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Old 04-08-2008, 06:23 PM   #76
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Default Asmussen shifts attention to next goal with Pyro
Asmussen shifts attention to next goal with Pyro


PYRO
Carlos Ramos/Matt Goins Photos
by Jeff Lowe

After succeeding in two of the world’s richest races with Curlin, trainer Steve Asmussen finds himself in the enviable position of shifting his attention to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) with Pyro.

Collecting the trophies for the Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (G1), Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), and Kentucky Derby would be a significant feat—no trainer has ever won all three races, let alone within a span of a little more than six months.

“It’s been pretty amazing, to have such fabulous horses,” Asmussen said on Monday morning outside his barn at Keeneland Race Course, his grin widening with each word.

Curlin galloped on Monday, a day after arriving at Keeneland following a stopover at Belmont Park in his return from Dubai, where he joined Cigar, Pleasantly Perfect, and Invasor (Arg) as the only horses to win the world’s two most lucrative dirt races.

“[Owner Jess Jackson] has to be commended for letting us continue to race him, to see how good he can be,” Asmussen said. “I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

Asmussen is right where he hoped to be with Pyro when he outlined a plan to get the colt to the Kentucky Derby. Pyro figures to be a strong favorite for Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, after beginning his season with victories in the Risen Star Stakes (G3) and Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.

“He ran solid last year and we gave him a little break over the winter, and I love how he’s developed,” Asmussen said. “He’s a beautiful horse, and he’s had two solid races in him this year. They aren’t brilliant, but they’re solid.

“[Mentally], he’s matured. I don’t see a big change in him with the fact that he’s simply older. He’s still physical, somewhat playful, but he understands racing better than he did last year.”

Pyro breezed an easy four furlongs in :50.60 before daybreak on Monday at Keeneland. He has never raced on a Polytrack surface, but he trained at Keeneland last fall prior to his second-place finish to War Pass in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

“The main thing is at this stage, you don’t want to be watching The Weather Channel 24 hours a day,” Asmussen said of the peace of mind that an all-weather surface provides.

Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) winner Cool Coal Man and Gotham Stakes (G3) winner Visionaire also are expected for the Blue Grass, along with Cowboy Cal, Halo Najib, Kentucky Bear, Medjool, and Miner's Claim.

Monba is under consideration for either the Blue Grass or the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G2) on April 19 at Keeneland.

Trainer Barclay Tagg is leaning toward the Blue Grass with Tampa Bay Derby (G3) winner Big Truck, although the Lexington also is a possibility.

Tagg also is tentatively looking at the Lexington for Elysium Fields, who washed out severely before finishing 11th in the Florida Derby (G1) on March 29. He entered the Florida Derby off a strong runner-up finish in the Fountain of Youth. Both Big Truck and Elysium Fields are scheduled to breeze four furlongs on Tuesday at Keeneland.

Elysium Fields would need to hit the board in the Lexington to have enough graded stakes earnings to crack the Derby field, which is capped at 20 starters.

“He needs money,” Tagg said. “He had a bad experience in the Florida Derby, and it’s messed me up. I don’t know quite what to do with him. I think that a bad race is still a hard race. He might not have run as hard as if he had run the whole way, but he came out of it exhausted and on the verge of heat stroke. It was just a bad day.”

Big Truck is on the bubble with $194,500 in graded stakes earnings.

“I don’t really need to run him again, but I might have to to get in,” Tagg said. “I’d really like to run him in the Derby because he’s got a tremendous amount of stamina.”

Tale of Ekati joined Tagg’s string at Keeneland following his win in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) on April 5 at Aqueduct. The Tale of the Cat colt rebounded from a sixth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby that Tagg attributes mostly to a slow start.

“The guy was jerking him around in the [gate] and he just got away bad,” he said. “He has a habit of getting away bad, so we worked on that a little bit, and we came back and he broke well enough the other day and made up for it. I guess he got enough out of the Louisiana Derby and it set him up for the Wood. He got a lot out of [the Wood]. He dug in pretty well.”

War Pass and Court Vision, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, in the Wood Memorial, will likely proceed with Tale of Ekati to the Kentucky Derby.

Trainer Eoin Harty said he will ship Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Colonel John to Churchill Downs sometime between April 20 and April 22, which would give the Tiznow colt at least ten days to train on the dirt surface prior to the Derby on May 3. Colonel John has never raced on a conventional dirt track.

Bob Black Jack, the runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby, also will be considered for the Kentucky Derby.

Recapturetheglory will move on to Churchill after his upset win on the front end in the Illinois Derby (G2). Trainer Louie Roussel III owns Recapturetheglory in partnership with Ronald Lemarque. Roussel named the Cherokee Run in reference to their success with champion Risen Star, the 1988 Preakness (G1) and Belmont (G1) Stakes winner.

Denis of Cork finished a dull fifth as the even-money favorite in the Illinois Derby, but trainer David Carroll said the Harlan’s Holiday colt would continue on toward the Kentucky Derby.

“You just kind of shake your head and move on,” Carroll said. “He had one of those days. I guess we all have them, you know?”

Z Humor, the third-place finisher in the Illinois Derby, also is likely for the Kentucky Derby, said Sobhy Sonbol, racing manager for owner Ahmed Zayat.

Trainer Bob Baffert may still be heard on the Derby trail with Samba Rooster, who is slated for the Lexington Stakes after he was purchased privately by Bernie Schiappa, Ernie Moody, and J. Terrence Lanni.

Samba Rooster finished second to Harlem Rocker in an entry-level allowance race on March 30 at Gulfstream Park. The Songandaprayer colt is not nominated to the Triple Crown.

Baffert trained 2006 Blue Grass winner Sinister Minister for the same partnership.

“Bernie wanted some action,” Baffert said of the recent deal. “We figure he’s a need-the-lead type horse and maybe going two turns he’ll just keep on going.”

Baffert joked that Sinister Minister’s runaway performance in the Blue Grass may have been the final straw that led Keeneland to replace its dirt track with the synthetic Polytrack surface.

“I wish we had that old dirt track for [Samba Rooster],” Baffert said.
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:34 PM   #77
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Default Pyro on smooth ride to Kentucky Derby
Pyro on smooth ride to Kentucky Derby leading up to final prep in the Blue Grass




By Jeffrey Mcmurray, Associated Press Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. — It's 11 a.m., lunch time at trainer Steve Asmussen's barn at Keeneland. As less-famous horses use loud grunts and violent kicks to demand they be fed next, their celebrity stablemate Pyro quietly waits his turn.
He's like that on the racetrack, too.

Asmussen says the 3-year-old colt known for his stunning finishes always devours each meal, including a 4 a.m. breakfast and 5 p.m. dinner. But while the horse has the appetite, pedigree and racing credentials of a leading Kentucky Derby contender, he seldom shows much aggression or ego - at least until it's time.

"He's developed nicely, matured nicely," said Asmussen, who also trained Curlin, the 2007 horse of the year and this year's winner of the $6 million Dubai World Cup. "He's been very professional on the racetrack, a good feeler in the barn. He's definitely a horse that's easy to handle, easy to be around. He's shown a lot of respect for his job."

That job is to try to do something Curlin wasn't able to pull off - win the Derby. But first comes one last prep, the Blue Grass Stakes Saturday on Keeneland's Polytrack, where Pyro is expected to be the favorite. A win would make him one of the favorites to take the Derby on May 3 at Churchill Downs.

Shaun Bridgmohan, Pyro's regular rider, said he has seldom seen a horse improve so much, so quickly.

"The transition period from a 2-year-old to a 3-year-old, he's made it very well," Bridgmohan said. "You get on those young horses and always have high hopes for them. He actually panned out the way I thought he would."

In two starts this year, both victories, Pyro has shown finishing speed that even Asmussen didn't expect. Especially impressive was his victory Feb. 9 in the Risen Star Stakes, in which he soared from last in the field to a comfortable two-length victory at the end.

David Fiske, farm manager at Corinthia, a 320-acre family-owned horse farm in Lexington where Pyro was born, said that race made him understand this horse is even more special than he realized.

"We'd always thought he was good," Fiske said. "Then you turn for home and you're last, so a lot of thoughts race through your mind. We couldn't have been that wrong. What happened? Did he get hurt? Then he wins. It's not the way it was scripted."

Last month, Pyro used a similar comeback to take the Louisiana Derby. Since arriving at Keeneland thereafter, he has worked out in the predawn hours each Monday and explored the surroundings.

Last Saturday, he walked to the paddock with several other horses on their way to a race. As they hit the track, Pyro stayed behind, studying each tree.

"He'll do whatever you ask him to do," jockey Dominic Terry said after riding Pyro during a recent workout. "When he runs, he can get himself out of trouble. Really classy as a 3-year-old, very mature."

One of only five colts in a 2005 crop by Pulpit and out of Wild Vision, Pyro provides the best hope of a Derby victory for the Winchells, a longtime racing family that owns Corinthia and a 154-year-old mansion with red bricks and white pillars that sits on the property.

Since primary owner Verne Winchell's death in 2002, the thoroughbred racing business has passed on to Winchell's wife, Joan, and son, Ron, both of whom live in Las Vegas but visit the mansion several times a year.

The family has had several starters in the Kentucky Derby, including Zanjero last year, but its highest finish so far was Classic Go Go's fourth-place showing in 1981.

Fiske, who helped deliver Pyro, acknowledges he was no miracle horse, destined to be a champion from his early days as a yearling. But, his development - and cooperation with those trying to train him - make him believe this could be the one.

"He was remarkable for being unremarkable," Fiske said. "That seems to be the way a lot of them are. The good ones tend to take care of themselves, tend to be good-doers. They're not the ones that tend to get injured or sick or that you have to put back together."

Asmussen, however, remains cautious in predicting big things for his latest 3-year-old star.

"He hasn't run a race to this point that is good enough to win the Derby," Asmussen said. "But we also think he's in position to move forward. It'll all be timing and fortunate circumstances."
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:56 PM   #78
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Default Tomcito
Multiple Group 1 winner TOMCITO (Street Cry [Ire]), who finished third in the Florida Derby (G1) in his United States racing debut, traveled to Churchill Downs on Wednesday to get a feel for the track prior to a possible start in the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 3.

