Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Derby Trail and Other News

The 2010 Kentucky Derby prep races started in earnest about a week-and-a-half ago, but they were overshadowed by the season-openers for racing's two hot chicks; Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. After Rachel's shocking loss in last Saturday's Ladies Secret at Fair Grounds, her connections immediately announced that her scheduled meeting with Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 9th was off. Of the loss, trainer Steve Asmussen said, "she either did too little or too much." I'm not exactly sure what that means but I get the general drift, I guess.

Some nice Derby Preps also happened on Saturday while everyone was watching the girls, although none put the contenders into especially sharp focus.

Odysseus ran down the favorite Super-Saver and the late-running Schoolyard Dreams in the G3 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs (video above). Odysseus got passed and then made a second bid - I like a horse the "comes again" as they say, and I'll take a good look at him in the Derby if only for that.

In the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, Lookin at Lucky clipped the heels of Noble's Promise at the half-mile marker, but recovered nicely to run down the latter along with Dublin in the stretch. All three will probably be in the gate on Derby day.

Sydney's Candy got away with a soft pace in the G2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, and took them wire to wire. 7-5 Favorite Caracortado had no pace to chase, and his bid came up short. I won't write him off in the Derby, though, that race is famous for pace meltdowns.

But wait, there's more: The previous Saturday (3/6) saw two other early Derby Preps; the G3 Sham at Santa Anita and the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct.

In the Sham, Alphie's Bet was much best in the lane, winning by a convincing two lengths over the favorite Setsuko, who hit the stretch a little too late, a little too wide, and without another gear.

Awesome Act tracked a sharp pace in the Gotham and made a big move in the lane. Yawanna Twist made an earnest run at him in the last 100 yards but couldn't get there in time.

Todd Pletcher trainee Eskendereya, who was co-favorite with Lookin at Lucky in the 2nd Derby future pool (after "other") was initially scheduled to race in this coming Saturday's G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, but will instead run in the G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 3rd. Professor Paulie will be in attendance!