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Apr 04, 2014

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-FLA DERBY-LA DERBY-UAE DERBY

By: JOE GIRARDI


               On Saturday March 29th there were three Kentucky Derby prep races, the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds and the UAE Derby at Meydan racetrack in Dubai.

               In the Florida Derby there was a field of eight that went postward with Cairo Prince going off as the 6-5 favorite based on his easy win in the Holly Bull Stakes, albeit two months ago at Gulfstream Park. When the gates opened, Wildcat Red and jockey John Velazquez were sent to the lead with General A Rod stalking him from second. Constitution, the undefeated second choice from the Todd Pletcher barn, who was making just his third career start sat in behind the leaders on the rail in third. Those three horses moved that way down the backstretch through ordinary fractions of 24, 48, 1:12. As they moved around the far turn, Wildcat Red still held the lead while racing in the two path, General A Rod was still in second and Constitution was moving up the rail in third with Cairo Prince racing wide in fourth. As they moved into the lane, Constitution and jockey Javier Castellano got through on the rail, put his neck in front and then fought gamely with Wildcat Red holding on to score by a neck. Wildcat Red checked in second by a little more than a length over General A Rod who checked in third, just over two lengths ahead of Cairo Prince. The final time of the race was 1:49 flat with the final 1/8th of a mile going in 12:3. Constitution has plenty of talent but is short on seasoning with only three starts and will have to move his game to Churchill Downs but he does have the talent and he hails from the Todd Pletcher barn. Wildcat Red is a very game runner but I am not sure he will excel at the longer distances. General A Rod, who finished third is another who always tries hard but may come up short going 1 and ¼ miles. Cairo Prince, who was a disappointing fourth will still look to go into the Derby but will have to qualify based on the 24 points he currently has. If the Derby was tomorrow he would be in but there are still plenty of prep races left. The Florida Derby awarded 100, 40, 20 and 10 points to the top four finishers.

               Moving on to the Louisiana Derby there was a field of 10 that went postward with Intense Holiday with jockey Mike Smith going off as the 9-5 favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher. The second choice in the race was In Trouble, with Vicar’s In Trouble going off as the third choice. When they broke running, Vicar’s In Trouble came out running for the lead and set the pace through fractions of 23:2, 47:4, 1:12 while being pressed by In Trouble and Rise Up, who made a middle move down the backside. As they moved in to the far turn, Vicar’s In Trouble still held the lead with Intense Holiday, who checked on the turn, moving into second. As they entered the lane, Vicar’s In Trouble opened up the lead while Intense Holiday, who was racing greenly and on his wrong lead was in second. As they moved down the lane Vicar’s In Trouble held safely to the wire with Intense Holiday making up a little ground late to finish second with Commanding Curve checking in third and In Trouble checked in fourth. In Trouble was D’Q from that spot and placed fifth for interference. The top two finishers in this race would interest me going forward especially Intense Holiday who still seems like he is learning. Just like the Florida Derby the Louisiana Derby gave away 100, 40, 20 and 10 points to the top four finishers.

               In the UAE Derby, a race which also offered plenty of Kentucky Derby points giving away 100, 40, 20 and 10 points to the top 4 finishers. The winner of the race was Toast of New York, who was owned by Michael Buckley and trained by Jamie Osborne. This three year old by Thewayyouare was coming into this race riding a two race winning streak. Both of his wins were over a synthetic surface and the UAE Derby was run over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Meydan. Breaking well under jockey Jamie Spencer, he sat second behind Safety Check from the start and to the top of the lane before being let loose into the stretch, taking over the lead and going on to score by more than two lengths. The distance of the UAE Derby was 1 and 3/16th miles, just a 1/16th of a mile short of the Derby distance. However, he hasn’t run over conventional dirt and his pedigree doesn’t scream dirt. He does have the qualifying points and it will be interesting to see if his connections will take the leap and ship here for the Derby. If they did, he would be considered a longshot. I don’t see anyone that finished behind him as a major threat either.

               The Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby will be run on April 5th and will have a big impact on the Kentucky Derby in less than a month, we will take a look at those races next week.



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