Did you miss us? We missed you and we’re happy to be back for our EIGHTH year of the Derby Prep Alert!
Just as in years past, we’ll bring you in-depth previews for the upcoming Kentucky Derby and Oaks prep races, along with free past performances and results charts from our sponsor, Brisnet.com. We’ll also post links to recaps and replays where available, so be sure to come back after the races.
What’s happened so far? Check out the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks prep schedules for a full list of winners to date, results charts for completed races, and upcoming scoring races. In addition to Beyer, Brisnet, Equibase and TimeformUS speed figures, we’ved added Trip Grades from OptixEQ.
News About the Contenders
Blood-Horse: Girvin, Farrell Exit Fair Grounds Wins Well
Blood-Horse: El Areeb Sharp in Five-Furlong Workout
Brisnet: Practical Joke works, Made You Look confirmed for Fountain of Youth new
Brisnet: Motion delighted with Irish War Cry ahead of Fountain of Youth new
Brisnet: El Areeb fires bullet for Gotham new
DRF: Watchmaker: Girvin beat suspect group in Risen Star
Racing Biz: Motion hoping for good dilemma with Irish War Cry
Blood-Horse: Guest Suite Taking Farish, Howard on Classic Ride
DRF: McCraken (5-1), Mastery (6-1) early futures favorites
Blood-Horse: Unique Bella Goes Easy in Five-Furlong Work
Blood-Horse: El Areeb Confirmed to Start in Gotham Stakes
Blood-Horse: Uncontested to Skip Rebel Stakes
Blood-Horse: One Liner Laughs Last in Southwest Stakes Victory
Blood-Horse: Grade 1 Winner Gormley Works Toward Next Start
Blood-Horse: Haskin’s Derby Dozen – February 21, 2017
Blood-Horse: Classic Empire Out of Fountain of Youth
Blood-Horse: Epicharis Earns Japan’s Kentucky Derby Bid
Blood-Horse: Zakaroff 48-1 Stunner in El Camino Real Derby
Blood-Horse: El Areeb Sharp in Return to Worktab
Brisnet: Kentucky Derby Report February 22: Two turns no problem for One Liner in Southwest
Brisnet: One Liner stays perfect in Southwest victory
Brisnet: Classic Empire, not totally over hoof abscess, skipping Fountain of Youth
Brisnet: Epicharis earns Kentucky Derby invitation; Gold Dream gets BC Classic spot
Brisnet: Risen Star, Rachel Alexandra workers & other news
Brisnet: El Areeb records sharp half-mile, trainer mulling next start
DRF: Three Rules has final Fountain of Youth workout
DRF: Road to the Derby: Southwest Stakes analysis
DRF: Kentucky Derby: Who’s hot, who’s not for Wednesday, Feb. 22
DRF: Derby Watch: Mo Town proving a bargain buy
DRF: Road to the Derby: El Camino Real Derby analysis
DRF: Kentucky Derby: Who’s hot, who’s not for Feb. 17, 2017
DRF: Road to the Derby: Sam F. Davis analysis
DRF: Road to the Derby: Withers Stakes analysis
DRF: Road to the Derby: Holy Bull Stakes analysis
DRF: Road to the Derby: Robert B. Lewis Stakes analysis
DRF: Road to the Derby: Lecomte Stakes analysis
Keeneland: Champion Champagne Room, Talented Unique Bella Top Fillies Nominated to Keeneland’s $500,000 Central Bank Ashland new
1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs)
2017 Busher Replay
2017 Busher News & Recaps
Brisnet: Yorkiepoo Princess rallies from off pace in Busher new
DRF: Yorkiepoo Princess makes Busher her third straight stakes win
NYRA: Yorkiepoo Princess wins two-turn debut in Busher
2017 Busher Preview
Back in August, Yorkiepoo Princess excited quite the online buzz when she was gate scratch at Saratoga in her debut. Absent this filly, her entrymate—who won–was forced to run for purse money only, rendering any tickets with the entry on them worthless.
It took Yorkiepoo Princess a couple of tries and a dropdown to break her maiden for trainer Eddie Barker; fortunately, she wasn’t taken out of the maiden claimer she won by seven lengths at Belmont in October, and she comes to Saturday’s Busher Stakes at Aqueduct, an official prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, on a two-race winning streak, both of them in stakes races, most recently the Ruthless over Aqueduct’s inner track by a margin of 7 1/2 lengths over two of the rivals she’ll face again in the Busher.
That win came on the lead, first off a layoff, and at six furlongs, far shorter than Saturday’s 1 1/16-miles tilt. The 3-1 morning line favorite, Yorkiepoo Princess does have a win at a mile, and the way she’s beaten up on her opponents suggests that the extra sixteenth of a mile won’t be a problem, though she’s likely to have company up front.
