Just like the weekends before it, last weekend added two more solid contenders to a growing list of talented Kentucky Derby hopefuls. If you missed any of the action, you can catch replays, grab Brisnet charts and links to recaps.
These next two weeks are typically the most exciting and most elucidating on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Given that this weekend marks the transition to 170 point races (100-40-20-10), with 100 points going to the winner, the potential Kentucky Derby and Oaks fields can shift radically.
The final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager opens today at noon and closes on Sunday at 6pm ET. Be sure to check out post for entries, odds, free Brisnet PPs in addition to considerations for play and historical payouts. Also be sure catch last yearâ€™s Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome, in the Dubai World Cup on Fox Sports 1 from 12:30 – 1:30 pm ET.
Check back as we’ll keep this page updated with news and add Brisnet charts, links to recaps and replays where available.
Visit our 2015 #KYDerby Contender Twitter Collection to keep up with quotes, news tidbits and images of all the contenders!
News About the Contenders
Blood-Horse: Zito Still Shooting With Quimet, Frammento
Blood-Horse: Haskin’s Derby Dozen – March 24, 2015
Brisnet: One Lucky Dane headed to Santa Anita Derby
Brisnet: Sise pleased with Prospect Park; Smith regains Santa Anita Derby mount on Bolo
Brisnet: American Pharoah early favorite in final KDFW
Brisnet: Dubai Sky among nine late Triple Crown nominees
DRF: Kentucky Derby pedigree profiles: International Star
DRF: Light the City works toward Santa Anita Oaks
DRF: Hands-on Lukas extends to the wheel of the van, too
DRF: Upstart schools at Gulfstream
DRF: Whoâ€™s Hot, Whoâ€™s Not for March 25
DRF: PANGBURN commits to Fantasy, will make equipment change
DRF: Dubai Sky among nine nominated late to Triple Crown
Kentucky.com: ‘Unbeaten’ Itsaknockout still has his doubters heading into Florida Derby
Blood-Horse: From Turf to Dirt, Bolo Targets SA Derby
Blood-Horse: ‘Pharoah’ Speedy in First Workout After Rebel
Brisnet: American Pharoah, One Lucky Dane drill for Derby preps
Brisnet: Far From Over on course for Wood; El Kabeir’s work moved to Monday
Brisnet: Peace and War arrives for Ashland
Brisnet: Materiality doing well after tenacious Florida Derby victory
Brisnet: Upstart ‘fine’ after FL Derby; Carroll weighing KY Derby, Queen’s Plate for Ami’
Meydan, Saturday March 28, post time: 9:55 am ET
1 3/16 miles (9.5 furlongs), synthetic surface
Since its inception in 2000, the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby historically hasnâ€™t had a significant impact on the Kentucky Derby picture, but that could change in Saturdayâ€™s renewal on an action-packed Dubai World Cup card. The early favorite, Mubtaahij, is nominated to the U.S. Triple Crown, and globetrotting trainer Mike de Kock has confirmed that the well-regarded colt would head to Churchill Downs if he performs up to expectations here.
The U.A.E. Derby is the third jewel of the U.A.E. Triple Crown. Each leg is staged at Meydan, which has installed a new dirt track for this season, replacing the synthetic Tapeta.
Mubtaahij is the only runner to participate in all three classics in 2015. In the Group 3 U.A.E. 2,000 Guineas over 1,600 meters (a metric mile), he was just denied by Godolphinâ€™s Maftool.
Maftool skipped the middle leg, the Al Bastakiya, which is held over 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) — the same distance as Saturdayâ€™s U.A.E. Derby. But Godolphin fielded another strong contender in Sir Fever. Unbeaten in 10 starts in his native Uruguay (including his homelandâ€™s Triple Crown), Sir Fever was purchased privately by Godolphin and transferred to trainer Charlie Appleby in Dubai. He made his first start for his new connections in the Al Bastakiya, but could not contain Mubtaahijâ€™s terrific closing kick. Mubtaahij shot 2 1/2 lengths clear in hand.
