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Apr 04, 2008

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            With only one big Derby prep to talk about held on the weekend of March 29th we will also look at the Dubai World Cup on the same day. There is only one word to describe both races, WOW!

            In the Florida Derby there was a full field of 12 horses with BIG BROWN going off as the 3-2 favorite. BIG BROWN had only run twice in his career prior to the Florida Derby, once at Saratoga last September when he won wire to wire by more than 11 lengths on the turf and once at Gulfstream Park in an off the turf race by more than 12 lengths. He was now stretching out to 1 and 1/8th miles from the 12 post, a post that had not produced any winners since the track was reconfigured in 2005. After breaking well from post 12, he was right up on the pace and eventually made the lead in the middle of the clubhouse turn. Setting fractions of 22:3, 45:4, 1:10, 1:35, with a final time of 1:48; scoring by five geared down lengths. SMOOTH AIR made a wide move to get into second at the top of the lane and was well clear of the third horse TOMCITO, a Peruvian invader. ELYSIUM FIELDS, who was sent off as the 5-2 second choice in the race based off a solid second in the Fountain of Youth earlier in the meeting faded badly on the final turn after stalking the pace from fifth and he checked in 11th. FIERCE WIND the 7-1 third choice was coming off a win in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs didn’t run much either finishing 10th. The fractions were fast as well as the final time, comparing it to the three year old fillies a race earlier in the Grade II Bonnie Miss was 3 and 4/5 seconds faster. It will be a tall task going to the Derby off only three races for a horse that has shown some soundness problems in the past dealing with quarter cracks but the talent is there and will make this year’s Derby even more interesting.

            In the Dubai World Cup run on the same day as the Florida Derby the reigning Horse of the Year CURLIN feature of the evening. A field of 12 went into the gate after the scratch of HAPPY BOY. Breaking from post 11 in the 12 horse field, CURLIN and jockey Robby Albarado were able to secure a good spot in third behind the two leaders WELL ARMED and ASIATIC BOY who were able to slow the pace down. As they hit the top of the stretch CURLIN took over the lead and never looked back drawing away to score by an easy 7 and ¾ lengths over ASIATIC BOY who got by WELL ARMED late. His next start has not yet been determined as of this writing but the racing world can’t wait until he returns. CURLIN is a superstar and is good for the game, this should be a very exciting year watching him on his way to another Horse of the Year title.

            On another note, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. won two races with his first two Dubai starters. DIAMOND STRIPES battled back to win the $1 million dollar Godolphin Mile in the first race of the night. Two races later he also won the $2 million dollar Golden Shaheen with BENNY THE BULL. BENNY THE BULL is owned in part by IEAH Stables who also owns part of BIG BROWN, so it was a big day all around for those connections.

            The Santa Anita Derby, Illinois Derby and the Wood Memorial will be run on April 5th and we will take a look at those preps next week as we are less than a month away from the Kentucky Derby.   

            Spring is in the air as Aqueduct opened its main track on Wednesday April 2nd. The switch to the main track will allow for different distances that were not run over the inner track. The 6 ½ furlong and seven furlong races are back along with a few 7 ½ furlong races which has been a new distance over the last few years. Another thing to remember is that the mile races are now a one turn mile as opposed to the inner track when the mile distance was run around two turns. The first few days were producing fast times and the speed was holding very well. It might be something to look at the track evens out.

            Keeneland also opened their doors on the Spring meeting 2008. The meeting runs from April 4th through April 25th when the racing in Kentucky switches to Churchill Downs. The highlight of the meeting is the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes which is a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby and will be run on April 12th and leading Derby Contender PYRO is expected to run. For those betting on Keeneland you must remember they have a Polytrack so the day of inside speed are over but take a look as the track tends to play different each day. Good Luck!



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