Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Real Derby Prep Races

If you are snowed in this weekend, it may be a good thing after all, as there are some exceptional Derby prep races this Saturday which you should be able to find on-line or on television late Saturday afternoon. 

The Derby may the be the fastest two minutes in sports but if you relish good horse racing, Saturday's line-up will be much better than the Derby in my opinion.  There are three races, all hotly contested, with room for upsets. 

The Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland
Good Magic, the top two-year-old last year, will be leading the charge this Saturday at Keeneland in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes and needs to demonstrate his two-year-old form as a three-year-old.  The son of Curlin has not shown his winning form so far this year.  Will he show up at Keeneland?  The field is packed with other winners as well, with G1 winner, Free Drop Billy, Flameaway, who has won five of his eight starts, Tampa Bay Derby winner, Quip, among others. The field of 14 will produce a "win and your in" trip to the Derby next month.  The weather looks to be awful but it shouldn't take anything away from this competitive field.  Post time is 6:23 pm EDT.

(Free Drop Billy - The Blood Horse)

Wood Memorial at Aqueduct
In New York, another group filled with talent will battle it out for final Derby points.  Enticed is already in for the Derby but one more win will boost his odds for sure.  Others to watch include Bob Baffert-trained Solomini, Todd Pletcher-trained Vino Rosso and Firenze Fire who will need a win or place to get into the Derby. 

(Firenze Fire - Blood Horse Photo)

Santa Anita Derby
But the real race will be on the West Coast at Santa Anita, as the hyped Justify, who has yet to run in a stakes race, will face off with Bolt D' Oro, one of the top two favorites at the moment for the Derby.  Baffert has kept this striking chestnut cold under wraps but when he does talk about him, you wonder if he has another American Pharoah on his hands.  There are some similarities.  Justify will need to finish in the top two to make the trek to Churchill Downs.  My television set will be on for sure on Saturday night.  This may be a real horse race.

 (Bolt D'Oro)

(Justify - Blood Horse Photo)

By late Saturday, we'll know who the real Derby favorite will be. Stay tuned.  This is one of the deepest Derby fields in years. 

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