Sir Fever will add blinkers on Saturday in hopes of turning the tables, and he might try to seize the early lead. But as a Southern Hemisphere-bred, born in July 2011, Sir Fever must carry the top weight of 131 pounds. He concedes 10 pounds to his Northern Hemisphere-bred rivals because theyâ€™re about six (or more) months younger (born early in 2012), and therefore not as far along on the developmental curve.
Mubtaahij appeared to thrive over the added distance in the Al Bastakiya. The Irish-bred has also thrived on Meydanâ€™s dirt. He has won three of four here, setting two track records on the new track and beating Maftool in a trial for the Guineas. His dirt proficiency likely comes from his paternal grandsire, Dubai Millennium, the brilliant winner of the 2000 Dubai World Cup. Mubtaahij is by Dubai Millenniumâ€™s champion son Dubawi, a top sire whose progeny excel over all types of surfaces.
Maftool has yet to race past a mile, and the Saeed bin Suroor trainee has to answer the distance question on Saturday. Like Mubtaahij, Maftool is a U.S. Triple Crown nominee, but he is also eligible for the first English classic of the season, the 2,000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket on Kentucky Derby Day, May 2. The U.A.E. Derby will probably help the Godolphin brain trust decide which way to go with the son of Hard Spun, the runner-up in both the Kentucky Derby and Breedersâ€™ Cup Classic in 2007.
The U.A.E. Derby could be billed as the rubber match between Maftool and Mubtaahij, especially since bin Suroor and de Kock have traditionally dominated this race. They won the first dozen runnings between them, with bin Suroor holding a 7-to-5 edge over the South African de Kock.
But the past three editions of the U.A.E. Derby have gone elsewhere, and that trend could continue on Saturday.
The most exciting new shooter is Golden Barows, a Kentucky native who has raced exclusively in Japan. Bred to love the dirt as a son of leading North American sire Tapit, Golden Barows has reeled off three straight since switching to the dirt at Tokyo. He broke his maiden in front-running fashion by 13 lengths and rallied strongly from off the pace to take his last two by daylight as well. Golden Barows is untested beyond a metric mile, and his dam, multiple stakes winner Mother Russia, was primarily a sprinter. He gives the impression of a colt who wants to go longer, however, and weâ€™ll find out on Saturday.
The others appear to have their work cut out for them. Fellow Japanese shippers Dear Domus and Tap That were only fourth and sixth, respectively, behind Golden Barows in the Hyacinth Stakes. last time. The extra distance could help Dear Domus, who has already won at about 1 1/8 miles in Japan.
Alnajem Alfaiz brings a three-race winning streak from Saudi Arabia, including a convincing win over stablemate Motaa, but this is a far tougher assignment.
The lone American representative, My Johnny Be Good, must improve markedly off his last two at Tampa Bay Downs â€“ a distant third in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and a trailing eighth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.
Faithful Creek has spent his whole career on turf, most recently finishing fifth to Hootenanny in the Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile Turf, and the English invader faces a real surface question.
The U.A.E. Derby is the first 170-point race toward this yearâ€™s Kentucky Derby, with the top four eligible finishers earning points on a sliding scale of 100-40-20-10. Sir Fever would not be eligible for points because he exceeds the age limit for the U.S. Triple Crown as a Southern Hemisphere-bred.
2015 UAE Derby Replay
2015 UAE Derby News and Recaps
Blood-Horse: Mubtaahij Scores Easiest of Wins in UAE Derby
Brisnet: Kentucky Derby contender Mubtaahij dominates U.A.E. Derby
DRF: Meydan: Mubtaahij likely bound for Kentucky mid-April
DRF: Meydan: Pack your bags for Kentucky, Christophe
DRF: Meydan: Mubtaahij would add intrigue to Ky. Derby
Fair Grounds Oaks
Fair Grounds, Saturday March 28, post time: 5:25 pm ET
1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs)
Three fillies that started in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra return to do battle in the Fair Grounds Oaks. A dominant winner that day, Larry Jones-trained Iâ€™m a Chatterbox is the one to beat. That may be a tall order for her competitors, considering not only how much she loves this track, but also how well she has been working over it in advance of this start. Without her stablemates White Clover and Lovely Maria entered, sheâ€™ll likely be on or near the lead, potentially setting up a late duel with Forever Unbridled, the daughter of 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever who also comes back from the Rachel Alexandra. Iâ€™m a Chatterbox won both of their previous contests, but the third time may be a charm for trainer Dallas Stewartâ€™s filly.
