Derby Nation: March Madness in the Bluegrass means hoops and horses

In late March the “madness” sets in for college basketball fans, and that is certainly true in Kentucky.  But the Bluegrass is also the horse capital of the world and the hub of Derby Nation fans.

“It (horse racing) is unlike other sports… Or, to put it in basketball terms, a 16 seed can beat the No. 1 seed,” says Kevin Woodward of Louisville, Ky., when explaining why he is a Derby fan. “For two minutes, from the infield to Millionaires Row, you see each person screaming for a horse.”

Mendip hopes to keep progressing in UAE Derby

Godolphin's American Triple Crown nominee MENDIP (Harlan's Holiday), who romped in the March 4 Al Bastakiya at Meydan, will try to take another step forward in Saturday's $2 million U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) at the same Dubai track. To do so, the Saeed bin Suroor trainee must overcome South African champion MUSIR (Redoute's Choice), a four-year-old by Northern Hemisphere reckoning.

Discreetly Mine heads baker's dozen in Louisiana Derby

If the Todd Pletcher-trained DISCREETLY MINE (Mineshaft) makes it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, he will enter the Kentucky Derby (G1) well versed in the ways of negotiating large fields. The bay defeated 11 rivals when notching his first stakes win in the February 20 Risen Star S. (G2), and will be asked to outrun 12 in Saturday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) over the same Fair Grounds track.

Jill Byrne's Weekend Prep Review March 19-21

John Asher's Kentucky Derby 136 Update for Monday, March 22

FLORIDA / ZITO BACK IN DERBY PICTURE AS LONGSHOT ICEBOX RALLIES TO WIN FLORIDA DERBY – Robert LaPenta’s Ice Box, regarded as the lesser of the owner’s pair of Nick Zito-trained entrants in Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (Grade I), rallied from last place under jockey Jose Lezcano to edge fellow outsider Pleasant Prince by a nose in Gulfstream Park’s major prep for the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).

John Asher's Kentucky Oaks 136 Update for Monday, March 22

FLORIDA / PLETCHER’S DEVIL MAY CARE REBOUNDS IN BONNIE MISS – A pair of disappointing runs had sent Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care tumbling from the roster of 3-year-old fillies considered major contenders for the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), but a rebound win in Saturday’s $200,000 Bonnie Miss (GII) at Gulfstream Park has lifted her back to the top of the list of potential Oaks favorites.

Jody Slew entered in Fair Grounds Oaks

Silverbulletday S. (G3) winner JODY SLEW (Slew City Slew), who was considered unlikely for Friday's $300,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) Saturday morning due to days of missed training after being cast in her stall last week, was doing much better Sunday morning during training hours and was entered in Friday's main event for three-year-old fillies.

Vale of York forced to miss UAE Derby

Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner VALE OF YORK (Ire) (Invincible Spirit) has been ruled out of Saturday's U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) at Meydan because of a bout with colic, Godolphin announced Sunday.

"Unfortunately Vale of York has suffered from colic and will not be able to run in the U.A.E. Derby at Meydan," Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, revealed on godolphin.com.

"We hope that Vale of York makes a full recovery soon, but obviously right now, all future plans are on hold for him."

D' Funnybone keeps rolling in Swale

Paul Pompa Jr.'s D' FUNNYBONE (D'wildcat) turned in another impressive performance in Saturday's $150,000 Swale S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, winning easily by 1 1/4 lengths and confirming his status as the country's leading three-year-old sprinter. With Edgar Prado sitting chilly most of the way, the Richard Dutrow-trained colt pressed an opening quarter-mile in :22 1/5 before moving to the lead.

Ice Box catches fire in Florida Derby

Aided by a stronger pace than in his last start, the Fountain of the Youth S. (G2), and the absence of that race's dominating winner Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway), Robert LaPenta's deep-closing ICE BOX (Pulpit) took full advantage in a wide-open renewal of the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.