John Asher's Barn Notes

ANIMAL KINGDOM – Team Valor International’s Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (GIII) winner Animal Kingdom will be ridden by John Velazquez in Kentucky Derby 137. Velazquez was named to replace Robby Albarado, who suffered facial injuries in a paddock accident on Wednesday.

Derby continues to grow in popularity

TV viewership of the Kentucky Derby has increased in each of the last four years, with 16.5 million viewers in 2010, and online buzz for the Kentucky Derby is up significantly, according to analysis of The Nielsen Company.

Online buzz for the 2010 Kentucky Derby rose more than 400 percent from 2009.

One factor contributing to the incredible on-line growth was the 2010 introduction of an official smartphone app, which made it easier for fans to post and receive updates via Twitter and Facebook.

The Kentucky Derby is the most popular Thoroughbred racing event.

Velazquez replaces injured Albarado on Animal Kingdom

Spiral S. (G3) winner ANIMAL KINGDOM (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) will be ridden by John Velazquez in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (G1). Velazquez was originally scheduled to ride Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie), but when that champion was scratched Friday morning the jockey was named to replace Robby Albarado.

Uncle Mo scratched from Derby

Champion UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie) was withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby (G1) Friday morning, a development that was not altogether unexpected.

Owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher had been indicating that if they weren't certain that the colt was 100 percent, they would not race him in the 1 1/4-mile classic.

Uncle Mo has been treated for a gastrointestinal track problem since shortly after his third-place finish as the stout favorite in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G1), which came as his first career loss. He has received antibiotics as part of his treatment.

Scully's Derby Preview

Whether a byproduct of skill or luck, selecting the right horse in America’s most famous horse race is the goal for any observer. And Saturday’s 137th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby sets up to be quite a challenge.

Categorizing the Derby Contenders

Given the superabundance of detailed information about the contenders in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (G1), it's easy to miss the forest for the trees. So let's try to look at the field in a different way, by categorizing them according to certain broad traits.

Here is one run-down of the classic hopefuls, but by no means the only way to classify them. These are just the common characteristics that struck me first.

The Establishment

Kentucky Oaks 137 Barn Notes for May 5 - Summer Soiree Ready for Debut for Motion

BOUQUET BOOTH/STREET STORM – Right Time Racing’s two-pronged Kentucky Oaks (GI) entry of Street Storm and Bouquet Booth went to the track early and late, respectively, on a bright, clear Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

Street Storm, who will be ridden Friday by Shaun Bridgmohan, jogged before the renovation break alongside a pony with exercise rider Williams Cano up. Street Storm will break from post position 10 in the Oaks.

Derby 137 Barn Notes for May 5 - Master of Hounds Emerges, Uncle Mo Gallops

ANIMAL KINGDOM – Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom stood in the starting gate and galloped a mile and three quarters Thursday morning over a fast track at Churchill Downs.

“It was pretty uneventful,” trainer Graham Motion said with a smile.

Animal Kingdom was scheduled to school in the paddock Thursday afternoon during the fifth race.

"This is purely to go through the routine,” Motion said.  “He’s very classy acting.”

Derby Insights

by Dick Powell

One of my weaknesses as a handicapper is putting too much emphasis on post position. When I try to visualize how a race will unfold, I usually foresee bad things happening for those drawn on the far outside (they will race out near the parking lot) or stuck down on the rail (they will be shuffled back into traffic every time).

Master of Hounds impresses in first trip to track

U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) runner-up MASTER OF HOUNDS (Kingmambo) made a good impression during his first visit to Churchill Downs' track Thursday morning.

The Aidan O'Brien trainee cleared quarantine and went to the track at 8:30 with a number of other Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1) horses. He trotted once around the course and then cantered another circuit.

Master of Hounds, who will be ridden by Garrett Gomez in the Derby, turned heads when he waited at the gap to go on the track.