's Causeway). The pair are scheduled to fly to Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday and be stabled at Churchill Downs along with Pletcher's other Blue Grass probable, QUEEN'SPLATEKITTEN (Kitten's Joy).
UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie) makes his final prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1) in Saturday's $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct and the unbeaten champion juvenile will go postward as an overwhelming favorite in the 10-horse field. An easy winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and Champagne S. (G1) at two, Uncle Mo opened his three-year-old season with a 3 3/4-length romp against overmatched foes in the March 12 Timely Writer S. at Gulfstream Park, and he'll face a mostly unproven group of challengers Saturday.
A year ago, 40-year-old Glen Fullerton of Houston, Texas won $900,000 when Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby at odds of 8-1. Now it’s your turn.
For the second consecutive year, Churchill Downs and NBC have teamed to give one person the opportunity to place a life-changing $100,000 win bet in the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 7.