Month: April 2012

Riding For Their First Kentucky Derby Win

16 Jockeys Are Ready For The Challenge

Johnny V Celebrates His 1st Kentucky Derby Win

The field of 20 in the Kentucky Derby always includes Jockeys that are still working to find themselves in the winner’s circle on the first Saturday in May. It is without a doubt the most highly regarded race in American Thoroughbred racing so the privilege to wear the roses can be the pinnacle of any rider’s career. But getting through the Kentucky Derby trail and securing a mount is only half the battle. Taking advantage of the opportunity and grinding your way through a maze of 19 other horses en route to winning what’s known as “the fastest two-minutes in sports” is where the racing triumph is really achieved.

Since the field for 138th Kentucky Derby only includes 4 previous winners means that it leaves 16 Jockeys all riding to make 2012 their first. It’s a long road to travel but a journey that’s surely unlike any other. And if you think it’s tough to win just 1 then just imagine how electric it has to be to have done it on 3 different occasions.

Previous Kentucky Derby Winning Riders (more…)

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Chasing Apollo

Bodemeister Aims At Changing History

Bodemeister Drills 5F at Churchill Downs

Year after recent year Kentucky Derby trends are slowing fading but only one still withstands the test of time. Since Apollo in 1882 there has not been a Kentucky Derby winner that didn’t race at age 2. Talk about a few lifetimes ago, this trend dates back to a time where the Kentucky Derby wasn’t close to where it is today. Apollo is a horse so unidentifiable that it will only be a matter of time before the casket closes on this trend and he is known as a 19th Century Kentucky Derby winner. Until then however, he respectfully remains the owner of a feat that has been tested but never solved.

Dating back to the 1940’s there have been over 50 attempts at ending the Apollo Curse therefore it’s a trend that has had plenty of opportunities to fail. There is a lot of explanations that will combine the changes in the sport, the size of the field and the advantages of racing at age 2 but one day this trend will end. When is the question but is Bodemeister the answer? He could very well be and what’s interesting about this colt and his chances are some similarities with recent attempts.

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A Closer Look At Our All-Weather Track Winners

Handicapping has changed since the inception of All-Weather Tracks became regular over the last 5 years. What’s also changing and increasing is the amount of Kentucky Derby contenders that have raced on the surface prior to the first Saturday in May. Often referred to as Polytrack, Cushion Track or Synthetics, the main reason it is more frequent is due to the amount of tracks on the Derby Trail that opted to replace the dirt. While that is the common dominator another contributing dynamic is how confident our trainers are these days with introducing their horses to it. The further a trainer goes to establish comfort levels with their colts on anything from Turf, to Poly and to Dirt, the more Kentucky Derby Contenders we’re going to see that have raced on all of them.

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Is A Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Runner Ready to Wear the Roses?

The Rare Feat Has Better Odds in 2012 

Back in October when the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was approaching I was amazed when I took a closer look at how often the Juvenile was used as a set up for the Kentucky Derby prep season the following spring. Upon learning how many eventual Kentucky Derby Champions were even entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is when I was left wondering – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Unlikely Road to Kentucky Derby Glory? The reason I asked myself that question is because I wasn’t expecting there to be only 5. Yes, in 26 years only 5 Kentucky Derby champions ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. That may not be much of a surprise to many but to me it was lower than I expected.

Juvenile Entry and Kentucky Derby Winner (Juvenile Finish)

  • Mine That Bird, 2008-09 (12)
  • Street Sense, 2006-07 (1)
  • Sea Hero, 1992-93 (7)
  • Alysheba, 1986-87 (3)
  • Spend a Buck, 1984-85 (3)

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The Morning Line: Coolmore Lexington Stakes

Last Call

ML Favorite Castaway Winning the Southwest Stakes

Welcome to the final Kentucky Derby Prep, a race that serves as the final chance to qualify for the big show two weeks later. The general consensus is that the G3 $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes will not produce a last-minute addition the Kentucky Derby field but let’s not discount the power of persuasion. In the last 10 years the connections of 7 winners were not able to avoid the temptation because the first Saturday in May is rather hard to say no to. The reason that any trainer or owner gives in could be because they still remember the most unforgettable winner.