The Peruvian import traveled by van from trainer Dante Zanelli's base at Keeneland and worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 on a fast track under Manfredy Guzman, who is a former jockey in Peru.

Churchill Downs clockers caught Tomcito in fractions of :13 2/5, :26 1/5, :38 and :50. Tomcito galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5. The move ranked fifth among 18 works at the distance.

Zanelli said he actually worked Tomcito six furlongs and he caught the colt in a time of 1:14 3/5, but was pleased with the trial regardless of the official clocking.

"We wanted him to just recognize the track and know where the finish line was," Zanelli said. "We wanted to do an easy three-quarters, and that's exactly what he did. He finished strong -- he finished 11-and-three the last eighth and he galloped out well. He's really moving forward big time. He's improving every day and he's doing it really well."

Tomcito has been mentioned as a candidate for the $325,000 Lexington S. (G2) on April 19 at Keeneland, but Zanelli said he is taking a "wait and see" approach on that race. He would prefer not to run again prior to the Kentucky Derby, but Tomcito might not have sufficient earnings in graded stakes races to make the maximum 20-horse field in the Derby.

"We're going wait and see what happens this weekend (in Derby prep races)," Zanelli said. "We'll have to do what we have to do, but we think the five weeks between the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby would work for us. He is professional, he knows what to do and he has experience from last year."

Zanelli said Tomcito would remain at Keeneland until shortly before the Derby.

"We'll come back and breeze next week up there (at Churchill Downs)," Zanelli added. "At this point, I think we'll stay put (at Keeneland) until the last few days."

Unlike his Kentucky Derby rivals, Tomcito has already run and won at the Kentucky Derby distance of a mile and a quarter and the Belmont S. (G1) distance of a mile and a half. He has graded stakes earnings of $151,292.

Correction: Lane's End S. (G2) winner ADRIANO (A.P. Indy) did not work at Keeneland on Tuesday.
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:58 PM   #79
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Default Kentucky Derby Report
KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

APRIL 10, 2008

by James Scully

Saturday featured a whirlwind of three key prep races. COLONEL JOHN (Tiznow) lived up to expectations in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), solidifying his status as a top Kentucky Derby (G1) contender with a late-running victory. TAKE OF EKATI (Tale of Cat), a classy juvenile who had been written off following a clunker in the Louisiana Derby (G2), gained a measure of redemption with his late rally in the Wood Memorial (G1). And the Illinois Derby (G2) was a complete shocker, with maiden winner RECAPTURETHEGLORY (Cherokee Run) rolling to a four-length, wire-to-wire score at nearly 16-1.

We'll start with "The Colonel." The WinStar homebred caught a game BOB BLACK JACK (Stormy Jack) in deep stretch of the Santa Anita Derby, winning by a half-length on the wire, and Colonel John will head to Louisville, Kentucky, with a two-for-two mark this season, opening his sophomore campaign with a half-length victory in the March 1 Sham S. (G3). Both wins came at 1 1/8 miles, and the Eoin Harty-trained colt owns an excellent pedigree for the 1 1/4-mile distance. Jockey Corey Nakatani will be pursuing his first Kentucky Derby win.

Colonel John's lack of a triple-digit BRIS Speed rating is disconcerting, but he's proving to be a powerful finisher. He closed well for runner-up honors in his two-year-old finale, earning a 106 BRIS Late Pace rating in the December 22 CashCall Futurity (G1), and netted a 115 Late Pace number in the Sham, racing up on the lead from the start in a slow-paced race. Colonel John reverted to rating tactics in the Santa Anita Derby, patiently traveling in midpack during the early stages, and left himself with plenty of work to do in the stretch. He rallied in dynamic fashion to win going away, netting a 118 Late Pace rating while registering a career-best 98 Speed rating, and his Speed ratings will keep getting better.

With a solid two-year-old foundation to his credit, Colonel John will enter the Kentucky Derby on the upswing off a lightly raced three-year-old campaign. All signs point toward a peak performance on Derby Day, with his long strides devouring ground through the stretch at Churchill Downs, and Colonel John can put himself in a favorable position with his tactical speed. His supporters got great value at 19-1 and 17-1, respectively, in Pool 1 and 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Colonel John closed at 6-1 in Pool 3.

Dirt remains a question. Harty plans to drill Colonel John over Churchill's track the week before, but the colt owns no experience on natural soil, making all six career appearances over synthetic surfaces in California. However, it's easy to imagine him taking to a dirt track with his breeding (sire Tiznow won the Breeders' Cup Classic [G1] at Churchill). The unbeaten Zenyatta, who is by 2007 Derby-winning sire Street Cry (Ire), had no trouble transferring her outstanding synthetic form into her dirt debut in Saturday's Apple Blossom H. (G1) at Oaklawn Park, knocking off champion Ginger Punch (Awesome Again) with a sensational late run. Nobody should be surprised to see Colonel John do the same.

Colonel John looks as dangerous as they come in this year's Kentucky Derby crop.

Bob Black Jack turned in a honest effort while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time. He distinguished himself as a sprinter over the winter, winning the six-furlong Sunshine Millions Dash at Santa Anita in 1:06 2/5 on January 26, and recorded a solid third when making his two-turn debut next time out in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe S. (G2), finishing 1 3/4 lengths back of the winning Georgie Boy (Tribal Rule). After setting the pace in his three previous starts, Bob Black Jack settled nicely off the flank of pacesetter COAST GUARD (Stormy Atlantic) in second, waiting until the stretch to make his move for the lead in the Santa Anita Derby. He gained the advantage late and never quit trying while drifting in and out. In terms of getting 1 1/4 miles, Bob Black Jack owns little-to-no chance from a pedigree perspective, and he'll likely revert back to sprinting at some point this season, with the seven-furlong King's Bishop S. (G1) at Saratoga being a perfect target. But he's earned his chance to compete in the Kentucky Derby.

Coast Guard held commendably for third, but lacks graded earnings (27th on the Kentucky Derby list with $130,000). He'll be a fresh horse in the Preakness (G1). YANKEE BRAVO (Yankee Gentlemen) entered the stretch full of run but flattened out in the final furlongs, checking in fourth. He's too far back on the earnings list in 33rd.

The Santa Anita Derby served as a potential nightmare for the connections of 9-5 favorite EL GATO MALO (El Corredor), who earned only $15,000 for his fifth-place finish. El Gato Malo launched an early move to reach contention midway on the far turn in the Santa Anita Derby, but he was in trouble when David Flores went to the whip approaching the stretch drive and came up empty in the lane. Winner of the San Rafael S. (G3) and second in the Sham, El Gato Malo seemed assured of securing a spot in the Kentucky Derby field entering the Santa Anita Derby, but he's now on the outside looking in with $145,000 in graded earnings, ranking 25th on the graded earnings list. Some of the horses ahead of him will be withdrawn from consideration in the coming weeks, but the three remaining preps -- the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G2), $750,000 Blue Grass S. (G1) and $325,000 Lexington S. (G2) -- will vault prospects past him as well. The gelding needs some help.

Tale of Ekati rallied determinedly to catch WAR PASS (Cherokee Run) in the Wood Memorial, responding to jockey Edgar Prado's desperate urgings to wear down the beleaguered pacesetter in the final yards for a half-length victory. Winner of the seven-furlong Futurity (G2) prior to a fourth in the sloppy Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), Tale of Ekati entered 2008 with big expectations, but the Barclay Tagg pupil waited until March 8 to make his seasonal bow and didn't get much out of the Louisiana Derby, racing far back throughout after a slow start. He drilled consecutive four-furlong works from the gate at the Palm Meadows training center in preparation for the Wood, and the bay colt broke much better, settling into a stalking third for the run down the backstretch.

War Pass got burned by the rabbit INNER LIGHT (Songandaprayer), who forced War Pass to run unreasonable early splits in :22 2/5 and :46 over the slow Aqueduct track. War Pass registered huge E1 and E2 Early Pace numbers of 121 and 123, but the early exploits took their toll, leaving him rubber-legged by the stretch drive. Both the winner and runner-up finished slowly. Tale of Ekati, who stalked a few lengths behind the leaders down the backstretch, was able to save more for the stretch, but he was softened up by the wicked pace, earning a 77 Late Pace rating. War Pass got a 71.

Tale of Ekati received a 100 Speed rating in the Wood. He owns a regal female pedigree for 1 1/4 miles, and Prado will attempt to secure a stalking trip in the first flight behind the front runners. That proved to be the catbird seat for the Tagg-trained Funny Cide in 2003, but Funny Cide had three starts to build upon that year, entering the Derby off a runner-up effort in the Wood that received a 111 Speed rating. Tale of Ekati is more lightly raced, and he's no lock to get the Derby distance or trip (a slow start would compromise him in a 20-horse field). On the other side of the coin, Tale of Ekati owns solid attributes, utilizing an effective stalk-and-pace style to garner his first Grade 1 victory last time, and he figures to be overlooked on Derby Day. He'll offer value at double-digit odds.

War Pass impressed with a much-improved effort and, given his class, he'd have a shot to lead wire-to-wire at Churchill with a trip like War Emblem enjoyed in 2002 where he was able to dictate everything on a uncontested lead. The problem is BIG BROWN (Boundary), Bob Black Jack and Recapturetheglory all figure to be winging it early, threatening to turn this year's Derby into a race similar to the 2001 edition when the late-running Monarchos capitalized upon suicidal early fractions of :22 1/5, :44 4/5 and 1:09 1/5. Of course, many observers thought Spend a Buck had little chance in 1985 with the other speed in the field, but he shot right to the front and opened a six-length advantage through a half-mile in :45 4/5 and six furlongs in 1:09 3/5 en route to a front-running demolition.

War Pass got little out of his last-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3), but the Wood Memorial figures to tighten him up for the main prize. There's no guarantee he'll last 10 furlongs, but what happens if he gets loose early? Dismiss him from consideration at your own risk.

