Week of April 18, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
If you had hit the dime superfecta in both Kentucky Derby prep races you would have made almost $10,000. To say that longshots ruled the Derby preps this weekend would be an understatement of epic proportions. In fact, it hasn’t only been this weekend: “Average winning payout for the winners of the four Grade I Kentucky Derby preps of the last two weeks: $35.45.” In the Blue Grass Stakes favored Santiva came in 9th and in the Arkansas Derby favored The Factor was no factor, finishing 7th. Despite both of their non-efforts, The Factor and Santiva both seem to be shipping to Churchill Downs for a potential run in the Kentucky Derby. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that this year’s Derby is going to be a guessing game.
Local Archarcharch capped off a successful Oaklawn prep season by overtaking Sway Away and holding off a fast closing Nehro in the Arkansas Derby. Archarcharch won the Southwest Stakes (replay) in February and came in third in the Rebel Stakes (replay) in March. Nehro had the best closing kick getting the final quarter in a solid 12:42 and looked like he would’ve won the race with more distance. Nehro’s performance also flatters Louisiana Derby winner Pants on Fire, where Nehro also ran a game second (replay). Archarcharch and Nehro will meet again in the Kentucky Derby.
The Blue Grass Stakes seems less likely to will have an impact on the Derby and more of indication that we could see several interesting turf and synthetic specialists come out of this race. The top five finishers all showed very nice acceleration in the final quarter with winner Brilliant Speed, fourth place finisher Newsdad and fifth place finisher Crimson China all getting it in under 12 seconds. It should be noted that the Blue Grass was run very much like a turf race: slow early, fast late. The fact that the Arkansas Derby had a continuous fast pace makes Nehro’s accomplishment more inline with likely Derby conditions. Blue Grass winner Brilliant Speed will go on the Kentucky Derby and third place finisher King Congie will consider a run in the Preakness.
Elsewhere, 2010 Derby hopeful Aikenite scored a sentimental win in the Grade 2 Commonwealth at Keeneland. Finally scoring his first graded win, he also won his connections a coveted gold tray from Keeneland in honor of their eighth stakes victory at the track. While that may not sound like a striking achievement, only 16 other owners in Keeneland history have earned a gold tray.
In the Charles Town Classic it was Duke of Mischief who scored in the mud, holding off Game on Dude and Tizway (replay). Florida winning-machine Tackleberry saw his three race winning streak come to an end when he placed fourth. Havre de Grace finally scored her first Grade 1 in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park Friday, gamely running down Switch. Her main summer goal will be the Delaware Handicap.
Former Kentucky Oaks contender Turbulent Descent proved that her connections plan to keep her as a sprinter/miler paid off when she demolished the Grade 2 Beaumont field at Keeneland. Plans for the daughter of red-hot sire Congrats include the Acorn Stakes on the Belmont Stakes under card and The Test at Saratoga.
This week at the site we’ll continue our foundation posts with an introduction to speed. We’ll also take a look at the Jerome Handicap in Ten Things You Should Know About. We also rolled out a new version of the Beginners’ Corner! Whether you’re new to Hello Race Fans or new to racing, you should be able to more easily find content suited to your needs.
Don’t forget to join our Road to the Roses League!
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Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!