Flashback, second as the even-money favorite in Saturday's Santa Anita Derby, will miss the Kentucky Derby due to a chip in his right knee, trainer Bob Baffert reported Sunday night.
The gray son of Tapit will have surgery to remove the chip and is expected to make a full recovery. Baffert revealed that Flashback should return to training in 60 days in preparation for a return to the races later this year.
The only graded winner entered in Wednesday's Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park is Rose to Gold and she certainly will be the one to catch as she gets a final tune-up before the $1 million Kentucky Oaks next month. The chestnut filly is entered with six others in the 1 1/16-mile contest, which will award points on a 100-40-20-10 scale toward qualification of the Oaks.
With the dust still settling on an overcast Sunday morning after Doug O'Neill gave Kevin Krigger a leg up on mutuelly maligned Goldencents who went on to win Saturday's Santa Anita Derby at 6-1, turning back the Bob Baffert-trained even-money favorite Flashback by 1 1/4 lengths, a sense of reason and calm prevailed.
In less than an hour Saturday, two three-year-old fillies owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bill Mott won graded stakes and secured enough points to compete in the Kentucky Oaks on May 3 at Churchill Downs. The first was Close Hatches, who won the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct. The second was homebred Emollient, who captured Keeneland's Grade 1 Ashland by nine lengths.
Mylute, runner-up to Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby, continued his preparations for the Kentucky Derby with a half-mile breeze in :50 1/5 over the fast Churchill Downs track on Sunday morning.
"We moved the work up because the weather looks like it could be bad the next few days," trainer Tom Amoss explained.
Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass candidate Noble Tune worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 in company with Big Blue Kitten on Sunday over the Polytrack at Keeneland.
Julien Leparoux was aboard Noble Tune while Norberto Arroyo Jr. piloted Big Blue Kitten, who is nominated to the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile on Friday and the $150,000 Ben Ali on April 21.
Clockers caught the pair in fractions of :13, :25 4/5, :37 2/5 and :49 1/5 with a gallop-out time of 1:14 1/5.
Undefeated Verrazano was a happy and hungry horse the morning after his gritty victory in Saturday's Wood Memorial, and is scheduled to depart next Sunday for Churchill Downs as the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
"The horse came back in great order," said Michael McCarthy, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who now has won three of the past four runnings of the Wood, with Eskendereya (2010) and Gemologist (2012). "Everything is good."
Juddmonte Farms' homebred Emollient finished a disappointing fifth in last Saturday's Gulfstream Park Oaks, beaten 30 lengths by the winner, but trainer Bill Mott never lost faith in his Empire Maker filly.
Instead, the Hall of Fame trainer wheeled her right back off the seven-day rest for the Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland at Keeneland on Saturday, and Emollient rewarded that faith with a dominating nine-length wire job in the 1 1/16-mile contest.
After dueling and weakening to fourth in the March 9 San Felipe, Goldencents was overlooked entering Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. But that proved to be a mistake as the three-year-old colt displayed the willingness to relax during the early stages, made his move to the lead entering the stretch drive and comfortably held the favored Flashback safe to the wire.
For the first time in his brief career, Verrazano had to work to grind out a victory, but the 4-5 favorite found plenty to remain perfect in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. The Todd Pletcher pupil turned back a bid from the hitherto unbeaten Vyjack, then held off the late-running Normandy Invasion, and will now bring a four-for-four mark into the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey John Velazquez will now have a decision to make, for he is also the regular rider of Florida Derby hero Orb.
Spendthrift Farm's Beholder continued on her quest for Kentucky Oaks glory with an easy 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $300,250 Santa Anita Oaks at Saturday at the Arcadia, California, track.
Juddmonte Farms' Close Hatches successfully passed the stakes test on Saturday when holding off Princess of Sylmar to take the Grade 2, $250,000 Gazelle by 3 1/4 lengths. The 1 1/8-mile Aqueduct affair carried 100 points for the Kentucky Oaks, guaranteeing Close Hatches a spot in the starting gate of that May 3 contest if trainer Bill Mott decides to send her on to Churchill Downs.
Dynamic Sky, runner-up to Falling Sky in the Sam F. Davis and most recently fourth behind Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby, breezed five furlongs at Churchill Downs on Saturday in 1:01 2/5 in advance of next Saturday's Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland.
Palm Beach winner Rydilluc completed his major preparation for next Saturday's Grade 1 Blue Grass by working seven furlongs in 1:28 3/5 on a cool, clear morning at Keeneland. Click here for work video.
With jockey Edgar Prado up, Rydilluc worked on his own and recorded fractions of :12 4/5, :25 4/5, :38 3/5, :51, 1:03 1/5 and 1:15 3/5. He galloped out a mile in 1:43 2/5.
Though his filly Rose to Gold remains at Oaklawn Park in advance of Wednesday's Grade 3 Fantasy, co-owner Alex Centofanti was at Calder Saturday morning to discuss his Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks hopeful, winner of last year's Brave Raj and Lindsay Frolic Stakes at Calder and most recently the heroine of the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn.
Dynamic Sky, runner-up to Falling Sky in the Sam F. Davis (Grade III) and most recently fourth behind Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII), breezed five furlongs at Churchill Downs on Saturday in 1:01.40 in prep for the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland on April 13.
Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”), working with the Louisville Metro Police Department (“LMPD”) and other law enforcement and public safety partners, has developed a new plan for taxi cab and bus drop-off and pick-up of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Day patrons designed to create a more convenient and efficient environment for fans traveling to-and-from the track via those means of transportation on its biggest days.
Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw are best known as the radio broadcast team of the Brooklyn Nets, but their names could become part of Grade 1 Wood Memorial history if their namesake, Chrisandthecapper, were to upset New York's top prep race for the Kentucky Derby.
Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack will be Chrisandthecapper's first start against winners off an 11 1/2-length maiden victory in a sprint at the Big A on March 9.
Hear the Ghost has been knocked off the Triple Crown trail by a knee injury, co-owner Ted Aroney told HRTV Thursday afternoon. The winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe in his latest, the Jerry Hollendorfer pupil would have been a top contender in Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.
Aroney, who races Hear the Ghost in partnership with Hall of Famer Hollendorfer, said that the promising sophomore was "off" in his training Thursday morning.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com” continues Saturday with the 89th running of the $1 million Wood Memorial (Grade I) and the 76th running of the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (GI).
As part of the Second Leg of the Championship Series, the Top 4 finishers in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park will be awarded points on a scale of 100 for first, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth.