Road to the Roses
by Ben Vining @doubleplay9
The Kentucky Derby Championship Series is in full swing and the greatest horses in the world are fighting for a chance to run in the world’s greatest race. Contenting horses earn their way into the Derby by gaining points through their performance in designated “prep races”. I am once again partnering with Redragetailgate.com to give you all the information you need to strike it rich on the 1st Saturday in May. Here’s to fortune for us both!
Currently we are in the middle of prep season. Last Saturday the 1 1/8 mile Louisiana Derby was won by Girvin, a Joe Sharp trainee and the current points leader. Also, the 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby, had a Todd Pletcher trainee Always Dreaming take home top honors.
What to Watch
This Saturday (April, 8) will feature the Wood Memorial on the East Coast, the Bluegrass Stakes in the Midwest, and the Santa Anita Derby on the West Coast. All three races will be broadcast on the NBC Sports network between 530pm-700pm est.
Prep Race Recap
Girvin, this year’s winner, broke alert from gate eighth of nine and settled in fourth with 98-1 longshot Hot Foot sprinting to the front. Girvin fell to fifth down the backstretch and moved quickly on the leaders entering the far turn and moved four to five paths from the rail at the top of the stretch. It took a while, but Girvin finally did pass Local Hero, who finished third, after taking the lead at the top of the lane. Girvin appeared to tire late as he angled in and then switched leads late holding off runner-up Patch.
Patch broke from post one and hugged the rail most of the race before angling out away from his tiring stable mate Monaco but was no match for the winner. Patch earned forty points towards the KY Derby and gives trainer Todd Pletcher five of the top twenty horses currently in the KY Derby point standings.
Local Hero earned thirty points for his third place finish and gives trainer Steve Asmussen three top twenty horses.
Only three horses have managed to run in the Louisiana Derby and then go on and wear the Roses as the winner of the Kentucky Derby: Funny Cide (2nd, 2003) Grindstone (1st, 1996) and Black Gold (1st, 1924). Will this year’s winner Girvin be able to accomplish what few others have? Or maybe Patch has his eye on this year’s prize.
Always Dreaming will get the chance to complete what his sire Bodemeister could not accomplish with a KY Derby win. Bodemeister’s hopes of winning the Derby were crushed when I’ll Have Another ran him down to win the 2012 Run for the Roses. Always Dreaming currently sits third on the leaderboard after easily taking the Florida Derby. Always Dreaming tucked in behind horses after being cut off in the first turn and sat off the lead in the two path. When the horses turned for home Always Dreaming put his nose in front and pulled away from the field powerfully as he reached across the wire in first.
State of Honor, the second place finisher, ran a nice race but was clearly no match to the winner. To Honor and Serve, who is the sire to State of Honor, was never able to win past 1 1/8 miles and it remains to be seen if this three-year-old will be able to accomplish that feat.
Gunnevera, who was the betting favorite when the gates opened, tried doing his best running late but managed to only run third in this one. Gunnevera’s sire Dialed In went post ward as the favorite in the KY Derby and trainer Antonio Sano says that’s the goal with this Colt.
BEN’S HOT TAKE
The Louisiana Derby appears to be another weak edition and I do not believe the winner Girvin nor the second and third place finishers Patch and Local Hero will stand much of a chance come Derby time. I would not count them out, however, from possibly hitting the trifecta or superfecta. On the other hand, the Florida Derby looks to have a fine looking horse in Always Dreaming. The Florida Derby winner has won two of the last four KY Derbys. This was a powerful effort and should not be ignored despite trainer Todd Pletcher’s poor record in the race. Gunnevera the third place finisher in the Florida Derby will also be a threat with his ability to close.
Kentucky Derby Point Standings Top Ten
Horse Sire Trainer Points
1.Girvin Tale of Ekati Joe Sharp 150
2.Thunder Snow (IRE). Helmet(Aus) Saeed bin Suroor 100
3.Always Dreaming Bodemeister Todd Pletcher 100
4.Gunnevera Dialed In Antonio Sano 84
5.State of Honor To Honor and Serve Mark Casse 62
6.Tapwrit Tapit Todd Pletcher 54
7.J Boys Echo Mineshaft. Dale Romans 53
8.Malagacy Shackleford Todd Pletcher 50
9.Hence Street Boss Steve Asmussen 50
10.Fast and Accurate Hansen Mike Maker 50