Not even the best thoroughbred trainers in the world are guaranteed an entry into the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Such was the case for Bob Baffert in 2013. After War Academy was eased up and did not finish in the Arkansas Derby, the misfortunes for Baffert’s barn continued. At the end of April three Baffert horses had qualified for the Derby, yet their status was still uncertain. Then on the Sunday before the Run for the Roses, Power Broker was ruled out. On the next day a final decision on Code West and Govenor Charlie was also made.
For the first time since 2008, there would be no horse running in the Kentucky Derby for the legendary trainer. But, that’s just horse racing and the result of a very challenging prep season. However, as with any Hall of Famer you can’t count them out for too long.
This weekend,Bob Baffert features two strong contenders in a Santa Anita Derby prep when Midnight Hawk and Chitu continue their pursuit of qualifying for the 2014 Kentucky Derby in the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, worth a total of 17 points (10-4-2-1).
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It’s been thirty three days since Honor Code turned heads in the Remsen and Tapitureprevailed in the Kentucky Jockey Club. It may seem longer ago than that but keep calm the scoring resumes on Saturday.
We begin the New Year at a familiar yet once forgotten place. The good news is that it only took Churchill Downs one year before they recognized that the Jerome Stakes deserves to be an official qualification race. And so now it is and eight derby hopefuls are ready to go.
We begin with the heavy favorite that will be breaking from post position 1, Noble Moon. The son of Malibu Moon and Mambo Bell returns to Aqueduct after he finished 3rd last time out in the G2 Nashua Stakes on 11/3. Trained by Leah Gyarmati, Noble Moon gets most of his attention on the morning line with pretty good reason.
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The 2013 Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win & You’re In’ Series has begun. While Cleburne became a leading contender in the East, the front runner out west will be determined this weekend.
In the first of four automatic qualifier races Cleburnewas game enough to hold off his eager stablemate, Smart Cover, by a neck in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. Dale Romans and Donegal Racing teamed up for the brilliant 1-2 finish and have put themselves in a beautiful position leading up to the Juvenile.
But, the Breeders’ Cup will be a Santa Anita again this fall. Therefore, a smooth and powerful win on Saturday can lead to a lot of buzz surrounding the home track advantage. Much has to be done to earn it, yet the field in this year’s addition of the FrontRunner Stakes has me thinking that a live favorite for the Juvenile could emerge.
I’ll Have Another Has Reached His Date with Destiny
Sports are most recognized for records, dynasties, amazing moments or athletes and the performances of its champions. Even as the glory is coveted through the history of every sport, the same goes for the moments of mystery, losing streaks, heart-break and in the case of Thoroughbred Racing, the Triple Crown drought. The ongoing phenomenon has reached 34 years since the crown was last worn but so has the moment when I’ll Have Another enters the arena. The Belmont Stakes Barn is a full house, the post positions have been drawn, and the Morning Line Odds set so without further ado we bring you the special Triple Crown edition of THE MORNING LINE.
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The majority of racing fans are pulling for a Triple Crown. The City of Baltimore seems to be locked in with the Kentucky Derby winner. The general public would love to see a name like this carry its legacy on to the final leg where New York City will be waiting with open arms. But the odds maker has spoken and Bodemeister is your Morning Line Favorite once again. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another is stalking close behind. Oddly enough this story is setting up to be a precursor to the race itself, round two between the front vs. the stalker. Buckle up race fans, this one could get interesting.
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So the journey to the Kentucky Derby has just about reached the end of the road. The ride has been a joy but it’s not over yet. The only time the Kentucky Derby Trail really ends is after the field crosses the wire and the winner accepts the bed of roses. But who the winner will be remains to be seen. There can be multiple ways to interpret “Wide Open” as the description of a race but when it’s used in 2012 for the 138th Kentucky Derby it’s with very good reason. Before we jump into who The Derby Post is calling a winner, let’s open up the discussion on this year’s field.
Click Here for a complete look at the 138th Kentucky Derby Field, Post Positions and Morning Line Odds (more…)
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.
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…)
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…)
Trends have played a major role in handicapping over the last thirty years concerning the Kentucky Derby. Several trends have steered handicappers away from certain horses because they don’t fit the dosage index or they are the morning line favorites. Others stay away from geldings, polytrack horses, BC Juvenile champions and recently Wood Memorial winners. Some horses have broken these curses over the last several years, but the amount of Wood winners is almost nonexistent.
It has been 12 years since the last winner of the Wood Memorial went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Fusaichi Pegasus was the overwhelming favorite in both races and proved he was worthy of the derby crown. Since Pegasus’ victory, the only Wood winner to make some noise in the Triple Crown was Empire Maker in 2003. Empire Maker ran 2nd to Funny Cide (3rd in the Wood) in the Kentucky Derby and won the Belmont Stakes five weeks later. In fact the last three Wood winners (I Want Revenge, Eskendereya, and Toby’s Corner) haven’t even made it to the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. So why would anyone want to win the Wood Memorial Stakes and hope to win the Kentucky Derby? (more…)