With just under six weeks to go until the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the fourth and final pool of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) will open Thursday, March 27 with fast-rising West Coast star California Chrome (#5) as the narrow favorite over East Coast hero Cairo Prince (#4).
The late nomination period for the classic races of the 2014 Triple Crown concluded late Saturday, March 22 with a total of 10 additional 3-year-old Thoroughbreds added to the roster of horses that are eligible to complete in the 2014 renewal of the prized three-race series.
Tanma Corp.'s Chitu turned back a challenge from stablemate Midnight Hawk in Sunday's Grade 3, $800,110 Sunland Derby, in a finish dominated by the two representatives of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Under a stalk-and-pounce trip engineered by Martin Garcia, the 9-5 favorite earned 50 points toward the Kentucky Derby, bringing his total up to 54.
Social Inclusion, who was credited with a four-furlong breeze in :49 1/5 on Saturday over Gulfstream Park's fast dirt, will work twice more in Florida before he ships to New York for the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on Saturday, April 5, owner Ronald Sanchez said via telephone on Sunday.
Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason remains on course for her next engagement, the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle on Saturday, April 5, after working a mile in company with Jerome hero Noble Moon Sunday morning over Belmont Park's fast training track.
Remsen winner Honor Code has been knocked off the Kentucky Derby trail by a suspensory injury.
Since going out on his own in 2003, trainer Mike Maker has taken five horses down the Triple Crown trail, including Hansen, the undefeated two-year-old male champion of 2011.
Appearing not to be making much headway in deep stretch of Grade 3, $523,380 Spiral at Turfway Park, We Miss Artie nonetheless refused to quit. When the dueling leaders, Harry's Holiday and Coastline, began to shorten stride inside the sixteenth pole, We Miss Artie grinded his way into a three-way photo, which the son Artie Schiller won by a nose over Harry's Holiday, with Coastline another head behind in third.
California Chrome and Candy Boy, who figure to be the top two betting choices in the Santa Anita Derby, had their penultimate workouts Saturday morning for the Grade 1, $1 million race on April 5. California Chrome sped a half-mile at his Los Alamitos headquarters and Candy Boy drilled six furlongs at Santa Anita.
Cairo Prince, the probable favorite in next Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, breezed an easy half-mile in :50 4/5 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows.
We Miss Artie may have finished more than 17 lengths behind the winner in last month's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, but the story could be different Saturday with the Grade 3 Spiral on the Polytrack. A Grade 1 winner over Keeneland's Polytrack last fall, the Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred by Artie Schiller was installed as the 4-1 morning-line second choice for Saturday's $550,000 race at Turfway Park.
The late nomination window for the races of the 2014 Triple Crown series is scheduled to close to owners and trainers of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds in North America and abroad on Saturday, March 22.
Streaking California Chrome will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5, trainer Art Sherman confirmed Thursday morning from his Los Alamitos headquarters.
Team Valor International has the pulled the plug on preparing Mexikoma for a Kentucky Derby prep race and will focus instead on the final leg of the Triple Crown, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7.
Bob Baffert continued his mastery of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, winning the 1 1/16-mile event for the fourth time in the last five years as Hoppertunity emerged as a viable Kentucky Derby contender. The Hall of Fame trainer had to be pleased to see his inexperienced colt overcome a rough trip.
A full field of 12 sophomores has been entered for the Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral on Saturday at Turfway Park.
The race will be worth points on a 50-20-10-5 basis as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
The powerhouse stables of Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher will be represented by four of the nine entries in Sunday's Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby, a 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep which awards points of 50-20-10-5 to the first four finishers toward eligibility for the May 3 classic at Churchill Downs.
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito was philosophical Wednesday morning when discussing the next race for 91-year-old owner Joseph Moss's Spot, surprise winner of the $150,000 Swale at Gulfstream Park on March 1.
By Gary West, special to KentuckyDerby.com
Last year, for the first time since 2008, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert didn’t saddle a horse in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. But he could have. In fact, he could have sent out a few horses to pursue the roses. But having won the most famous of races three times, Baffert understood the Derby’s demands and its toll. He knew the sort of horse needed if there was to be any chance for success. And, he said, since he and his owners didn’t just want to participate but rather wanted to win, they would rather pass the race if they didn’t believe they had such a horse or the horse wasn’t ready for a top effort.
Rebel Stakes winner Hoppertunity was doing well Sunday morning and preparing to board a plane back to Southern California where a final decision will be made in the coming weeks about the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby April 12. Trainer Bob Baffert said he won't know until closer to the race if it will be Hoppertunity or one of his stablemates returning to Oaklawn for one of the last preps before the Kentucky Derby on May 3.