Hello Race Fans!
Hello Race Fans and welcome to the first installment of the Hello Race Fans Derby Prep Alert!

Are you a little surprised to be getting email about the Kentucky Derby so early in the year? Horses who make it in the gate for the Derby can start prepping as early as the year before. For a quick primer on the Derby and it's prep season, check "Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky?" and be sure to watch the trailer for "The First Saturday in May"!

Each week we'll give you an overview of the weekend's upcoming races, including a bit about the race and its significance, an overview of the entrants and horses who won the race in the past. Given that last year's 3 year old filly sensation and Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra prepped in races restricted to fillies, we'll provide coverage of these races as well. The fillies are prepping for the Kentucky Oaks which is run on the Friday before the Derby, but you never know when one will step up into open company!

If you're not familiar with all of the terms used please check out the Reference section of Hello Race Fans for a handy list of glossaries and more!
Upcoming Races - Jan 16 & 18
San Rafael Stakes, Santa Anita Park
Jan 16, Race 3, Post Time 4:31 PM ET
Distance: 1 Mile   |   Class: Grade 3   |   Condition: 3-year-olds   |   Purse: $100,000   |   Surface: Synthetic
Considered by some to be the first official Kentucky Derby prep of the year, the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita Park run at 1 mile has produced both distance and sprint specialists. No Kentucky Derby winners have used this race as a prep but winners of the other two legs of the Triple Crown, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, have. Inaugurated in 1981, previous winners include 1992 Champion 3-year-old colt and Horse of the Year (HOY) A.P Indy, 1985 Champion Sprinter Precisionist and 1994 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat. In addition to being a champion on the track, A.P. Indy has also been a successful sire. The 1992 Belmont Stakes winner was the 2003 & 2006 Leading Sire in North America and is known for his distance influence.

This year's rendition features a field of only 5. Undefeated Bob Baffert trainee Conveyance will go for his third win by stretching out to a mile. His previous two front running wins have come at six furlongs. Domonation faced Conveyance two races ago and came in fourth. He broke his maiden next out then the placed to the highly regarded Tiz Chrome, also trained by Baffert, in the Stuka Stakes. Lucky Rave (GB), Cardiff Giant and Via Verde round out the field.

The next likely step for horses coming out of this race could be the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes on Feb 15 or the Grade 3 Sham Stakes Stakes on Feb 21 at Santa Anita.

  - Dana Byerly, Green but Game

Santa Ynez Stakes, Santa Anita Park
Jan 16, Race 5, Post Time 5:34 PM ET
Distance: 7 Furlong   |   Class: Grade 2   |   Condition: 3-year-old fillies   |   Purse: $150,000   |   Surface: Synthetic
First run in 1952, the Santa Ynez Stakes has produced two Kentucky Oaks winners, Susan's Girl in 1972 and Goodbye Halo in 1988*. 1995 winner Serena's Song defeated males later in her three-year-old campaign, in both the Grade 2 Jim Beam (now Lane's End) Stakes, and Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Handicap - a race won last year by Rachel Alexandra. Indian Blessing began her 2008 Eclipse award-winning Female Sprinter campaign with a Santa Ynez win.

This year, the small field of six features Amen Hallelujah, already twice Grade 1 placed including a distant third-place finish behind Eclipse award finalist Blind Luck in the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Starlet last out. East Coast invader Franny Freud broke her maiden at first asking last May against open company in dominant fashion, and went on to win three stakes including the Ontario Deb Stakes over Woodbine's Polytrack, defeating subsequent Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes winner Negligee. In her first race last Nov, undefeated She's Funomenal handily defeated a field that included Crisp, who last weekend convincingly won the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel.

The best here will next appear in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb 6.

* = Correction from the mailing.

  - Valerie Grash, Foolish Pleasure

California Derby, Golden Gate Park
Jan 16, Race 8, Post Time 7:15 PM ET
Distance: 1 1/16 Mile   |   Class: Stakes   |   Condition: 3-year-olds   |   Purse: $100,000   |   Surface: Synthetic
On Saturday, Golden Gate Fields hosts the $100,000 California Derby at a 1 1/16 miles. The first California Derby was run in 1873 but no colt has ever won the Cal Derby and the Kentucky Derby. In recent years, Buzzards Bay and Sinister Minister used the Cal Derby as a launching point to win more significant Derby prep races. Buzzards Bay won the Santa Anita Derby in 2005 and Sinister Minister won the Bluegrass in 2006 but both disappointed on the First Saturday in May. Last year's winner, Chocolate Candy finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby.

This year's edition will include Connemaraa, a promising colt from the barn of Todd Pletcher, one of America's leading trainers. Russel Baze, the jockey with the most wins in North American racing history, is scheduled to ride Connemaraa. Look for colts competing in the Cal Derby to race next in the Grade 3 $150,000 El Camino Real Derby also at Golden Gate on February 20.

