Tag Archives: War Story

Kentucky Derby News For April 22, 2015

Kentucky Derby entrant War Story during his workout on April 22, 2015 (Photo courtesy of Churchill Downs PR)
Kentucky Derby entrant War Story during his workout on April 22, 2015 (Photo courtesy of Churchill Downs PR)

Kentucky Derby News For April 22, 2015

Two Kentucky Derby entrants worked out on Wednesday morning in War Story and Mr Z. War Story went out very early while Mr. Z waited until after the renovation break to workout. Both horses went five furlongs for their workouts.

War Story worked at 5:45 in the morning completing the five furlongs in 1:01.60. The internal fractions were :24.60 and :36.40 with him being clocked at 1:15.60 for six furlongs on the gallop out. Dylan Davis was aboard for the work for trainer Tom Amoss.

Mr. Z completed his five furlongs in 1:01 with his internal fractions going in :12.80, :25, :37, and :48.60. He galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:15.60 and was clocked with a final quarter of :24.20. Edvin Vargas was the rider for Mr. Z during the work for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

At Santa Anita, Ocho Ocho Ocho went six furlongs from the gate. He completed the move in 1:13.60 for trainer Jim Cassidy. His rider is unconfirmed for the Kentucky Derby, but it will either be Elvis Trujillo or Santiago Gonzalez. Ocho Ocho Ocho will be in Kentucky on Friday and work at Churchill next Wednesday.

No other Kentucky Derby horses had a work, but plenty made an appearance on the track.

American Pharoah and Danzig Moon both galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break. American Pharoah is expected to workout on Sunday while Danzig Moon will most likely work on Saturday.

Bold Conquest galloped after the break as well. He worked on Monday, going five furlongs in 1:02.60.

Far Right jogged two miles and is scheduled to work over the weekend. Which day he works will depend on the weather, according to his trainer Ron Moquett.

International Star galloped a mile and a quarter as did Tencendur. Tencendur is expected to work on Saturday morning if all goes well with the weather.

Todd Pletcher‘s four horses of Itsaknockout, Madefromlucky, Materiality, and Stanford all galloped a mile and a quarter on Wednesday morning. All four are expected to workout on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Carpe Diem galloped a mile and a half on Wednesday and will work out at Keeneland on Sunday morning.

Keen Ice galloped a mile after the renovation break.

Away from Churchill Downs, Mubtaahij went a lap around the Arlington Park polytrack on Wednesday morning after his three furlong workout on Tuesday. Upstart went two miles at Palm Meadows in Florida and he will work over the weekend down there.

Kentucky Oaks News

There were not workers for the Kentucky Oaks on Wednesday morning. Angela Renee and Eskenformoney both galloped a mile and a quarter for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Birdatthewire galloped a mile, Condo Commando galloped a mile and an eighth, while Shook Up also galloped over the track.

Forever Unbridled, Include Betty, Luminance, Oceanwave, and Puca all galloped a mile and a half over the track. Forever Unbridled will work on Friday morning while Puca is scheduled for a workout on Saturday.

Maybellene walked the shedrow after her four furlong workout on Tuesday.

Kentucky Derby News For April 21, 2015

Upstart winning the 2015 Holy Bull (Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin)
Upstart winning the 2015 Holy Bull (Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin)

Kentucky Derby News For April 21, 2015

On Monday afternoon it was revealed that WinStar Farm has bought a minority share of Upstart from owner Ralph Evans. He will remain with trainer Rick Violette Jr.

“Upstart has been on our radar since the Breeders’ Cup,” said WinStar president Elliott Walden in a release. “Jerry Brown of Thoro-Graph approached me because he really believes this colt has a big future. We are honored to be partners with such a nice man as Ralph Evans on such an exciting young horse as Upstart.”

Upstart has been ultra consistent since his debut at Saratoga on August 15, 2014. He won his first two races before finishing second in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and then third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to close out his two year old campaign.

At three, he won Grade 2 Holy Bull (pictured above) and was disqualified from first to second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. He then ran second in the Grade 1 Florida Derby behind Materiality.

Mounts Starting To Solidify

There were three rider confirmations made on Monday. The first was that John Velazquez will be riding Carpe Diem in the Derby. That leaves Javier Castellano as the rider for Materiality.

Velazquez has ridden Carpe Diem in all five of his starts, guiding him to four wins and a second place finish. Velazquez also rode Materiality in all three of his starts, which were all victories.

In addition, Mike Smith was confirmed as the rider of Far Right in the Derby. Smith has ridden Far Right in each of the last three races, which has been very good for the connections. In those three races, Far Right has two wins and a second place finish.

