It’s a busy week, so let’s get right to it! If you missed any of last week’s action, we have replays, Brisnet charts and links to recaps and contenders news.
This weekend is action-packed with three Kentucky Derby and four Kentucky Oaks points races on Saturday. Be sure to catch the Ashland and Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on NBC Sports Network between 5-7 pm ET!
And if you haven’t already, check out our 2015 #KYDerby Contender Twitter Collection to keep up with updates and images of all the contenders, including Oaks contenders.
News About the Contenders
Blood-Horse: Blue Grass Hopefuls Train at Keeneland
Blood-Horse: Steve Haskin’s Derby Dozen for March 31, 2015
Blood-Horse: Fracture Knocks Far From Over Off Derby Trail
Blood-Horse: Is Mubtaahij a Major Derby Contender?
Brisnet: Far Right to breeze this weekend
Brisnet: The Truth or Else sizzles five-eighths for Arkansas Derby
Brisnet: Far From Over sidelined due to injury
Brisnet: American Pharoah closes as 5-1 favorite in KDFW Pool 4
DRF: Ekati’s Phaeton moved to Mott barn
DRF: Dortmund’s big. How big? Here’s how big
DRF: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not for April 1
DRF: Materiality and Apollo
DRF: Tiz Shea D, Lieutenant Colonel join Wood cast
DRF: Santa Anita Derby works: Bolo sharp half, Cross the Line easy half
Blood-Horse: Spiral Winner Dubai Sky Sidelined With Injury
Blood-Horse: Firing Line Has First Work After Sunland Romp
DRF: FAR RIGHT breezes for ARKANSAS DERBY
DRF: Dubai Sky injured, off Triple Crown trail
DRF: Saturday Card Recap: Keeneland, including thoughts on winners of Ashland, Bluegrass
DRF: Quick thoughts on Derby preps today
Blood-Horse: Carpe Diem Bounces Out of Blue Grass Win
Blood-Horse: ‘Pharoah’ Records Final Workout for AR Derby
Brisnet: Carpe Diem staying at Keeneland ‘for now,’ while Ocho returns to California
DRF: Prospect Park “wasn’t right,” Sise said; Ky Derby still possible
DRF: Bolo will be considered for Kentucky Derby, for now
DRF: All good this am with Dortmund and One Lucky Dane
DRF: Another brilliant work for American Pharoah
DRF: Watchmaker: Few flaws in latest Derby prep wins
Aqueduct, Saturday April 4, post time: 4:20 pm ET
1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs)
In the two years that the Gazelle was moved to its early April spot as a prep for the Kentucky Oaks, it’s produced a winner and a runner-up in the big race in Louisville. In 2013, Princess of Sylmar finished second before going on to take the Oaks; last year, Gazelle winner My Miss Sophia ran second in Kentucky to eventual 3-year-old champion filly Untapable. And with Condo Commando in this year’s field, it’s possible that the Gazelle will once again prove to be an important stop on the road to Churchill Downs.
Winner of four races in five starts, Condo Commando is making her second start of the year, following up her win in the Busher at Aqueduct in February. Her 4 3/4-length victory was the most competitive, if you can call it that, race of her short career; usually, she’s winning by double-digit lengths. Her 61 Oaks points mean that she’s already locked up a spot in the starting gate, and with a win at the distance over this track, this speedy filly looks a formidable foe on Saturday. One of several fillies that likes to be on the lead, she’s drawn inside most of them in post 5; can she get the jump on them out of the gate and hold them off for the 9 furlongs?
To Condo Commando’s inside is Wonder Gal, finally making her 2015 debut after a promising 2-year-old soon that saw her break her maiden in a stakes race in her first start, then notch a second and two third-place finishes, including a close-up third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. That was her last start, and it seems a tall order for this talented fill to come back off a five-month layoff and try to get her first win beyond 6 furlongs. She was entered in an allowance on March 20, only to have that card cancelled because of bad weather, so you have to think that a berth in the Oaks is not this camp’s goal. She was on the lead in her only win but adopted a more stalking style in her later races; expecting to see her competitive but not as cranked as some of the other Oaks-bound competitors here.
Jacaranda makes her first start since being transferred to Todd Pletcher; she was trained to two comfortable wins by the Mike Hushion before throwing in a clunker in the Davona Dale, after which long-time Hushion owner Barry Schwartz moved her to Pletcher as Hushion battles a serious illness, which is the extent of the significance of this trainer change. On the lead in both of her victories, including the Grade 3 Tempted, she’ll break to Condo Commando’s outside. Bred for distance top and bottom, she’s racing for the first time beyond a mile.
