It was a very busy weekend on the Derby prep scene last weekend as several horses punched their tickets to the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
The Florida Derby (G1) was billed as a showdown between the “big three” consisting of Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron), Orb (Malibu Moon), and Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday). Early on, the race was taken at a slow pace by longshots Merit Man (With Distinction) and Narvaez (Holy Bull) with the big three not far behind them.
On the far turn, Itsmyluckyday put in his bid to challenge Merit Man for the lead. Those two battled hard into the straight, but Orb blew past them in the final eighth of a mile. The final margin was a little under 3 lengths. Itsmyluckyday was second, and Merit Man checked in at third. Shanghai Bobby finished a disappointing fifth, and has been removed from consideration for the Derby after his second straight defeat.
In the 100th edition of the Louisiana Derby (G2) it was the Revolutionary (War Pass) show. Last away, he raced near the back until the backstretch, and he began to pick off rivals like crazy racing five wide on the turn. He gained the lead heading into the stretch and held off a very game effort from 19-1 shot Mylute (Midnight Lute) for the win by a neck.
The UAE Derby (Grade 2) was won for the second year in a row by trainer Aidan O’Brien and team Coolmore. This time it was a game effort from Lines of Battle that proved victorious. The son of War Front hadn’t raced since his unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1) last year.
The buffet of great Derby preps continues this week with two big ones that will play a huge part in sorting out who the favorite for the Run for the Roses will be.
The Wood Memorial (G1) is highlighted by the undisputed most brilliant Derby contender, Verrazano (More Than Ready). The undefeated colt has been unchallenged in his three career starts including an impressive three-length tour de force in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) his last time out. He will be challenged by undefeated local hero Vyjack (Into Mischief) who has won two graded stakes already this year at Aqueduct. He now goes for the top prize at his home track. The last Wood winner to bring home the roses was Fusaichi Pegasus (Mr. Prospector) in 2000.
The Santa Anita Derby (G1) produced its first Derby winner since Sunday Silence (Halo) in 1989 last year with I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley). This year features a deep field that could very well produce another Derby champ.
Trainer Bob Baffert looks to have the strong hand in this one with Flashback (Tapit) and Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit). Both of them are brilliant graded stakes winners looking to get back on track after losing their last starts.Hear the Ghost (Ghostzapper) will be looking to show his upset of Flashback in the San Felipe (G2) was no fluke. Goldencents (Into Mischief) is a multiple graded stakes winner looking to get back to his winning ways after finishing fourth to Hear the Ghost last time.
For my selections, it’s very hard to pick against Verrazano in the Wood, and I’m not going to get wise and try to beat him. The Santa Anita Derby is more challenging. I’ll take Super Ninety Nine here to regain his winning form again.
Top Ten Derby Horses (Week 4)
He has a chance to cement himself as a short priced favorite for the roses in the Wood.
Won one of the best Derby preps for producing Derby winners, so he must be taken seriously.
The son of Tapit has his chance to take a shot at Derby favoritism in Santa Anita Derby.
4. Will Take Charge
The Rebel Winner is working nicely at Oaklawn in preparation for the Blue Grass next week.
The undefeated Into Mischief gelding is looking to win the big one at his home track Saturday.
6. Super Ninety Nine
Has a shot to redeem himself against a nice SA Derby field after a poor performance last time.
7. Hear The Ghost
The Ghostzapper gelding gets a chance at earning some much deserved respect on Saturday.
The well bred son of War Pass punched a ticket to Louisville with his Louisiana Derby score.
9. Lines of Battle
The Aidan O’Brien trainee is headed to Louisville after a big score in the UAE Derby.
The post time favorite was no match for Orb in the Florida Derby off the long layoff.
Keep an eye on: Goldencents, Oxbow
Dropped from the list: Code West, Shanghai Bobby
4/6/13 – Wood Memorial (G1) (1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct) $1,000,000
4/6/13 – Santa Anita Derby (G1) (1 1/8 miles, Santa Anita) $750,000
Last Week’s Races
3/30/13 – Florida Derby (G1) (1 1/8 miles, Gulfstream Park) Winner: Orb
3/30/13 – UAE Derby (G2) (1 3/16 miles, Meydan) Winner: Lines of Battle
3/30/13 – Louisiana Derby (G2) (1 1/8 miles, Fair Grounds) Winner: Revolutionary
Seth Kochera is a graduate of Georgetown College, working in the horse industry. He studies bloodlines and racing performance and shares his knowledge with KyForward readers. He’ll be following the road to the Triple Crown. His email is email@example.com.