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.
Agent Tony Matos confirmed Thursday morning that Garrett Gomez has picked up the mount on Triple Crown contender Flashback for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 6.
Gomez replaces Julien Leparoux, who was criticized for his ride on the sophomore son of Tapit in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes last Saturday, in which the even-money favorite suffered his first defeat after prompting fast fractions on the front end while going 1 1/16 miles.
The First Leg of the Championship Series on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” continues Saturday at Oaklawn Park with the $600,000 Rebel (Grade II), which features four horses ranked in the Top 21 in the Point Standings.
Of the four horses ranked in the Top 21, two will be saddled by Hall of Fame trainer and three-time Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Bob Baffert and two will be saddled by Hall of Fame trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas.
Shug McGaughey isn't one to be afflicted with Derby Fever, but the Hall of Fame trainer admits that he's excited about the prospect of running Grade 2 Fountain of Youth victor Orb in the Kentucky Derby on May 4.
"Like I said after the Fountain of Youth, I wake up every morning thinking of winning the Kentucky Derby. I wish I'd won it a long time ago so I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore," McGaughey said Thursday morning.
Hall of Fame trainers Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas will each saddle a pair of runners in Saturday's Grade 2, $600,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park, and one of those four is the likely favorite for the 1 1/16-mile contest.
Super Ninety Nine, one of Baffert's entrants, appears the one to beat off an 11 1/4-length romp on February 18 in the local prep, the Grade 3 Southwest over a sloppy, sealed track.
Verrazano passed his first stakes test in the Tampa Bay Derby. It wasn't the tour-de-force of his previous start, a 16 1/4-length romp over allowance rivals at Gulfstream Park, but the three-length decision served its purpose.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is focused upon getting his charge to the first Saturday in May and doesn't need Verrazano peaking too early, especially when the main concern is the 1 1/4-mile distance. The bay colt easily handled his first attempt at two turns Saturday and remains an imposing presence in the Kentucky Derby picture.
The rapidly progressing Ground Transport has taken off in recent days as a live longshot for the 100th anniversary edition of the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 30 at Fair Grounds.
The sophomore son of Big Brown breezed a bullet four furlongs in :47 last Saturday at Fair Grounds on the same morning that Grade 2 Risen Star winner Ive Struck a Nerve traveled that same distance in :48 2/5 before pulling up lame shortly after his move.
Is Ground Transport viable as a longshot for the upcoming Louisiana Derby?
Champion Shanghai Bobby, and fellow top Kentucky Derby contenders Orb, Verrazano, and Hear the Ghost lead the 189 three-year-olds nominated to this year's Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes to be run April 13 at Keeneland. A late nomination period closes March 27.
Churchill Downs Racetrack will launch the 2013 version of its free “Road to the Roses Presented by TwinSpires.com” Kentucky Derby online fantasy game of skill with a registration period that runs from March 22-28.
Participants can select a stable of six 3-year-old Thoroughbreds nominated to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races – there’s a limit of five stables per person – and earn points for a Top 4 finish in “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” races.
With his dominating three-length victory in Saturday's Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, Verrazano earned 50 points in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" point standings, vaulting into a first-place tie and virtually assuring himself a spot in the Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
Ive Struck a Nerve, the upset winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on February 23, had led the standings with 51 points, but was taken off the Kentucky Derby trail after sustaining an ankle injury during a Saturday morning workout.