From the connections of last year’s Kentucky Derby hopeful Samraat, Noble and a Beauty breaks from the far outside and jumps way up in class and out in distance off an 8-length win in the Cicada on March 15. She’s never raced beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, compiling a record of two wins and a second, though she’s got distance pedigree on both her sire and dam sides. She’s yet another speedy sort, though, who’s going to have to tangle with Condo Commando and Jacaranda if she wants to get to the wire first.
Much of the main speed in the race will break from the outside stalls, so that run to the first turn is likely to be an interesting dash, but Puca, who raced on the lead in her only win (when she broke her maiden by 16 lengths), will be down on the rail, saving the ground that her outside rivals won’t be able to. Making her second start off the layoff, if the rail plays fair, she may be a force to contend with.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Money’soncharlotte set the pace in both her victories, then faltered in her stakes attempts at Gulfstream this winter. Rounding out the field is the lightly raced Sweet Corine, who comes to the Gazelle off just a maiden win.
The race, as they say, belongs to the swift, and that will certainly be true in this race named after the speediest of animals. Which fleet-footed filly will be fast enough to not only get to the lead, but hold it to the wire?
2015 Gazelle Replay
2015 Gazelle News & Recaps
Blood-Horse: ‘Condo’ in Command in Gazelle
Brisnet: Condo Commando draws off in Gazelle
DRF: Gazelle rapid reaction: Condo Commando does it again
DRF: Condo Commando captures Gazelle
Keeneland, Saturday April 4, post time: 5:20 pm ET
1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs)
Peace and War will try to etch her name in Keeneland history alongside the likes of Take Charge Lady and Silverbulletday in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland Stakes.
Just four fillies have won both the Alcibiades and the Ashland. It’s a tall order, and Peace and War faces some tough competition in the 1 1/16-miles test.
In her favor, Peace and War is fresh off a layoff and recuperation from a minor injury. She shipped to Keeneland from Europe on Sunday, and trainer Olly Stevens, who said he’s been pointing her to this race, reported that she has matured since October.
“She is better mentally now than she was last year,” Stevens said.
It’s doubtful the bay filly will get the same trip that she did in the Alcibiades. Peace and War was 13 lengths off the lead when she started her eye-catching rally, swiftly passing rivals in the stretch and narrowly beating Top Decile by a half-length. She’ll be coming from off the pace again in the Ashland, but there’s more potent speed signed on for this event.
One of the most appealing challengers is Fair Grounds shipper Lovely Maria. The versatile Larry Jones trainee can win on the lead or from off the pace, and she’s likely to be well-spotted early here by jockey Kerwin Clark. Lovely Maria has competed against some of the top 3-year-old fillies in the country, finishing second to stablemate I’m a Chatterbox in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra. I’m a Chatterbox, considered one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Oaks, went on to win the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks.
In addition, Lovely Maria was second to Sarah Sis in an allowance at Keeneland in October. Sarah Sis has since won the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes.
One can never discount the team of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez at Keeneland. Angela Renee is tough to figure out, but the winner of the Grade 1 Chandelier boasts the class of a top contender. She doesn’t appear to have a defined style, but her best races were with Velazquez aboard. She could move up in her second race off the layoff.
A filly who could rebound with a strong effort is Grade 2 Golden Rod winner West Coast Belle. This steel-gray filly is small in stature but very athletic. She soundly defeated I’m a Chatterbox, who was fourth in the Golden Rod, but didn’t appear to take to the Fair Grounds surface and lost twice to that rival. A change of scenery could be beneficial. She’s appealing for exotics.
Although she doesn’t sport the class of some of her rivals, lightly-raced Silverpocketsfull has flashed talent in her early races. Her late-closing running style is similar to Peace and War’s, and it’s interesting to note that she reunites with Brian Hernandez Jr., the rider who was aboard for her maiden win. She also has the benefit of a previous race over the surface. She’s one to consider for exotics.
Lassofthemohicans didn’t have much luck breaking from the rail in the Grade 2 Davona Dale, and she’s slotted at that inside post again here. While she’s won at a mile, that was a wire-to-wire win against maidens, and she lost the lead to finish second in a 7-furlong maiden race over this surface. Indications are that this might not be her preferred distance.
