No rival has yet made a dent in War of Will‘s leadership of the 3-year-old division in New Orleans this winter, but 10 will make a belated attempt to do so Saturday in the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (Grade I) at Fair Grounds.

  The 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby is the finale on a 13-race program and is the first Road to the Kentucky Derby series race that will award qualifying points of 100-50-20-10 to the top four finishers.

  War of Will is already safely in the Churchill Downs classic having accumulated 60 points by winning the Lecomte (GIII) and Risen Star (GII) in comfortable fashion, but a third decisive win Saturday could put him in the discussion as a potential favorite on the first Saturday in May, which has not been a bad position to be in of late with every public choice having won the past six years.

  Despite being far back early in the field of 14 in the Risen Star, Country House advanced to second by mid-stretch and held that position at the wire, a positive stakes debut all around. Trainer Bill Mott has been an infrequent Kentucky Derby participant during his long career, but Country House could be one of potentially three runners for him come May 4.

  Todd Pletcher has won this race more times (four) than any other trainer, and will rely on Spinoff to provide a fifth victory. The lightly-raced colt has won two of three, most recently an allowance at Tampa Bay Downs by nearly a dozen lengths. In his lone prior stakes try, he finished third to Call Paul in the Saratoga Special (GII) last August.

  Sueno earned his lone stakes win on Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields, but has run well in two dirt tries since, finishing second in both the Sham (GIII) and Southwest (GIII). In the latter, he out-finished Long Range Toddy, who came back to defeat Improbable in the first division of last Saturday’s Rebel (GII).

  The deep-closing Roiland and Hog Creek Hustle finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Risen Star, and will be dependent on a strong pace from the likes of Spinoff and possibly Lemniscate. Limonite, third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) in his stakes debut, had a less-than-ideal trip when fifth in the Risen Star and could take a step forward in his second start of the season. – Vance Hanson/Brisnet.com

 

MUCHO GUSTO SQUARES OFF AGAINST ANOTHERTWISTAFATE IN SUNLAND DERBY – Robert B. Lewis (Grade III) winner Mucho Gusto will faceoff against runaway El Camino Real Derby hero Anothertwistafate in Sunday’s $800,000 Sunland Derby (Grade III) – the premiere race at the Sunland Park, N.M. track’s Thoroughbred meeting.

  Mucho Gusto, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert defeated four rivals by 4 ¾ lengths in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita. The son of Mucho Macho Man only has one blemish on his four-race resume – a runner-up effort behind top Kentucky Derby contender Improbable in the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI).

  The chief competitor to Mucho Gusto is synthetic-track specialist Anothertwistafate who will make only his second-career try on the dirt following three runaway scores at Golden Gate Fields in northern California.

  Trained by Blaine Wright, the speedy Anothertwistafate only try on the dirt was his career debut at Santa Anita where he finished ninth.

  The Sunland Derby, which is carded as Race 11 on Sunland Park’s 12-race program, has a scheduled post time of 7:30 p.m. EDT. The Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series race will award the Top 4 finishers points on a 50-20-10-5 scale. – Kevin Kerstein/Churchill Downs

 

ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY TOP 25

 

#      Horse                              Trainer                                    Points

1.      War of Will                      Mark Casse                                 60

2.      Code of Honor                 Shug McGaughey III                   54

3.      Long Range Toddy           Steve Asmussen                           53.5

4.      Haikal                              Kiaran McLaughlin                     50

5.      Tacitus                             Bill Mott                                     50

6.      Game Winner                  Bob Baffert                                45

7.      Omaha Beach                  Richard Mandella                       37.5

8.      Mind Control                   Gregg Sacco                               30

9.      Improbable                      Bob Baffert                                25

10.   Gunmetal Gray                Jerry Hollendorfer                      21.75

11.   Bourbon War                   Mark Hennig                              21

12.   Somelikeithotbrown          Mike Maker                                20

13.   Country House                  Bill Mott                                     20

14.   Outshine                          Todd Pletcher                            20

15.   Knicks Go                        Ben Colebrook                           18

16.   Signalman                        Kenny McPeek                           18

17.   Mucho Gusto                    Bob Baffert                                14

18.   Tax                                  Danny Gargan                           12

19.   Harvey Wallbanger           Kenny McPeek                           10

20.   Well Defined                   Kathy O’Connell                        10

21.   Instagrand                        Jerry Hollendorfer                      10

22.   Veokoma                          George Weaver                          10

23.   Gray Attempt                   Jinks Fires                                  10

24.   Win Win Win                   Mike Trombetta                          10

25.   Anothertwistafate              Blaine Wright                             10

 

