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.
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.
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.
There are no sure things in racing, but this much is known: Storm Fighter will be a long shot Saturday when he starts in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby in Arcadia, Calif.
Orb and Revolutionary were the big winners last weekend, taking the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby, respectively, but neither was overly impressive: Orb completed the 1 1/8-mile distance two seconds slower than the filly Dreaming of Julia earlier on the program and Revolutionary got away tardily and didn't have his mind on business the entire way.
A contentious field of nine has been assembled to go nine furlongs in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, the West Coast's major prep for the May 4 Kentucky Derby. Whoever wins the race is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate under the Twin Spires via the 100 points awarded in the new Road to the Kentucky Derby points system.
In the unscientific polls that were the three Kentucky Derby Future Wagers, horseplayers across the country expressed the belief that Verrazano was the single individual wagering interest most likely to be draped with roses on the first Saturday in May. A confirmation of that opinion is four weeks away, but the lightly-raced colt can build on an already growing bandwagon of support with a victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial.
Mylute, who finished a neck behind Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby (Grade II) after a thrilling stretch battle, passed through the Churchill Downs stable gate at 3:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) Tuesday morning after vanning from Fair Grounds and was bedded down in Stall 20 of Barn 29 for trainer Tom Amoss.
Juvenile colt champion Shanghai Bobby will be given some time off following his fifth-place finish in Saturday's Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and is no longer in consideration for the Kentucky Derby.
From a physical standpoint, Shanghai Bobby appears to have come out of the Florida Derby in good shape. However, according to trainer Todd Pletcher, his energy level is not where he'd like for it to be.
A full gate of 14 three-year-olds likely will be the order of the day for the 89th running of the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, the centerpiece of Keeneland's 16-day spring meet, to be run April 13.
With 170 points available in the Kentucky Derby Championship Series with 100 points going to the winner, the Blue Grass represents one of the final major steps toward the starting gate for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Second place is worth 40 points, with 20 for third and 10 for fourth.
Flashback will be the favorite on Jon White's Santa Anita Derby morning line when those odds are issued following Wednesday's draw for post positions.
"As soon as Hear the Ghost won the San Felipe, I immediately started to think about the morning line for the Santa Anita Derby," White said. "And my initial thought was, 'Well, it looks like Hear the Ghost is probably going to be the Santa Anita Derby favorite.'
Power Broker, one of three likely starters for Bob Baffert in Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, worked four furlongs in company Sunday morning in :47 2/5 for the West Coast's major stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby on May 4.
Martin Garcia was aboard the Pulpit colt, who tied for the fourth-fastest work at the distance on Santa Anita's fast main track. Workmate Bank the Eight was clocked in :47 4/5.
Undefeated Verrazano worked five furlongs in 1:01.17 Sunday morning over the fast dirt at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, completing his major preparations for an expected start in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
Shug McGaughey made the trip to Payson Park Sunday morning to check on Orb, who was rather bright for a late-developing colt who had just outrun nine rivals to win the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park late Saturday afternoon.
"I'm kind of surprised how well he bounced out of his race, to tell you the truth," McGaughey said.
Itsmyluckyday was "110 percent" Sunday morning back in his stall in trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.'s Calder barn following his game runner-up effort as the 8-5 favorite under jockey Elvis Trujillo in Saturday's Grade 1 Florida Derby.
"I really wanted to win the Florida Derby," sighed Plesa, who trains Itsmyluckyday for the Trilogy Stable and his wife, Laurie. "I expected him to win and he didn't. Am I disappointed? Yes, but I'm also proud of him too. He's done everything we've asked.