Temper Mint Patty was very competitive against New York-breds, but she’s had difficulty breaking through against tougher competition in graded stakes. Her best efforts have been on off tracks.
2015 Ashland Replay
2015 Ashland News & Recaps
Blood-Horse: Lovely Maria Claims First Stakes in Ashland
Brisnet: Lovely Maria earns first stakes win in Ashland
DRF: G1 Ashland rapid reaction from Keeneland
DRF: Lovely Maria gives Jones first Ashland win
Aqueduct, Saturday April 4, post time: 5:30 pm ET
1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs)
The February announcement by the connections of Withers winner Far From Over that their horse would bypass the Gotham set the stage for the Wood Memorial to be a showdown of sorts between him and El Kabeir, who had taken the Jerome, New York’s first Derby prep, in January. The runner-up in the Gotham, El Kabeir has since won the Gotham, making the El Kabeir–Far From Over match-up even more enticing, but once again, it’s not to be: earlier this week, Far From Over was declared off the Derby trail after sustaining an injury in a workout.
That defection left trainer Todd Pletcher minus one horse on the road to Louisville, but Saturday’s Wood Memorial won’t be devoid of a Pletcher starter, as Daredevil ships north from Florida to try to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Sitting in 28th place with 10 points, he’ll need to finish at least second to be in a comfortable position in the standings.
Daredevil set the pace in his two victories, both of which came last fall and both of which came over off tracks, good news given the Friday forecast for rain in New York. A bad tripâ€”combined with his distance limitations?â€”resulted in an 11th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; back at a sprint distance at Gulfstream last month, he finished second in the Grade 2 Swale. There’s not a lot of other speed here, but can the son of More Than Ready, who did his best running in sprints, stretch out?
Given that El Kabeir showed an ability to sit off the pace in his Gotham win, it will be interesting to see whether jockey C.C. Lopez sends his mount to challenge Daredevil early, or lets his rival get away in the hope that he’ll fade by the time they hit the quarter pole. His off track form is erraticâ€”he won the Gotham in the slop, but was a distant fourth in the muddy Champagne last fall, a race won by Daredevil.
Neither distance nor surface is likely to bother Tiz Shea D, second to El Kabeir in the Gotham last month. This very lightly raced son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow out of a mare by Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner A.P. Indy doesn’t bring a lot of experience to the race, though he may bring versatility. He closed from seventh to break his maiden in February and raced much closer to the pace last out in the Gotham. Trainer Bill Mott isn’t a trainer known for taking a shot for the hell of it; if he believes in this horse enough to enter him, he’s worth considering.
At one point considered a serious Derby contender, Frosted has yet to make it back to the winner’s circle after breaking his maiden in October over this Aqueduct surface. With four seconds and a win in five starts, he’s not to be dismissed, but those runner-up finishes haven’t always been close, and he’s going to have to exceed his past performances to get himself a chance to run for the Roses. His affinity for front-running may make it easy for El Kabeir and Tiz Shea D to sit back and hope that this one and Daredevil knock heads early, setting it up for a closer.
The well-traveled Toasting Master ships in for trainer Dale Romans to take another shot at a possibly wet track in New York. Fourth in the Gotham, Toasting Master has yet to run a route on a dry/good dirt track, making him something of a wild card here, but he’s been uncompetitive in three starts this year and seems an unlikely winner in here.
Completing the field are Lieutenant Colonel, who got crushed in the Gotham off a bad trip, and Tencendur, who tried his hand in both the Withers and the Gotham without hitting the board.
El Kabeir sits at #5 in the Derby standings with 75 points and doesn’t need to do anything except stay healthy and fit in order to run in Kentucky on May 2, and he’s got some hungry rivals here whose time has come to put up or shut up when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. That’s not to say that the connections of El Kabeirâ€”whose name means “the boss”â€”won’t go for it. But they’ve got a lot less riding on this race than anyone else in the field.
2015 Wood Memorial Replay
2015 Wood Memorial News & Recaps
Blood-Horse: Frosted Hits Sweet Spot in Wood Memorial Win
DRF: Frosted rebounds in TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial
DRF: Post Wood Memorial thoughts
DRF: Changes pay off for Frosted in Wood Memorial
Blue Grass Stakes
Keeneland, Saturday April 11, post time: 6:00 pm ET
1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs)
A move from synthetic to a dirt track, a new date on the calendar and a standout favorite make this year’s Grade 1, $1 million Blue Grass a key Kentucky Derby prep.