Among the other speedsters in the Busher is second choice Full House (7-2), a $125,000 purchase in a field full of horses that sold for much more modest prices. She made her first start late last year and has only a maiden win to her credit, but when she got to the winner’s circle in third start, at a mile over the inner track, she did it impressively, leading gate to wire and winning by 13 lengths.
Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Bride Street (8-1), faltered in the Ruthless last out but won her debut over Aqueduct’s main track back in November. Like many of the other contestants here, she’s stretching out for the first time, having run only at 6 furlongs. If her breeding counts for anything (Street Cry out of a Holy Bull mare), running a route should be well within her capabilities.
An intriguing entrant—and one of the few here who likes to come from off the pace—is Repole Stable’s Thirstforthecup, the priciest filly here, purchased last year for $170,000. Her sire is Mike Repole’s Stay Thirsty, whose ability at a distance is well-proven (winner of the Travers, the Cigar Mile, and the Jim Dandy; second in the Belmont and Jockey Club Gold Cup), and trainer Todd Pletcher has been running her at a distance since her second start… though it took her five times to hit the wire first. She debuted at Monmouth last August and then was off until November; she’s raced in New York only once in four races, all of her other starts coming at Parx, which is not generally a Pletcher/Repole M.O. Still, at 8-1 on the morning line, she intrigues.
Tiz Rae Anna (15-1) was claimed in her third start and was a distance second to Yorkiepoo Princess in the Ruthless. Tiz Rude (8-1) makes her first start at Aqueduct and comes to the Busher off a maiden-breaker in her sixth start at a distance of a mile and 70 yards. Heavenly Score (6-1), another pacesetter, is lightly raced with only two starts, both at 6 furlongs.
Banty’s Girl (15-1) makes her first attempt at a distance beyond 6 furlongs; her lone win in six starts came over a muddy Aqueduct inner, and she was beaten a half-length for second last out in the Ruthless. Spanish Harlem (6-1) began her career running 1 1/16 miles on the turf; she finished second, then trainer Danny Gargan switched her to the dirt to break her maiden at a mile and 70 yards. No Sweat (12-1) completes the field, having won at a mile at Parx in November (another Pletcher racing at Parx).
Rachel Alexandra Stakes
1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs)
2017 Rachel Alexandra News & Recaps
Brisnet: Farrell raises Oaks stature in Rachel Alexandra romp new
DRF: Farrell looks impressive winning Rachel Alexandra Stakes
TDN: Farrell Romps in Rachel Alexandra
2017 Rachel Alexandra Preview
In preparation for this start, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Valadorna (2-1) demonstrated her customary powerful late-kick in winning her seasonal debut at Fair Grounds in an entry-level allowance race. The daughter of 4-time 10-furlong Grade 1 winner Curlin has twice won at the 1 1/16-miles distance and proven quite adept at handling traffic issues while mounting a late charge. With plenty of early speed expected, she may get exactly the right set-up to win.
Four of the top five finishers from the listed Silverbulletday return to duel once again, with the nearly 3-length winner Farrell (5-2) looking to extend her winning streak to three races. Well-proven at this distance, she concluded her juvenile campaign with a 6-length wire-to-wire victory in the 1 1/16-miles Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs. A sharp 5-furlong workout on Sunday strongly suggests this Wayne Catalano trainee is ready for another big effort. Only a head bob separated runner-up Wicked Lick (10-1) and third-place finisher Gris Gris (12-1) in the Silverbulletday, and while only the former was moving forward at the end of that race, neither appears capable of upsetting the top fillies entered here.
A full sister to 2014 Eclipse champion three-year-old filly Untapable, Untapped (9-2) disappointed in the Silverbulletday, finishing a distant fifth, over six lengths behind Farrell. Perhaps she didn’t like the muddy track. Given that in her juvenile debut last year she finished less than one length behind Valadorna and followed that race up with two victories, both at the 1 1/16-miles distance, she’s already demonstrated the necessary stamina.
Of the two California invaders, only Shane’s Girlfriend (3-1) has previously made a trip east, posting a devastating 13-length victory over Delta Downs’ bullring-style track in the one-mile Grade 3 Delta Princess last November. In her next outing, the Doug O’Neill trainee took a significant step back, never proving to be a factor in the 7-furlong Grade 2 Santa Ynez against the super-impressive Unique Bella. Since then, she’s posted a series of impressive workouts, but whether or not she can successfully carry her already-proven speed the 1 1/16-miles distance is a legitimate question she will need to answer.
Still a maiden after seven starts, Majestic Quality (20-1) is the most raced filly in the field. She also offers perhaps the best longshot chance here, as the Desormeaux brothers return to their native Louisiana with a filly who has demonstrated plenty of potential in her willingness to run on well late. In her juvenile finale, she finished a strong third, one length behind the winner Mopotism who next-up was a distant runner-up behind Unique Bella in the 1-mile Grade 2 Las Virgenes. Trainer Keith Desormeaux then tried her on turf going 1 1/8 miles, and, although the daughter of 4-time Grade 1 winner Quality Road didn’t hit the board, she was definitely the filly closing strongest, not surprising given that her dam is a half-sister to 10-furlong Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks victress and Kentucky Oaks runner-up Octave. A bullet 5-furlong workout posted in advance of this start also bodes well for her upset chances.