The Wood set up perfectly for a closer, but COURT VISION (Gulch) was woefully unable to capitalize, flattening out after closing into contention at the top of the stretch. He spotted the leaders nearly 20 lengths during the early stages and earned only a 89 Late Pace rating for his non-threatening third. Co-owned by WinStar, the Bill Mott-trained Court Vision received the same two-race program as Colonel John, but that strategy won't work perfectly for all horses. Court Vision doesn't appear set for a top performance, entering the Kentucky Derby off a pair of clunkers, but the one-run closer can't be completely disregarded due to the possibility of a pace meltdown, which could open the barn door for all the late runners in the field. Court Vision is a Grade 3 winner over the track, winning the one-mile Iroquois S. (G3) at Churchill in late October, but he'll need to improve significantly over the next four weeks to challenge.

ANAK NAKAL (Victory Gallop) made no impact from off the pace in the Wood, checking in fifth, but the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) winner has the graded earnings to make the Derby field. The Nick Zito-trained colt is in the same boat with Court Vision -- he doesn't look fast enough to win the Derby but hopes to get lucky from off the pace like a Giacomo.

In the Illinois Derby, Recapturetheglory pulled off a stunner, leading gate-to-wire from his rail post under E.T. Baird, and the upset puts co-owner and trainer Louie Roussel back in the potential spotlight for this year's Kentucky Derby. Roussel brought a serious contender to the Derby 20 years ago in Risen Star, who is probably Recapturetheglory's namesake, but the dark bay colt could do no better than third following a wide trip. He went on to win the Preakness and Belmont S. (G1) en route to championship honors.

Recapturetheglory entered the Illinois Derby with only a maiden win to his credit, taking a one-mile and 70-yard event by a nose at Hawthorne last November, and it was difficult to envision him getting an uncontested lead on Saturday. But GOLDEN SPIKES (Seeking the Gold) didn't run with him early, settling into a stalking second entering the first turn, and the top-five finishers pretty much held their spot the entire way. Inside speed fared well at Hawthorne on Saturday, and the outcome looks very suspicious. Recapturetheglory got away with soft fractions, allowing Baird to turn for home with plenty of horse underneath him, and he probably won't reproduce this effort at Churchill.

The Illinois Derby proved to be a tremendous disappointment for DENIS OF CORK (Harlan's Holiday), who finished fifth as the even-money favorite. Unbeaten in three previous career starts, Denis of Cork distinguished himself as an up-and-coming Kentucky Derby contender with an excellent 2 1/4-length score in the February 18 Southwest S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park. Given his lack of foundation, the Rebel S. (G2) and Arkansas Derby made perfect sense for his next starts, and the Arkansas route provided the perfect set-up for the connections of Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and Curlin, who accounted for five Triple Crown race wins over the last four years. Unfortunately for Denis of Cork, the sheet guys (who were consulted for direction) apparently felt they were much smarter than John Servis, Tim Ritchey and Steve Asmussen. They advised a cockeyed approach with only one race over the next 75 days for an unseasoned sophomore, denying Denis of Cork his best chance to win this year's Kentucky Derby. He was one-paced throughout on Saturday and probably didn't get much out of the race. Not only has the strategy likely backfired in terms of readiness, but Denis of Cork could potentially miss the Kentucky Derby with $165,000 in graded earnings (21st currently on the graded earnings list).

Upcoming

PYRO (Pulpit), who established himself as the leading Kentucky Derby contender by virtue of his visually impressive victories in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star S. (G3), didn't scare away the opposition in Saturday's Blue Grass at Keeneland. Eleven runners will line up to challenge the Asmussen trainee, including Fountain of Youth (G2) winner COOL COAL MAN (Mineshaft); Gotham (G3) conqueror VISIONAIRE (Grand Slam); Tampa Bay Derby (G3) hero BIG TRUCK (Hook and Ladder); and the dangerous duo of COWBOY CAL (Giant's Causeway) and MONBA (Maria's Mon) from the Todd Pletcher stable.

Saturday's Arkansas Derby won't feature the same star quality (none of the expected 14 entrants are ranked in the top 20 on the graded earnings list), but it promises to be a good betting race. BLACKBERRY ROAD (Gone West), Z FORTUNE (Siphon [Brz]), GAYEGO (Gilded Time) and LIBERTY BULL (Holy Bull) are among the top contenders in the wide-open event.

Top 10

1) PYRO -- Working well at Keeneland in advance of Blue Grass

2) COLONEL JOHN -- Rolled late to win Santa Anita Derby; classy colt figures to relish added ground in Derby

3) BIG BROWN -- Distance and seasoning are questions, but he's a threat on talent alone

4) ADRIANO -- Impressive Lane's End winner is good enough to challenge if he handles dirt

5) COOL COAL MAN -- Fountain of Youth winner isn't getting much respect; could be live for Zito on Derby Day

6) TALE OF EKATI -- Wood winner didn't finish fast, but he's headed in the right direction for Tagg

7) WAR PASS -- Eligible to improve off Wood; he'll try to shake loose early and would love a wet track

8) VISIONAIRE -- Gotham winner is talented but 1 1/4 miles figures to severely test him

9) COURT VISION -- Two efforts this year are uninspiring; late runner will need to show much more on May 3

10) BIG TRUCK -- Won't be surprised to see another strong showing in Blue Grass
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:42 PM   #80
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Default Kentucky Derby has a full field but few contenders
Kentucky Derby has a full field but few contenders


Jockey Corey Nakatani, left, aboard Colonel John won the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. Colonel John is a legitimate contender at the Kentucky Derby on May 3.

By Bob Mieszerski, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


April 8, 2008

Two of the certainties of spring are the NHL playoffs will begin without the Los Angeles Kings and that UCLA will be a Final Four loser.

Another is the Kentucky Derby will have a full field, meaning 20 3-year-old horses will enter the starting gate May 3 at Churchill Downs.

So many of them should not bother this year. At this point, it is extremely difficult to imagine any horse other than Pyro, Big Brown or Colonel John winning the 134th Derby.

Pyro, who will have his final prep in the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland, and Florida Derby winner Big Brown are generally considered the top two 3-year-olds in the country, but Colonel John also deserves mention and could upset both of them in 25 days.

Although he has yet to prove himself on conventional dirt, Colonel John was very professional in his best win, in the Santa Anita Derby. Being a son of two time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow, he also should have no trouble with the Derby distance of 1 Ľ miles.

Colonel John was the only winner of a Derby prep on Saturday who is a legitimate contender in Louisville.

The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct was an ugly affair. Tale of Ekati prevailed despite a turtle-like final eighth of a mile. Rest assured, the last furlong of the Kentucky Derby won't take more than 14 seconds to complete.

As for War Pass, the Derby is the last place he should compete in three weeks from Saturday. If the 2-year-old champion of 2007 couldn't win the Wood after being hounded early through some quick fractions by a hopeless longshot, how is he going to take the heat of Big Brown at Churchill Downs and keep going? War Pass is a one-dimensional speed horse who needs everything in his favor, and that is not a trip he is going to get on the first Saturday of next month. If he does start, a 16th or 17th place finish - or worse -- is in his future.

All the Illinois Derby showed, which was won by front-running longshot Recapturetheglory, is that Atoned, Denis of Cork and Z Humor aren't legitimate Derby threats. Recapturetheglory, whose only win before Saturday came against maidens, will never get an easier trip. All he will be in the Derby is another pace casualty.

Of all the stakes races run around the country Saturday, no winner was more impressive than Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

The massive daughter of Street Cry blew away a field that included Ginger Punch, the 2007 older filly/mare champion, for her fourth win in as many starts for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs.

It would be exciting to see Zenyatta take on males in the coming months because there is no handicap horse in California that could touch her. Her presence would spice up the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, which will be run June 28 at Hollywood Park.
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Old 04-12-2008, 08:55 AM   #81
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I have a huge problem w/ Eight Belles being able to be cross entered in the Derby and Oaks. This is not a knock on the abilities of Eight Belles, but in a system that allows this to take place.

Here's the problem. The Derby does not have an also eligible list. So, after the entries are locked on the Wedenesday before the race, that spot is dead. If she decides late to go in the Oaks, then she took away a spot from a possible contender. I was unaware that Graded earnings in Filly races counted towards the KY Derby eligibility. In the future, the super-trainer stables can use this "cross-entering" move as a strategy to eliminate contenders.
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Old 04-12-2008, 03:21 PM   #82
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Default Glue on shoes
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Greetings from the Gluegrass: Will Big Brown and Pyro Choices of Designer Footwear Turn It Into the Ken-STUCK-y Derby?


Risen Star and Louisiana Derby winner Pyro impressed a lot of people this winter. He did it wearing glue-on shoes called Polyflex, shown here on stakes winner Malibu Mint. Little Belle won the Ashford Stakes at Keeneland wearing these shoes last week; that's the track that Pyro will run on today. The shoes are more or less transparent, with a yellowish hue. They have a steel wire core which is shaped like the foot in a special mold, then urethane is poured in to the ideal shape. A steel toe insert completes the kit. (Hoofcare and Lameness Journal photo)


Glue-on horseshoes are the stuff of legend this year as at least two of the Derby favorites flaunt their footwear on the road to the Triple Crown.

In the Southeast corner, we have Big Brown, winner of the Florida Derby by a landslide in spite of recovering from heel wall separations in both front feet. The photo (bottom of this post) shows a typical injury of this type, usually caused by a subsolar abscess, trimming too short, or training and racing on hard tracks (or a combination of these factors).

Ian McKinlay, the New Jersey quarter crack specialist who repaired the detached wall on the first foot, said that the colt "is not a bad-footed horse" and just needed cushioning on the inside heel where an abscess had been. "Chances are, it will grow down, on both feet, and he'll be fine going into the future," Ian said yesterday. "His trainer knows what he's doing."

Ian's solution, which we hope to show on the blog, is a standard one; he says the injury is quite common among both Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds. He cleaned up the wall from the quarter back to the heel and put a gum rubber insert under the deficit. There's one heel nail holding the glued shoe from slipping, along with a copper clip (the PMMA adhesive sticks very well to copper) on the outside. The gum rubber material is like window caulking; it acts like a gasket. The glue-y shoe is a regular race plate.