Kentucky Derby Works and Notes

It was another slow day for works, but one did take place at Arlington Park for the Dubai shipper Mubtaahij. He went three furlongs in 36.20 over the polytrack.

Going for trainer Mike de Kock, Mubtaahij went a mile around the track before going into his work. He will be shipped from Arlington to Churchill Downs on Monday.

No other Kentucky Derby hopefuls worked, but plenty were on the track. American Pharoah galloped a mile and a half as did Danzig Moon. Pharoah will be breezing on Sunday morning. War Story galloped a mile and a quarter early in the morning and is scheduled to work on Wednesday morning.

Bold Conquest simply walked in the shedrow after Monday’s five furlong workout in 1:02.80. Far Right also walked the shedrow.

International Star galloped a mile and a quarter at the Trackside Training Center while Tencendur galloped a mile back at Churchill Downs. Keen Ice also jogged at Churchill during the morning.

Madefromlucky was vanned over to Churchill Downs from Keeneland on Monday morning with Materiality, Itsaknockout, and Stanford all arriving later on Tuesday at Churchill Downs. All four are trained by Todd Pletcher.

Mr. Z is scheduled to workout on Wednesday morning.

Kentucky Oaks News

On hand to watch his horse work this morning was Bob Baffert. He saw Maybellene work four furlongs in :48.40 with fractions of :12.60, :24.40, :36.80, and a gallop out at five furlongs in 1:01.80. She worked in company with Holiday Camp.

Two Todd Pletcher horses for the Kentucky Oaks also arrived at Churchill Downs in Angela Renee and Eskenformoney.

Birdatthewire jogged on Monday morning as did Condo Commando. Forever Unbridled galloped a mile and a half while Include Betty galloped the same distance. Luminance, Oceanwave, and Puca all galloped a mile and a half as well while Shook Up walked on Tuesday morning after her work on Monday.

Other Stakes Workers

Baffert was on hand to see his filly Maybellene workout, but two of his other horses worked in company. Those two were Callback and Lord Nelson who went four furlongs in a quick 46.80. The internal fractions were :23, :46.80, and a gallop out in 1:14.60 for six furlongs.

There were some turf workers as well on the grass labeled as good. Golden Soul went five furlongs in 1:03.60, Good Deed went four furlongs in :49.80, Heitai went four furlongs in :51.60, Chocolate Ride went five furlongs in 1:03.60, and I’m Already Sexy went five furlongs in 1:04.20.

Kentucky Derby News For April 20, 2015

Calvin Borel after the 2010 Kentucky Derby, which he won aboard Super Saver (Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)
Calvin Borel after the 2010 Kentucky Derby, which he won aboard Super Saver (Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

Kentucky Derby News For April 20, 2015

There was only one workout for Kentucky Derby hopefuls on Monday and that came from Bold Conquest. He worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 over a good track that was drying out from rain.

Bold Conquest had fractions of :12.60, :24.80, :37.40, :50.20, and the breeze of five furlongs was covered in 1:02.60 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:16.80. He is currently 23rd based on the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard of expected horses to enter the Derby.

Mr. Z also galloped over the track shortly after the track opened for training. American Pharoah schooled at the gate and then galloped during the special Derby-Oaks training session while Danzig Moon also galloped over the track. War Story also galloped and went about a mile and half.

International Star galloped a mile and a quarter at the Trackside Training Center. Mubtaahij, currently stabled at Arlington Park, went two laps over the polytrack with Umgiyo.

Calvin Borel Named To Ride On El Kabeir For the Kentucky Derby

On Sunday afternoon, jockey Calvin Borel was named as the jockey for El Kabeir in the Kentucky Derby on May 2.

Borel will replace C.C. Lopez who had ridden the 3 year old son of Scat Daddy in the previous four races. During that stretch, El Kabeir won the Grade 3 Jerome Stakes and the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes while finishing second in the Grade 3 Withers and third in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial.

Borel has ridden El Kabeir before in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last fall. Borel guided the colt to a victory in that race in gate-to-wire fashion.

El Kabeir worked on Sunday at Belmont Park covering five furlongs in 1:00.18, which was third best of 19 workouts at the distance.

According to trainer John Terranova, El Kabeir will probably work at Belmont on Sunday, April 26, before shipping to Kentucky later that evening.

Manny Franco Confirmed As Rider of Tencendur

In other jockey news for the Kentucky Derby, Manny Franco was confirmed as the rider of Tencendur for the Kentucky Derby by the DRF’s David Grening. Trainer George Weaver confirmed the mount on Monday.

