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Mar 28, 2008

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            On the weekend of March 22nd-23rd there were only two prep races for the Kentucky Derby and they both came at Turfway Park in Kentucky. The Rushaway stakes at 1 and 1/16th miles and the Lanes End Stakes, a Grade II run at 1 and 1/8th miles. Both races were restricted to three year olds.

            In the Rushaway Stakes a field of nine went postward with MINER’S CLAIM, an undefeated, lightly raced three year old from Canada sent off as the slight 9-5 favorite. ICABAD CRANE and BIG GLEN were the second and third choices respectively and these three completed the top three finishers with BIG GLEN getting the nod over MINER’S CLAIM with ICABAD CRANE checking in third, three lengths behind. BIG GLEN ran his record to four wins from seven starts with all of those wins coming over the Polytrack at Turfway Park. If the Kentucky Derby was at Turfway Park this horse might have a chance but because it is not he will probably not even run in the race. MINER’S CLAIM ran a good second and that was his first start since November. He can improve off that effort but he is too late in the game to make it to the Kentucky Derby or any of the Triple Crown races. He can be a useful three year old in the future. ICABAD CRANE, a New York bred who was also undefeated coming into this race ran on well for third and should be very tough back with New York and a possible try on the turf in the near future.

            In the next race the Grade II Lanes End Stakes a field of 11 horses went to the post with HALO NAJIB going off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite. RACECAR RHAPSODY was sent off as the second choice at 7-2 while ADRIANO was sent off as the 9-2 third choice in the race. ADRIANO had six career starts before this race, four coming on the turf and one on the Polytrack at Keeneland and the other on a conventional dirt track in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Getting away in good order, jockey Edgar Prado had ADRIANO in a good spot in third for most of the race before taking over into the lane and drawing away for the easiest kind of score by a geared down 2 and ½ lengths in a solid time of 1:50:1. HALO NAJIB had some trouble early on, came with a wide run and held on for the place spot. MEDJOOL, who shipped in from California off his maiden win ran on late for third despite racing very wide into the stretch. Despite his easy win in the Lanes End Stakes, ADRIANO’s trainer Graham Motion said that the Kentucky Derby is “unlikely” for the son of A. P. INDY. Although he didn’t totally rule it out he did say that the colt will likely make his next start in the Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland on April 19th. He obviously would still have to prove that he can run the same way over a conventional dirt track if he were to race in the Kentucky Derby.

            The Florida Derby is to be run on March 29th at Gulfstream Park and will start to clear up this cloudy Derby picture as we have at this point one of the most competitive Derbies we have seen in years. The U. A. E. Derby in Dubai will also be run on March 29th along with the Dubai World Cup featuring reigning Horse of the Year CURLIN who was very impressive in his prep race a few weeks back. The following week there are three big prep races, the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Illinois Derby will all be contested. The final “big” preps will be contested on April 12th with the Blue Grass Stakes, the Holy Bull Stakes and the Arkansas Derby.

            We will be recapping all of those races as we draw ever closer to the first Saturday in May. Good Luck!

 

           



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