(To read more about Big Brown's fancy footwork, see photo below and scroll down to posts and photos from earlier this week, marked April 8.)

And in Kentucky, all eyes will be on Pyro in the Bluegrass Stakes today. I didn't know until this week that Pyro won the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby wearing Curtis Burns' Polyflex all-urethane shoes, and he will apparently have them on today, as well,to run on Keeneland's Polytrack. Pyro's gluesmith is Steve Asmussen's regular horseshoer, David Hinton.

What's in a name? Polytrack seems to agree with Polyflex; you'll agree if you watched Kiaran McLaughlin's trainee Little Belle win the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last Saturday, with Curtis's see-through shoes glued on her fast little feet.

And who gets the last word in this sticky story? That maven of the media, 2007 Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches. It seems R2R, who now resides at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Kentucky, was bred to Giant's Causeway last week. To celebrate her future marehood, farrier Steve Norman pulled her raceplates and replaced them with glueons which will stay on for a cycle or two. This is called "transitional shoeing" and is meant to encourage sole growth before she goes barefoot.

Traditionally, fillies and mares coming from the track have their shoes yanked off and they go straight to a barefoot lifestyle. This usually means gimping around the breeding farm for a number of weeks, since the feet are often cut quite short at the track, and the soles can be thin, until the feet toughen up.

One horse who I cannot imagine in gimp-mode is Rags to Riches.

Note: There are special shoes for gluing on racehorses, such as the Polyflex shoes or Sigafoos shoes, with cloth cuffs. Farriers can also glue on or glue-and-nail normal plates or shoes. There are some amazingly creative people working on these horses.

Thanks to all the farriers and trainers who contributed to this and other posts. I know they had a lot to do this week but most took the time to talk because these new shoes are past the "experimental" stage and are now considered creative equipment adjustments. We've come a long way.


This foot has been cleaned up after being blown out by a subsolar heel abscess, similar to the problem that necessitated glue-on shoes for Kentucky Derby hopeful Big Brown. Ian McKinley padded the exposed heel with gum rubber and glued window caulking like a gasket to hold it in so the area is cushioned. At this stage in the procedure, dead or hangnailish wall has been removed. This is NOT Big Brown, who is now well on his way in the healing process. (Ian McKinlay photo)
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Old 04-12-2008, 03:36 PM   #83
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Default Bob Black Jack Pointing to Derby
Bob Black Jack Pointing to Derby for Sure. Barring the unforeseen, the Kentucky Derby will be next for Bob Black Jack, a $4,500 purchase who's earned nearly 10 times that amount. He finished second in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 5.

The 3-year-old colt, who was overtaken in deep stretch by Colonel John, will run in blinkers for the first time when he works Monday, trainer James Kasparoff said yesterday.

“The horse will work in a half-mile Monday in company with one of my horses,” said the 33-year-old Kasparoff, who has only four horses in his stable. “We’re going to try some blinkers on him just to make sure he’s not too aggressive with them. As long as he can get in the Derby, he’s going to go. I intend to take him as long as he qualifies in graded earnings.”

Bob Black Jack has $180,000 in graded earnings and is tied with Visionaire. Depending on the outcome of three graded races, he could be on the Derby bubble.

“We’ll see what happens after this weekend,” Kasparoff said. “There are a lot of horses that can jump up and get ahead of us. In theory, I think there could be five horses that could pass us. The Arkansas Derby pays $600,000, $200,000 and $100,000, so if a horse is sitting with $80,000 and runs third, now he’s at $180,000. But as long as my horse can get in on money, we’re going.”

Kasparoff dismisses criticism that Bob Black Jack is a speed horse with distance limitations, and could find the mile and a quarter of the Kentucky Derby beyond his scope. Bob Black Jack, a son of Stormy Jack-Molly’s Prospector, set a world record for six furlongs in winning the Sunshine Millions Dash in 1:06.53 on Jan. 26.

“The horse will do fine going a mile and a quarter,” Kasparoff said. “He’ll have no problem going a mile and a quarter. He got a mile and a sixteenth, he got a mile and an eighth, and he was finishing in that race. Colonel John was life and death to get him. He had to give everything he had, and he didn’t start running until he got to the outside. We were finishing; we weren’t crawling home, so a mile and a quarter won’t be a problem.”
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Old 04-12-2008, 05:48 PM   #84
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I hope Pyro's flame-job in the Blue Grass doesn't result in Eight Belles running in the Derby. I want her in the Oaks.
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Old 04-13-2008, 01:56 AM   #85
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I hope Pyro's flame-job in the Blue Grass doesn't result in Eight Belles running in the Derby. I want her in the Oaks.


The latest thing I heard last week was the Oaks, Jones thinks she is special but says she doesnt have enough gate speed to really clear the colts if she gets hung out in the 14 -20 hole and she isn't a huge filly to get bumped around. I think the Oaks is going to be on of the best editions of that race in a long while. Pure Clan is going to run huge that day with a better size field than that 4 horse field she ran in last with Eight Belles. Look for Pure Clan to run big at a huge price, Pure Clan will probably go off the biggest price of her racing career.


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Old 04-13-2008, 02:15 AM   #86
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On Saturday, Florida Derby (G1) hero BIG BROWN (Boundary), a 12 3/4-length allowance winner at the beginning of the season, worked five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 on the fast dirt at Palm Meadows Training Center with trainer Richard Dutrow in attendance.

Big Brown is scheduled to work two more times at Palm Meadows prior to the May 3 Kentucky Derby (G1), with the second move forecast for April 28. Big Brown will depart for Louisville, Kentucky, later that day.

"His talent just overwhelms the other horses," Dutrow said.
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Old 04-13-2008, 11:02 AM   #87
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The latest thing I heard last week was the Oaks, Jones thinks she is special but says she doesnt have enough gate speed to really clear the colts if she gets hung out in the 14 -20 hole and she isn't a huge filly to get bumped around. I think the Oaks is going to be on of the best editions of that race in a long while. Pure Clan is going to run huge that day with a better size field than that 4 horse field she ran in last with Eight Belles. Look for Pure Clan to run big at a huge price, Pure Clan will probably go off the biggest price of her racing career.


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I could not agree with you more here FB...And I believe Pure Clan will enjoy the 1 1/8 more than Eight Belles. There are A LOT of great horses that can not run in the lane well inside of horses, Curlin isn't near as good inside of horses in the lane as he is outside of horses. Plenty of superstars like that. Pure Clan in that last race appears to be that kind. Don't understand the merry-go-round of jocks aboard her, but there was no excuse for the jock alllowing Eight Belles first run on her and to get her inside horses and in a bit tight in the lane. Watch inside the 1/16 pole when she is moved off the rail and to the outside, her acceleration and the ground she makes up on Eight Belles losing only a length. On the gallop out, she went by her easily and they were both under a drive. Really, really, like Pure Clan in the Oaks.
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Old 04-13-2008, 01:42 PM   #88
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I have a nice future pool #2 ticket and you all know how I feel about E.B., but as you stated I have watched that race numerous times and when P.C. rebrok she was on there ass and galloper out awesome. She will be a big price on Oaks day and I think she will run the race of her life that day.
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Old 04-13-2008, 07:57 PM   #89
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Default Very Good Read
This story was told at Aqueduct last Saturday and comes from a very good, long-trusted source whose identity will remain confidential. The names will be eliminated from this version in the interest of avoiding a lawsuit.

The owner of several horses, in the market for a new and more effective veterinarian, approached one whose clients have been prospering. He inquired about inevitably exorbitant fees.

“Fine,” the owner said to the vet, “but I want the same stuff you’re giving (name of trainer).”

“That,” the vet said, “is very expensive and has to be paid for up-front.”

Something about this conversation would suggest that the substance referenced is not one of those approved to therapeutic use in New York or perhaps anywhere – the cobra venom found in trainer Patrick Biancone’s barn at Keeneland last year, for instance, was very expensive -- and brings up the controversial issue of the role of veterinarians in racing.

This brought to mind another story, one very old, but since the subject remains active, he too will remain anonymous.

Years ago, during the usual aprčs-race stop at Esposito’s (the greatest racetrack saloon ever) , a groom who had spend much of the day drinking beer was catching a short nap at the bar when the mention of his employer caused him to regain consciousness.

“What’s going on with (name of Hall of Fame trainer)?” he was asked. “You can’t beat him lately.”

The groom blinked, snorted, took a drink, said, “New vet,” and resumed his nap.

While the issue of steroids has found its way from baseball to racing, more sinister forces are at work on the backstretch, knowledge of which is beyond the reach of most trainers but squarely in the domain of the veterinary profession and while the majority of its practitioners observe the rules, it is not a group without those who color outside the lines. Owners, after all, are more result than method oriented.

There are opposing forces at work here. One on hand, the sport depends on the perception of integrity despite the absence of transparency. On the other, the treatment and medication of horses beyond the most benign and identification of the attending veterinarian is not part of the body of information made available to the public. The resultant perception is that the sport is dominated by those most skilled at avoiding the detection of illegal, performance-enhancing substances.

While much lip service is devoted to transparency, racing is closer to opaque in the area of disclosure of information regarding medication and the identity of those charged with its administration.

Pari-mutuel pools are financial markets and that are unfortunately operated outside the constraints of statutory reporting requirements. The public disclosure of medication and the identification of attending veterinarians would be important tools to handicappers, who demand but receive none of the protection against fraud and manipulation that investors consider their right.

Inclusion of this information – which should include every medication administered to a horse before a race as well as the administering veterinarian -- in program and past performance data is every bit as important as the listing of trainer and jockey, perhaps more so.