DERBY DETAIL

 

NBCSN TO BROADCAST LOUISIANA DERBY – With the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) less than 50 days away, NBCSN will present exclusive live coverage of the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. EDT from Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans.

  Exactly six weeks ahead of the May 4 running of the 145th Kentucky Derby, the Grade II Louisiana Derby marks the first prep race awarding Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale for the top four finishers. War of Will is expected to be the favorite in the 11-horse field.

  Ahmed Fareed hosts Saturday’s coverage, alongside analysts Jerry Bailey, a Hall of Fame jockey who has twice won the Louisiana Derby, and Randy Moss.

 

NEW ‘ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY SERIES DEBUTS – NBC Sports, in partnership with Churchill Downs, will debut a new “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series Saturday after the Louisiana Derby coverage concludes, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  The first of four 30-minute episodes features country music star Toby Keith, a lifelong racing fan who is now a Thoroughbred breeder and owner, and an interview with Sol Kumin, co-owner of Triple Crown winner Justify.

  Produced by Churchill Downs, the episodes will provide viewers with an inside look at the extensive preparations for the first leg of the Triple Crown. Keith Wetzler, Executive Producer of Broadcast at Churchill Downs, produces the series. 

  Coverage will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs.

 

WAR OF WILL HOPES TO BECOME FOURTH HORSE IN FIVE YEARS TO SWEEP RISEN STAR, LOUISIANA DERBY DOUBLE – With a victory in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby (Grade II), Gary Barber’s War of Will could become the fourth horse in the last five years to sweep the Risen Star-Louisiana Derby double.

   War of Will, who is the heavy 6-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile race, won both the Risen Star (GII) and Lecomte Stakes (GIII) at Fair Grounds. The last horse to sweep the three Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races at Fair Grounds was International Star in 2015.

   International Star (2015), Gun Runner (2016) and Girvin (2017) won the Risen Star prior to their Louisiana Derby victory.

 

BETTER WITH AGE Long Range Toddy won the first division of the Rebel Stakes (GII) on Saturday with 58-year-old jockey Jon Court aboard. Should Court ride Long Range Toddy in the Kentucky Derby, he’d be the oldest jockey to ever ride in the race.

   Court, who is represented by 67-year-old agent Steve Krajcir, has ridden in the Kentucky Derby three times and his best finish was eighth aboard Will Take Charge in 2013.

   Jockey Bobby Baird rode in the 1978 Derby at age 57. The oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby was Bill Shoemaker at age 54 when he rode Ferdinand to victory in 1986.

 

ADDITIONAL TRIPLE CROWN NEWS – Training is set to begin Friday at Churchill Downs. The backstretch opened Tuesday and trainers Greg Foley and Dallas Stewart were the first to arrive.

 

THE RUNDOWN

 

TWINSPIRES.COM LOUISIANA DERBY (GII)

Saturday, March 23, $1 million, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Fair Grounds (R13), Post time: 6:13 p.m. EDT. New Orleans, La., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10. TV: NBCSN, TVG

 

  # Horse (Points)         Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

  1. Roiland (10)              James Graham         Tom Amoss              12-1

  2. Lemniscate (0)           Brian Hernandez Jr.  Kenny McPeek         15-1

  3. Limonite (2)              Jose Ortiz                 Steve Asmussen         20-1

  4. Sueno (8)                   Corey Lanerie           Keith Desormeaux      8-1

  5. By My Standards (0)   Gabriel Saez             Bret Calhoun            12-1

  6. War of Will (60)        Tyler Gaffalione      Mark Casse                 6-5

  7. Mr. Money (2)            Adam Beschizza       Bret Calhoun            20-1

  8. Country House (20)    Luis Saez                  Bill Mott                     9-2

  9. Bankit (4)                  Irad Ortiz Jr.            Steve Asmussen         20-1

10. Spinoff (0)                 John Velazquez         Todd Pletcher            8-1

11. Hog Creek Hustle (9)  Miguel Mena             Vickie Foley             12-1

SUNLAND DERBY (GII)

