Jill Byrne's Weekend Prep Review April 2-4

Jill Byrne analyzes the Kentucky Derby prep races from the previous weekend

John Asher's Kentucky Oaks 136 Update for April 5

SOUTH / OAKS FUTURE FAVORITE BLIND LUCK WINS FANTASY, NOW LIKELY FAVORITE FOR KENTUCKY OAKS 136 – Blind Luck, the favorite in this year’s lone pool of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, probably erased any doubts that might have arisen in an upset loss in the Santa Anita Oaks (Grade I) when she charged from off the pace to score a sharp 2 ½-length victory in Friday’s $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (GII) at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

John Asher's Derby 136 Update for April 5

ESKENDEREYA NOW LIKELY KENTUCKY DERBY FAVORITE AFTER DOMINATION OF WOOD MEMORIAL FIELD – Questions about the role of favorite in the 136th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs were largely put to rest this past Saturday at New York’s Aqueduct – and fans did not have to wait for the finish line to identify the likely bettor’s choice.

Eskendereya heading back to Palm Meadows

From Sunday's NYRA notes:

A little more than 12 hours after his smashing 9 3/4-length victory in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial S. (G1), ESKENDEREYA (Giant's Causeway) was on his way back to Florida, where he will spend the next couple of weeks preparing for his likely role as the favorite for the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1).

"I like the surface at Palm Meadows, as does he," trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning. "And, the weather will be more reliable there."

Sidney's Candy, Lucky in good shape after Santa Anita Derby

From Sunday's Santa Anita notes by Ed Golden:

It was all quiet on the Western front Sunday morning after the most eventful Santa Anita Derby (G1) in recent memory Saturday. It was on to the Kentucky Derby  (G1) for front-running winner SIDNEY'S CANDY (Candy Ride [Arg]), and ditto for third-place finisher LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike), the 4-5 favorite who, after troubled trips in three of his last four races, perhaps should be called Lookin at Unlucky.

Pleasant Prince blitzes in a bullet :58 2/5 for Blue Grass

From Sunday's Keeneland notes:

Florida Derby (G1) runner-up PLEASANT PRINCE (Indy King) worked five furlongs in a bullet :58 2/5 over Keeneland's Polytrack on Sunday morning, signaling his sharpness for Saturday's Blue Grass S. (G1). Jockey Julien Leparoux was aboard for the move, which easily ranked as the fastest of 17 at the distance.

"That was about as good as a horse can work," trainer Wesley Ward said.

Contessa mulls Withers, Derby Trial for Eightyfiveinafifty

From Sunday's NYRA notes:

After his anxiety-inducing yet impressive victory in Saturday's Bay Shore S. (G3), EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY (Forest Camp) will set his sights on one of two races for his next target. According to trainer Gary Contessa, the explosively fast three-year-old colt will either remain at Aqueduct for the Withers S. (G3) or ship to Churchill Downs for The Cliff's Edge Derby Trial S. (G3). Both are one-turn mile races.

American Lion bound for Keeneland

From Sunday's Keeneland notes:

WinStar Farm's AMERICAN LION (Tiznow), who captured Saturday's Illinois Derby (G3), was scheduled to return to Keeneland on Sunday afternoon.

American Lion's victory gave WinStar three horses with enough earnings to be guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, along with Sunland Derby (G3) hero ENDORSEMENT (Distorted Humor) and multiple Grade 3 winner RULE (Roman Ruler), who was third in the Florida Derby (G1) last out.

Evening Jewel returning to Santa Anita to prepare for Kentucky Oaks

From Sunday's Keeneland notes:

EVENING JEWEL (Northern Afleet), gritty winner of Saturday's Ashland S. (G1) at Keeneland, is heading back to her home base at Santa Anita on Monday, according to trainer Jim Cassidy.

"We can keep her happier out there rather than leaving her here with someone else," Cassidy said Sunday morning. "Hopefully, we will be back in two weeks."

Evening Jewel held off IT'S TEA TIME (Dynaformer) by a neck to stamp herself as one of the prime contenders for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run April 30 at Churchill Downs.

American Lion uses his speed to land Illinois Derby

After attempting to rate unsuccessfully in his first two starts this year, WinStar Farm's AMERICAN LION (Tiznow) went right to the lead in Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby (G2) and never surrendered, securing a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) starting gate with a 2 3/4-length decision. The Eoin Harty-trained colt completed 1 1/8 miles over the fast, drying-out Hawthorne track in 1:51 1/5.