The most important goal of racing’s regulators and image makers should be to eliminate the term “juice” from the lexicon. One of the things every horseplayer learns is that the things most injurious to solvency are those that go unseen and the most dangerous individuals in the sport are unknown in the public arena.
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Old 04-15-2008, 03:19 PM   #90
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Default Derby Prep Races Offer Little Interest
Derby Prep Races Offer Little Interest

Monba, ridden by Edgar Prado, charged to the finish to win the Blue Grass Stakes in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday. Pyro, the favorite, finished 10th. (By Ed Reinke -- Associated Press)
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By Andrew Beyer
Tuesday, April 15, 2008; Page E03

When the undistinguished colt Monba won Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes with the highly regarded Kentucky Derby contender Pyro finishing 10th, the result may have surprised or confused many racing fans. It deserved another reaction, too: sheer dismay. The prep races leading up to the Derby have in many cases been shorn of significance or interest.

The weeks preceding the Derby used to be one of the best times of the year for thoroughbred racing. Although the sport's overall popularity has declined, the Triple Crown series and the 3-year-old prep races leading into it commanded widespread attention from the media and the public. Even casual fans watch the prep races intently, looking for the colt who will move them to exclaim, "That's my Derby horse!"

The prep races have prompted few such exclamations this year. The current generation of 3-year-olds has been disappointing; neither War Pass nor Pyro, the top 2-year-olds of 2007, has lived up to expectations. Only one colt has delivered anything resembling a spectacular performance: Big Brown, in his Florida Derby victory. The quality of this year's Derby crop is just a transitory disappointment, but the prep races have undergone what may be a permanent change for the worse.

The major reason has been the installation of synthetic surfaces at the sites of significant 3-year-old stakes -- Santa Anita, Turfway Park and particularly Keeneland. Everyone involved in the game -- from Hall of Fame trainers to gamblers in the grandstand -- has been struggling to understand the nuances of these new surfaces. Everyone knows by now that early speed is generally less important on synthetics than it is on dirt. Almost everyone agrees that synthetic surfaces and dirt are two different games, and that a horse is unlikely to display the same level of ability on both surfaces.

Most mature bettors never expect handicapping to be easy; they accept synthetic tracks as just another factor that needs to be understood and mastered. But in the 3-year-old stakes races that precede the Kentucky Derby, the presence of synthetic tracks has not merely complicated the game. It has made rational handicapping judgments almost impossible.

Never was this as apparent as it was Saturday in Keeneland's Blue Grass Stakes -- a race that was once the most meaningful of all Derby preps. Keeneland's Polytrack is less kind to speed horses than almost any other synthetic track; accordingly, jockeys put their horses under early restraint and try to accelerate late, tactics that produce bunched finishes and sometimes bizarre results. Last year, the leading 3-year-old, Street Sense, lost the Blue Grass in a four-horse photo finish, a result that had nothing to do with the relative ability of the horses. Street Sense came back to win the Derby, while the other three finished 11th, 12th and 17th at Churchill Downs.

But if the 2007 result was fluky, 2008 was incomprehensible. Pyro, the electrifying stretch-runner, was by far the most accomplished horse in the field, but he was making his first start on a synthetic track. Cool Coal Man, winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream, was considered his main rival; he, too, had done all of his previous racing on dirt. Big Truck was a well-regarded contender, too, after winning the Tampa Bay Derby on dirt.

On Polytrack, none of these three got into contention; they finished ninth, 10th and 11th in the field of 12. Meanwhile, the top four finishers, headed by Monba, were all colts who had never finished in the money in a stakes race on dirt.

What was the significance of Pyro's bad performance? ESPN's Saturday telecast featured two of the best analysts in the sport, Randy Moss and former jockey Jerry Bailey, and each voiced a strong opinion. Asked if he would forgive the bad effort because it was on Polytrack, Bailey replied: "Absolutely. A horse that good can't run that bad [without a legitimate excuse]." Moss shot back, "I'm not buying it," observing that even mediocre rivals outfinished Pyro in the stretch. "Maybe he didn't like the track, but what about the nine horses ahead of him?" Moss asked. "Did they all like the track better than he did?"

Handicappers will surely have more questions like these when Keeneland runs the final important Derby prep, the Lexington Stakes, on Saturday. And they certainly have questions about most of the California-based Derby contenders, such as Colonel John and El Gato Malo, who have spent their entire careers running over artificial surfaces on the Southern California circuit. At least the form on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track bears some resemblance to dirt form; Gayego made a successful transition to dirt when he won the Arkansas Derby on Saturday. But an element of uncertainty nevertheless surrounds all of California's other Derby contenders.

Picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby has never been easy under any circumstances. Because it is such a rigorous test of handicapping skills, bettors have always cherished the bragging rights that come from being right in this race. But now it has become an unfair test. Horseplayers can do little more than guess whether Pyro's poor showing at Keeneland is excusable, or whether the top California horses will duplicate their synthetic-track form when they run at Churchill Downs. The prep races run on synthetic surfaces raise questions that can't be answered with any confidence -- at least not until after the Derby has been run.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:12 PM   #91
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Default Big Brown Works for Kentucky Derby
Big Brown Works for Kentucky Derby
by Steve Haskin

Updated: April 18, 2008

Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Big Brown, likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 at Palm Meadows Friday with regular exercise rider Michelle Nevin aboard.
Owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa, the son of Boundary – Mien, by Lyphard has won all three of his career stakes by a total of 29 lengths, including a five-length score in the Florida Derby.

“He breezed just like he always breezes five-eighths; well within himself, comfortable, no pressure,” trainer Rick Dutrow said. “We’re as happy as we can be with him right now. We don’t need to ask him for any more than that. We don’t even ask him for that. He just gallops around there at his own pace; it’s beautiful. He and Michelle seem to have a little thing going when they get to their breeze. Every time she’s breezed this horse it’s gone great.”

Dutrow said Big Brown will have one more work at Palm Meadows and then fly to Louisiville on April 28.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:21 PM   #92
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Default Ky. Derby Trail: A Vision at the Downs
Ky. Derby Trail: A Vision at the Downs
by Steve Haskin

Updated: April 17, 2008

With the Derby getting closer, we’re doubling up this week to take a look at the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) and mostly to discuss what may turn out to be one of the most important works on this year’s Derby trail.
If there is one thing you want to see in a Derby horse this time of the year it’s a dramatic change that suggests the roses are beginning to blossom overnight. Although we didn’t see his work this morning, just knowing the horse and listening to the comments of trainer Bill Mott, Court Vision is going through such a change.

As a result, just as we returned to the first Derby Dozen last week and put Monba back up top, we’re going to do the same thing next week with Court Vision, despite all the statistical evidence that he’s too slow. In a year of mostly slow horses, that is not as much of a deterrent as it might normally be.

Over the deep Payson Park track this winter, Court Vision worked six furlongs in 1:19, a half in :51 2/5, five-eighths in 1:02 4/5, a half in :50, five furlongs in 1:04, and a half in :49 3/5. In his two starts, he came from out of the clouds to finish third in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Wood Memorial (gr. I). In the Wood, he was criticized for not winning after his “rabbit” forced War Pass into a suicidal pace. Most felt he should have finished stronger through a snaillike closing three-eighths in :40 4/5. But jockey Garrett Gomez said the colt was “slipping and sliding” over the drying out, “greasy” track, and he had trouble finding footing he could get hold of.

Mott shipped him to Churchill Downs, put a set of blinkers on him, which he normally doesn’t do for a work or a race, and worked him a half-mile Thursday morning. This is when the roses began to burst. Court Vision went a half in :46 1/5 breezing, galloping out five-eighths in about 1:00 3/5 under exercise rider Neil Poznanski. The work was the fastest of 25 at the distance and a full second faster than the second fastest work. Another clocker caught him in :45 and change. When a horse of this quality undergoes such a dramatic change, especially at Churchill Downs, where he has already won a grade II stakes, it is exactly what you’re looking for.

Can one half-mile work stamp a horse as a major Derby contender just like that? The answer is “yes” if he’s already shown his class and proved for a second time that he loves Churchill Downs. Remember the determination and tenacity this colt showed last year turning certain defeat to victory in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) and Remsen Stakes (gr. II). Right now is when you’re looking for your horse to suddenly blossom, and Court Vision showed today that’s what’s happening with him.

“We decided to put the blinkers on him, and (the work) was maybe a bit more than I was anticipating,” Mott said. “We’d never tested him with the blinkers and it was a big wake-up call. As good as he worked in them I’d be foolish not to put them on for the Derby. We just felt he was back a little too far in his races and maybe not responsive enough.

“After the work, Neil said that’s just what we were looking for. I don’t know if he realized he had gone as quickly as he did. I had a horse in front of him and he went after him a little early. But when (Court Vision) came alongside him, Neil gave him a little nudge, and, shooo, he just flew away from the other horse.”

There obviously are no personal observations that can be made, but there is more than enough here to suggest Court Vision is now a horse who must be taken seriously, slow speed figures and all.

Another person who was thrilled when he heard about the work was Gomez’ agent Ron Anderson, who stands by last month’s decision to ride Court Vision instead of Colonel John.

“With Colonel John, you’re dealing with a horse coming off synthetic surfaces and who had won the Sham Stakes by a half-length,” Anderson said. "With Court Vision, you’re dealing with Billy Mott and going to Aqueduct where he had already won a stakes, and then going to Churchill Downs where he had already won a stakes. How could I take off him? And when you’re going a mile and a quarter for the first time, you can’t count speed figures.

“I was at Keeneland this morning and didn’t see the work, but the clockers said they were really impressed with him. It’s pretty exciting, because Billy normally never works horses that fast, and nobody that works for him works that fast. My whole mindset was that he would handle Churchill Downs and he obviously does that, so I’ve been pretty pumped since I heard about it.”

Court Vision is scheduled to work again either next Wednesday or Thursday. With Wednesday being our travel day (late this year), it is hoped he’ll work Thursday, but even if it’s Wednesday, there’s a good chance we’ll see it on a local news feed tape the following morning. Until then, Court Vision will be climbing back up the Derby Dozen list.

