American Turf Magazine
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Apr 06, 2012



               On the weekend of March 31st-April 1st there were three prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. These three races took place at three different racetracks and on two different continents.

               In the Florida Derby at Gulfstream there was a field of eight that went postward with UNION RAGS going off as the 2-5 favorite and EL PADRINO the 5-2 second choice. This race was run over 1 and 1/8th miles, it was a Grade I and carried a purse of $1 million dollars. As the gates opened, third choice in the race TAKE CHARGE INDY, under jockey Calvin Borel was sent right to the lead with 31-1 longshot REVERON stalking from second. EL PADRINO found a good spot for himself in fourth just outside of a bottled up UNION RAGS. As they moved down the backstretch through moderate fractions in 23:3, 47:3, TAKE CHARGE INDY was still the leader and REVERON was a stalking second, EL PADRINO was hard ridden into the turn trying to move up while UNION RAGS found himself behind a wall of horses with his jockey Julien Leparoux having to make a decision whether to go inside or out. Into the lane TAKE CHARGE INDY was set down and held that lead over REVERON, UNION RAGS went inside and started to gain some ground, he had to angle out to the four path to make his final run but could only manage third. The final time of the race was 1:48:3 and this has definitely opened up the Derby picture less than a month away from the Run for the Roses. EL PADRINO will probably be pointed to the Derby but he does need to improve off that effort.

               The UAE Derby in Dubai at Meydan race course was run on March 31st as well. This race was a Grade II, it was contested at 1 and 3/16ths miles and had a purse of $2,000,000. Trainer Aiden O’Brien’s runners put in good efforts in this race and may have punched their tickets to the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. DADDY LONG LEGS a runner by Scat Daddy whose only effort on dirt came at Churchill Downs in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2011 resulted in a poor effort, 12 beaten more than 19 lengths. He was able to stalk the pace in the UAE Derby, took over the lead and held very game to the wire for the win over YANG TSE KIANG and his stablemate WROTE, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Although this race was run over a synthetic surface it looks like both DADDY LONG LEGS and WROTE will be pointed to the Kentucky Derby according to their trainer O’Brien.

               On Sunday the Fair Grounds hosted the Grade I $1 million dollar Louisiana Derby run over 1 and 1/8th miles. This race had a field of 13 horses going postward with the entry of MR. BOWLING and MARK VALESKI going off as the 3-2 favorite. Big maiden winner, CIGAR STREET was sent off as the 7-2 second choice. As the gates opened longshot COMISKY’S HONOR led early through fractions of 23:1, 47:1, 1:11:2 while being tracked by the longest shot in the race HERO OF ORDER, with CIGAR STREET getting a good spot in third and favored MARK VALESKI in a good spot in fifth. As they moved into the lane, HERO OF ORDER took over the lead but was quickly challenged by both CIGAR STREET and MARK VALESKI. As they moved into deeper stretch, HERO OF ORDER was digging in gamely and still held the lead, MARK VALESKI was his only challenger late as CIGAR STREET began to tire just a bit. As they got to the wire HERO OF ORDER pulled off the huge upset holding on by a half length over MARK VALESKI in a final time of 1:50:1 through a slow final 1/8th in 13:2. ROUSING SERMON closed well to nail CIGAR STREET for third. This race definitely opened up the Derby picture even further and the slowish final 1/8th and final time is a cause for some concern for these horses coming out of the Louisiana Derby.

               The Wood Memorial, Illinois Derby and the Santa Anita Derby will all be run on April 7th and should make for a very exciting weekend as these three year olds jockey for position on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

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