The other Rachel Alexandra starter that returns is the well-bred Shook Up, daughter of Grade 1 Santa Maria winner Sugar Shake. Last out, Shook Up weakened to finish a distant fifth, so itâ€™s difficult to see how she can reverse form unless it rains; she merrily cruised through the mud to a 13-length maiden victory previously over this track.
Maiden claimer winner Desert Valley was overmatched in the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn, finishing 11 lengths back in sixth place. Even removing her blinkers for this race (in a likely effort to settle her down early) doesnâ€™t put her in contention against this class of fillies. The same is probably true for Jugni, a first-level allowance winner that will be stretching out beyond 6 furlongs for the first time. A daughter of 10-furlong Grade 1 Travers winner Colonel John, she certainly appears suited to the distance. Her half-sister Bryanâ€™s Jewel won the 9-furlong Grade 3 Obeah, and her dam is a half-sister to 9-furlong Grade 1 Whitney victor Left Bank. Trainer Bernie Flint has given her a series of four strong 5-furlong workouts since her last outing, and top Fair Grounds jockey James Graham climbs aboard for the first time. While an unlikely winner, Jugni may be a worthy longshot exotics pick if she can handle the step-up in class.
While it is easy to see why her current trainer chose to run Tachiello on turf (her dam is a half-sister to three turf stakes winners, including Grade 3 Suwannee River victress La Dolce Vita), it is nearly impossible to envision how he thinks she fits in here. Her previous dirt efforts have just not been fast enough. However, in her juvenile maiden-breaking effort over a sloppy Fair Grounds track, she did defeat Scat Means Go, a filly that was awarded second place after Callback was disqualified from first to fourth in last weekendâ€™s listed Sunland Park Oaks. An off track may move her up.
Maiden winner Audreyâ€™s Double has demonstrated neither the speed nor class to upset this field, but her connections were undoubtedly impressed by how well she was moving late in her last race. A daughter of 9-furlong Grade 2 Blue Grass winner Pulpit, Audreyâ€™s Double possesses plenty of stamina in her damline, including her damâ€™s 12-furlong Grade 3 runner-up half-sister Alternate (dam of 2-time 9-furlong Grade 2 winner Alternation).
The puzzler in this race is Keith Desormeaux-trained Danette. After nine starts, sheâ€™s still a maiden, but sheâ€™s also Grade 1-placed, finishing third behind Angela Renee and Conquest Eclipse in last Septemberâ€™s 1 1/16-miles Chandelier at Santa Anita. The daughter of 4-time 10-furlong Grade 1 winner Curlin followed that up with an admirable fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile Fillies, a mere 1 1/2 lengths back of winner Take Charge Brandi, but she failed to break her maiden in three subsequent attempts, including most recently on turf. She also has excellent form versus recent Sunland Oaks winner Maybellene, narrowly losing to her (by a head) last August over Del Marâ€™s synthetic surface. The change of scenery (not to mention surface) may just do the trick for Danette, who ships in from the West Coast.
2015 Fair Grounds Oaks Replay
2015 Fair Grounds Oaks News & Recaps
Blood-Horse: I’m a Chatterbox Sweeps to FG Oaks Victory
Brisnet: I’m a Chatterbox scores third straight in Fair Grounds Oaks
DRF: Rapid Reaction: I’m a Chatterbox sweeps 3-year-old filly series, next stop Ky Oaks
Gulfstream Park, Saturday March 28, post time: 5:35 pm ET
1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs)
The top three finishers from the Grade 2 Davona Daleâ€”Ekatiâ€™s Phaeton, Birdatthewire and Eskenformoney, respectivelyâ€”all finished within a half length of each another. Asking them to run an additional half furlong here may bring a very different result.
