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Apr 16, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi


            On Saturday April 10th the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby, basically the final two major preps on the road to the Kentucky Derby were run.

            A field of nine went postward in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland with INTERACTIF going off as the lukewarm favorite at 3-1. The second choice in the race was PADDY O’PRADO who was sent off at 9-2 with four horses tied as the third choice at 5-1. INTERACTIF and PADDY O’PRADO’s best races have come over the turf yet they were the first two choices in a Grade I Stakes race with a purse of $750,000, this is what happens when you have a synthetic racetrack to run over. As the race unfolded ODYSSEUS, the winner of the Tampa Bay Derby was sent to the lead from the inside in a race that lacked speed. PADDY O’PRADO, who broke his maiden in a Stakes race over the turf last out showed much improved speed in his last start and was showing good speed again sitting second to the pacesetter. FIRST DUDE got away third from the inside despite some traffic trouble into the first turn and raced evenly throughout to finish in the show spot. As they turned into the lane PADDY O’PRADO continued to lead into the lane but the closers started to come in the form of STATELY VICTOR, another who has shown his best over the turf but a horse that hasn’t hit the board in five starts and four of those were entry level allowance races. If the top two finishers do choose to run in the Derby it is really hard to gauge where they stand because of the fact that their best running over the main track has come on a synthetic surface. Unfortunately ODYSSEUS who faded to finish last in the Blue Grass suffered a knee chip in the race, his first over a synthetic surface, and as far as a return nothing has been set.

            Moving on to the Arkansas Derby run at Oaklawn Park with a field of nine going postward. The Arkansas Derby is a Grade I with a purse of $1 million dollars run over 1 and 1/8th miles. NOBLE’S PROMISE, who finished second in the Rebel stakes over this track back in early March by just a head to LOOKIN AT LUCKY was sent off as the favorite. DUBLIN, a D. Wayne Lukas trainee was sent off as the second choice in the race with SUPER SAVER, the morning line favorite from the Todd Pletcher barn going off at 4-1 while breaking from the rail. As the race unfolded, California shipper LINE OF DAVID, who was two for two since blinkers were added, but both of those wins coming over the turf, was sent right to the lead and was able to clear all the inside horses. Setting solid fractions of 22:3, 46:1, 1:10:3, he held a clear lead over SUPER SAVER who raced in second while DUBLIN raced in third. As they entered the stretch BOTH SUPER SAVER and DUBLIN moved alongside LINE OF DAVID but they couldn’t get by as LINE OF DAVID dug in to hold on by a neck, with SUPER SAVER another neck ahead of DUBLIN who checked in third. UH OH BANGO closed some ground to finish fourth outkicking NOBLE’S PROMISE who could do no better than fifth. However, UH OH BANGO came out of the Arkansas Derby with a fractured left front cannon bone and will be sidelined between four to six months. NOBLE’S PROMISE was up in the air about the Derby and probably would be better suited to take a pass, his breeding doesn’t lend itself to 1 and ¼ miles. LINE OF DAVID another who may have some distance limitations should meet plenty of speed in the Derby but he has shown gameness despite sharp early fractions and will be a longshot in the Derby field.

            With two more prep races left, the Lexington Stakes on April 17th is the last chance to build up graded earnings. On April 24th, the Derby Trial, always run the week before the Derby might see freakishly fast EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY who if he wins might take a chance at the Kentucky Derby the following week.

            ZENYATTA improved her record to 16 for 16 in an easy win in the Apple Blossom Invitational over four weak rivals to say the least. However, it was only her second try on conventional dirt both coming at Oaklawn and she may try races at Churchill Downs this Summer, hopefully meeting up with RACHEL ALEXANDRA.

            In sad news longtime trainer Alan Seewald died in his sleep on Monday April 12th at his home in Middletown, N. J., he was 62. He had trained on the New Jersey circuit for over 20 years winning 962 races. He is survived by his wife Kathleen, sons Ryan and Shane and grandson Blake.



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