Sunday, March 24, $800,000, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Sunland Park (R11), Post time: 7:30 p.m. EDT, Sunland Park, N.M., Top 4 Points: 50-20-10-5. TV: TVG

 

  # Horse (Points)         Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

  1. Mucho Gusto (14)      Joe Talamo              Bob Baffert                8-5

  2. Anothertwistafate (10)                                Juan Hernandez        Blaine Wright       3-1

  3. +Hustle Up (0)           Shane Laviolette       Todd Fincher             5-1

  4. Wicked Indeed (1)     Luis Contreras          Steve Asmussen           6-1

  5. Cutting Humor (0)      John Velazquez         Todd Pletcher            8-1

  6. Walker Stalker (0)      Alejandro Medellin   Jose Gonzalez Jr.      15-1

  7. +Pasamonte Man (0)  Ken Tohill               Joel Marr                  20-1

  8. +Collusionist (0)        Alfredo Juarez Jr.      O.A. Martinez Jr.       25-1

  9. Diamond Blitz (0)     Kent Desormeaux     Keith Desormeaux    15-1

10. Eye Cloud (0)            Isaias Enriquez         Tracy Norris            30-1

 

+Not Triple Crown Nominated

 

TWINSPIRES.COM FAIR GROUNDS OAKS (GII)

Saturday, March 23, $400,000, 3yo fillies, 1 1/16 M, Fair Grounds (R12), Post time: 5:44 p.m. EDT. New Orleans, La., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10. TV: NBCSN, TVG

 

#  Horse (Points)          Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

1.  Speedette (0)               Corey Lanerie           Keith Desormeaux    10-1

2.  Serengeti Empress (60)                                James Graham         Tom Amoss          6-5

3.  Street Band (5)            Sophie Doyle           Larry Jones                 8-1

4.  Sweet Diane (2)           Joe Bravo                 Mike Stidham             8-1

5.  ++Crescentcitypretty (0)    Miguel Mena             Tyron Benoit            15-1

6.  Eres Tu (14)                Jose Ortiz                 Steve Asmussen           6-1

7.  Slewgoodtobetrue (0)   Florent Geroux         Peter Eurton               8-1

8.  Liora (31)                    Channing Hill           Wayne Catalano         5-1

 

SUNLAND PARK OAKS

Sunday, March 24, $200,000, 3yo fillies, 1 1/16 M, Sunland Park (R9), Post time: 6:27 p.m. EDT. Sunland Park, N.M.., Top 4 Points: 50-20-10-5. TV: TVG

 

  # Horse (Points)         Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

  1. ++Victim of Love (0) Ry Eikleberry           Henry Dominguez      4-1

  2. Parade of Roses (0)    Joe Talamo              Nate Williams          10-1

  3. ++Figure (0)              Ken Tohill               Joel Marr                  12-1

  4. ++Peaceoutyourhonor (0) Alfredo Juarez Jr.      Tony Sedillo             30-1

  5. ++Backflash (0)         Luis Contreras          Steve Asmussen           6-1

  6. ++K P Slickem (0)     Tyler Baze                Weston Martin            8-1

  7. Chasing Yesterday (10)                               Drayden Van Dyke   Bob Baffert          9-5

  8. Enlisting (0)               Kent Desormeaux     Bob Hess Jr.               5-1

  9. Bellafina (32)             Flavien Prat              Simon Callahan          7-5

 

++Not Kentucky Oaks Nominated

 

UPCOMING ROAD TO THE DERBY RACES

 

Date         Race                                        Track           Top 4 Points

March 23  Louisiana Derby                       FG               100-40-20-10

March 24  Sunland Derby                         Sun               50-20-10-5

March 30  UAE Derby                              Meydan        100-40-20-10

March 30  Florida Derby                          GP               100-40-20-10

March 31  Fukuryu#                                  Nakyama      40-16-8-4

April 6      Wood Memorial                       Aqu              100-40-20-10

April 6      Blue Grass                                Kee              100-40-20-10

