Joseph Witek's three-year-old Kentucky homebred colt Majestic Hussar has run well in two allowance starts sprinting at Gulfstream Park this winter for trainer Eddie Kenneally, and is set to face his biggest challenge yet when he tries two turns for the first time in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on February 23.
Speaking over the phone from South Florida Thursday morning, trainer Chad Brown confirmed that Normandy Invasion would be coming to New Orleans for the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on February 23.
"We're planning on it," Brown said of the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star, Fair Grounds' designed prep for the 100th running of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 30.
Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 San Vicente is not worth any points in the new Road to the Kentucky Derby scoring system, but the seven-furlong test at Santa Anita figures to yield contenders for major Derby preps down the road. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is responsible for half of the six-horse field -- Grade 3-placed Shakin It Up and hotshot maiden winners Belvin and War Academy.
South African champion Soft Falling Rain extended his unbeaten sequence to six in Thursday's Group 3, $250,000 U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas at Meydan, while leading Godolphin hope Fortify could do no better than sixth.
The first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager took place last weekend and the lowest individual-priced horse, Verrazano (11-1), was bet primarily on confidence given that the lightly-raced colt has yet to try two turns or face stakes rivals. The next three in the betting -- Flashback (12-1), Violence (13-1) and Itsmyluckyday (13-1) -- are graded stakes winners.
Four of the nine entrants in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields have been nominated to the Triple Crown series, and thus are hoping to add the 10 points the race provides to the winner toward their Kentucky Derby account under the new eligibility system of the Run for the Roses. The 1 1/8-mile race also features a rematch between the top-two finishers from the January 12 California Derby.
The 2013 version of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) is off to a rousing start after its opening pool generated near-record betting, concluded with the expected emergence of the popular “All Others” (#24) betting interest as its heavy favorite and featured a wild scramble among seven horses that determined the identity of the individual Thoroughbred that is, for now, a very narrow “people’s choice” to win the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (Grade I) on
With only one day of betting remaining in the first of a trio of Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) pools in 2013, fans continued to heavily favor “All Others” (#24) over a foursome of Derby hopefuls trained by Todd Pletcher as total wagering in the three-day pool pushed past the $300,000 mark.
A pair of well-regarded maiden winners, Flashback and Revolutionary, passed their first stakes test last weekend in dramatically different styles, with Flashback leading all the way in the Robert B. Lewis and Revolutionary rallying from last to take the Withers, and while neither performance proved a whole lot in terms of the Kentucky Derby, it's still early in the process and both colts have a lot going for them.
Champion Shanghai Bobby (#17) and rising star Violence (#21) are expected to vie for the role of individual favorite, but Churchill Downs Racetrack oddsmaker Mike Battaglia believes the “All Others” (#24) betting interest will be a strong fans’ choice in the first of three pools of the 2013 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”), which opens a three-day run on Friday, Feb. 8.
Trainer Todd Pletcher's Revolutionary ran himself into Kentucky Derby consideration on Saturday while taking his stakes bow in the Grade 3 Withers in his fifth career start, and emerged from that score at Aqueduct in good order.
Revolutionary, whose late charge carried him past Escapefromreality after an eventful trip in the 1 1/16-mile contest, will depart for Pletcher's Florida base at Palm Meadows Training Center on Tuesday to prepare for any one of a number of final preps for the May 4 Kentucky Derby.
While anyone was free to speculate on Flashback's next race, Bob Baffert was tight-lipped on the issue Sunday morning, saying for the record only that the impressive 6 1/4-length winner of Saturday's Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes came out of the race in good shape and that he had "no game plan" at the moment.
"I didn't even sleep on it," Baffert said on a summer-like Super Bowl morning. "I worry about Game On Dude."
Flashback's long-range agenda, however, could include the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 6.
Falling Sky threw his name into the Kentucky Derby picture Saturday with a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3, $202,500 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. In his first start for trainer John Terranova, the sophomore colt withstood the rally of Dynamic Sky to prevail by a neck.
WinStar Farm's Revolutionary broke slowly and suffered through an adventurous trip in Saturday's Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct, but the Kentucky Derby prospect unleashed his best stride late and closed dramatically to win by a neck on the wire. Heavily favored in his stakes debut, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt was ridden to victory in the 1 1/16-mile event by Javier Castellano.
"He didn't break that sharp and I didn't panic," Castellano noted. "I think the key with him is that you have to be patient."
The Bob Baffert-trained Flashback, who generated plenty of buzz with his debut maiden win in December, officially burst onto the Kentucky Derby scene with a dominating display in Saturday's Grade 2, $196,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. Sent off as the heavy 1-2 favorite in a four-horse field, Gary and Mary West's colorbearer led throughout and surged 6 1/4 lengths clear under minimal encouragement from jockey Julien Leparoux.
The early nomination period for the three races in the American Triple Crown has concluded with 369 3-year-old Thoroughbreds based in the United States and abroad eligible to bid for a rare sweep of the series of classic races that includes the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the $1 million Preakness (GI) and the $1 million Belmont Stakes (GI).
NOTE: UPDATE: Brisnet.com is working to upload free past performances of all Triple Crown-nominated horses (check back later this afternoon) via:
Last year's Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis served as a steppingstone to stardom, as I'll Have Another parlayed his 2 3/4-length win in the race to triumphs in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Lewis attracted a field of four hoping for the same outcome, including He's Had Enough, who like I'll Have Another is owned by Reddam Racing, trained by Doug O'Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez.
After shipping in to win the Pasco on January 12, Dynamic Sky will return to Tampa Bay Downs in pursuit of the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile test is one of three graded events on Saturday's lucrative 12-race Festival Preview Day card and serves as a precursor to the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9, with all roads subsequently leading to the Kentucky Derby on May 4.
Nobody predicted that Itsmyluckyday would develop into a top Kentucky Derby contender this year, not after his well-beaten sixth in the Delta Jackpot Juvenile in mid-November and fourth-place effort in the December 15 Dania Beach on turf, but Saturday's Holy Bull changed perceptions.
Itsmyluckyday convincingly handed unbeaten juvenile champ Shanghai Bobby his first defeat, winning easily by a two-length margin while establishing a new track record at Gulfstream Park for the 1 1/16-mile distance, and he's the clear leader of the pack when it comes to BRIS Speed ratings.
A beaten favorite in his first three outings, including twice as an odds-on choice, Revolutionary finally put it all together as an even-money favorite in a December 28 maiden at Aqueduct. He did it emphatically, too, scoring by 8 1/2 lengths over next-out winner Transparent. Off that commanding performance, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt might go favored in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Withers, a 1 1/16-mile test over the Big A's inner track.