Although heavy ground fog made splits unobtainable on some of the candidates who worked Saturday morning at Fair Grounds for the 100th anniversary edition of the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 30, Fair Grounds clocker Mike Diliberto was able to record splits on those locally-based Louisiana Derby probable starters who worked later in the morning as the fog gradually lifted.
Unbeaten Verrazano (#20) has never been threatened in a trio of easy victories in his young career, but he emerged from the opening day of betting in Pool 3 of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) as a very narrow fans’ choice over the always popular “All Others” (#24) betting interest.
While media and office chatter this week might be dominated by basketballs and brackets, Churchill Downs offers a question that also serves as a gentle reminder: Are you ready for the 2013 Kentucky Derby?
The First Leg of the Championship Series on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com” wraps up this weekend with the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral (Grade III) on Saturday and the $800,000 Sunland Derby (GIII) on Sunday.
A late nomination deadline of Saturday, March 23 looms for owners and trainers of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds not yet eligible to compete in the 2013 Triple Crown races to nominate their young stars to the coveted three-race series of American classics 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).
Grade 2 winner Uncaptured will make his long-awaited return to competition on Saturday, but the Lion Heart colt has picked a tough spot to make his three-year-old bow in Turfway Park's Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral.
Trained by Mark Casse, Uncaptured was last seen taking the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs by a neck on November 24. That followed a 5 1/2-length romp in the Grade 3 Iroquois over the same surface in his first try on a conventional dirt surface.
Fifteen years removed from their Kentucky Derby victory with Real Quiet, owner Mike Pegram and trainer Bob Baffert have another potential candidate for the Louisville classic in Govenor Charlie, one of two colts Baffert will saddle in Sunday's Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby over 1 1/8 miles.
Saturday's Rebel Stakes put a smile on the face of D. Wayne Lukas, with Will Take Charge edging stablemate Oxbow by a head on the wire, and the Hall of Fame trainer holds a strong Kentucky Derby hand for the first time in more than a decade.
For the past 26 years, the Early Times Mint Julep has proudly served as the “Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby®.” In celebration of this, Early Times Kentucky Whisky continues its tradition with the release of the 2013 commemorative Kentucky Derby bottle.
Available beginning in March 2013, the one-liter pre-mix bottle will be available in limited quantities throughout the United States for a suggested retail price of $14.99.
Unbeaten Verrazano (#20), impressive in three dominant victories since he launched his racing career on New Year’s Day, is a solid morning line choice to emerge as the overall betting favorite in this weekend’s third and final pool of Churchill Downs’ 2013 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”).
At last count, the list of hopefuls for Saturday's Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park stood at 16. With Kentucky Derby qualifying points on the line, the 12 starters will be determined by earnings in graded stakes, then by earnings in stakes, and finally by career earnings.
Turfway Park Stakes Coordinator Tia Murphy has the Spiral hopefuls list in order of preference as follows:
Eclipse Award-winning Shanghai Bobby prepared for the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby at Palm Meadows Training Center Sunday morning, breezing five furlongs in company with Palace Malice.
The 2012 juvenile champion, who suffered the first loss of his career in a second-place finish behind Itsmyluckyday in the Grade 3 Holy Bull on January 26, was timed in 1:00, as was his stablemate.
Stuart Janney III's Kentucky homebred Orb will breeze Monday morning at Payson Park for trainer Shug McGaughey in his next-to-last scheduled workout ahead of the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 30.
"He'll work Monday and then blowout a little bit the next Monday," McGaughey said.
The bay son of Malibu Moon ran into the Florida Derby picture, and onto the Kentucky Derby Trail, with three consecutive victories, the last two of which came at Gulfstream while training all winter with McGaughey's Payson Park-based division.
Todd Pletcher's candidates for the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, WinStar Farm's Revolutionary and Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, both worked five furlongs at Palm Meadows on Sunday.
Palace Malice, beaten just a half-length when third in the Grade 2 Risen Star, sped in 1:00 on the fast main track, while Grade 3 Withers star Revolutionary clocked 1:00 3/5.
Willis D. Horton's Will Take Charge caught stablemate Oxbow in deep stretch and posted a head decision in Saturday's Grade 2, $600,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park, providing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas with a one-two finish in the 1 1/16-mile event.
"I felt pretty good 100 yards from the wire," the four-time Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner said.
Michael Tabor, John Magnier and Derrick Smith's War Academy vaulted onto the Kentucky Derby trail with a 3 1/2-length allowance score in Santa Anita's 2ND race on Friday, in a performance that pleased Hall of Famers Bob Baffert and Mike Smith.
Doug O'Neill reports that dual Grade 3 winner Goldencents came out of his fourth-place finish in last Saturday's Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita in good order and it's on to the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6 and a rematch with San Felipe runner-up Flashback and new jockey Garrett Gomez.
"He came out great," O'Neill said of Goldencents, who weakened late to be beaten in fourth by 2 1/4 lengths in the San Felipe. "He looked fantastic. I've got to do a little better job training him. I will, and we'll be tough in the Santa Anita Derby."
It took some time for Joe Talamo to fully absorb the 11th-hour incident that cost him a ride on the favorite in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Chalk it up to youth, inexperience, naiveté or maturity beyond his years, but the young riding star took it in stride when I Want Revenge was scratched due to injury on the morning of the race.
Grade 3 Withers hero Revolutionary is one of 13 Kentucky Derby hopefuls projected to line up in the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 30, Fair Grounds announced Friday.
Revolutionary will likely be joined by his stablemate from the Todd Pletcher barn, Palace Malice, who was a close third in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on February 23. Javier Castellano will be back aboard Revolutionary, and Palace Malice picks up Edgar Prado.
TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering site of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), has been named the presenting sponsor of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” the point-based system that determines individual eligibility for the maximum field of 20 horses that will compete in the 139th running of America’s greatest race on Saturday, May 4.