In nearly all of her previous seven starts, Ekatiâ€™s Phaeton raced on or near the lead, carrying her speed to wire-to-wire victories four times, including in the Davona Dale. This will be her first attempt at 1 1/16 miles. Given how well she was closing last time, Birdatthewire appears best suited to upset her rival; the daughter of 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont winner Summer Bird broke her maiden at this distance. Sheâ€™s also posted two impressive workouts.
In addition to Birdatthewire, trainer Dale Romans sends out Grade 2 Pocahontas winner Cristinaâ€™s Journey and stakes-placed Sweet Swingin. Itâ€™s been nearly four months since Cristinaâ€™s Journey last raced, and her two contests following that Pocahontas win were not pretty. Considering her rough trip, one can forgive her poor effort in the Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile Fillies, but for her to fail so miserably in the Grade 2 Golden Rod, on her home track, was disappointing. Sheâ€™s been working steadily since mid-February in advance of this start, so it will be interesting to see if sheâ€™s grown and matured. Interestingly, jockey Corey Lanerie gets the mount after jumping off stablemate (and Davona Dale runner-up) Birdatthewire.
A maiden winner on dirt, Sweet Swingin would have tested turf last out, but the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride was downgraded to listed status when heavy rain forced it to be contested over a sloppy main track, and the daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense could only manage a distant second-place finish to Devine Aida. Daughter of Grade 3 turf sprint victress Passion and winner of the listed Ginger Brew turf sprint prior to her Herecomesthebride win, Devine Aida was a revelation stretching out to 1 1/16 miles and effortlessly sailing over that Gulfstream quagmire. Perhaps it shouldnâ€™t have been that surprising, as her damâ€™s half-sister is Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks runner-up Kumari Continent. Devine Aida has posted two strong workouts in advance of this start, but itâ€™s a big step up in class for this filly.
Unfortunately, Florida-bred stakes winner Holywell simply hasnâ€™t run fast enough to be a serious contender. However, Danessa Deluxe is an intriguing entry. In her first juvenile effort, she broke last out of the gate, but made an impressive and sustained late charge that brought her within a nose of defeating Ekatiâ€™s Phaeton; a similar late run saw her finish fourth behind Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Take Charge Brandi in the Grade 3 Delta Princess last November. The addition of blinkers here is likely an attempt to keep her focused early and in closer contact with the field. The daughter of Summer Bird should only get better at longer distances. Scratched out of the Davona Dale due to a last minute trainer switch, she will be making her 2015 debut. Top jockey John Velazquez takes the mount for trainer Jorge Navarro.
2015 Gulfstream Park Oaks Replay
2015 Gulfstream Park Oaks News & Recaps
Blood-Horse: Birdatthewire Tops Familiar Rivals in GP Oaks
Brisnet: Birdatthewire captures Gulfstream Park Oaks
DRF: Birdatthewire. Wow!
DRF: Initial reaction to the Gulfstream Park Oaks
Fair Grounds, Saturday March 28, post time: 6:24 pm ET
1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs)
So far, International Star has dominated the Kentucky Derby preps at Fair Grounds. On Saturday, the bay colt will meet familiar foes and new challengers in the trackâ€™s marquee race for 3-year-olds, the Grade 2, $750,000 Louisiana Derby.
International Star, trained by Mike Maker and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, favors riding the rail to victory, as proven in his Lecomte and Risen Star victories. Jockey Miguel Mena shouldnâ€™t have trouble guiding the colt from the outside post in the 9-horse field, as he achieved that trip from the same slot in the Risen Star.
Another favorable development for the late-closing International Star is the pace scenario. Thereâ€™s no shortage of early speed, and that could provide the perfect setup for the coltâ€™s late run.
Well-traveled Mr. Z makes his 11th start and tries his eighth track in this 1 1/8-miles test. While heâ€™s yet to win since his debut, the D. Wayne Lukas trainee has hit the board in all but two races, including six graded stakes. Major changes for this chestnut colt include a switch to jockey Kent Desormeaux and the removal of blinkers, which heâ€™s worn since finishing second in the Grade 1 Breedersâ€™ Futurity at Keeneland in October.