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Bodemeister Wires His Way to the Kentucky Derby

The Arkansas Derby Winner Was Just Too Good

Catch Me If You Can

All that a derby hopeful ever really needs is a spot in the starting gate along the trail. If so, the talent will take care of the rest. Attention ladies and gentlemen, Bodemeister has landed in Louisville, Kentucky. Catching a ride with the Arkansas Derby winner was stable mate and 2nd place finisher Secret Circle as well as Sabercat who finished 3rd. All three horses returned to their barns in good order and have completed the move from Oaklawn Park to Churchill Downs where they will now remain until they race again in the 138th Kentucky Derby.

Bodemeister showed up in Hot Springs ready to run. More importantly the Virginia Bred colt was ready to claim his spot in the Kentucky Derby. Entering with only $60,000 to his name it was all or nothing that would decide if he would qualify for the biggest race of his age group. Not only did we get it all, Bodemeister gave us even more. His dominance was by far the most impressive performance on the 2012 Kentucky Derby trail. There are a lot of factors that play into that statement so let’s begin with numbers behind it. – Replay

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Dullahan Accelerates in the Blue Grass Stakes

Front Running Hansen Caught From Behind

The major Kentucky Derby preps are in the books and so are the questions surrounding the next race. A main inquiry will be if anyone is willing to replace Hansen with Dullahan on their list of top contenders for the 138th Kentucky Derby. If you take Trainer Dale Romans comments into consideration after the score in the G1 $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes then Dullahan’s stock is most certainly rising. The Louisville native is confident as ever with what he has in his barn and he’s not shying away from the fact that he thinks this horse is better than any of his others. “This is the best chance by far that I’ve had,” he said, “and I think he’s the right horse.”

The key word in that comment by Dale Romans is “by far”. There’s something to be said about a trainer who is very blunt when commenting on how good he thinks his horse really is. To put him ahead of Shackleford, 2011 Preakness Stakes winner, by so much definitely gets my attention. I give Dale Romans a lot of credit for his confidence with Dullahan and I give him a lot more credit for a spectacular win in the Blue Grass Stakes, his first ever in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Prep. (Replay)

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Derby Wins From the Blue Grass and Arkansas

The major difference in today’s Kentucky Derby Preps when it relates to how many eventual Kentucky Derby winners came from each race is the score: 23-5. The advantage goes to the Blue Grass Stakes, the prep that dates back further and been designated by the American Graded Stakes process as a Grade 1 race for much longer. However, over the last 8 years the advantage goes to the Arkansas Derby. Both races have accomplished their fair share of notoriety but only one has the honor of claiming a Triple Crown Champion.  (more…)

The Morning Line: Blue Grass Stakes

On To Kentucky 

Tom Keyser

ML Favorite Hansen

When the Kentucky Derby trail reaches Lexington, KY is when you know that the Kentucky Derby is right around the corner. Since the G1 $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes was restored at Keeneland in 1937, the race has remained one of the most successful steps along the road to Louisville. In 2012 the Blue Grass Stakes has drawn the attention of 13 horses, the most since 1974 when 14 starters entered. Attracting even more interest is the morning line favorite Hansen, the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion to race in the Bluegrass Stakes since eventual Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in 2007. But the underlying story that is gaining speed is the overwhelming drive for graded stakes earnings. The field for the 138th Kentucky Derby is not yet done taking shape and is one long shot win away from being reshuffled.

Similar to the Arkansas Derby there is a limited amount of horses that have already punched their tickets to the big show. What that means is that if an unlikely winner emerges then they will be rewarded with a spot in the starting gate after claiming their $450,000 portion of the purse. What it also means is that since no entries are currently ranked on the bubble, the $150,000 2nd place prize will not be enough to qualify. So for the Kentucky Derby to receive another entry from the Blue Grass Stakes it will have to be a winner outside of the big 3.  (more…)

The Morning Line: Arkansas Derby

Welcome to Bob Baffert Land

Secret Circle wins the Rebel

Yes you read that correctly, Oaklawn Park is the place that Bob Baffert has owned on the 2012 Derby Trail. It’s also now the place where his streak will be put to a Grade 1 test in the $1 Million Arkansas Derby. It’s going to take more of the same to eliminate this field but he’s not going into battle alone. Coming with him is the jockey that rode in all three wins and more importantly so is the horse that was responsible for two of those wins.

The trickiest part about the troops accompanying him back to Hot Springs is that the two time winner isn’t even the morning line favorite. So since Baffert has a pair of horses representing the favorite and second choice then how hard is it going to be for him to walk away with 4 consecutive wins? That is a valid point but there’s still one hurdle that needs to be cleared. In his hall of fame career Bob Baffert has yet to win in the Arkansas Derby. So Game On, Baffert is on board for the challenge. (more…)