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Apr 13, 2012

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-WOOD-ILLDERBY-SADERBY

By: JOE GIRARDI


               On April 7th there were four prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby at three different racetracks. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita. Aqueduct also hosted the Bay Shore at seven furlongs but that race will be more of a prep for the Preakness out of any of the Triple Crown races.

               At Aqueduct the first of the two prep races was the Bay Shore, a Grade III run over seven furlongs with a purse of $250,000. A field of eight went postward with TRINNIBERG going off as the slight favorite over HARDENED WILDCAT. As the gates opened TRINNIBERG was sent right to the lead and was able to set a very moderate pace going fractions of 23:2, 47:2, 1:11:2. As they entered the stretch jockey Willie Martinez was still sitting chilly coming home the last 1/8th in 11:4 for a final time of 1:23:2, scoring by three lengths over HARDENED WILDCAT who ran on well to be a clear second, having to close into a slow pace. TRINNIBERG’S trainer Bisnath Parboo said that it was likely that TRINNIBERG would be pointed to the Preakness rather than the Derby but as the race draws closer I guess that can change. It would be nice to see him stick to sprints where he is best but that might have to come later in the year.

               In the following race, the Grade I Wood Memorial, there was a field of eight that went postward. The race was run over 1 and 1/8th miles and carried a purse of $1 million dollars. The 6-5 favorite in the race was GEMOLOGIST, a Todd Pletcher trainee who was 4 for 4 heading into the race. The second choice in the race was ALPHA, who was 2 for 2 in 2012 after winning the Count Fleet and Withers over the Aqueduct inner track. As the race unfolded, THE LUMBER GUY was sent to the lead from the outside post eight and set fractions of 23, 47:2, 1:12:2, while being tracked by MY ADONIS and GEMOLOGIST. Into the first turn, ALPHA was forced to check and lost a few lengths. As they moved down the backstretch, GEMOLOGIST raced wide while ALPHA was getting a good trip in behind the leaders. On the final turn, GEMOLOGIST moved wide to take over the lead, ALPHA moved into second into the lane and drew up alongside the leader and looked as if he was going to go right on by but GEMOLOGIST dug in and held on by a neck, galloping out clear of ALPHA. Now 5 for 5 that was only his second start of 2012 and he is already 2 for 2 over the Churchill Downs oval. He is bred to handle the distance of the Derby and will be one of the favorites heading into the race. ALPHA ran a good second despite a tough trip but is another that has a big shot in the Kentucky Derby. STREET LIFE, an up and coming three year old could only manage a sixth place finish and probably needs more seasoning before he takes another shot at the big time.

               Hawthorne Race Course hosted the Illinois Derby, a Grade III run over 1 and 1/8th miles with a purse of $500,000. There was a field of 14 that went postward with CURRENCY SWAP, last year’s Hopeful Stakes winner going off as the lukewarm 5-2 favorite. As the gates opened there was a crush of horses trying for the lead with longshot, FRANKIE IS ROCK getting that lead setting fractions of 23:4, 48:3, 1:13. He was being tracked by second choice OUR ENTOURAGE with third choice MORGAN’S GUERRILLA tracking those two from third. Into the far turn OUR ENTOURAGE took over the lead with MORGAN’S GUERRILLA right on his flank. Those two battled into the lane with DONE TALKING closing in late getting up near the wire to score by ¾’s of a length over MORGAN’S GUERRILLA who was 1 and ½ lengths in front of HAKAMA who closed for third while OUR ENTOURAGE checked in fifth. The favorite CURRENCY SWAP didn’t do much running tiring to finish 11th. The final time of the race was a slow 1:53:4, a final 1/8th in just slightly over 14 seconds. It would be difficult to see anyone coming out of this race and making and impact on the Triple Crown races.

               The final race was the Santa Anita Derby, a Grade I run over 1 and 1/8th miles with a purse of $1 million dollars. There was a field of nine that went postward with CREATIVE CAUSE, the winner of the San Felipe and third place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile going off as the 4-5 favorite. The second choice in the race was I’LL HAVE ANOTHER, the longshot winner of the R B Lewis Stakes back on February 4th over this racetrack. As the gates opened, BLUESKIESNRAINBOWS, a longshot at 42-1 was sent to the lead and set the fractions of 23, 47, 1:11, 1:35:1, while being tracked from second by I’LL HAVE ANOTHER. As they moved midway on the final turn, CREATIVE CAUSE who got a perfect inside run moved into second and took dead aim on the leader. As they reached midstretch, BLUESKIESNRAINBOWS was still there but CREATIVE CAUSE and I’LL HAVE ANOTHER drew alongside. As they approached the wire CREATIVE CAUSE and I’LL HAVE ANOTHER battled nose to nose with I’LL HAVE ANOTHER and jockey Mario Gutierrez scoring by a nose in a solid final time of 1:47:4. The top two finishers should be major contenders in the Kentucky Derby in what is shaping up to be a very competitive race.

 

 



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