How Mr. Z responds to shedding blinkers will be key. Heâ€™s yet to win when heâ€™s been the early pacesetter, and his best trips have come from a stalking position. In post 2, heâ€™s flanked by possible early speed in Stanford and Defondo; that could set him up for an optimal spot near the pace but not too far back.
Stanford, a speedy Todd Pletcher trainee who drew the rail, is one of the intriguing newcomers to the Fair Grounds scene. Jockey Javier Castellano tried a different tactic with the colt in his last start, the Islamorada Stakes at Gulfstream Park, by placing him on the lead from the start. Stanford couldnâ€™t hold his lead and veered out sharply, losing to his stablemate Materiality. He was disqualified from second to sixth for impeding the progress of the horses behind him when he veered out.
A return to an off-the-pace trip under new jockey Florent Geroux could put Stanford in a contenderâ€™s position. That will be a tough task, however, from the inside post.
Risen Star alumni War Story, Keen Ice and St. Joe Bay return to try to turn the tables on International Star. Of the three, thereâ€™s a lot of upside with Gulfstream Park-based Keen Ice, who rallied for third under new jockey James Graham in the 1 1/16-miles Risen Star. Graham returns, and the added distance should work in favor of this late closer.
It will be interesting to see if new jockey Robby Albarado keeps St. Joe Bay, fourth in the Risen Star, in his usual pacesetter role. The colt has faded after setting a hot or moderate pace in his last four races. A new tactic could be to his benefit, but thatâ€™s too much of an unknown quantity to back at the windows.
War Story, a solid second in the Risen Star, is tough to predict. This chestnut gelding has flashed talent and class from day one and heâ€™s not finished worse than second in four career starts. He could be distance-challenged, or he could be turning the corner at just the right time. Note that he posted a scintillating bullet work over the surface on March 18. Jockey Joe Talamo travels from his California base to ride for the first time.
A Day in Paradise, trained by Larry Jones, tries graded stakes company for the first time after a win in the Texas Heritage Stakes at Sam Houston. The bay gelding was soundly defeated by War Story in an allowance in December; class will certainly be the question for him here. Heâ€™s one who should figure prominently in the early pace mix.
Lightly-raced Defondo has yet to win beyond six furlongs. Fusaichi Flame, making his graded stakes debut, is out of Merry Mary, a Fair Grounds regular who won the Louisiana Futurity and Red Camelia Handicap.
Itâ€™s interesting to note that no Louisiana Derby contenders have won at 1 1/8-miles and only Stanford and Keen Ice have tried the distance.
2015 Louisiana Derby Replay
2015 Louisiana Derby News & Recaps
America’s Best Racing: A Clean Sweep for International Star in Louisiana Derby
Blood-Horse: International Star Sweeps to LA Derby Score
Brisnet: International Star completes sweep in Louisiana Derby
DRF: Rapid Reaction International Star sweeps Fair Grounds 3-year-old series
DRF: Road to the Derby analysis: Louisiana Derby
Sunland Park, Saturday March 28, post time: 6:48 pm ET
1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs)
The Grade 1 Florida Derby is the marquee race of the meet at Gulfstream Park and a significant prep for the Kentucky Derby in May. It is the one of seven races this spring with a total of 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in play for the top four finishers.
The dominant narrative around this yearâ€™s Florida Derby is the rematch between the top two finishers in last monthâ€™s Fountain of Youth Stakes, also run at Gulfstream Park. Upstart crossed the finish line first in that race but was disqualified for interfering with Itsaknockout in the stretch. He was moved to second in the official order of finish, and Itsaknockout moved to first. The disqualification had its fair share of critics. Itâ€™s questionable whether Itsaknockout would have won even with a clean trip as Upstart finished nearly three lengths in front. Weâ€™ll never know for certain the result had Upstart run straight in the stretch, but weâ€™ll get to see them go head-to-head again on Saturday. They are clearly the top two contenders for the Florida Derby with Upstart the 8-5 morning line choice and Itsaknockout the second choice at 2-1. Upstart drew post number nine and could have a hard time saving ground around the first turn. If he avenges his controversial loss this Saturday in spite of the outside post, heâ€™ll earn a spot among the favorites heading to Kentucky in May.