April 6      Santa Anita Derby                    SA                100-40-20-10

April 11    Cardinal Condition*                 Chelmsford  30-12-6-3

April 13    Arkansas Derby                        OP               100-40-20-10

April 13    Lexington                                 Kee              20-8-4-2

 

# Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby

* European Road to the Kentucky Derby

 

ROAD TO DERBY VIDEO SERIES

 

·        Episode 7: A Big Race for an Intimate Track

     http://bit.ly/RTKDEP7

·        Episode 6: A Potential Super Star

https://bit.ly/2SUlYYC

·        Episode 5: Follow Trainer Kelly Breen as he Trains Son of Orb

     https://bit.ly/2SwgeF3       

·        Episode 4 :Kenny McPeek – The Underdog Trainer

     https://bit.ly/2tl1fyM

·        Episode 3: Breeders’ Cup Battle Produces Early Derby Favorite

     https://bit.ly/2UZkWrY R

·        Episode 2: A Twist in the Road at Keeneland

     https://bit.ly/2DBL05h

·        Episode 1: Neuroscience to the Iroquois Stakes

     https://bit.ly/2SR398P

 

PAST PERFORMANCES & HISTORY

 

Brinset.com Triple Crown Past Performances

http://bit.ly/2C701vP

 

Louisiana Derby Stakes History

http://bit.ly/2TgJGKR

 

Sunland Derby Stakes History

http://bit.ly/2Wcf9jh

 

Louisiana Derby Past Performances

http://bit.ly/2HG3epS

 

SPOTLIGHT HORSE: LONG RANGE TODDY

 

·     One word to describe Rebel Stakes (Grade II) winner Long Range Toddy’s career is “consistent.” Owned by Arkansas-native Willis Horton, Long Range Toddy sports four victories through seven races with his only off-the-board finish coming in his career debut where he finished fourth. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, Long Range Toddy has amassed 53.5 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and likely stamped himself a spot in the starting gate for the first Saturday in May.

·     Owner information: Willis Horton, a 78-year-old native of Marshall, Ark., developed D.R. Horton Custom Homes, which became the nation’s largest builder of single-family homes. Horton retired in the early 1990s and began focusing on owning horses with his brother Leon, son Cam and his nephew Terry. Most notably, Horton campaigned Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever and champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge. Horton had two horses run in the Kentucky Derby – Will Take Charge (2013, 9th) and Combatant (2018, 18th).

 

·     Trainer information: Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is a perennial leading conditioner in the U.S. with more than 8,300 career victories including 44 Grade I scores. Asmussen, 53, was born in South Dakota but moved to Laredo, Texas at a young age. Asmussen’s family is heavily involved in the horse racing industry. His father, Keith, is a retired jockey and mother, Marilyn, is a retired trainer. The family operates the El Primero Training Center – a breeding and sales operation in south Texas. Asmussen’s older brother, Cash, is a trainer and retired Eclipse Award-winning jockey. Some of Asmussen’s top horses include Curlin, Gun Runner, Rachel Alexandra and Untapable. – Kevin Kerstein

 

SCULLY’S KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

 

REBEL YIELDS CLOSE FINISHES

 

Game Winner and Improbable returned to the races in separate divisions of Saturday’s Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park and while both came up a little short for Bob Baffert, supporters still had reason to be encouraged by their runner-up finishes.

Those seeking clarity regarding favoritism for the 2019 Kentucky Derby came away disappointed.

Long Range Toddy and Omaha Beach denied the odds-on favorites, each picking up 37.5 points, and now appear well-situated to make a projected 20-horse Kentucky Derby field. Since the advent of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series in 2013, 32 points has been the highest cut-off point (Mo Tom in 2016).

Seventeen qualifiers have been offered this year and the only two-time winner, War of Will, will seek a third this Saturday in the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds. The Mark Casse-trained colt heads a field of 11 and the 1 1/8-mile race serves as the first of seven major final preps awarding points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

The Kentucky Derby is six weeks from Saturday.

