Kentucky Derby

2014 Kentucky Derby: Contender Watch List

In this edition of the ongoing series, Trending vs. Descending we take another look at the 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders and analyze their chances of winning the Kentucky Derby or missing the field all together.

As the prep season heats up there are a whole slew of horses trending in the right direction and, that’s the best place to start

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Second Generation Kentucky Derby Winners

Breeding has since changed. Racing in general has altered its course with updated factors that now play into training a champion as well. Even as the majority of exceptional horses that were gifted 3-yr-olds, as well as sires, are not so common, the chances of it occurring again are here.

This weekend the Road to the 2014 Kentucky Derby takes us to the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana for the G3 LeComte Stakes. Here you’ll find Smarty’s Echo, by 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, racing for the chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby and a shot at becoming the next Father, Son team to accomplish the rare but thrilling achievement.

Since the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 a total of 13 winners reached the pinnacle of racing just like their sire had done before. The last time the son of Kentucky Derby winner also wore the roses was in 1996. It wasGrindstone, by Unbridled, that stuck his nose in front of a hard charging Cavonnier and rode off into the sunset. The Kentucky Derby would be Grindstone’s final race as he was retired shortly thereafter. However, the champion owned and bred by Overbrook Farm will always be remembered for joining this elusive club.

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2013 Kentucky Derby Picks

Happy Derby Week racing fans! The long and exciting trail to the Kentucky Derby is drawing to a close. But, this stage of the journey is always the most exciting because it is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Throughout the prep season I haven’t been overly vocal about my Kentucky Derby rankings, contenders or choices but as of right now that is no longer the case. It’s derby week and the 139th Kentucky Derby is here so let’s dive in…….

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Kentucky Derby Jockey Changes and Confirmations

While there is always speculation that a mount won’t come their way, this year is proof that it normally will. But, when a horse loses a rider to another contender this question always follows: Will the jockey regret that decision?

We begin with a confirmation that came this earlier this week. Calvin Borel will ride Revolutionary. This is a prime example of a veteran landing a mount on a very strong contender after the major preps. What this also proves is that tough decisions need to be made. Similar to John Velazquez having to decide between Orb and Verrazano, another top jockey also had to trust his gut and pick the horse that he thinks will give him the best chance.

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The Best of the Rest

I’m not implying that the top contender for the 2013 Kentucky Derby has already been found. Albeit a very healthy group of top level entries have already rested their case, the major preps will not conclude until this weekend. The closing arguments for OrbVerrazanoGoldencents and Revolutionary were compelling. From derby hopefuls to legitimate post time favorites they, along with their connections, closed their trail to the Kentucky Derby with a bang. But again, I won’t say that the best is among them; not yet at least.

On Saturday we revisit Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby before we realize how close we are to the first Saturday in May and we circle back to Kentucky for the always coveted Blue Grass Stakes. The thrill of the prep season comes when you think you’ve found the horse that will eventually wear the roses. That moment may have already arrived but as long as there are major prep races to be run, an aha moment may still be waiting.

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Derby Newsstand, April 2

 

Derby Trends: Florida Derby or Louisiana Derby?

Welcome to the major prep season on the trail to the 2013 Kentucky Derby. On Saturday the countdown to the first Saturday May reaches 5 more weeks until we crown the winner of the 139th edition. So, things will be heating up from here and to spice it up even more, the long awaited monster point season begins this weekend as well (100-40-20-10). Over the next couple of weeks the points that are up for grabs and eventually awarded will also bring an answer to the lingering question we’ve all been waiting for; how many points will it take to make the starting gate?

But, before we speculate any further on that pressing query let’s look at another subject that revolves around the two legendary preps that are set to kick things off this weekend; the Florida and Louisiana Derby. Both of these well known preps have a long history on the Kentucky Derby trail but the difference between them producing a Kentucky Derby winner is like comparing Secretariat to the rest of the field in the Belmont Stakes.

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Sunland Derby: Overvalued Qualification Race?

Inaugurated in 2003, the Sunland Derby has come a long way in a short amount of time. The snap shot of its timeline: off the radar to worth a total of 85 qualification points. Did something happen in this short amount of time that made this prep so reputable. I can’t give one year or one single horse all the credit but the second biggest long shot in Kentucky Derby history may have helped.

hat’s so curious about Mine That Bird is that he didn’t race in a single graded stakes race in his 3-yr-old season prior to the Kentucky Derby. That’s right, it wasn’t until 2010 that the Sunland Derby became an official graded stakes race.

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Verrazano Probable for the Wood Memorial

For the fifth consecutive Kentucky Derby prep, a horse with one or less qualifying points emerged the victor. The first Kentucky Derby contender to join the fifty point club this past weekend was Verrazano, who dominated the field en route to winning the G2 Tampa Bay Derby. Following that effort later in the afternoon, and in thrilling come from behind fashion, was Hear the Ghost in the G2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.

Verrazano Shines 

Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Let’s Go Stable, the son of More Than Ready has long since been an expected derby contender. But, because he waited until now to make his graded stakes and two turn race debut, his status was also met with some speculation.

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The All-Weather Track Preps

Handicapping sure has changed since the inception of the All-Weather Track. What’s shifting with it is the amount of Kentucky Derby contender’s that race on the surface leading up to the first Saturday in May. Already this season we’re looking at a top contender named Violence. If his biggest win, coming on a synthetic surface, didn’t catch your attention then let me fill you in; it was a prime example. This weekend we head back to California and back to this other surface for the G3 El Camino Real Stakes.

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