  - Kevin Martin, Colin's Ghost
Also this weekend are the:
Jan 16: $75,000 Gasparilla Stakes for fillies at Tampa Bay Downs
Jan 17: $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes for fillies at Gulfstream Park
Jan 18: $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park
Recaps - Jan 1 - 10
Tropical Park Derby, Calder Race Course
Jan 01, Race 10, Post Time 4:17 PM EST
Distance: 1 1/8 Mile   |   Class: Grade 3   |   Condition: 3-year-olds   |   Purse: $100,000   |   Surface: Turf
Win: Fly By Phil   |   Place: Lost Aptitude   |   Show: Cat Park
Run on grass, the Tropical Park Derby is not a traditional Kentucky Derby prep; however, horses do sometimes spring from this race to the Derby Trail, Barbaro most notably in 2006.

Dale Romans's Lost Aptitude came into the race as the favorite off three wins in his first five starts, all on grass; Romans had declared his intention to run Lost Aptitude on dirt if he performed well, and, the colt has plenty of dirt and stamina in his pedigree with winners of dirt races at classic distances on both the sire and dam sides.

Lost Aptitude went to the lead as expected and came around the final turn full of run, bearing out widely as he headed towards the wire. Longshot Fly By Phil caught Lost Aptitude at the wire to win, but Romans confirmed recently that Lost Aptitude will start next on dirt in the 1 1/8 miles Grade II Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 20th. Kathleen O'Connell, trainer of Fly By Phil, has indicated that her colt, who's got two wins and two seconds in four dirt starts, will point to the 1 1/16 miles Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 13. Both races are key Kentucky Derby preps.

Full Results and Replay

  - Teresa Genaro, Brooklyn Backstretch

Count Fleet Stakes, Aqueduct
Jan 02, Race 8, Post Time 3:44 PM EST
Distance: 1 Mile & 70 yards   |   Class: Stakes   |   Condition: 3-year-olds   |   Purse: $65,000   |   Surface: Dirt
Win: Laus Deo   |   Place: Worth a Buck   |   Show: Turbo Speed
Fox Hill Farm's Laus Deo sprung a bit of an upset in the $65,000 Count Fleet run at 1 mile and 70 yards at Aqueduct on Jan 2. The son of red hot sire Medaglia d'Oro went off as the second choice at a whopping 10-1, while heavy favorite Ibboyee was the public's choice at 2-5. Laus Deo gained control out of the gate and set a moderate pace while looking relaxed on the lead. Ibboyee sat right behind the pacesetter but had no response in the stretch. Laus Deo pulled away nicely to win by 1 3/4 lengths over a quick closing Worth a Buck. Turbo Speed got up for third while Ibboyee held on for fourth. Both Laus Deo and Worth a Buck looked to have something left in the tank at the end of race.

While the Count Fleet is named after the 1943 Triple Crown winner, the race has not produced any Derby winners. However 2004 winner Smarty Jones and 1993 winner Prairie Bayou both won the Preakness. Look for Laus Deo next in either the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 13 or the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream on March 20.

Full Results and Replay

  - Dana Byerly, Green but Game

Old Hat Stakes, Gulfstream
Jan 09, Race 9, Post Time 5:08 PM EST
Distance: 6 Furlong   |   Class: G3   |   Condition: 3-year-old fillies   |   Purse: $100,000   |   Surface: Dirt
Win: Richgirlgonewild   |   Place: Joanie's Catch   |   Show: Criolla Bonita
Last Saturday, eleven fillies contested the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes over a sloppy Gulfstream track with unexpected results. Fresh off an allowance victory over colts at Charles Town and racing for the first time on Lasix, 31-1 longshot Richiegirlgonewild led wire-to-wire in defeating a field that included Grade 2 Matron Stakes runner-up Touching Beauty and recent Aqueduct stakes winner Cuff Me. Joanie's Catch (48-1) and Criolla Bonita (85-1) fleshed out an all Florida bred $1 trifecta that paid a whopping $18,401.80. Although merely a six furlong test, Old Hat winners have developed into solid distance runners, such as 2008 winner Game Face who later finished third in the one mile Grade 1 Acorn Stakes, and 2004 winner Madcap Escapade who ran third to Ashado in the 1 1/8 mile Kentucky Oaks.

Full Results and Replay

  - Valerie Grash, Foolish Pleasure

Santa Ysabel Stakes, Santa Anita
Jan 10, Race 8, Post Time 4:07 PM EST
Distance: 1 1/16 Mile   |   Class: Grade 3   |   Condition: 3-year-old fillies   |   Purse: $100,000   |   Surface: Synthetic
Win: Crisp   |   Place: Evening Jewel   |   Show: Ellafitz
The 1 1/6 mile Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan 10 featured a field of five mostly maiden winners, including odds-on favorite Zilva, last seen finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She never fired, finishing last, five-lengths behind the winner Crisp, an El Corredor filly closely related to Grade 1-winning sire Whywhywhy. Reportedly her next appearance may be the Feb 6 Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes.

Full Results and Replay

  - Valerie Grash, Foolish Pleasure
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