 

Rebel First Division

 

Long Range Toddy broke on top from his inside post and showed the way into the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile Rebel before relinquishing the advantage to Classy John. The Steve Asmussen-trained sophomore settled nicely for new rider Jon Court, easing back to race a couple of lengths off the pace along the backstretch, and patiently saved ground behind a quartet of horses on the far turn.

A Willis Horton homebred son of Take Charge Indy, Long Range Toddy angled out for clear sailing while straightening for home but remained fourth with a sixteenth of a mile remaining. The dark bay colt found his best stride in deep stretch, rallying determinedly to overhaul Improbable by a neck, and netted a 104 BRIS Late Pace number for the commendable finish. He went off as the 8-1 third choice among eight runners.

The winner took a big step forward from a BRIS Speed perspective, earning a 97 figure, and is improving at the right time. Out of an Unbridled’s Song mare, Long Range Toddy possesses the pedigree and appears built for longer distances.

Long Range Toddy received only an 89 Speed rating posting an upset win in the Remington Springboard Mile in mid-December. He did a little better when opening the year in the Smarty Jones, garnering a 92 for a neck second, and recorded a 91 for a troubled third in the Feb. 18 Southwest (GIII) at Oaklawn. It was easy to appreciate the push-button acceleration he displayed in the Rebel stretch and Long Range Toddy’s tractability is an asset.

Improbable broke from the far outside and had ample opportunity to drop behind rivals a few jumps out of the starting gate. Drayden Van Dyke held his outside positioning and that became an issue when Galilean, who missed the break, rushed forward and pushed Improbable even wider into the first turn.

The 2-5 favorite continued to take the overland path along the backstretch and launched his move while entering the far turn. The crowd roared as Improbable advanced to take a short lead into upper stretch and it momentarily appeared as if a romping win was materializing. But instead of storming into a commanding advantage, Improbable lacked an extra gear and led by only a length over tiring rivals Galilean and Extra Hope as Long Range Toddy began to offer his bid on the far outside.

Unbeaten in three juvenile starts, Improbable registered a 100 BRIS Speed rating for an impressive win in the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI) in mid-December. Two starts previously, he received a 99 and showed an affinity for Churchill Downs posting a dominant tally in the Street Sense. His Speed number dropped to a 97 in the Rebel and I came away a little concerned about his prospects at 1 ¼ miles this spring, but it wasn’t a bad second considering the ground loss and three-month layoff.

Improbable figures to be tighter when he returns for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI) on April 13 and how he fares on the stretch out to 1 1/8 miles will be key to evaluating his Kentucky Derby chances three weeks later.

 

Rebel Second Division

 

Omaha Beach raced prominently from the start of his stakes debut, showing the way on a short lead down the backstretch. He offered a nice turn of foot to widen the advantage on the far turn and reached the mile mark with a two-length edge, but Game Winner came charging to make it extremely tight on the wire.

Owned by Fox Hill Farms and trained by Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach dug in gamely repel the champion 2-year-old male by a nose and emerged as a major Kentucky Derby contender. Mike Smith, rider of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, picked up the mount on the last-out maiden winner and 4-1 second choice.

By War Front, Omaha Beach had raced exclusively in Southern California. He opened his career in turf routes, recording a third and a pair of seconds, before switching to the main track with a neck second to Kentucky Derby hopeful Nolo Contesto in early January. The dark bay colt was exiting a nine-length triumph at seven furlongs over a sloppy Santa Anita track on Feb. 2.

Omaha Beach recorded a career best 98 BRIS Speed rating Saturday and shows a nice pattern of improving numbers (94-96-98). He earned his first triple-digit Late Pace number (100) and displayed excellent resiliency against an experienced stakes competitor. And he even galloped out in front after the wire.

Omaha Beach counts 2014 champion 2-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi as a half-sister and hails from the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, a daughter of multiple Grade I-winning millionaire and 2013 Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady. Charming is a half-sibling to champion Will Take Charge and Grade I-winning millionaire Take Charge Indy, the sire of Long Range Toddy.

