Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Derby Wednesday has arrived and the hours before the 138th Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw are closing in. The post draw is a fascinating element of the race. If any Trainer tells you that they don’t mind what post their horse is starting from in the Kentucky Derby don’t believe it because it’s a lie. And if any handicapper tells you the same, then don’t believe that either. Anybody that knows a little bit about horse racing has certain Post Positions or numbers that they don’t have a lot of confidence in. While it won’t stop a bet from being placed there’s still a lot of thought that goes into it before it’s made. So mix that in with a 20 horse field and you’ve got a lot people who are likely going to change their minds later tonight.

Post Position Draw will be 5-6 p.m. ET (Secretariat Lounge) and will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

Because of this and other superstitions it is also very common for a lot of people, including me of course, to never announce whose corner they’re in until after the Post Positions are set and any lingering questions are answered. Check back with me on whose corner I’m in later this week. In the meantime, another leading question for today is: Who’s Riding Alpha? The answer is expected to finally be announced sometime today prior to the post position draw.

All signs point towards Rajiv Maragh getting the nod but nothing will be confirmed until later today. The delay on the announcement doesn’t seem to be huge vote of confidence from Alpha’s connections but then again maybe the jockey that will be announced has already been assured of the mount off the record. The good news for Alpha is that he was able to get out and gallop over the track at Churchill Downs for the first time yesterday. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is also reported to be pleased that his colt appears to have fully recovered from a minor cut and infection that occurred after the Wood Memorial.

Yesterday was a very good day for legendary Trainer D. Wayne Lukas. After the news broke that Mark Valeski would not be entering the Kentucky Derby it left the door wide open for his colt Optimizer. Because Lukas was waiting for one of the potential entries to withdrawal no last-minute logistics are needed. Ranked #21 on the Graded Stakes Earnings List, Optimizer is already stabled at Churchill Downs and has been since leaving Hot Springs shortly after a disappointing 9th place finish in the Arkansas Derby. Since arriving at the downs he’s been out for two fairly decent works but is still expected to be a derby long shot.

The move eliminates Rosie Napravnik from securing a mount in the Kentucky Derby. Unless she gets the call on Alpha, it’s likely that she will not be riding at Churchill Downs this weekend. Look for her to return to Mark Valeski in the G2 Peter Pan next weekend at Belmont Park. If all goes well, trainer Larry Jones has said that he will likely look at sending him to the Belmont Stakes in June. As one jockey goes another one enters. It hasn’t been confirmed but the likely candidates for the mount on Optimizer will be Jon Court or Robby Albarado.

In other news, Todd Pletcher’s horses have arrived at Churchill Downs. El Padrino and Gemologist pulled in yesterday morning after flying from South Florida where they’ve been stabled. Palm Meadows Training Center has been home base since winter and has been a lively place to ship out from. On both occasions when they left the sunshine state they returned home a winner – El Padrino 1st G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds and Gemologist 1st G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Daddy Long Legs is expected to arrive today.

Last, lets briefly recap the final works for all of our Probable Kentucky Derby Entries

  • Final Works @ Churchill Downs

Tuesday 5/1                                                                                                                                          Rousing Sermon – 5F – 1:00.40

Monday 4/30                                                                                                                                      Creative Cause – 4F – 47:80                                                                                                                  Liaison- 5F- 1.00:80                                                                                                                          Sabercat- 4F- 48:40                                                                                                                       Daddy Nose Best – 4F- 49:40

Sunday 4/29 (Muddy)                                                                                                               Bodemeister – 5F- 59:60                                                                                                        Optimizer – 5F- 1.00:40

Saturday 4/28                                                                                                                                 Union Rags 5F- 59:80                                                                                                                       Dullahan – 5F- 1.01:20                                                                                                                 Prospective – 5F- 1.01:20                                                                                                                       Went the Day Well – 5F- 1.01:00                                                                                               Hansen – 5F- 1.01:20

  • Final Works Not At Churchill Downs

4/29 Alpha – Belmont – 5F – 59.54                                                                                                4/29 Gemologist – Palm Meadows – 5F – 50.39                                                                           4/29 El Padrino – Palm Meadows – 5F – 53.34                                                                          4/28 Done Talking – Laurel – 5F – 1:01.00                                                                                     4/27 I’ll Have Another – Hollywood – 6F – 1:13.80                                                                        4/26 Take Charge Indy – Palm Meadows – 5F – 1:00.47                                                           4/23 Trinniberg – Calder – 6F – 1:15.40

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