Lexington Ave. Express

With a couple of Kentucky Derby berths still open to any horse who can win the Lexington, and either a first- or second-place finish by Tomcito enough to get him in the race, it is not surprising to see a contentious field of 11 entered. Of course, we still have the same Polytrack puzzlement we had in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II), so talent alone will not get anyone to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

Almost every horse in the field has proven himself at some point on a synthetic surface, with Tomcito and Atoned two who have not, putting them at a disadvantage. Atoned, as of now, is being considered more of a Preakness horse, so Tomcito is the one who needs to show something over a foreign surface in order to make the Derby field. If the son of Street Cry does finish first or second, he is the real goods, and must be taken seriously in the Derby, considering the unprecedented feats he’s accomplished in Peru and his excellent U.S. debut in the Florida Derby (gr. I). In that race, he rallied from last in the field of 12 to finish a well-beaten third to Big Brown off a four-month layoff. And he was 3 1/4 lengths ahead of the fourth-place finisher, Hey Byrn, who came back to win the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III).

Another horse who has Derby credentials is Racecar Rhapsody, a late-closing son of Tale of the Cat who has finished a close third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) and turned in solid fourths in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) and Delta Jackpot (gr. III). He seems to handle dirt and Polytrack equally well.

Todd Pletcher could add to his list of Derby starters with Atoned (if they change their mind about running) and Behindatthebar, an impressive allowance winner last out in a a Santa Anita allowance race.

If the Mott-trained Riley Tucker wins, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s wheeled back in the Derby. His owner, Zayat Stables, appears determined to run as many horses as they are allowed to. They already have legitimate Derby horses in Z Fortune andZ Humor, with Halo Najib needing some defections to get into the starting field. Another horse, Massive Drama, is being considered, according to trainer Dale Romans, even though he was just beaten 42 lengths in the UAE Derby and has traveled back and forth half way across the world. And running him as a pacesetter for the Z pair makes no sense considering there are already five brilliant, classy speed horses in the field who will assure a fast pace. They ran J Be K in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) off one six-furlong race in six months and he stopped to a walk, beating one horse, before dropping back to a sprint in the Bay Shore (gr. III), which he won and where he belonged.

Z Humor also had a good breeze for Mott this morning, going a half in :47 3/5. Tale of Ekati breezed a half in :49 1/5 at Keeneland.
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Old 04-21-2008, 09:27 AM   #93
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Default Big Brown’s Stock Is Up, but It Could Really Soar
Big Brown’s Stock Is Up, but It Could Really Soar

Marc Serota for The New York Times
There is no telling how much Big Brown’s value would increase if he won the

Triple Crown. By JOE DRAPE

Published: April 21, 2008

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Big Brown is lightly raced, has tender feet and is the early favorite to win the 134th Kentucky Derby, which, statistically, has proved to be the kiss of death on the first Saturday in May. Still, his trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., said he would be “all in” on Big Brown.



Marc Serota for The New York Times

The trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., left, with Big Brown. Dutrow says “there is no comparison” with any other 3-year-old.

The last time Dutrow went all in on one of his horses was at the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Classic: he said he bet $160,000 on Saint Liam and won $384,000 when the horse won by a length. No matter how much he wagers on Big Brown in the Derby, however, it will pale in comparison to what the colt’s majority owner, International Equine Acquisitions Holdings, will have at stake.

I.E.A.H. is applying the lucrative lessons its founders learned on Wall Street to an industry that has proved inscrutable to many other successful businessmen. It is currently raising $100 million to buy, sell and breed horses, and it will operate like a hedge fund, collecting management and performance fees. The founders want to take the company public before the end of the year.

So far, their fundamentals have been sound; the company’s horses have won 25 percent of the time this year and earned more than $3.1 million in purses, putting I.E.A.H. among the top owners in North America. On Sept. 3, when Big Brown rocketed to an 11 1/4-length victory in his debut on the turf at Saratoga, the company’s co-president, Michael Iavarone, said he knew he had found a key component of I.E.A.H.’s future.

He called Dutrow from his house in Long Island as Big Brown crossed the finish line. “I have to own this horse,” he told him. “We can win the Derby with this one.”

A few days and $3 million later, the company owned 75 percent of Big Brown. Now, I.E.A.H. is not only intent on capturing the Kentucky Derby, America’s greatest horse race, but it also wants to remake the economic landscape of a multibillion-dollar industry.

“It would show how you can move the blue blood from Kentucky to New York,” Iavarone said, referring to both a Big Brown victory and his horse hedge fund.
Neither the racetrack nor Wall Street traffics in sure things, however, and as talented as Big Brown, the undefeated son of Boundary, is, he must defy some compelling historical data.

A chestnut colt, Big Brown has raced only three times. The last Derby winner
so untested was the filly Regret in 1915. Last year, for example, Curlin, the eventual Horse of the Year, arrived at Churchill Downs similarly undefeated after three starts, but he finished third as the second betting choice. Big Brown ran in only two prep races this year, a lack of seasoning that only two Derby champions in the last 60 years have been able to overcome: Sunny’s Halo in 1983 and Street Sense last year.

Then there are Big Brown’s troubled front hooves, which have been responsible for his limited number of starts and his long absences from the racetrack. Shortly after I.E.A.H. purchased him, Big Brown got an abscess in the sole of his left front hoof, which caused a wall separation and kept him idle for 45 days. He had the same injury in his right front hoof in mid-December and did not train in January.

“The injury is caused by concussion — his feet hitting a hard surface — and they take time to heal,” said Ian McKinlay, a New York-based hoof specialist who continues to treat Big Brown.

When Big Brown finally returned to racing, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., in a mile race on March 5, McKinlay fitted him with special glue-on shoes. The shoes had a thick polyurethane bottom to ensure that nothing hard touched the colt’s sole. Big Brown won effortlessly, by 12 3/4 lengths.

Twenty-four days later, in the Florida Derby, Big Brown led every step of the way as his jockey, Kent Desormeaux, sat atop him like a leisure rider during a five-length victory.

“His feet are ice-cold now, and we’re not going to have any more problems,” Dutrow said. “I look at everything Big Brown has done and then at every other 3-year-old out there, and there is no comparison. Beat him? I’m not sure any of them can run close to him.”


Big Brown’s Stock Is Up, but It Could Really Soar

There is little doubt that Big Brown will be the most accomplished horse in the field of 20 that is expected to line up at the gate in Louisville beneath Churchill Downs’s famed twin spires. But is he or any other racehorse a valuable enough commodity to build a lucrative hedge fund around?



Marc Serota for The New York Times

Big Brown, the early Kentucky Derby favorite, has raced only three times because of abscesses in each of his front hooves.
In 2007, more than $15.4 billion was bet on horses in North America, more than $1.1 billion in purses was distributed and more than $1.2 billion was spent purchasing thoroughbreds, according to the Jockey Club. Iavarone and his co-president, Richard J. Schiavo — both of whom left Wall Street and investment banking — say they have a way of offering more people more opportunity to make money at the racetrack.

Since its inception in 2003, I.E.A.H. has raised more than $40 million from more than 80 investors and has formed partnerships to own various horses. The hedge fund model will supplant this arrangement; partners will own a part of all I.E.A.H. assets, from its 80 horses in training to its 15 broodmares and its future stallions, including the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile champion, Kip Deville; Benny the Bull, winner of the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen; and Big Brown.
Each financial quarter, an independent auditor will assess the fund’s value, and investors will be able to decide to buy into the fund or sell their positions. “What we’re offering are liquidity and options that people in the horse business have never had before,” Iavarone said.

There is no doubt Big Brown is the component with the greatest upside within the company’s portfolio. If he wins the Derby, he will immediately be worth $30 million as a stallion. As a rookie sire, he is certain to command at least the $100,000 per coupling that the 2004 Derby winner, Smarty Jones, commands, and attract 150 or more mares. If Big Brown becomes the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win a Triple Crown, there is no telling how valuable he will become.

So just like Dutrow, I.E.A.H. is all in on Big Brown.
The colt’s minority owner, Paul Pompa Jr., has already experienced a windfall. In April 2007, he bought Big Brown at a 2-year-old-in-training sale for $190,000, and named him because his family-owned trucking company in Brooklyn had just renewed a contract with a longtime client, U.P.S. When Big Brown’s scintillating debut at Saratoga brought deep-pocketed suitors, Pompa adhered to the golden rule of horse racing: take the money.

“I chose I.E.A.H. because they were young, classy, impressive guys,” said Pompa, who has owned horses for 15 years. “And they were going to let me keep a piece of the horse.”

He said he wished them well in their mission to change the face of horse partnerships, but that he was not interested in joining them. He said some things remain priceless.

“I want to win the greatest race in the world,” he said. “I want to make history.”
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:16 PM   #94
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Default Denis of Cork Works Super at Churchill
Denis of Cork Works Super at Churchill
by Steve Haskin

Updated: April 21, 2008

For all those who have written off Denis of Cork, the one-time leading Kentucky Derby contender turned in a sensational work at Churchill Downs Monday.
With trainer David Carroll at home sick, Denis of Cork drilled five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 flat, coming home his final quarter in :22 4/5, before galloping out a powerful six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 and pulling up seven panels in 1:26.

The son of Harlan’s Holiday was ridden by jockey Calvin Borel, who won last year’s Derby on Street Sense and who will be aboard Denis of Cork on May 3.

Denis of Cork went in splits of :12 4/5, :25, :37 1/5, and :48 3/5.

After winning his first three career starts, including the Southwest Stakes (gr. III), a decision was made by owner William K. Warren and his advisors to deviate from their original plan and skip the Rebel Stakes (gr. III) and Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and instead run only once in the Illinois Derby (gr. II). Denis of Cork ran a dull fifth after a seven-week layoff and now must wait for one defection before he is assured of a starting berth in the Derby. As of now, that defection appears likely.

Also working at Churchill Monday was Arkansas Derby runner-up Z Fortune, who breezed a half in :50 1/5.
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Old 04-22-2008, 05:47 AM   #95
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Default Richard Dutrow Jr. Quote on Big Brown
“I look at everything Big Brown has done and
then at every other three-year-old out there, and
there is no comparison. Beat him? I’m not sure
any of them can run close to him.”

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., in the New York
Times, on unbeaten Big Brown, a leading contender
for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on
May 3 at Churchill Downs
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:58 PM   #96
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Default Change in Big Brown's Daily Schedule.
Change in Big Brown's Daily Schedule. The schedule on the IEAH website has changed since yesterday. The schedule that was online yesterday, copied and pasted verbatim from the site, is set out below on April 21 Racing News. No gallops were written in the schedule at the time.