The future appears bright for Omaha Beach and it’s good to see Mandella on the Kentucky Derby trail with a legitimate contender. Similar to fellow veteran Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who is also well-situated this year with a trio of prospects, Mandella has never recorded a top three finish in previous Kentucky Derby starts.

Unraced since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), Game Winner sustained his first setback but knocked off any rust with a good effort against a quality rival. It was an 8 ¼-length gap back to third and Game Winner registered a 102 Late Pace rating after finishing full of run.

The three-time Grade I winner rated in mid-pack and began making up ground on the far turn. Game Winner traveled wide into the stretch and rallied sharply into contention in the latter stages to just miss in the head-bobbing photo. Baffert came away pleased with his effort and the son of Candy Ride is certainly eligible to move forward next time. Game Winner will make his final Kentucky Derby prep in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (GI) on April 6.

 

Other 3-Year-Olds of Interest

 

Alwaysmining was exiting a couple of fast wins but had never tried two turns from 10 previous starts entering Saturday’s Private Terms at Laurel Park. The Stay Thirsty gelding made the extra ground look easy recording a 6 ¾-length tally at the about 1 1/16-mile distance, leading wire to wire beneath regular rider Daniel Centeno. Kelly Rubley trains for Runnymede Racing. Alwaysmining didn’t appear to be facing much in the seven-horse field, but he looked good notching a fifth consecutive win and received career-best BRIS Speed (99) and Late Pace (103) numbers. Connections said they will consider the April 6 Blue Grass (GII) at Keeneland but may stay at Laurel for the April 20 Federico Tesio, a “Win and You’re In” for the Preakness Stakes.

 

Preview

 

After convincing scores in the Risen Star (GII) and Lecomte (GIII), War of Will can sweep the “Fair Grounds Triple” in the Louisiana Derby. There isn’t much pace in the field and the son of War Front was arguably a little headstrong last time in the Risen Star; it will be interesting to see how he settles during the early stages on the stretch out in distance. Tyler Gaffalione rides the 6-5 morning line favorite.

Spinoff rates as a dangerous contender for four-time Louisiana Derby winner Todd Pletcher. An 11-length allowance winner at Tampa Bay Downs, the Hard Spun colt appears likely to show speed with John Velazquez. Risen Star runner-up Country House has been pegged as the 9-2 second choice for Mott.

 

Scully’s Kentucky Derby Top 10

 

1.OMAHA BEACH: Game Rebel win in stakes debut

2.GAME WINNER: Missed by a nose in Rebel comebacker

3.COUNTRY HOUSE: Makes second stakes appearance in Louisiana Derby

4.WAR OF WILL: Louisiana Derby favorite has done little wrong

5.LONG RANGE TODDY: Liked his improving form in Rebel

6.IMPROBABLE: Came back a little short off the layoff

7.CODE OF HONOR: Broke through in Fountain of Youth

8.BOURBON WAR: Fountain of Youth runner-up packs late punch

9.HIDDEN SCROLL: Florida Derby will be key for talented colt

10.TACITUS: Rallied to win Tampa Bay Derby in stakes debut

 

LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS UPDATE

 

FAIR GROUNDS OAKS, SUNLAND PARK OAKS TOP WEEKEND DOUBLEHEADER ON ROAD TO KENTUCKY OAKS The Road to the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series is back in action Saturday following a one-week hiatus with the Grade II, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks in New Orleans followed by Sunday’s $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks in New Mexico.

  The Fair Grounds Oaks is carded as Race 12 on Fair Grounds’ 13-race program with a scheduled post time of 5:44 p.m. (all times Eastern).

  The 1 1/16-mile race, which is the first of six Championship Series events to offer the Top 4 finishers points on a 100-40-20-10 scale, features Joel Politi’s impressive Rachel Alexandra (GII) winner Serengeti Empress.

  The Fair Grounds Oaks has produced several Longines Kentucky Oaks winners such as Ashado (2004), Summerly (2005), Rachel Alexandra (2009), Believe You Can (2012) and Untapable (2014).

  Also on tap this weekend is Sunday’s Sunland Park Oaks that features the return of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s half-sister Chasing Yesterday. The Bob Baffert trainee is making her first start since winning the Starlet (GI) in December at Los Alamitos.