Franco was aboard Tencendur in his second start, a 3/4 length win against New York Bred maidens. That was the only time Franco rode him and the only win Tencendur has to his credit.

Tencendur went on to finish second by 2 lengths in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial behind Frosted to earn his spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

Franco is currently second at the current Aqueduct meeting in the jockey’s standings after finishing third during Aqueduct’s winter meeting.

Two Undercard Possibilities Workout

For as much attention as the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders get, there will also be some excellent racing on the undercard for both of those races. On Monday, two potential starters worked out at Churchill Downs.

Judy The Beauty worked six furlongs going the distance in 1:12.60 with fellow stable mate Puppy Manners. She won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint by head over Better Lucky last year. Trainer Wesley Ward later confirmed that she would be pointed to the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on Derby day.

Also working out on Monday morning was Hoppertunity, who scratched prior the 2014 Kentucky Derby due to a foot injury. He went four furlongs in :48.40 and is nominated to the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes on Kentucky Oaks day (Friday, May 1).

Kentucky Oaks News

There was not much in the way of workouts for possible Kentucky Oaks starters. Only four horses galloped on Monday morning.

Forever Unbridled went a mile and a half for her gallop as did Puca. Forever Unbridled will probably work on Friday. Puca’s trainer, Bill Mott, said Junior Alvarado would have the mount for the Oaks. Mott said she is likely to breeze on Saturday.

Maybellene also galloped over the track with a scheduled workout possible on Tuesday. Both Luminance and Oceanwave just jogged around the track on Monday morning. Oceanwave is expected to work on Thursday.

Stakes Probables and Possibles

The link here provides the probable horses and possible entrants for each stakes race on Oaks and Derby Day.

Kentucky Derby News For April 19, 2015

Bolo will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano in the Kentucky Derby (Benoit Photo / Santa Anita)
Bolo will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano in the Kentucky Derby (Benoit Photo / Santa Anita)

Kentucky Derby News For April 19, 2015

It was a quiet day on Sunday morning in terms of Kentucky Derby workouts, but there was one piece of news and that was jockey Rafael Bejarano was named to ride Bolo.

Bolo’s co-owner Keith Brackpool reported the news on Sunday morning.

It has been a whirlwind 24 hours for Bejarano. On Saturday morning, he was aboard One Lucky Dane when he suffered an injury with Bejarano not taking any more chances and pulled him up. It was later revealed that One Lucky Dane suffered the beginning of a condylar fracture and will need surgery by his trainer Bob Baffert. Bejarano was expected to ride One Lucky Dane in the Derby had he not been injured.

Bolo, a three year old son of Temple City out of the Chief Seattle Mare Aspen Mountain, was ridden by Mike Smith in four of his first five career starts. He was ridden by Victor Espinoza two starts back in the Grade 2 San Felipe.

Derby Contenders Gallop

In other news, five horses galloped at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, according to the DRF’s Mike Welsch.

First out was War Story, the second place finisher in both the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes and Grade 2 Risen Star. The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby top three finishers, American PharoahFar Right, and Mr. Z, also galloped over a sloppy track.

One final horse, Bold Conquest, also went over the Churchill Downs track on Sunday morning. Bold Conquest is currently 23rd on the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard of horses who are expected to run.

Kentucky Oaks Contender Works

One of the expected favorites for the Kentucky Oaks, if not the overall favorite, I’m A Chatterbox worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 on Sunday morning at Keeneland.

Jockey Florent Geroux worked the filly in fractions of :12, ;23.60 :36, 1:01.20, and a gallop out of 1:14.80 for six furlongs. The track was listed as fast despite some rain in the area.

“Florent was smiling when he came back and that was good,” trainer Larry Jones said. “She was not blowing hard at all and it was an easy work on her.”

“She worked just like she has prior to her last three races. I had a good hold on her and she got a good feel for the track. She is more mature and stronger,” Geroux said. “She is doing things the right way and she is very versatile (in her running style), which is a good thing.”

Another filly, Shook Up, also had a workout on Sunday at Churchill Downs. She went five furlongs in :59 in what was considered a bullet work.

She set fractions of :12, :34.80, and :59 while working in company with Indian Rocket. Indian Rocket completed the five furlongs in :59.60. Shook Up galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.60 on a fast track.

“She’s a tremendously talented filly,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I feel very good about all the time she’s had here at Churchill and how comfortable she is with the surroundings.”

