Mar 24, 2006
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
There were four big prep races for the Kentucky Derby on March 18th at four different tracks. The Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn and the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.
In the Gotham the slight favorite was ACHILLES OF TROY, who had been beating up on lesser competition before running against better in the Gotham. Getting away in midpack he never picked up his feet en route to a fifth place finish. He exited the race with an apparent sore back and can be back on track if everything goes well with the vet. It would seem he is up against it especially with the fact that he would have to stretch out further. The winner of the race was LIKE NOW, a sprinter who was stretching out in distance and held on well for the score by a neck. KEYED ENTRY who was previously undefeated could not do better than second with SWEETNORTHERNSAINT. KEYED ENTRY who may have distance limitations would need another big effort in the next Derby prep to even be considered. There wasn’t much behind those top three runners, at least in terms of a Kentucky Derby contender.
At Tampa Bay Downs they ran the Tampa Bay Derby and we saw another favorite go down. Sent off at 2-5 BLUEGRASS CAT could only manage second despite racing three wide before settling for second to DEPUTY GLITTERS. DEPUTY GLITTERS, turned the tables on BLUEGRASS CAT who seemed to have trouble with the racetrack at the top of the lane. Even though he finished second he still got a lot out of the race and still must be considered a top contender for the Derby. Pletcher will regroup and im sure you will see a better effort next out. Other than the top two finishers there wasn’t much to go with the other horses in the Tampa Bay Derby.
In the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn park LAWYER RON ran his win streak to five in a row with an off the pace win this time, scoring by three lengths. After breaking from the rail, his jockey John McKee took back off the pace and got LAWYER RON to the outside. He moved up on the turn, took over easily and never looked back scoring easily. RED RAYMOND a 22-1 longshot closed from well back to finish second and STEPPENWOLFER was third. PRIVATE VOW who was making the second choice and making his first start of the year never lifted a hoof checking in seventh. With a win in the Arkansas Derby, LAWYER RON will be one of the favorites in Kentucky, if not the Kentucky Derby favorite. Horses coming from Oaklawn have faired very well the last few years, see SMARTY JONES in 2004 and AFLEET ALEX last year.
In the final of the four prep races, the San Felipe from Santa Anita the favorite going postward was the Bob Baffert trainee BOB AND JOHN (even money). He didn’t get the best of trips en route to a third place finish, he was bumped at the start, he then had to come with a wide rally where he got up to second but flattened out late to finish third. The winner was A. P. WARRIOR, who was high on many Derby lists heading into the year but had disappointed in his only start in the El Camino Real Derby back in January. After that race the owner, Stan Fulton made a trainer change and handed over the $1.3 million yearling to last year’s Derby winning trainer, John Shirreffs. Well something obviously clicked as he got the job done in a professional manner and can only move forward off this effort. The second place finisher, POINT DETERMINED another Baffert trainee was never that far back while racing inside and just missed to the winner by a half length. His sire is POINT GIVEN so the further they go the better for this three year old. The Derby picture is just starting to fog up a bit at the right time, giving many horses a shot at the roses.
We will take a look at some more preps next week and the $6 million Dubai World Cup.
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