Saturday, 20 January, 2018

5 horses to watch at crowded Derby

Melissa Porter | 03 May, 2017, 10:14

We think the (mile-and-a-quarter Derby) distance is ideal for him.

As a result, Churchill Downs chose to get involved with an official swarm for the 2017 Kentucky Derby.

Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream Park While a horse won on the front end, and two horses, including Florida Derby victor Always Dreaming, both won from just off the pace, half of the six dirt races this day were won with big closing moves.

Classic Empire is going to be installed as the morning line favorite and it is expected Florida Derby victor, Always Dreaming, and Wood victor, Irish War Cry, will vie for second choice. All workouts and gallops listed took place at Churchill Downs except for Fast and Accurate, who galloped at Trackside training facility in Louisville, Ky. The show will be followed from 6-7 PM ET by the popular NYRA Bets Weekend Stakes Preview, when Anthony Stabile and Jude Feld will discuss their selections for Saturday's Belmont Park and Churchill Downs stakes as well as the Kentucky Derby (G1). Always Dreaming has the potential to be the first Derby favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher, who will have two other starters in the race.

As it turns out, Patch is not the first visually impaired colt to run for Pletcher at the Derby.

Eventually, horse owners began sending their horses to compete at the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, MD and the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, NY following the Kentucky Derby because the three races offered the largest purses. Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez have one Derby win apiece. He was named champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year for 1994 and retired with career earnings of almost $2.5-million. That race produced next out Blue Grass victor, Irap, and next out Arkansas Derby runner-up, Conquest Mo Money. "I know a lot of people have", trainer Mark Casse said. Unbridled-line runners have won the Derby three times (Grindstone, Mine That Bird and American Pharoah) and been runner-up four times (Empire Maker, Eight Belles, Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister).

The colt topped the Derby leaderboard with 152 points earned in prep races.

There's Girvin, the Louisiana Derby victor in a race against time to mend a crack in his right front hoof. Smith has never ridden Girvin, but he picked up the mount after Mastery, his top Derby contender, got hurt. Gunnevera is "a closer ready to pounce if he gets set up by a strong early pace", Harris writes. Instead, he'll aim for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks for fillies on Derby eve.

Instead, Castellano will be riding for trainer Antonio Sano, who like Castellano is a native of Venezuela.

Paradise Woods, racing away from Santa Anita for the first time, will be making only her fourth start for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. His best finishes came with Nehro (second in 2011), Curlin (third in 2007) and Gun Runner (third in 2016).

"The unbelievable thing of getting a horse to the Derby is keeping him injury free", said Doug O'Neill, who trained last year's victor Nyquist.

Whether you've got a favorite horse you're hoping will win, this celebration is just as much (if not more) about the party, outfits, food and booze than it is about the two-minutes contest.