International Star Beats Game Stanford In Louisiana Derby

International Star gets up over Stanford to win the 2015 Louisiana Derby (Alexander Barkoff / Hodges Photography)
International Star gets up over Stanford to win the 2015 Louisiana Derby (Alexander Barkoff / Hodges Photography)

International Star Beats Game Stanford In Louisiana Derby

It was not easy, but International Star swept the Fair Grounds Kentucky Derby Prep Races with a narrow win over a very game Stanford on Saturday in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

The race started with Stanford going straight to the lead from the rail with some pressure from Fusaichi Flame and Mr. Z. St. Joe Bay was in fourth on the outside, A Day in Paradise was fifth, and War Story was sixth. International Star enjoyed a ground saving trip in seventh early with Keen Ice eighth and Defondo ninth.

Stanford continued to lead on the backstretch with very little pressure. He went the opening quarter in 24.03, the opening half-mile in 48.59, and six furlongs in 1:37.94. Meanwhile, International Star began his move on the backstretch to get into better position on the far turn. On the turn, Fusaichi Flame and Mr. Z started to back out of the race with War Story making a wide move on the turn.

As they turned for home International Star got away from the rail and out in the open to make his drive towards the finish line. It took most of the stretch, but International Star got up to win by a neck over an excellent Stanford. It was 4 1/4 lengths back to War Story in third while Keen Ice finished fourth.

The remaining order of finish was Fusaichi Flame, St. Joe Bay, Defondo, A Day in Paradise, and Mr. Z. The results chart from Equibase can be found here.

International Star is by Fusaichi Pegasus out of the French Deputy mare Parlez. He was ridden by Miguel Mena and trained by Mike Maker. International Star paid $6.60 to win as the 2-1 favorite, $3.60 to place, and $2.60 to show. He completed the one mile and one eighth in 1:50.67.

For his win, International Star earned 100 points towards the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, which gives him a total of 171. Stanford earned his first 40 points, War Story earned 20 points for a total of 44, and Keen Ice earned 10 points for a total of 22.

The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby was the second of three Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races on Saturday. The first was the Group 2 UAE Derby from Meydan and the other was the Grade 1 Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park.

There will be three more Kentucky Derby Prep races next weekend across the country. The Grade 1 Wood Memorial from Aqueduct, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita, and the Grade 1 Blue Grass from Keeneland will all be run on Saturday.

2015 Louisiana Derby Preview

2015 Louisiana Derby Preview

The Road to the Kentucky Derby has three races on Saturday with the second race of the Derby Preps coming from the Fair Grounds in the form of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. The other two races are the Group 2 UAE Derby from Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and the Grade 1 Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park.

The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby features ten three year olds going a mile and an eighth for a purse of $750,000. The field is deep in terms of quality with the likes of Mr. Z, War Story, and International Star set to race. The winner of the Louisiana Derby will receive 100 points, the second place finisher will receive 40 points, third place will receive 20 points, and fourth place will receive 10 points. The points go towards the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, which determines the entrants for the Kentucky Derby.

The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby is the 11th race at the Fair Grounds on a mega card of 14 races that includes 7 other stakes races. Post time for the Louisiana Derby is scheduled for 6:24 PM Eastern time and free past performances can be found here.

1. Stanford (5-1 Morning Line) – This three year old son of Malibu Moon is Todd Pletcher’s only in this race. He broke his maiden at Monmouth in June 2014 and then tried the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, but failed to contend with a sixth place finish by 11 lengths. A four month break saw him return in February with a length and a half win in an optional claiming event. His last race was the listed Islamorada Handicap at 9 furlongs (same as the Louisiana Derby’s distance) at Gulfstream Park. He was second by 5 3/4 lengths, but was disqualified to sixth for interference. That 9 furlong race was his first start beyond 6.5 furlongs and he has reason to improve in his second route race.

2. Mr. Z (4-1 ML) – The most experienced horse in the race has been a stalwart on this year’s Kentucky Derby trail. He has 10 consecutive stakes races with 9 of those being of the Graded variety. Going back to December, he was third by a neck to the undefeated Dortmund and then spent the next two races at Oaklawn Park. He was third in the Smarty Jones when he veered out in the stretch that undoubtedly cost him second place in that race. He then ran in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes where he ran very well on the lead, but lost by three quarters of a length and finished third. One change that has been made is the blinkers are coming off. He will probably hit the board again, but betting on him to win here requires much higher win odds given his 1 for 10 record.

3. Defondo (12-1 ML) – He started his career at Churchill Downs with a second place finish by a length before coming to the Fair Grounds with a fourth place finish. He rebounded in his third start to win by 3 1/4 lengths and was then stretched out to a mile and 70 yards where he finished second by a half-length. He can certainly improve in his second route race, but he will need to improve dramatically to have a chance at the win.