The only Kentucky Derby winner to emerge from the Blue Grass in the synthetic era was Street Sense in 2007. With the switch to a dirt surface that was installed last summer, the 1 1/8-miles test becomes a more appealing measure of Derby contenders. A move to run the prep a week earlier, putting it alongside the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial, also helps Derby hopefuls, providing them with a four-week gap until the Run for the Roses.
Carpe Diem, the even-money morning line choice, leads the eight-horse field. He’s done nothing wrong in four career starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, and so many positive angles make him appealing here. He won impressively over the surface in the Breeders’ Futurity, he was a solid second to Texas Red in arguably the toughest test for 2-year-olds â€“ the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile â€“ and he looked stellar off a winter layoff in a Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby victory.
Regular rider John Velazquez returns to guide the colt, who was purchased for $1,600,000 for WinStar Farm. The manner in which he’s won his 1 1/16-miles stakes races indicates that he should have no problem stretching out, and post position five is perfect for his stalking style. It’s the same post he had in the Breeders’ Futurity win.
While the race offers 100 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, Carpe Diem has amassed 64 points, so win or lose, he’s likely to make the starting gate.
If you’re looking to beat the favorite, Ocho Ocho Ocho and Frammento are appealing prospects.
Ocho Ocho Ocho, a son of Street Sense, was one of the top 2-year-olds, compiling an undefeated record topped by a win in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot. His Grade 2 San Felipe trip was marred by a rough start and a troubled trip that resulted in several cuts and lacerations on his legs. He finished eighth.
After the race, trainer Jim Cassidy said: “Both front legs have some lacerations on them. He had a rough trip. It happened from the gate and then at the first turn. (Jockey) Mike (Smith) said, ‘Just throw the race out. I never got a chance.'”
Ocho Ocho Ocho will break from the rail with new jockey Santiago Gonzalez. Cassidy didn’t seem concerned about the inside slot.
“The rail is fine. I’d rather be inside than outside in any event. He broke a little slow last time, but he won’t this time.”
While Ocho Ocho Ocho appears to be the most likely match to Carpe Diem’s talent, the prospect of the colt wiring the field and holding off the Pletcher runner at this extended distance seems quite daunting.
Frammento, a Nick Zito-trained colt with an off-the-pace style who boasts a win over the surface, is an intriguing entrant. He bounced back from a disappointing sixth in the Grade 2 Holy Bull with a fast-closing third in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. Another check in the pro column for the chestnut is the addition of Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.
Although his pedigree shouts middle-distance â€“ his sire, 2008 champion 2-year-old colt Midshipman, was best at distances up to 1 1/16 miles â€“ Frammento boasts a muscular yet long body, typical of a router.
Another interesting challenger is Parx invader Unrivaled, trained by Marya Montoya and campaigned by Team Valor. The son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver has dominated his competition at Parx. Although he is taking a steep class hike, his times have been consistent with some of his competitors here. The bay colt also ran quite well over this surface in October, finishing second in a maiden claiming event.
Gorgeous Bird landed on everyone’s Derby radar after he won two straight, including a romp in an allowance at Gulfstream Park. This late closer delivered a puzzling fifth-place effort in his first stakes try, the Fountain of Youth. It’s tough to determine whether he’s in over his head or ready for a resurgence. The gray colt posted a solid work over the surface and switches back to jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who was aboard for his first two races.
Graded-stakes placed Classy Class is just that, not finishing worse than fourth in four career starts that include three very competitive graded stakes. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has encountered some tough luck with his 3-year-old prospects this season, including Frosted, Ocean Knight and Imperia, but this New York invader could be a sleeper. He’s shipping out for the first time and hasn’t worked over the surface, but he boasts the back class, or experience against quality horses, to make an impact. At a nice price, he’s a solid option for exotics.
Royally bred Danzig Moon, fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby, will need to make great strides to turn the tables on Carpe Diem, who beat him by more than 12 lengths in that race. The Mark Casse trainee began his career at Keeneland with a fourth-place finish and enters the race off a sharp bullet work at Palm Meadows.
Consistent Pepper Roani has fared well on synthetic at Turfway Park, including a second in the John Battaglia Memorial at 14-1. His dirt works offer mixed signals, and he was no threat in his previous races on dirt and turf. Jockey Miguel Mena will be aboard for the first time.
