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Mar 30, 2007

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            With the Kentucky Derby only a little more than a month away the major prep races will be coming fast and furious. On Saturday March 24th Turfway Park hosted their big day of racing with the Lane’s End Stakes as the featured attraction. The Rushaway was also run at Turfway on the same day and played second fiddle to the Lane’s End. On March 31st Gulfstream hosts their big day of racing with the Grade I Florida Derby which produced last year’s Kentucky Derby winner BARBARO who unfortunately had to be put down some months after injuring himself in the Preakness stakes. The time between the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby doesn’t worry trainers anymore and after BARBARO scored on the first Saturday in May many trainers feel comfortable with the amount of time leading into the race. In addition to the Florida Derby the Dubai World Cup that features the two best horses in training against each other will take place on Saturday also. INVASOR versus DISCREET CAT should be a great race and gives racing something to look forward too.

            There are three major preps the following week when the Santa Anita Derby, Illinois Derby and the Wood Memorial will all be run on the same day at Santa Anita, Hawthorne Race Course and Aqueduct respectively. The following week on April 14th the two final major preps will be run when the Arkansas Derby will be held at Oaklawn and the Blue Grass Stakes will be run at Keeneland.

            Back to the Lane’s End Stakes we saw a solid bounce back effort from HARD SPUN who has only lost once in his career and that came in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn when he had a wide trip and also couldn’t handle the surface at Oaklawn. His trainer Larry Jones felt they should get him out of Oaklawn because of the fact that he didn’t handle the surface and he landed at Turfway Park and its Polytrack surface. He had worked over a Polytrack before and showed a bullet work at Turfway a few days before the race.  Breaking from post 10 HARD SPUN was forced wide into the clubhouse turn and then raced wide throughout before taking over into the lane and drawing away for an easy score without ever really being asked. This three year old is extremely well bred being by DANZIG out of a TURKOMAN mare and has showed that he has unlimited potential. His tactical speed and the fact that he overcame some trouble and difficult trips makes him a perfect candidate for the Derby. His next race will come in the Blue Grass Stakes that will also be run over Polytrack which should set him up nicely leading into the Derby.

            The Rushaway stakes was run on the undercard of the Lane’s End and saw DOMINICAN put in a huge effort scoring by five lengths but he wasn’t beating much and would have to show a big effort in a major prep to be considered. This was DOMINICAN’s second start over a Polytrack as he broke his maiden at Keeneland back in October.

            Over the next two weeks the Derby picture should start to clear up as the contenders move forward and the pretenders take a step back. Next we will look at the Florida Derby results along with the Dubai World Cup and their undercard. Also Keeneland will open its doors for their spring meeting staring on April 6th. This meeting has high quality racing and with the Polytrack still very new it makes for an interesting time when handicapping races but the value is there. Good Luck!



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