  Las Virgines Stakes (GII) hero Bellafina entered the Sunland Park Oaks but is expected to scratch in favor of the April 6 Santa Anita Oaks (GI), according to her trainer Simon Callaghan.

  The Sunland Park Oaks will award the Top 4 finishers points on a 50-20-10-5 scale. – Kevin Kerstein

 

ROAD TO THE LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS TOP 20

 

#      Horse                              Trainer                                    Points

1.      Serengeti Empress            Tom Amoss                                60

2.      Chocolate Kisses              Mark Casse                                 51

3.      Jeltrin                               Alexis Delgado                           51

4.      Espresso Shot                   Jorje Abreu                                 50

5.      Jaywalk                             John Servis                                 35

6.      Bellafina                          Simon Callaghan                        32

7.      Liora                                Wayne Catalano                         31

8.      Restless Rider                   Kenny McPeek                           22

9.      Oxy Lady                         Jack Sisterson                             21

10.   Naughty Joker                  Wesley Ward                              20

11.   Motion Emotion               Tom Van Berg                            20

12.   $-Cookie Dough               Stan Gold                                   20

13.   Eres Tu                            Steve Asmussen                           14

14.   Champagne Anyone         Ian Wilkes                                  13

15.   Chasing Yesterday            Bob Baffert                                10

16.   Positive Spirit                   Rodolphe Brisset                        10

17.   Needs Supervision            Jerry O’Dwyer                            10

18.   Feedback                          Chad Brown                               10

19.   Power Gal (JPN)               Mark Casse                                 10

20.   Point of Honor                 George Weaver                          10

 

$ Notified Churchill Downs officials that they will late nominate to the Kentucky Oaks

 

TAKING SHAPE

 

The possible fields for Kentucky Derby Championship Series races are fluid as horsemen vie for points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve.” Below are known horses mentioned to be under consideration for each race based on published news reports and other sources: 

 

UAE DERBY (GII)

Saturday, March 30, $2.5 million, 3yo, 1 3/16 M, Meydan Racecourse, Dubai, Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10.

 

Horse (Points)              Trainer                                                       

 

Known Possible Starters:

 

Derma Louvre (0)           Hirofumi Toda

+Divine Image (0)          Charlie Appebly

+Estihdaaf (0)                 Saeed bin Suroor

+Golden Jaguar (0)         Ahmad bin Harmash

Gray Magician (1)           Peter Miller

+Grecko (0)                    Kenny McPeek        

+Jahbath (0)                   William Haggas

+Manguzi (0)                  Ali Rashid Al Rayhi

Plus Que Parfait (4)         Brendan Walsh

Stubbins (0)                     Doug O’Neill

Superior (0)                     Ahmad bin Harmash

+Swift Rose (0)               Saeed bin Suroor

Van Beethoven (0)          Aiden O’Brien

Walking Thunder (0)       Ahmad bin Harmash

 

FLORIDA DERBY (GI)

Saturday, March 30, $1 million, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, Fla., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10.

                                                                      Brisnet.com       Run

Horse (Points)              Trainer                    Prime Power      Style

 

Known Likely Starters:

 

Hidden Scroll (5)            Bill Mott                   140.8                   E 6

Code of Honor (54)        Shug McGaughey      138.9                   P 2

Bourbon War (21)           Mark Hennig            134.9                   S 0

Harvey Wallbanger (10)   Kenny McPeek         129.0                   S 0

 

Known Possible Starters:

Vekoma (10)                   George Weaver        141.1                   P 5

 

WOOD MEMORIAL (GII)

Saturday, April 6, $750,000, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Aqueduct, Ozone, N.Y., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10.

