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Apr 14, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


With the major preps done and over with the Kentucky Derby can’t be too far behind. With only a few weeks left the Derby picture is still very cloudy with some of the top horses having questions marks next to their name and many up and coming three year olds that are capable on their best effort to get the job done. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita were all contested on April 8th.

In the Wood Memorial which was run over a very sloppy racetrack the were two horses that took the bulk of the money. KEYED ENTRY was sent off at 4-5 and BOB AND JOHN shipping in from California for trainer Bob Baffert was sent off as the close second choice at 2-1. KEYED ENTRY broke well, floated BOB AND JOHN wide into the first turn before setting the pace of 23, 46:1, 1:11, 137:2 before coming home in a final time of 1:51:2. BOB AND JOHN was never that far off the pace, came up to challenge KEYED ENTRY on the far turn and got by the leader in deep stretch getting away for a 1 and ½ length victory. However the final 1/8th of a mile was run in a little over 14 seconds which doesn’t bode well for the Kentucky Derby as they would have to run another 1/8th of a mile. JAZIL closed late to get up for second but I’m not sure how fast he was closing as much as it was the top two horses were stopping. The sloppy track didn’t help the time maybe but the track was not overly slow, the horses that make it to the Derby from the Wood Memorial would be a play against.

In the Illinois Derby the favorite in the race was SWEETNORTHERNSAINT who was coming off a good run in the Gotham Stakes despite a wide trip. After breaking from a tough post in this race he got away in the second spot, chased the leader MISTER TRIESTER before taking over the lead heading into the stretch and then exploding in the final 1/8th of a mile scoring by almost 10 lengths. The final time was 1:49:4 was good and the final 1/8th of a mile was run in a little over 12 seconds. The second place finisher was MISTER TRIESTER with the second choice CAUSE TO BELIEVE checking in third. The rest of the field was not much of a factor and would not be a factor in the Kentucky Derby. SWEETNORTHERNSAINT on the other hand will be a major factor and he tactical speed will come in handy in a race like the Kentucky Derby.

In the Santa Anita Derby, BROTHER DEREK, the current Derby favorite and the horse that sits a top of most of the Kentucky Derby top 10 lists didn’t disappoint as the heavy 1-2 favorite. It was a compact field of five horses with one rank outsider in 46-1 WILDFANG. After getting away to a good start BROTHER DEREK set some very leisurely fractions of 23:3, 47:2, 1:11:1, 1:35:1 and a final time of 1:48 flat. Although the final time was solid it came from the fact that the early fractions were very soft and there was no pace pressure at all. A. P. WARRIOR sat second from the start of the race and could not make an impact on the winner and lost second late to POINT DETERMINED. The latter sat in third most of the way and was ridden hard on the turn to try and make up some ground but did close strongly to get up for second. The 1 and ¼ miles will be right up his alley and he should relish the distance of the Kentucky Derby. SACRED LIGHT who finished fourth was basically eliminated at the start of the race when he stumbled to knees and the fact that the pace was slow didn’t help his cause either. With that easy win BROTHER DEREK will go into the Kentucky Derby as the heavy favorite but he still has to prove that he can withstand pace pressure and still get the job done at the Derby distance.

We will take a look at the Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes that were run on April 15th as these are the final major preps for the Kentucky Derby.



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