2015 Blue Grass Replay
2015 Blue Grass News & Recaps
Blood-Horse: Carpe Diem Rumbles in Blue Grass
Brisnet: Carpe Diem does not disappoint with easy Blue Grass tally
DRF: Thoughts on Carpe Diem
DRF: Blue Grass Stakes rapid reaction
Santa Anita Oaks
Santa Anita, Saturday April 4, post time: 6:00 pm ET
1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs)
Last week featured a pair of eye-popping performances by 3-year-old fillies when I’m a Chatterbox blitzed the Fair Grounds Oaks field and Birdonthewire overcame trouble to win the Gulfstream Park Oaks.
Either could end up favored in the Kentucky Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs, but Stellar Wind could have a big say in that depending on how she does in the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks on Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
Stellar Wind has won her last two starts by a combined 11 1/2 lengths, including a score in the Santa Ysabel last out over familiar rivals Light the City and Glory, and while those two return in this spot as well, Stellar Wind’s top competition is most likely to come from one of the two making their stakes debuts, Luminance from trainer Bob Baffert or Wild At Heart from Richard Mandella. Luminance and Wild At Heart finished noses apart in an allowance race on February 28 at Santa Anita.
Completing the field are the top three finishers from the China Doll Stakes: Singing Kitty, Curlin’s Fox, and She’s a Big Winner. All three are going turf to dirt: Singing Kitty has two wins sprinting on dirt, and Curlin’s Fox has never raced on it.
Stellar Wind is nominated to the Triple Crown. A Kentucky Derby try would be unlikely even with a big win here, but she was bred in Virginia and her sire, Curlin, won the 2007 Preakness Stakes, so continued improvement could make her one to watch against males down the line.
2015 Santa Anita Oaks Replay
2015 Santa Anita Oaks News & Recaps
DRF: Rapid reaction: Stellar Wind crushes Santa Anita Oaks
DRF: Stellar Wind scores big win in Santa Anita Oaks
Oaklawn Park, Saturday April 4, post time: 6:09 pm ET
1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs)
Five of the eight runners from the March 7 Grade 3 Honeybee return here, including the top three finishers: Sarah Sis, Oceanwave and Pangburn. Given her excellent prior form against Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Take Charge Brandi, Sarah Sis surprised few by defeating Oceanwave in the Honeybee, but it’s important to note that it was accomplished by a diminishing margin as runner-up Oceanwave endured traffic issues throughout before making a strong late run. Third-place finisher Pangburn also made a late rally, but she was still nearly six lengths back of the winner. For this race, trainer Ken McPeek will put blinkers on Pangburn, evidently in an attempt to engage her early in the race rather than rely on her customary late close. On paper, there’s no reason why any of these three fillies shouldn’t win.
Honeybee fourth-place finisher Purr was also moving extremely well late. Owner Anita Cauley’s homebred was testing graded stakes company for the first time then; this race she may be better prepared. Super Saks’ blinding early speed put her nearly seven lengths ahead of the Honeybee field before she faded badly in the stretch, finishing deadlast and 16 lengths back of the winner. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas takes off the blinkers for the first time in her career. If jockey Terry Thompson can get her relaxed, this filly just may surprise folks.
It wouldn’t be a Kentucky Oaks prep race without at least one Todd Pletcher trainee entered. Grade 1 Starlet runner-up Feathered ships in from Florida off a disappointing 7-furlong allowance race where she finished fourth, nearly seven lengths behind the winner. Last year she ran a good fourth, a mere length behind Take Charge Brandi, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and followed that effort up with an even more impressive finish in the Starlet, a half-length back of Take Charge Brandi and a nose in front of recent Sunland Oaks winner Maybellene. That formline and her Brisnet.com speed figures make her extremely competitive here.
Trainer John Sadler’s lightly raced Lady Tapit is a surprise entry shipping in from Southern California. It’s been nearly four months since her last effort, but she displayed an impressive turn of foot in that maiden victory. Stamina shouldn’t be an issue for this half-sister to 10-furlong Grade 1 American Oaks winner Gozzip Girl.