4. Fusaichi Flame (20-1 ML) – This entrant has not raced outside of Louisiana. He started with three races at Evangeline Downs with each start resulting in a better finish. He was third in his debut, then was second in his second start (and first start on the turf), and won his third start by 2 lengths (also on turf). He then raced in a dirt stakes race where he was second by 2 lengths. An off the turf event resulted in a third place finish in his fifth start and he was then trounced in a turf stakes race by nearly 10 lengths. His last start was another off the turf event and he romped in the slop by 5 1/4 lengths. The jury is still out on his quality and he is a pass in this spot.

5. A Day In Paradise (12-1 ML) – He began his career at Monmouth going one mile in his debut, which resulted in a third place finish. He then went to Keeneland in his second start where he won by a nose and then finished fourth in an allowance race. A move down to Fair Grounds led to a second place finish in an optional claiming event and he was then sent to Sam Houston Park where he won by 3 1/4 lengths. He is light on class and will have company if he goes to the lead.

6. War Story (4-1 ML) – This guy has been chasing International Story home in the past two races. After winning his first two starts, he was entered in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes when he had the lead in the stretch, but finished by 2 1/2 lengths. Last time out he made a huge rally around the far turn in the Grade 2 Risen Star, but once again fell to International Story. Perhaps the extra sixteenth of a mile will help turn the tables and he certainly could come out on top in this race.

7. Keen Ice (5-1 ML) – He broke his maiden in his second start and has since run in four consecutive Graded stakes races. He was fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October and then tried the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct where he was third by 8 1/2 lengths. A try in the Grade 3 Holy Bull left him with a poor showing (fifth by 10 lengths) before he came to the Fair Grounds. Here, he ran in the Grade 2 Risen Star and made a strong rally in the stretch to finish third. He does not seem as good as the top two horses, but that does not mean he cannot pull the upset.

8. St. Joe Bay (10-1 ML) – He has been on the Derby Trail as well with an appearance at both Santa Anita and here at the Fair Grounds. He tried to take the Grade 3 Sham Stakes gate-to-wire at Santa Anita, but found that too difficult with a fourth place finish by 9 lengths. He was then entered in an optional claiming and finished second by 5 1/4 lengths. Last time out, he tried to wire the field once again in the Grade Risen Star, but was outfinished. He finished a respectable fourth beaten only 2 3/4 lengths, but he will have far more company on the lead here.

9. International Star (3-1 ML) – The morning line favorite is deserving of the low odds considering his affinity for the Fair Grounds main track. He started his career with 3 of his first 5 starts on Turf, but only came away with one win in his debut. After a ninth place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, he was moved to dirt with the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club where he finished fourth by 5 3/4 lengths. A trek to the south and Fair Grounds did him well as he rallied to win both the Grade 3 Lecomte and the Grade 2 Risen Star over War Story. It is tough to ignore him in this spot.

Selections

There is definitely quality at the top of this race and there is also a lot of speed in here. #1 Stanford, #2 Mr. Z, #3 Defondo, #5 A Day In Paradise, and #8 St. Joe Bay all like the lead or to be near the lead. That really sets the race up for #6 War Story or #9 International Star. Even #8 Keen Ice has a chance to rally for the win if the pace is hot enough.

1. International Star

2. War Story

3. Mr. Z

4. Defondo

A recap of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby will be posted on Saturday evening.

2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4 Announced

2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4 Announced

Churchill Downs has announced the individual horses for the fourth pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. The pool will open at 12 PM Eastern Time on Friday, March 27 and close on Sunday, March 29 at 6 PM Eastern Time.

Trainer Bob Baffert has the top two morning line choices in American Pharoah at 9-2 and Dortmund at 5-1. Carpe Diem is the third choice at 6-1 and “all others” is the fourth choice at 8-1.

Below is a list of each horse in alphabetical order with their morning line odds in parentheses.

1. American Pharoah (9-2)

2. Ami’s Flatter (50-1)  (New entrant in Pool 4)

3. Bold Conquest (50-1) (New entrant in Pool 4)

4. Bolo (20-1)

5. Carpe Diem (6-1)

6. Daredevil (30-1)

7. Dortmund (5-1)

8. Dubai Sky (30-1) (New entrant in Pool 4)

9. El Kabeir (20-1)

10. Far From Over (15-1)

11. Far Right (30-1)

12. Firing Line (12-1)

13. Frosted (30-1) (New entrant in Pool 4)

14. International Star (20-1)

15. Itsaknockout (30-1)

16. Keen Ice (50-1)

17. Madefromlucky (30-1) (New entrant in Pool 4)

18. Materiality (20-1) (New entrant in Pool 4)

19. Mr. Z (50-1)

20. Mubtaahij (30-1) (New entrant in Pool 4)

21. Prospect Park (15-1)

22. Upstart (15-1)

23. War Story (50-1)

24. All other 3 year olds (8-1)

The seven horses that were part of pool 3, but not in pool 4 are Danzig Moon, Khozan, Lord Nelson, Ocean Knight, Ocho Ocho Ocho, Texas Red, and The Great War.

