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Apr 17, 2015

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-ARKANSAS DERBY-LEXINGTON

By: JOE GIRARDI


               The final two prep races for the Kentucky Derby were run on Saturday April 11th, one a major prep in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and the other, a minor prep in Lexington at Keeneland.

               The Coolmore Lexington was run on Saturday April 11th at Keeneland, for three year olds run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $250,000 and this race offered Kentucky Derby points of 10 to the winner, 4 for second, 2 for third and 1 for fourth. There was a field of seven that went postward with Donworth going off as the 8-5 favorite based on his troubled trip maiden win in his debut. When the gates opened Fame and Power came out running for the lead and set the pace by more than a length through fractions of 24, 47:4, 1:12:3. As they moved down the backstretch and into the far turn, Fame and Power still held the lead with Donworth moving into second, Divining Rod was tracking the pace from third. Moving around the turn and into the stretch, Divining Rod and jockey Julien Leparoux moved off the rail and angled out to move up and challenge the two leaders. After they straightened away into the lane, Divining Rod took over and began to drew away going on to score by three lengths, Donworth under jockey Joel Rosario edged out Fame and Power by a nose for second with Comfort checking in fourth. The final time of the race was a solid 1:43:1 but it looks like even if Divining Rod were able to slip into the Derby his connections would probably skip the race. The owners are Lael Stable, the same owners of the ill-fated Barbaro, the winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby. He is trained by Arnaud Delacour, a former assistant to Christophe Clement. Donworth, who finished second in the race in only his second start has a bright future ahead of him but needs more seasoning. Fame and Power, who checked in third for the powerful Bob Baffert barn might best in one turn races but does have the chance to improve as that was his first start since breaking his maiden.

               The Arkansas Derby, the final of the major prep races on the Kentucky Derby trail was run at Oaklawn on Saturday April 11th. The Arkansas Derby offered 100 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, 40 points for second, 20 points for third and 10 points for fourth. There was a field of eight that went postward in the Arkansas Derby with American Pharoah going off as the 1-10 heavy favorite. He was making just his second start of the year but his first was a very impressive victory in the Rebel Stakes over a sloppy main track here at Oaklawn. When the gates opened, 38-1 longest shot in the race, Bridget’s Big Luvy came out running for the lead and set the pace through swift fractions of 22:3, 45:4, 1:10:2 all while being tracked by American Pharoah. As they moved into the far turn, American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza moved to the lead without being asked and started to drew away. As they continued through the lane American Pharoah widened his advantage while never being asked to run an in an extremely visually impressive performance going on to score by eight lengths. Far Right, winner of two previous stakes races over the Oaklawn main track, raced in 8th early on but put in a nice run to finish second over Mr. Z who checked in third. The final time of the race was a solid 1:48:2 considering he was never asked to run through the stretch. American Pharoah who is trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Zayat stables, looks like a solid favorite going into the Kentucky Derby. Baffert’s other trainer, Dortmund will most likely be the second choice in the race so Baffert is holding a strong hand. Far Right who has shown that he has ability is just not near as good as American Pharoah and in this writer’s opinion would be a pretender come the first Saturday in May.

               Now with just two weeks until the Derby and the preps all finished we will gear up for some of the solid spring/summer racing as Belmont opens on April 29th and Monmouth Park opens their gates on May 9th.



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