Apr 19, 2013
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-BLUE GRASS AND ARKANSAS DERBY
By: JOE GIRARDI
final of the “Major Derby Preps” were run on 4/13/13, the Blue Grass Stakes at
Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn. Both of these races were run over
1 and 1/8th miles and carried a points distribution of 100, 40, 20
and 10 to the top four finishers. There are actually two more prep races that
carry points heading to the Derby and they are the Lexington at Keeneland on
4/20/13 and the Derby Trail at Churchill Downs, both of these races have a 20,
8, 4 and 2 points to the top four finishers.
Blue Grass at Keeneland there was a full field of 14 that went postward for a
purse of $750,000, run over the Polytrack. The favorite in the race was
RYDILLUC, who was 3 for 4 coming into the race, all three wins coming over the
turf and one race over a conventional dirt track at Belmont where he finished
well up the track. The co-second choices in the race were JAVA’S WAR, second to
VERRAZANO in the Tampa Bay Derby and PALACE MALICE, who was coming off a
troubled seventh in the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds, both of them going
off at 9-2. When the gates opened, RYDILLUC came out running for the lead from
post 13 and got a good spot in second into the clubhouse turn behind UNDRAFTED
who set the early pace. JAVA’S WAR was left at the start and trailed the field
of 14 early on behind fractions of 23:4, 48, 1:12:3. As they moved down the
backstretch, RYDILLUC took over the lead as UNDRAFTED dropped back, PALACE
MALICE was tucked in right behind in third. As they moved into the lane,
RYDILLUC still held the lead but PALACE MALICE was closing in. JAVA’S WAR in
the meantime was making a wide move to get into contention as well as CHARMING
KITTEN. As they continued into deep stretch, JAVA’S WAR was able to get up late
over a still green PALACE MALICE who only switch back to his right lead late.
Another neck behind was CHARMING KITTEN AT 22-1 while RYDILLUC tired to finish
fourth. JAVA’S WAR put in a big effort to score coming from well back despite
the slow start and does have a good kick which can come in handy in the Derby
especially with a pace up front. PALACE MALICE ran well to finish second while
CHARMING KITTEN closed well for third, all three of those horses are expected
to go on to the Derby. RYDILLUC, who was previously undefeated over the turf
will probably find his way back to the lawn for trainer Gary Contessa.
of 10 went postward with the Bob Baffert trainee, WAR ACADEMY going off as the
9-5 favorite off an easy win in an allowance race at Santa Anita. The second
choice in the race was OXBOW who was an easy winner in the LeComte in
mid-January at Fair Grounds and just missing by a head in the Rebel Stakes at
Oaklawn Park a month earlier. When the gates opened longshot DIVINE AMBITION
was sent to the lead from the inside with FALLING SKY in close pursuit while
another longshot, HEAVEN’S RUNWAY not that far off in third. As they moved down
the backside through fractions of 23:1, 47:3, 1:12:2, FALLING SKY had taken
over the lead, while the favorite, WAR ACADEMY had pulled up under Mike Smith.
Moving into the turn, FALLING SKY still had the lead, DEN’S LEGACY moved up the
inside to challenge while FRAC DADDY was in contention on the outside third.
Into the lane FALLING SKY was still there, DEN’S LEGACY couldn’t go on, but
OVERANALYZE was really moving down the center of the track under jockey Rafael
Bejarano. OVERANALYZE, took over the lead and drew away nicely at the end to
score by more than four lengths. 23-1 longshot FRAC DADDY got up for second
late over 22-1 longshot, CARVE who closed for third. FALLING SKY checked in
fourth while OXBOW checked in a non-threatening fifth. OVERANALYZE, really
improved off his three year old debut in the Gotham when he checked in fifth
and reverted back to his solid two year old form. He is another from trainer
Todd Pletcher’s barn who is going to have multiple horses in the starting gate
for both the Derby and the Oaks. OXBOW who was a disappointing fifth for D.
Wayne Lukas has enough points to qualify and would need an improved effort to
have a shot on the first Saturday in May. FALLING SKY is another who has enough
points but not sure he will move on to the Derby after tiring in the lane again
and may be better at shorter distances.
expect to see any one moving on and having an impact from the last two Derby
preps as the Kentucky Derby field starts to take shape just two weeks away .
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