Today, we found a new outline on the site that--maybe--includes gallops. It will be interesting to see if Big Brown does that after he arrives in Louisville on Monday amidst a great deal of public scrutiny.

Friday, April 18: Breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 at Palm Meadows training center
Saturday, April 19: Walk
Sunday, April 20: Jog or gallop
Monday, April 21: Jog or gallop
Tuesday, April 22: Jog or gallop
Wednesday, April 23: Jog or gallop
Thursday, April 24: Tentative breeze date at Palm Meadows training center
Friday, April 25: Walk
Saturday, April 26: Jog or gallop
Sunday, April 27: Jog or gallop
Monday, April 28: Arrival at Churchill Downs
Tuesday, April 29: Walk or jog or gallop
Wednesday, April 30: Jog or gallop
Thursday, May 1: Tentative breeze date at Churchill Downs
Friday, May 2: Walk or jog or gallop
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:46 AM   #97
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Default Prado's Derby pick a surprise to many
Prado's Derby pick a surprise to many

By TIM WILKIN, Staff writer


These were the options Edgar Prado had for the Kentucky Derby:

He could ride Monba, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes or Tale of Ekati, victor of the Wood Memorial. Or, he could take the call on Adriano, who won the Lane's End Stakes.

It came as a surprise to many when Prado picked Adriano.

Monba and Tale of Ekati won bigger Derby preps, so, one could argue, would have better chances to find the winner's circle at Churchill Downs.

Prado, who won the 2006 Derby with Barbaro, made his surprise announcement mostly because he has a longtime relationship with Graham Motion, the trainer of Adriano. The two had success years ago on the Maryland circuit, and, after Prado rode the colt to a win in the Lane's End on March 22, Motion asked the jockey for a commitment. He got it.

"You always want to honor the commitments you make," Prado said Monday, just hours after finding out he had been elected to the Racing Hall of Fame. "It was really hard to make the decision but it was harder to tell the other people. They have good horses."

When Prado agreed to ride Adriano, Monba had yet to win the Blue Grass and Tale of Ekati hadn't won the Wood. Both of those horses were coming off dismal performances. Monba was 12th in the Fountain of Youth and Tale of Ekati was sixth in the Louisiana Derby.

It's not as though there aren't questions with Adriano. In his only start on a dirt track, the Fountain of Youth, he finished ninth.

"At the time, we didn't know how the other horses were going to run," Prado said. "I think (Adriano) has a chance. We'll have to wait and see."

War Pass's ankle fractured

War Pass, declared out of the Derby over the weekend, could be out of action until October, trainer Nick Zito said.

Zito said he talked with equine surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage on Monday, showing him the X-rays of War Pass's left front ankle, which revealed a small fracture. On Tuesday, Zito said Bramlage said he wanted new X-rays in two months.

"He said the fracture has to fill in," Zito said from Louisville. If that happens, "we'll be OK. If it doesn't, it will take longer."

War Pass had lost his past two Derby prep races, finishing last in the Tampa Bay Derby and then second in the Wood Memorial. Zito said he believes War Pass suffered the injury 20 yards from the wire in the Wood, on a drying out, tiring Aqueduct track.

He won his first five career starts, including last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile to become a legitimate Derby threat.

"I try not to think about it and just go on," Zito said.

War Pass is at Churchill Downs, but will spend the summer resting at Zito's base in Saratoga Springs.

"Maybe I'll take him to Congress Park and let him put the ankle in the water," Zito said.

Barn banter

Zito is pointing Fountain of Youth winner Cool Coal Man and Anak Nakal, who has been off the board in all three starts this year, to the Derby. Zito said Julien Leparoux will ride Cool Coal Man and Rafael Bejarano, who just won the riding title at Santa Anita, will be on Anak Nakal. ... Majestic Warrior, last year's Hopeful winner at Saratoga, is a possible starter in Saturday's Derby Trial at Churchill Downs. ... The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will hold its annual Countdown to the Triple Crown program at 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:49 AM   #98
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Default On the Kentucky Derby worktab
On the Kentucky Derby worktab


Big Truck, a game winner of the Tampa Bay Derby two back, will attempt to rebound from a disappointing effort over the Polytrack at Keeneland (Joseph DiOrio/Horsephotos.com)
Tampa Bay Derby (G3) winner BIG TRUCK (Hook and Ladder) breezed four furlongs in :48 4/5 on Keeneland's Polytrack on Tuesday in preparation for the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 3 at Churchill Downs. Trainer Barclay Tagg described the move as a "maintenance work." It ranked eighth out of 43 works at the distance.

"He went a little faster that I wanted, but it's fine," Tagg said. "I generally like their maintenance works to be around :49, but it's no problem."

Big Truck most recently finished 11th in the Blue Grass S. (G1) on April 12 at Keeneland. In his prior start, he defeated Atoned (Repent) in the Tampa Bay Derby. The bay colt currently ranks 20th on the Kentucky Derby graded stakes earnings list with $194,500.

Tagg's other Derby contender, Wood Memorial (G1) hero TALE OF EKATI (Tale of the Cat), is scheduled to work five furlongs at Keeneland on Wednesday.

Javier Castellano has the mount on Big Truck and Eibar Coa is slated to ride Tale of Ekati. Tagg plans to ship both colts to Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Gotham S. (G3) winner VISIONAIRE (Grand Slam), who finished a closing fifth in the Blue Grass, breezed four furlongs in :49 3/5 in company with Scenery Change (Royal Academy), a four-year-old maiden filly who was awarded the same time.

Jockey Jose Lezcano was aboard the Michael Matz trainee, who is scheduled to turn in his final work prior to the Run for the Roses on Monday at Churchill Downs.

"He just did a little maintenance work here, and then he'll do one more at Churchill," Matz said.

Visionaire currently ranks 19th on the graded earnings list with $202,500.


OBS Championship S. winner HALO NAJIB (Halo's Image) breezed four furlongs in :50 2/5 on a firm turf course at Churchill Downs. The Dale Romans trainee most recently finished seventh in the Blue Grass after a good runner-up performance in the Lane's End S. (G2) on March 22 at Turfway Park.

"I wanted to see how he would handle the grass," Romans said. "If you don't get in (the Kentucky Derby), he would go in the Crown Royal (American Turf S. [G3] on May 2). It looked like he handled if fine."

Halo Najib has $157,996 in graded stakes earnings and is on the outside looking in with respect to securing a position in the Kentucky Derby field.

TRES BORRACHOS (Ecton Park), last seen finishing third in the Arkansas Derby (G2) on April 12 at Oaklawn Park, breezed three furlongs on the main track in :35 3/5. The Beau Greeley trainee has only $118,000 in graded stakes earnings and would need many defections in order to make the field for Derby 134.

"It is not really frustrating," co-owner John Greeley said. "If a bunch drop out and we get in, fine. If not, we go on to the Preakness (S. [G1] on May 17 at Pimlico)."

In other Kentucky Derby news:

Blue Grass winner MONBA (Maria's Mon) and runner-up COWBOY CAL (Giant's Causeway) remain on target for their final works on Saturday or Sunday at Keeneland prior to Derby 134, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.

"We'll stay here through the weekend and move to Churchill next week depending on the weather," Pletcher said.
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:50 AM   #99
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Default Good Read
Some folks' ideas of packing for a week-long Kentucky Derby junket require big, clunky hat boxes and garment bags. Me, I'm toting 102 years of Xeroxed past performances.

Hey, to each their own on Derby Week.

But if you're looking to seriously analyze next Saturday's "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports," the best tools you can bring to the party don't fit in your carry-on.

It's time to use your eyes and ears, God's gifts.

The paper trail puts you on the path toward the horses that have a puncher's chance in Louisville; but after the horses arrive in Derby City, that all just becomes expensive litter. Horses will either blossom or bust on Derby Week. It happens every year, and 2008 should be no different.

I cannot think of a single horse in my years of scouring Churchill Downs' backstretch on Derby Week that outran his poor looks. And, you'll hear the proverbial, "He couldn't be doing better" line from just about every trainer. But as horseplayers, you need to entrust your own eyes with every bit of workout video you can find -- and read only the handicapping information from analysts whom you trust. Everyone has an opinion Derby Week. If you want to swoon with talk of the Derby Gods and place your hard-earned cash on soft-core angles, enjoy the show.

As a serious handicapper, these are the items I'll be evaluating first-hand once I set foot on the hallowed grounds of Churchill later this week.


Big Brown: Demeanor amongst the throng of media and any starting gate schooling.

The likely favorite has been holed up at tranquil Palm Meadows training center in Florida and has never seen anything like he's about to encounter. He's expected to arrive on Monday of Derby Week, so Tuesday morning should be a real show. I want to see a Bob Baffert or Carl Nafzger-like appearance, where Big Brown is brought to the track after the morning renovation break, able to stand and gawk at the masses around him and soak up the hub-bub before the track is re-opened. That has worked so well for horses like Silver Charm, Real Quiet and Street Sense. Bringing Big Brown out at the crack of dawn may keep his nerves down during the week, but won't do much to simulate Saturday.

Also, Big Brown bucked and hesitated before loading in front of a smallish crowd on Florida Derby Day. In the big one, he'll have to load at the top of the stretch with huge bleachers overlooking and a crush of onlookers surrounding the gate. I want to see him make a gate schooling appearance or two Derby Week to let the local gate crew get acquainted with his habits. Of course, any raceday paddock schooling would be must-see as well -- watch the Churchill Downs' simulcast signal during the week for a host of Derby schoolers. The track typically tries to graphically identify them, or have their paddock hosts mention verbally, when Derby runners are dress rehearsing during the weekday races.


Adriano: Leg action and paddock schooling.

Still photos of turf/Polytrack ace Adriano working at Churchill Downs have been a wee bit of a concern. The Lane's End winner has tons of pedigree for dirt and a wonderfully long stride, but his high leg action captured in the still photos looks awfully turfy. Of course, Barbaro had the same action, a far cry from the daisy-cutter efficiency of a Smarty Jones, though Barbaro was able to be just as effective.

