It’s been an interesting 2 1/2 months so far with winners coming from expected and unexpected places.
We saw the 2012 two year old male champion Shanghai Bobby lose for the first time in his career to Itsmyluckyday in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park in January.
Who isn’t happy for the resurgent D. Wayne Lukas who has come on strong with contenders Will Take Charge, winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes and Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park and LeComte Stakes (G3) winner Oxbow who also finished 2nd to Will Take Charge in the Rebel?
New York based trainer Rudy Rodriguez has burst onto the scene as he currently sits in the top 5 purse earnings in the country. Leading the way for his stable is Jerome Stakes (G2) and Gotham Stakes (G3) winner Vyjack. He is targeted to run in the Wood Memorial on April 6.
133/1 longshot I’ve Struck a Nerve took home the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, but unfortunately he was injured during the race and was taken off the Derby trail.
Ed Plesa Jr. has the promising young colt Itsmyluckyday who’s now won back to back stakes races in the Gulfstream Park Derby and as we mentioned earlier the Holy Bull Stakes over Shanghai Bobby. They will meet again on March 30 in the Florida Derby (G1).
Good to see Hall of Famers Jerry Hollendorfer and Claude McGaughey (Shug) on the Derby trail with solid contenders. Jerry looks to build off the upset win by Hear the Ghost in San Felipe Stakes by taking home the Santa Anita Derby on April 6 and Shug looks to build off the Fountain of Youth Stakes win by Orb in the Florida Derby.
The usuals are on the list as well. Todd Pletcher has a fleet of horses who will contend for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. He has Shanghai Bobby, Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Verrazano and Withers Stakes (G3) winner Revolutionary paving the way.
Bob Baffert has Southwest Stakes (G3) winner Super Ninety Nine and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) winner Flashback leading the way for his barn. They could meet in the Santa Anita Derby.
The last two weekends of March include races on the Derby Trail, but this weekend is the end of one phase as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and next weekend is the beginning of another. We are getting down to crunch time with just over six weeks until the running of the Kentucky Derby!
1. Will Take Charge – 60 points
2. Vyjack – 50 points
3. Orb – 50 points
4. Verrazano – 50 points
5. Hear the Ghost – 50 points
This Saturday, the $500,000 Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park takes center stage with a field of 12 including Uncaptured, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs during the Fall meet. Click here to view all the entries and their past performances.
On Sunday, the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) at Sunland Park features a field of 9 including Dry Summer, winner of the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland, Shakin It Up, winner of the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita, as well as, a couple of other invaders from Pletcher, Baffert and Doug O’Neill. Click here to view all the entries and their past performances.
This is what horse racing is all about. The excitement, build up of each race and ultimately the thrill of each moment leading up to the Kentucky Derby.