Another California invader, Achiever’s Legacy possesses a strong turf pedigree (her unraced dam is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Turf victor Chief Bearhart), so it’s interesting that her best efforts have been on dirt, including finishing just a half-length behind Maybellene in a 3-horse allowance contest at Santa Anita last October. Next out, she turned the table on her rival, winning by 1 1/4 lengths going 7 furlongs over Del Mar’s synthetic surface in the listed Desi Arnaz. Her last three efforts have been solid, but not spectacular, with a distant third-place effort in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes against Callback to begin the year. Shipping to Arkansas rather than contesting the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks versus stablemates Light the City and Glory doesn’t exactly engender faith in her abilities, though. Or maybe it’s just a reality check.
From a pedigree standpoint, Sweet Opportunity appears well-suited to the distance, but she simply hasn’t displayed the kind of speed necessary to win this race. Neither has maiden winner Harlans Belle, although all three of her career races thus far have been contested over wet tracks.
Breaking from the far outside post 11 is the devastatingly impressive Suncoast winner Include Betty. Since her predilection is to drop back and distantly trail the field early, the post position shouldn’t be a concern. Trainer Tom Proctor tried her on turf last out in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks, and it was a deceptively good effort against the likes of top turf fillies Quality Rocks and Consumer Credit. Last year she raced against multiple Grade 2 winner Birdatthewire and Grade 2-placed Lassofthemohicans and Forever Unbridled, so her form line is solid. She also comes from a family of winners that includes not only her half-sister Grade 1 Starlet runner-up Blonde Fog and her multiple Grade 3 turf stakes-winning second dam Betty Lobelia, but also recent Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks runner-up Eskenformoney. With regular rider Rosemary Homeister- Jr. along for the ride, Include Betty could orchestrate a major upset.
2015 Fantasy Replay
2015 Fantasy News & Recaps
Brisnet: Include Betty just holds in Fantasy
DRF: Claim of foul disallowed in Fantasy
DRF: INCLUDE BETTY closes with rush to win the Fantasy in photo
DRF: Rapid Reaction to Fantasy
DRF: Include Betty survives inquiry to win Fantasy
Santa Anita Derby
Santa Anita, Saturday April 4, post time: 6:30 pm ET
1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs)
Santa Anita Derby Handicapping Question: We know Dortmund can win, but does he have to?
The $1 million Santa Anita Derby on Saturday at Santa Anita Park is the deepest of the three Kentucky Derby preps this weekend from the standpoint that three of its horses were well backed in the recently concluded Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
The Santa Anita Derby favorite, Dortmund, is undefeated in five starts and is a top two choice for the Kentucky Derby. We know Dortmund can win this race and is probably the most likely to do soâ€”he defeated his top two challengers (Bolo and Prospect Park) last time out, and his familiar foe from his third and fourth career startsâ€”Firing Lineâ€”just shipped east and won the Sunland Derby with what Tom Durkin probably would have called “devastating ease.”
But does Dortmund have to win this race, and more importantly for betting it, has Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffertâ€”himself a three-time Derby winnerâ€”trained this horse with winning this race in mind, or the Kentucky Derby in four weeks?
Baffert’s first two Derby winsâ€”Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998â€”followed runner-up finishes in the Santa Anita Derby, and other than Dortmund’s undefeated record, it’s unlikely much would be tarnished if he came up short here but trained well for the Derby.
The competition offers no slouches either. Either Bolo or Prospect Park would be a solid second choice to Carpe Diem in the Blue Grass Stakes and might have been favored in the Wood Memorial Stakes. But they’re here trying Dortmund again and not without a chance.
This is Bolo’s second start off a more than two-month layoff that featured time away from not only racing but also training. Bolo came up short after taking a big run at Dortmund in the San Felipe last month but is likely to improve here with more training and seasoning.
Prospect Park has improved in each of his six career starts, and his jockey Kent Desormeaux, who like Baffert is a three-time Derby winner, committed to this horse even before his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile mount Texas Red was off the trail.
Those three horses are half the field but will likely make up at least 90% of the win pool. The most likely alternative outside the top trio is One Lucky Dane, also trained by Baffert, but even Cross the Lineâ€”second in the El Camino Real Derbyâ€”and Bad Read Sanchezâ€”off since a third in the Best Pal Stakes eight months agoâ€”have flashed stakes-level talent.
2015 Santa Anita Derby Replay
2015 Santa Anita Derby News & Recaps
Blood-Horse: Dortmund Unrelenting in Santa Anita Derby
DRF: Dortmund is a freak
DRF: Rapid reaction: Santa Anita Derby
DRF: Baffert: Dortmund lost right-front shoe
DRF: Dortmund dominant in Santa Anita Derby
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