Risen Star Stakes
1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs)
2017 Risen Star News & Recaps
Brisnet: Girvin launches winning move in Risen Star new
DRF: Girvin goes turf to dirt to capture Risen Star Stakes new
DRF: Girvin impressive in Risen Star Stakes win
TDN: Tale of Ekati’s Girvin Upsets Risen Star
2017 Risen Star Preview
The Remsen Stakes winner, a California invader and the top five finishers of the Lecomte Stakes highlight a large field in Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course.
All eyes are on highly-regarded Mo Town (7-2), winner of the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 26. This top Kentucky Derby prospect has been training forwardly in Florida with three straight bullet 5-furlong works ahead of his 3-year-old debut, his first start outside of New York. The Anthony Dutrow trainee has yet to post a poor effort and is the only runner in the field with experience beyond the 1 1/16-miles distance. Jockey John Velazquez visits Fair Grounds for the mount.
Mo Town boasts the class; the only question is the layoff, and the way he’s training, he looks ready.
Can Guest Suite (6-1) extend his win streak to three? The Neil Howard trainee proved his versatility with a win over a muddy track in the Grade 3 Lecomte, rallying from mid-pack under regular rider Robby Albarado.
He’s showed no signs of a letdown leading up to Saturday’s race, posting two straight bullet works at Fair Grounds. He drew an advantageous post (No. 6) as well and, with the perfect mid-stalking spot, this gelding could land in the winner’s circle once again.
California Derby winner So Conflated was an intriguing prospect until he drew wide in post 14. Steve Haskin of The BloodHorse reported So Conflated will scratch in favor of the Gotham Stakes on March 4.
Trainer Steve Asmussen wields a double threat with Untrapped (10-1), runner-up in the Lecomte, and Local Hero (4-1), who was impressive when he broke his maiden in his first try over the surface on Jan. 26.
Untrapped has progressed nicely with each start for jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. This colt was running well late over the muddy ground in the Lecomte, and although he couldn’t reach Guest Suite, a fast dirt surface could be favorable for this lightly-raced, off-the-pace runner making his second start off a layoff.
Local Hero, a son of 2007 Lecomte Stakes winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun, appeared refreshed when he romped in his 3-year-old bow here on Jan. 26. He’s taking a major step up in class from that maiden test, but he’ll have the advantage of Fair Grounds meet-leading jockey Florent Geroux. Look for him to be spotted on or close to the pace.
Donegal Racing’s Arklow (15-1), fourth in the Lecomte, is still seeking his first win. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan is aboard for the first time.
Well-traveled Shareholder Value (15-1), who has raced at five tracks over various surfaces, is an intriguing wild card for exotics. Although he’s yet to hit the board in two stakes races, he makes up ground late and has suffered some wide trips. He’s one to watch at longer distances.
Girvin (6-1) returns to dirt after a nice runner-up effort on turf in the Keith Gee Memorial in just his second career start. The Joe Sharp trainee won his debut over this surface, but jockey Brian Hernandez must devise a nifty game plan for navigating this colt from the rail in the full field.
Takeoff (10-1), (SCRATCHED) third in the Lecomte under Geroux, reunites with Julien Leparoux for the rematch. The Mark Casse trainee’s lone win was wire-to-wire in a maiden race here on Dec. 26. Although he’s still figuring things out, this colt is an interesting prospect with a lot of potential.
Trainer Keith Desormeaux and Big Chief Racing, whose 135-1 shot Ive Struck a Nerve rocked the toteboard in the 2013 Risen Star, are hoping for another shocker with California shipper Sorry Erik (30-1).
Big Chief Racing claimed Sorry Erik from Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill in January for $20,000. He’s won two straight at Santa Anita, including a romp in the mud at the Risen Star distance in a claiming race, and gets Kent Desormeaux aboard for the first time. The rapidly-developing 3-year-old must prove he belongs at the stakes level.
Long shots Cool Arrow (15-1) and U S Officer (20-1) have been dueling in the top stakes races for 2-year-olds at Remington Park, with Cool Arrow getting the best of his rival in two meetings. The duo boasts two contrasting running styles with Cool Arrow a front-runner/stalking type and U S Officer a late runner. Both are facing a tough challenge coming off a two-month layoff and stretching out for the first time.
Oaklawn Park invader Horse Fly (30-1), who comes in off his first win in his sixth start for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, and
It’s Your Nickel (30-1) (SCRATCHED), with a tough challenge in post 13, round out the field.
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