All other 3 year olds closed as the favorite in pool 1 at odds of 3/5 that ran from November 28 through November 30, 2014. All others again closed as the favorite in pool 2 at odds of 5/2 that ran from February 6 through February 8. The third pool also had all other as the 4-1 favorite with American Pharoah at 8-1 and Dortmund at 9-1.

Bettors can also bet the an exacta with any combination of the 24 entries listed above. Live odds can be seen at KentuckyDerby.com or by clicking here between Friday, March 27 and Sunday, March 29.

There are three Kentucky Derby prep races this weekend. They are all on Saturday, March 28 with the Group 2 UAE Derby, the Grade 1 Florida Derby, and the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. All three races award points to the top four finishers in the amount of 100, 40, 20, and 10 to the first, second, third, and fourth place finishers respectively. The points go towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard and help secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

International Star Skims The Rail To Win Risen Star

International Star wins his second straight race at the Fair Grounds (Lou Hodges Photography/Fair Grounds)
International Star wins his second straight race at the Fair Grounds (Lou Hodges Photography/Fair Grounds)

International Star Skims The Rail To Win Risen Star

International Star was taken to the rail by jockey Miguel Mena entering the stretch to save ground and it proved to be difference. In the process of winning the Grade 2 Risen Star, International Star proved he loves the Fair Grounds main track, but more importantly he stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby.

The race began with St. Joe Bay going to the lead from his rail position with Hero of Humor pressing the pace as well. Tiznow R J was third by 2 lengths, Big Big Easy was fourth by three, and Bluff was in fifth about four and a half lengths off the lead. International Star was sixth, War Story in seventh, Imperia was in eighth, and Keen Ice was the trailer approximately 10 lengths behind the leader.

The race shape remained unchanged until the far turn when the horses began to make their respective moves. International Star and War Story both began to move on the far turn with both horses first and second by the time they entered the stretch. International Star went up the rail inside of St. Joe Bay to take control.

International Star would hold on to win by a length over War Story. Keen Ice used a strong burst to grab third over St. Joe Bay. The remaining order of finish was Imperia, Bluff, Tiznow R J, Big Big Easy, and Hero of Humor. The running time for the one mile and one sixteenth was 1:43.82.

There was an objection claimed by Kent Desormeaux of War Story regarding the first turn, but it was disallowed by the stewards upon further review.

International Star paid $9.60 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.40 to show. He was ridden by Miguel Mena and trained by Mike Maker. He also earned 50 points for his victory, which gives him a total of 71 points and on top of the Kentucky Derby Points leaderboard.

War Story earned 20 more points for finishing second, which gives him a total of 24 thus far and places him fifth overall. Keen Ice earned 10 points to give him 12 points total and St. Joe Bay earned 5 points for his fourth place finish to give him 6 points.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on Sunday at Oaklawn Park with the Southwest Stakes.

2015 Risen Star Stakes Preview

2015 Risen Star Stakes Preview

The second of two Kentucky Derby Prep races on Saturday is the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds Racecourse. The other Kentucky Derby prep race is the Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream.

The Risen Star will be at 1 1/16 miles on the main track with a purse of $400,000. Like the Fountain Of Youth, this race carries a 50-20-10-5 point distribution to the top four horses towards the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. The winner is virtually assured of a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate should they make it that far with a win in any 50 or 100 point race.

10 horses were entered for the Risen Star, but only 9 horses will start after the defection of J S Bach on Friday. Post time for the Risen Star is at 6:24 Eastern Time with free past performances here.

1. St. Joe Bay (12-1 Morning Line) – Two starts back, he ran in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes where he finished fourth by 9 lengths behind Calculator and Rock Shandy. His latest race was a second place finish in an optional claiming $80,000 when he tried to wire the field. He lost to impressive winner Prospect Park who is now under consideration for Kentucky Derby prep races. His early speed will help secure a good spot from the rail, but he may not hang around late in the stretch.

