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Mar 06, 2015

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-KY DERBY PREPS

By: Joe Girardi


               There were three Kentucky Derby preps over the weekend of February 21-22. The Risen Star at the Fair Grounds, the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream and the rescheduled Southwest at Oaklawn Park.

               In the Risen Star, a Grade II for three year olds run over 1 and 1/16th miles carrying a purse of $400,000 had a field of nine that went postward. The favorite in the race was Imperia, a horse who was beaten just a head in the Kentucky Jockey Club back in November at Churchill Downs. When the gates opened, St. Joe Bay came out running from the rail and battled with 111-1 shot, Hero of Humor through fractions of 23:1, 47, 1:12. St. Joe Bay dispatched of Hero Of Humor and was still there at the top of the lane but was under pressure from International Star who took over the lead. As they continued through the lane International Star dug in and held on to score by a length over the second choice War Story and Keen Ice who checked in third. Imperia, never got going and checked in an even fifth. The final time of the race was a decent 1:43:4. International Star, who is trained by Mike Maker, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and ridden by Miguel Mena, has now won both prep races at the Fair Grounds so far this winter and from this race gained 50 points, with 20 going to the second place finisher, 10 for third and 5 for fourth. The top two finishes in this race are interesting prospects and Imperia could be given a pass and should improve next out.

               The Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park is also a Grade II, for three year olds and run over 1 and 1/16th miles. This race also carried a purse of $400,000 and like the Risen Star, gave 50 points for the winner, 20 for second, 10 for third and 5 for the fourth place finisher. There was a field of eight horses that went postward with Upstart going off as the 4-5 favorite based on his huge win the Holy Bull back on January 24th. When the gates opened, Bluegrass Singer was sent to the lead but was tracked closely by Frosted who sat second through fractions of 24:1, 47:4, 1:11:3. As the moved into the far turn, Frosted took over the lead and was cruising under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. as they moved to the top of the lane. After they turned into the lane, Frosted started to unexpectedly shorten Stride as Upstart began to gain on that leader, there was some bumping between those two as Upstart went by with Itsaknockout bearing down. As they continued through the lane Upstart under jockey Jose Ortiz drifted out and caused Itsaknockout to steady but went on to win by almost three lengths, the final time of the race was a slow 1:46:1 despite decent early fractions. Itsaknockout checked in second with Frammento closing fast for third at 63-1. There was a stewards’ inquiry and a jockeys objection and the result of that was a disqualification and Itsaknockout was made the winner with Upstart placed second.

               In the Southwest at Oaklawn, a race that was rescheduled due to inclement weather was run on Sunday February 22nd. The race, a Grade III for three year olds run over a sloppy/sealed track with a purse of $300,000. This race offered 10, 4, 2, and 1 points for the Kentucky Derby. A field of 11 went postward with Mr. Z going off as the 2-1 favorite, just a slight favorite over the 5-2 second choice Far Right. Mr. Z who broke from post 11 last out came out running for the lead, set the pace while under pressure through fractions of 23:3, 47:4, 1:14:1. As they moved into the stretch Mr. Z was still there but was being challenged by longshot, The Truth Or Else who made a huge wide move on the turn to get into contention. As they continued through the lane, Mr. Z and The Truth Or Else battled for the lead while Far Right was making a big move up the inside and ran down the two leaders to score by ¾’s length over The Truth Or Else with Mr. Z another nose back in third. The final time of the race was a slow 1:47:2 and like International Star, Far Right has won both Oaklawn prep races for the Kentucky Derby and both with big runs up the inside. Although the time of the race slow I think the top three finishers have ability and would like to see them back on a fast track.

               Next week there are no prep races but there will be three on March 7th with the Gotham, Tampa Bay Derby and the San Felipe.



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