                                                                      Brisnet.com       Run

Horse (Points)              Trainer                    Prime Power      Style

 

Known Likely Starters:

 

Haikal (50)                      Kiaran McLaughlin   140.8                   S 3

Mind Control (30)           Gregg Sacco             140.0                   E/P 3

Tax (12)                          Danny Gargan         137.8                   E/P 7

Tacitus (50)                     Bill Mott                   132.1                   E/P 4

 

Known Possible Starters:

 

Instagrand (10)                Jerry Hollendorfer    145.7                   E/P 6

Galilean (7.5)                  Jerry Hollendorfer    141.1                   E 8

Vekoma (10)                   George Weaver        141.1                   P 5

Hidden Scroll (5)            Bill Mott                   140.8                   E 6

Code of Honor (54)        Shug McGaughey      138.9                   P 2

Bourbon War (21)           Mark Hennig            134.9                   S 0

Outshine                        Todd Pletcher          134.6                   P 6

Gunmetal Gray (21.75)    Jerry Hollendorfer    130.3                   P 0

Nolo Contesto (0)           John Sadler              130.2                   E/P 5

 

BLUE GRASS (GII)

Saturday, April 6, $1 million, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Keeneland, Lexington, Ky., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10.

                                                                      Brisnet.com       Run

Horse (Points)              Trainer                    Prime Power      Style

 

Known Likely Starters:

 

Somelikeithotbrown (20) Mike Maker              144.4                   E/P 7

Signalman (18)                Kenny McPeek         135.9                   P 1

Known Possible Starters:

Galilean (7.5)                  Jerry Hollendorfer    141.1                   E 8

Vekoma (10)                   George Weaver        141.1                   P 5

Hidden Scroll (5)            Bill Mott                   140.8                   E 6

Code of Honor (54)        Shug McGaughey      138.9                   P 2

Outshine (20)                  Todd Pletcher          134.6                   P 6

Knicks Go (18)               Ben Colebrook         134.3                   E 7

Gunmetal Gray (21.75)    Jerry Hollendorfer    130.3                   P 0

Nolo Contesto (0)           John Sadler              130.2                   E/P 5

 

SANTA ANITA DERBY (GI)

Saturday, April 6, $1 million, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Santa Anita, Arcadia, Calif., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10.

                                                                      Brisnet.com       Run

Horse (Points)              Trainer                    Prime Power      Style

 

Known Likely Starters:

 

Game Winner (30)          Bob Baffert              153.4                   P 3

Known Probable Starters:

Instagrand (10)                Jerry Hollendorfer    145.7                   E/P 6

Galilean (7.5)                  Jerry Hollendorfer    141.1                   E 8

Omaha Beach (37.5)        Richard Mandella     139.4                   E/P 8

Extra Hope (5.75)            Richard Mandella     135.1                   E/P 6

Roadster (0)                    Bob Baffert              135.0                   E/P 7

Gunmetal Gray (21.75)    Jerry Hollendorfer    130.3                   P 0

Nolo Contesto (0)           John Sadler              130.2                   E/P 5

 

ARKANSAS DERBY (GI)

Saturday, April 13, $1 million, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, Ark., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10.

                                                                      Brisnet.com       Run

Horse (Points)              Trainer                    Prime Power      Style

 

Known Likely Starters:

Improbable (25)              Bob Baffert              146.3                   E/P 6

Long Range Toddy (57.5) Steve Asmussen         137.8                   E/P 6

Known Probable Starters:

Vekoma (10)                   George Weaver        141.1                   P 5

Galilean (7.5)                  Jerry Hollendorfer    141.1                   E 8

Omaha Beach (37.5)        Richard Mandella     139.4                   E/P 8

Extra Hope (5.75)            Richard Mandella     135.1                   E/P 6

Outshine (20)                  Todd Pletcher          134.6                   P 6

Gray Attempt (10)           Jinks Fires                132.9                   E 8

Last Judgment (0)            Todd Pletcher          132.1                   E/P 6

Gunmetal Gray (21.75)    Jerry Hollendorfer    130.3                   P 0

Nolo Contesto (0)           John Sadler              130.2                   E/P 5

Market King (7.5)            D. Wayne Lukas        127.9                   E 8

 

LEXINGTON (GIII)

Saturday, April 13, $200,000, 3yo, 1 1/16 M, Keeneland, Lexington, Ky., Top 4 Points: 20-8-4-2.

                                                                      Brisnet.com       Run

Horse (Points)              Trainer                    Prime Power      Style

 

Known Possible Starters:

Knicks Go (18)               Ben Colebrook         134.3                   E 7