2. Tiznow R J (5-1 ML) – It took him three starts to break his maiden, but he did so with a 13 score going a mile and 70 yards at the Fair Grounds. His next race was the Grade 3 Lecomte on January 17 where he had great position throughout, but was unable to maintain his run in the stretch and finished third by 2 1/2 lengths. He should be able to sit off the pace here again, but the question is can he maintain his run in the stretch to win?

3. Bluff (12-1 ML) – He began his career against the horse to his inside and finished fifth by 18 lengths. In his second start he was eight by 7 1/4 lengths before breaking through in his third career race. He won by 5 3/4 lengths on January 22 geared down in the stretch. His two workouts since the win have been solid and he has a stalking style to stay in distance. However, he may be out of his class here against these horses.

4. J S Bach (5-1 ML) – Scratched due to a fever.

5. Imperia (7-2 ML) – He began his career on turf finishing second his debut before breaking his maiden in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont. His third start was in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf where he was 10th by 3 3/4 lengths. Four weeks later he made his debut on dirt and finished second by a head to El Kabeir in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He has not raced since then and the defection of J S Bach hurts the potential pace scenario. He still has a big chance to win this race.

6. War Story (5-1 ML) – He was originally entered to run in the Southwest Stakes on Monday, but the cancellation of the card at Oaklawn changed his plans to race here. He broke his maiden in his debut by 2 3/4 lengths before winning his second start by the same margin. His last race was the Grade 3 Lecomte when he was overtaken in the stretch by International Star and finished second by 2 1/2 lengths. He rates a big chance in this race.

7. Hero of Humor (30-1 ML) – He has 7 starts to his credit with a two wins and a second. Those finishes came in maiden or optional claiming events while his three starts in stakes competition have left a lot to be desired. His best finish of the three stakes starts was in the Grade 3 Lecomte on January 17 when he was sixth by 8 1/2 lengths. He will be on the lead, but expect him to fade in the stretch.

8. Keen Ice (8-1 ML) – He broke his maiden in his second start before trying stakes competition where he has yet to threaten in three tries. He was fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland by 13 lengths before finishing third by 8 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Remsen. His last start was in the Grade 2 Holy Bull where he finished a well beaten fifth by 10 lengths. He will have to improve drastically to make an impact here.

9. Big Big Easy (12-1 ML) – He broke his maiden in his second start by a neck at Indiana Downs and then tried stakes competition on turf where he finished ninth by 15 lengths. He returned to dirt to win by 3 1/4 lengths and went into another stakes race where he finished fifth by 15 lengths. This race is in New Orleans so a hunch play may be in order if you are so inclined. His chances to win are slime here.

10. International Star (9-2 ML)The winner of the Grade 3 Lecomte found room in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths over War Story and Tiznow R J. That win came from the rail and now he finds himself the widest horse in this race. He will have to find a nice spot from out here and he can certainly run late. He is another horse with a chance to win here.

Selections

This race has a chalky appearance to it. #6 War Story should have a good trip behind the leaders while #5 Imperia will be coming late along with #10 International Star. #2 Tiznow R J has a chance to hit the ticket underneath while #1 St. Joe Bay and #3 Bluff could add value to the ticket.

1. War Story

2. Imperia

3. Tiznow R J

4. International Star

Check back on Saturday night for a recap of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes.

2015 Southwest Stakes Preview

Editor’s Note: If you are looking for the latest Southwest Stakes Preview, please click here. The post below was for the race on February 16, 2015, but was cancelled due to inclement weather.

2015 Southwest Stakes Preview

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues with a special President’s Day racing card at Oaklawn Park. The grade 3 Southwest Stakes will be run at one and one sixteenth miles at Oaklawn over their main track. The grade 3 event has a purse of $300,000 with an opportunity to win up to 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.

This is the final race of the Kentucky Derby Prep Season before there is a transition to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. The latter sees the points ramp up to 50 for a win, 20 points for a second place finish, 10 points for a third place finish, and 5 points for a fourth place finish.

The Southwest Stakes has a full field of 12 horses. Post time is scheduled for 6:09 PM Eastern Time for the Southwest Stakes, which is the ninth of ten races on the racing card. Free past performances can be found here. The top four horses from the Smarty Jones Stakes here at Oaklawn on January 19 also return for this race.

Here is a look at each horse in the 2015 Southwest Stakes.

1. J S Bach (4-1 Morning Line) – He started his career on December 19 with a second place finish going five and a half furlongs at Gulfstream. He followed that solid debut with a crushing eight and a 1/2 length victory going a mile and a sixteenth at Gulfstream on January 17. He does move up into grade 3 company for this race, but the rail spot and his early speed will keep him in this race. Disregard at your own risk.

