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Apr 21, 2007

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            The major preps for the Kentucky Derby are over — just the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 21st and the Derby Trial and Withers Stakes at Churchill Downs and Aqueduct respectively on April 28th remain. I wouldn’t expect to see anyone from those races in the Kentucky Derby, although CHARISMATIC won the Lexington in 1999 and went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness that year so you never know. On April 14th the two final preps for the Derby were held and the results definitely made an impact on the race.     

            In the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn there was a field of nine horses with the undefeated CURLIN who was two for two heading into the race going off as the 4-5 favorite. The second choice was the Todd Pletcher traineer, DEADLY DEALER who was coming off a huge allowance win at Gulfstream back at the beginning of March. DEADLY DEALER broke well from post 10 and was sent right to the lead through moderate fractions in 23:2, 47:4, 1:12:3, 1:38, and a final time for the 1 and 1/8th miles in 1:50 flat. Leading by two lengths into the far turn, CURLIN and jockey Robby Albarado made a move to the lead and easily went by in hand drawing away to score by more than 10 lengths. STORM IN MAY closed ground late to finish second at 30-1 beating DEADLY DEALER by a half length, who seemed finished by the top of the stretch with DELIGHTFUL KISS who finished third in the Tampa Bay Derby closed to finish fourth. With CURLIN now three for three and each victory more impressive than the next he will probably be the favorite in the Kentucky Derby. Now there are many out there that will say that he never started at two and no horse has won the Derby since APOLLO in 1882 who hasn’t started at two but I don’t buy into that. However, what I do buy into is that CURLIN has not been beating much in his last two starts at Oaklawn Park. The second place finisher STORM IN MAY was coming off a third place finish in a turf stakes and his only try with graded stakes company on the dirt resulted in a sixth place finish. DEADLY DEALER looks like a one turn horse who was finished on the turn and was still able to finish third which doesn’t say much for those behind him. There was actually a horse making his career debut in the Arkansas Derby, OLYMPIC CHIEF who finished last in his first race. He will have to go a mile and a quarter with only three races under his belt and the competition will be much higher, so as the favorite he is a bad play but the horse does have the talent.

            The Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland was the other prep race run on April 14th and this race produced and even more puzzling result, based on the time of the race at least. There was a field of seven horses that entered the gate with STREET SENSE going off as the even money favorite. With not much speed in the race TEUFLESBERG was left as the only speed and set what could be considered something slower than a pedestrian pace with fractions of 26, 51:2, 1:16:3, with the final time of 1:51:1, as a reasonable final time for the distance but for Grade I horses it was slow. DOMINICAN closed with a rush to get up in the last jump for the win over STREET SENSE with ZANJERO just another head back in third. TEUFLESBERG, somehow tired to finish fourth with GREAT HUNTER, a troubled fifth. In terms of how this race affects the Derby is still up in the air because of the fractions, how the race was run tactic wise, etc. STREET SENSE who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs will be one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby and he obviously likes the track over there. Good Luck!



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