But nothing in Adriano's repertoire yet has hinted to Barbaroan feats. My personal "two eyeball test" will mean a lot when I get to see Adriano in motion, and not relying on still photos. And after his ungluing in the paddock at the Fountain of Youth, it will be interesting to watch master horseman Graham Motion massage Adriano's psyche with paddock schooling all week, in the a.m. and p.m.


Colonel John: Final Derby workout.

With everything on his resume accomplished over synthetic tracks, the Colonel's final drill at Churchill Downs will be our only feel for his ability on natural soil. Trainer Eoin Harty is a disciple of the Baffert camp, and Colonel John's recent, blazing workouts out West are very Baffert-esque in terms of indicating a big effort. Don't be surprised to see a :59-flat workout at five panels on Derby Week from this guy. In fact, if he loafs a 1:01 or 1:02, there's cause for concern.


Pyro: Presence and workmate.

I'll be following the Steve Asmussen barn all week long as part of the official Kentucky Derby Notes Team, an assignment that takes added importance after the mystifying effort by Pyro in the Blue Grass Stakes. The fact that the Louisiana Derby winner's first drill after that non-effort came in company against graded-stakes class sprinter Noonmark tells me that the Asmussen camp knows they have a lot of work to do to tighten Pyro for Derby Day. Will he work solo, or with a barnmate? And, just who will that barnmate be? That could go a long way in helping handicappers gauge Pyro's ability to rebound on the first Saturday in May.


Quick Hitters: Around the Derby horn.

I'll be very interested to see first-hand how Bill Mott responds to Court Vision's final tuneups. Mott never dances into hyperbole, and any visual cues of excitement from him should be a big sign. Court Vision's blazing local drill last week is the kind of move that screws in the light bulb of a horse waiting to break through ... Read very closely any comments you might find online or in your papers where non-Derby trainers remark about Derby horses. Those are especially prudent when a lesser-known horse arrives in Louisville and takes the "name" trainers by surprise. Baffert's effusive praise of Smarty Jones in 2004 is an example. I'd be excited to hear name trainers step up with positive remarks about horses like Smooth Air, Gayego or Bob Black Jack, who hail from lesser-known stables.
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:57 PM   #100
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Default Daily Derby Notes: April 23
Daily Derby Notes: April 23
Updated: April 23, 2008

(from Churchill Downs)


ADRIANO – Lane’s End (GII) winner Adriano was one of the last Kentucky Derby hopefuls on the track Wednesday morning, coming on to the track at 9:20 and schooling in the paddock before galloping mile and three-eighths under Xavier Aizpuru.

“We have been taking him to the paddock every morning,” said Alice Clapham, assistant to trainer Graham Motion. “Tomorrow morning we will probably gallop a little more.”

Owned by Courtlandt Farm, Adriano is scheduled for his final Kentucky Derby work on Sunday.

Edgar Prado has the Derby riding assignment.

ANAK NAKAL/COOL COAL MAN – Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito is flying under the radar this year with Anak Nakal and Cool Coal Man, and he doesn’t seem to mind a bit.

“Hey, one of them could be this year’s Giacomo,” Zito said, referring to the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner who scored at 50-1 odds.

Cool Coal Man, who is owned by Robert LaPenta, galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break with Megan Smillie up and is scheduled to work Thursday morning after the break.

The son of Mineshaft is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI), which was the colt’s third mile and an eighth race of the year.

“He won two of those races and didn’t like the Polytrack,” Zito said. “He’s got a solid foundation coming into this race.”

Cool Coal Man is the only horse among the top-20 Derby contenders to have run three nine-furlong races. Halo Najib, who stands 22nd in graded stakes earnings among Derby hopefuls, has three such races also.

Julien Leparoux has the riding assignment on Cool Coal Man.

Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal, who galloped a mile and a half before the break under Heather Stark, won his only start at Churchill Downs and enters the Derby off a fifth-place finish in the Wood Memorial (GI).

“We are catching up a little bit with him, but he is improving,” Zito said. “Look at the chart of the Wood … ‘five-wide run second turn’. He was moving and had a horse stop right in front of him.”

Rafael Bejarano has the call on Anak Nakal.

COLONEL JOHN – Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Colonel John galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break with Karine Lhuillier up.

Trainer Eoin Harty plans to give the WinStar Farm homebred some schooling in the paddock and gate but has not firmed up a date for the colt’s final work.

“I’ve got an idea, but it will be determined by Mother Nature,” Harty said. “I’ll be watching the weather.”

Corey Nakatani, who has been aboard Colonel John in three of his four victories, has the call for the Derby.
COURT VISION/Z HUMOR – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s pair of contenders for Kentucky Derby 134 – IEAH Stable and WinStar Farm’s Court Vision and Zayat Stables LLC’s Z Humor – galloped over the “fast” surface at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.

Mott said both colts would turn in their final pre-Kentucky Derby works on Monday or Tuesday.

“Both horses are doing well,” said Mott. “We’re really happy. It’s nice to have two horses that have no flies in the ointment right now. Everything is going very well.”

Court Vision has racing experience at Churchill Downs in a stretch-running victory in last fall’s $150,000-added Iroquois Stakes (GIII). Z Humor, the dead-heat winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot (GIII), will race over the Louisville track for the first time in the Kentucky Derby on May 3.


“Any horse that likes Churchill Downs is at some sort of an advantage,” Mott said. “I believe there are horses for courses. No matter what track it is, you’ll get the odd horse that just doesn’t handle the surface for whatever reason, then they’ll go to the next track and handle it just fine. Fortunately, ours seem to be getting over it very well. We’re pleased with that end of it.”

Mott is the all-time leading trainer at Churchill Downs with 583 career wins under the Twin Spires and a routine year at the track would take him past the 600 mark sometime in 2008. But he has yet to come close in four attempts at the track’s biggest race, but his hoping for better in Kentucky Derby 134.

“Maybe this time next year we’ll still be looking for my first win, but we’re going to start with this one,” said Mott. “We’ve had a couple of chances at it before and I think maybe we’re coming in with some of our most legitimate chances this year and we’ll try to make the best of it. We’ll try not to make any foolish mistakes, get them over there and hope we have some racing luck.”

Garrett Gomez, the Eclipse Award winner as America’s top jockey in 2007, will ride Court Vision. Z Humor is scheduled to be ridden by Rene Douglas.

DENIS OF CORK –Trainer David Carroll made it back to the track Wednesday after being home sick for two days and his Kentucky Derby hopeful, Denis of Cork, went back to the track, jogging two miles before the renovation break under Paul Griffiths.

Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr., Denis of Cork had worked five furlongs in 1:00 on Monday and walked the shedrow Tuesday.

Denis of Cork ranks 21st in graded stakes earnings among Kentucky Derby hopefuls with the top 20 earning starting berths. It is a position the Carroll barn is not worried about.

“If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” said Kim Carroll, David’s wife, who ran the barn in her husband’s absence. “That’s the only way you can look at it.”

Calvin Borel will ride if the colt makes the Derby field.

GAYEGO – Cubanacan Stables’ Gayego had the morning off Wednesday, walking the shedrow at Barn 33.

The Paulo Lobo trainee is scheduled to return to the track and gallop in the morning before the break.

Mike Smith has the Derby riding assignment.
HALO NAJIB – Trainer Dale Romans reported all was well with Zayat Stables’ Halo Najib, a day after the Halo’s Image colt got his first run over the turf with a half-mile work in :50.40.

Halo Najib is 22nd on the graded stakes earnings list among Kentucky Derby hopefuls and would need some defections from the prospective field to get in the starting gate. Romans said he would run Halo Najib in the May 2 Crown Royal American Turf (GIII) if he doesn’t go in the Derby.


PYRO/Z FORTUNE – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro jogged one-mile Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs, his first exercise this spring under the Twin Spires since arriving from Keeneland on Tuesday afternoon.

Trainer Steve Asmussen also sent out Zayat Stables’ Z Fortune for a mile jog. Both colts are scheduled to gallop Thursday morning, leading up to easy breezes here Monday.

Pyro had worked at Keeneland on Monday and Z Fortune had a half-mile drill at Churchill Downs on Monday.

Shaun Bridgmohan, who has ridden Pyro in all seven of his starts, has the call for the Kentucky Derby. Robby Albarado, who rode Z Fortune for the first time in the April 12 Arkansas Derby (GII), is slated to ride the Siphon colt in the Kentucky Derby.

RECAPTURETHEGLORY – Trainer and co-owner Louie Roussel III has called an audible with Illinois Derby (GII) winner Recapturetheglory, postponing a scheduled Thursday work until most likely Saturday.

“I think he is fit enough right now and he doesn’t need it (to work on Thursday),” Roussel said after the colt galloped two miles under Lara Van Deren. “It will be Friday or Saturday, but most likely Saturday.”

Jockey E.T. Baird, who rode Recapturetheglory for the first time in the Illinois Derby, may come in to handle the work.

SMOOTH AIR – Mount Joy Stables’ Smooth Air jogged two miles with Susie Milne up before the renovation break Wednesday morning.

Trainer Bennie Stutts Jr. calls Smooth Air “obviously the best horse I’ve ever trained” and is living his Derby dream.

“I gave up on my Derby dream 25 years ago,” Stutts said. “I had chances to go to New York and other places, but I wanted to stay in Florida with my family.”

Smooth Air is scheduled to work five furlongs on Sunday.

TALE OF EKATI/BIG TRUCK– Charles Fipke’s Tale of Ekati worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Keeneland over the Polytrack on Wednesday morning. The move was the second fastest of 11 at the distance.

It was the colt’s second work at Keeneland since winning the April 5 Wood Memorial (GI). Tale of Ekati worked a half-mile in :49.20 on April 17.

Trainer Barclay Tagg plans to ship Tale of Ekati and Eric Fein’s Big Truck, who worked a half-mile in :48.80 at Keeneland on Tuesday, to Churchill Downs on Saturday with final works for the duo slated next Tuesday.
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