2. Far Right (3-1 ML) – His last race was the Smarty Jones Stakes where he burst through on the rail to win by nearly 2 lengths. Prior to that he had back-to-back third place finishes in the grade 3 Delta Jackpot and the listed Street Sense Stakes. He had a solid pace to run at last time, but there does not appear to be as much speed. If he runs back to his last race, he will be close at the finish line.

3. Private Prospect (15-1 ML) – He finished fourth in the Smarty Jones Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths, but he was running evenly throughout much of the race. Prior to that he was 9th in the grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and second in the grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. He rates at an outsider here, but may hit the superfecta ticket.

4. Bayerd (8-1 ML) – After breaking his maiden by 11 lengths in his second start, he won 2 of his next 3 races in stakes competition before heading to the Smarty Jones Stakes last time out. He finished second in that race behind Far Right and after Mr. Z bore out in deep stretch. It was a solid race but he had every opportunity to draw off and win. His ceiling here is underneath.

5. The Truth Or Else (20-1 ML) – This son of Yes It’s True needed four starts to break his maiden and then went on to start in three straight grade 1 or 2 races. The first two resulted in third place finishes while the last one was a sixth place finish where he lost by 16 lengths. His latest race was on November 29 and he has been working well in the morning. The feeling here is that he will need this race.

6. Kantune (15-1 ML) – It has taken this guy a while to break his maiden, which he did last time out in his seventh start. To his credit, he has not run poorly in any of his 7 career starts with his worst finish being fourth by 3 lengths. He will be near the lead and if the pace is slow enough perhaps he can hang on for a piece.

7. Phenomenal Phoenix (30-1 ML) – He started his career at Remington Park with a third place finish before crushing his foes in his second start by 5 1/2 lengths. He stepped up into stakes competition in his third start and finished fourth by 6 lengths. Last time out, he was entered in an optional claiming $75,000 and finished second by a length. He is adding blinkers for this race, but he has to make a vast improvement to contend.

8. Majestico (30-1 ML) – His first four starts were all on turf including the grade 3 Bourbon where he finished fourth despite being a maiden in that race. His fourth start on turf was his maiden breaker and he was moved to dirt for his next two starts. He has not been competitive in those two starts and given the quality of this field, he will have another tough start here.

9. Bold Conquest (12-1 ML) – He has run decently in all four of his starts beginning with his two maiden races at Saratoga. He was second by three lengths in his debut before winning his second start by a head. He finished second again in the grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill before a third place finish in the grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity. That start was more than four months ago and he may need this race.

10. Mr. Z (7-2 ML) – He is the most experienced runner in this field with 9 starts and the last 8 have come in stakes competition. The biggest concern for this runner is two-fold. First, he has 9 starts with only 1 win, but 4 seconds, and 2 thirds. The other concern is his last race when he veered out badly in deep stretch and finished third. He is certainly talented and classy, but his inability to win makes him a dangerous proposition at short odds.

11. War Story (4-1 ML) – This guy is lightly raced with only 3 starts to his resume. He won his debut at Churchill on November 1 by 2 3/4 lengths and the followed that up with another win at the Fair Grounds on December 28 by 2 3/4 lengths as well. Last time out he ran in the grade 3 LeComte where he had the lead in the stretch, but was run down by International Star to lose by 2 1/2 lengths. He has solid works and if he can get good position prior to the first turn, he should have a good chance at winning this race.

12. Bold Animaux (30-1 ML) – He broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park West in October over the turf course before being crushed in the Juvenile Turf Stakes for Florida breds. He has raced 5 times in his career, all on turf with the last race in a $40,000 open claiming race. This is a very odd spot for him to try dirt and appears to be a deserved longshot.

 

Selections

This race is a mix of classy and established stakes performers as well as up and coming maiden winners. #11 War Story is the top choice here, but his chances are contingent on getting a good spot from the wide post position. #1 J S Bach will have the rail and could be the controlling speed from that spot. He looks dangerous here. #4 Bayerd has an excellent record of 6 starts and six on the board finishes and he should be a decent price based on his 8-1 morning line. #2 Far Right could certainly win this race as well after his rail running and powerful burst in the Smarty Jones a month back. #10 Mr. Z is not in the top four based on his veering out last race and his inability to win races consistently. That does not mean he will not hit the board, but it is best to have him prove he can beat you from the win angle.

1. War Story

2. J S Bach

3. Bayerd

4. Far Right

Check back on Monday evening for a recap of the 2015 Southwest Stakes.