Saturday's $250,000 Calder Derby is not a points-scoring race on the road to the Kentucky Derby, but the 1 1/8-mile test has attracted a pair of notable entrants in Ring Weekend and Cleburne.
It's been nearly 60 years since Art Sherman had a horseman's interest in the Kentucky Derby. He was 18 in 1955 when he accompanied the great Swaps and his trainer Mesh Tenney to Churchill Downs to prepare the colt for his victory in the Run for the Roses 59 years ago.
Constitution emerged from his gutsy victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in good order, trainer Todd Pletcher reported.
"He came out of (the Florida Derby) really well. He returned home to Palm Meadows this morning and seemed to be in good shape," Pletcher said Sunday afternoon while being honored as the leading trainer Gulfstream's Champions Meet for the 11th consecutive year.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was extremely disappointed by Cairo Prince's fourth-place performance in Saturday's Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, but he couldn't have been more satisfied with the beaten favorite's condition at Palm Meadows Sunday morning.
Since the debut of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) in 1999, the overall betting choice in the year’s final future betting pool has in most years inherited the role of the most-likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at the Louisville track on the first Saturday in May.
But that will not be the case in 2014.
Vicar's In Trouble broke his maiden by 13 lengths at Fair Grounds in December and recorded a 6 3/4-length decision in the Lecomte one month later, but couldn't make it three in a row in the Risen Star last out on February 22 when finishing behind Intense Holiday and Albano as the near 5-2 favorite.
The lightly-raced Constitution will head to the May 3 Kentucky Derby undefeated after posting a game victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
California Chrome and Candy Boy, the two favorites for next Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Derby, had their final major drills Saturday morning for their highly anticipated meeting, California Chrome working four furlongs at his Los Alamitos headquarters in :46 2/5 under regular rider Victor Espinoza, and Candy Boy going six furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:11 4/5 under regular rider Gary Stevens.
U.S. Triple Crown nominee Toast of New York proved that he's much more than a Wolverhampton wonder when running out a commanding winner of Saturday's Group 2, $2 million U.A.E. Derby. Justifying trainer Jamie Osborne's lofty opinion of him, Michael Buckley's colorbearer tracked the pace before storming 2 1/2 lengths clear in his stakes debut, and earned 100 points toward a possible tilt at the Kentucky Derby.
Social Inclusion is set to van north to Aqueduct for next Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial after breezing four furlongs in :46 4/5 seconds on Saturday over Gulfstream Park's fast dirt. The move was the second-quickest of 51 at the distance.
Trainer Art Sherman knows the comparisons are unavoidable.
His brilliant colt California Chrome, early favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5, is California-bred, chestnut in color, and, most importantly, can run like the wind.
Schoolofhardrocks worked six furlongs over Santa Anita's fast main track Friday morning in 1:12 4/5 as the son of Rock Hard Ten prepares for the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5.
Trainer Gary Contessa seemed pleased with what he saw physically and mentally on Friday morning after $1 million Wood Memorial hopeful Uncle Sigh had an easy gallop around Belmont Park's training track, his second day back after a six-furlong work in 1:15 on Tuesday.
Javier Castellano has had a pretty good winter. He captured his first Eclipse Award as champion jockey, set a North American record for single-season purse earnings, and broke his own record in becoming just the second rider to claim three consecutive Champions meet titles at Gulfstream Park.
When Wildcat Red takes his place in the starting gate Saturday for the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, he will carry the hopes of a pair of small-scale operations on the road to the Triple Crown.
California Chrome's Kentucky Derby Express continued to gain steam when the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit was listed as the 5-1 morning-line favorite in Churchill Downs' fourth and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) pool that opened at 9 a.m. Thursday and runs until 3 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday.
Who would have thought the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year's Day would prove to be such a formful race?
That's exactly what has happened, though, as the top three from that contest -- General a Rod, Wildcat Red and East Hall -- line back up on Saturday in the 63rd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
The final round of major preps, a three-week window consisting of seven races worth a total of 170 points apiece (100-40-20-10 scale), begins this Saturday and it's important to note that winning isn't everything -- six of the last 13 Kentucky Derby victors dropped their last start.