While the focus is on the top pair, there are seven other entries with hopes to upset the favorites. The most likely candidate is Materiality, the son of the 2012 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex. He has won his only two career starts, both at Gulfstream Park, and makes his graded stakes debut on Saturday off a 6-length allowance win at the same 1 1/8-miles distance as the Florida Derby. His trainer Todd Pletcher won the 2014 Florida Derby with a colt that had a nearly identical resume. Like Materiality, last yearâ€™s winner Constitution made his debut in January, was undefeated in his lone two career starts at Gulfstream, and made his first graded stakes start in the Florida Derby. Pletcher, who also trains Itsaknockout, has won the Florida Derby twice and has been the leading trainer at Gulfstream Park the last 11 years. While there are many parallels between last yearâ€™s winner and Materiality, it should be noted that the field Constitution beat proved to be a weak one; he was injured following the race and didnâ€™t run in the Kentucky Derby. Determining the quality of this yearâ€™s field is a work in progress, but Materiality is an intriguing alternative to Upstart and Itsaknockout.
Amiâ€™s Flatter is the only entry outside of the two favorites who is among the top 20 in the current Kentucky Derby points standings. He earned his points with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Sam Davis Stakes in January and a distant second in his last start behind the very talented Carpe Diem in the Tampa Bay Derby. He never threatened Carpe Diem but did finish five lengths clear of the remainder of the field. While a trip to the winnerâ€™s circle Saturday is hard to imagine, he certainly has a chance to crack the top four, which would put him in a position to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. A win appears unlikely, but a trip to Churchill wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize for his owners.
Indianaughty sports the most interesting resume of the bunch, with starts in Europe, on both coasts of the U.S., and over multiple surfaces. He broke his maiden in England over a synthetic surface and won his North American debut at Gulfstream Park at one mile over the turf in January. He ran poorly in his first graded stakes try in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby in California where he finished ninth. The Florida Derby will be his first career start on the dirt. His trainer Dale Romans has had success in the Kentucky Derby prepping his entries on turf and synthetics — most notably Paddy Oâ€™Prado and Dullahan, both of whom a prep on the synthetic en route to third-place finishes in the Derby. Indianaughty is owned by Team Valor Racing, who campaigned 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. The connections are proven, but this colt would need to make a big leap forward to contend with the favorites on Saturday.
Trainer Dale Romans has another longshot entry with Jack Tripp, who has been beaten soundly by Florida Derby entry Itsaknockout and the much heralded Dortmund during his seven-race career. His lone win came against maidens last October. He has two starts this year in Gulfstream allowance races, which he lost by seven and 18 lengths respectively.
Dekabrist is trained by Gennadi Dorochenko who won the Louisiana Derby in 2012 with Hero of Order at odds of 109-1. Dorochenko has been ambitious with this colt, having run him 13 times with appearances in five graded stakes. However, he has not been competitive in stakes company and has not won since beating a short field of three in a listed stake at Gulfstream Park last summer.
Quimet finished far behind Florida Derby contender Materiality in his last start. He has one win in four career starts, including a second place finish in a 1 1/8-miles allowance race at Gulfstream in February. He is trained by Nick Zito, who won the Florida Derby in 2010 with the 20-1 longshot Ice Box.
My Point Exactly broke his maiden by 10 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream last August but has not raced since September. This is clearly a tough spot to make a 3-year-old debut. He will be among the longest shots on the board when the gates open Saturday.
2015 Florida Derby Replay
2015 Florida Derby News & Recaps
America’s Best Racing: Materiality Puts Pletcher in Familiar Spot
Blood-Horse: Florida Derby Race Sequence
Blood-Horse: Unbeaten Materiality Secures Florida Derby
Brisnet: Materiality stays perfect following Florida Derby
DRF: Quick thoughts, Florida Derby
DRF: Materiality wins Florida Derby to stay unbeaten
DRF: Road to the Derby analysis: Florida Derby
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