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Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Kentucky Derby News and Notes

10 Horses to Watch in Kentucky Derby
by Greg Melikov

Get 2009 Kentucky Derby coverage including updated articles and handicapping advice as well as Kentucky Derby Picks and live Kentucky Derby Odds.

The 135th Kentucky Derby is fast approaching and the cream of the three-year-old crop has risen to the top. The major preps are history so here are my main contenders in the Run for the Roses from the top:
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1. I Want Revenge: Two outstanding victories at Aqueduct likely will make him the favorite on the first Saturday in May. Last-to-first winner of Wood Memorial outdid his Gotham performance in a troubled trip during which he spotted the field several lengths at the start and maneuvered through a wall of horses in the stretch to score by daylight. Excellent works for this successful synthetic surface-to-dirt son of Stephen Got Even forecast the winning results in last two triumphs. He could threepeat.

2. Quality Road: The impressive Fountain of Youth-Florida Derby winner developed a not-so-serous quarter crack in his right hind foot, but early treatment paid off. The son of Elusive Quality breezed a half-mile in 48 3/5 Friday on Belmont Park's training track, galloping out five furlongs in 1:02. Big Brown had worse quarter-crack problems and won the '08 Derby off his Florida Derby triumph after a five-week layoff. Keep an eye on his next work.

3. Pioneer of the Nile: The Best of the West after his third consecutive win in the Santa Anita Derby has only one more thing to prove: Can he perform as well on conventional dirt as on synthetic surfaces? I Want Revenge did. It appears the son of Empire Maker should -- his granddad Unbridled took the '90 Derby.

4. General Quarters: The son of Sky Mesa, with the most career starts, likes to win at double-digit odds. He did that in the Sam F. Davis Stakes on the Tampa Bay Downs dirt, and then repeated in the Blue Grass on Keeneland's Polytrack. He does well staying close to the pace before exploding in the stretch. That running style should work to his advantage at Churchill Downs.

5. Musket Man: The Illinois Derby victory against lesser opposition duplicated his Tampa Bay Derby score that left General Quarters in his wake. The son of Yonaguska came off the pace again on the usual speed-favoring Hawthorne track. Can he continue to outrun his pedigree? Several recent Derby winners did. Hmm, you make the call.

6. Friesan Fire: Another train-up-to-the-Derby contender would be the first to triumph at Louisville after a seven-week layoff. He's keeping keep fit at Keeneland after sweeping the Fair Grounds version of the Triple Crown. On Tuesday, the colt breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5. Breeding-wise he's No. 1 -- the sire is A. P. Indy and granddad Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown in '77.

7. Papa Clem: Runner-up to Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Derby after setting the pace, the son of Smart Strike rated nicely to rally from the far turn in the Arkansas Derby to edge Old Fashioned by a half-length. However, he came home quite slowly so he must step it up at Churchill Downs.

8. Hold Me Back: The son of Giant's Causeway regressed a bit in the Blue Grass, but had to run on the outside much of the 1 1/8 miles after breaking from post 10. Remember, it was only his second start of the year after winning the Lane's End at Turfway Park.

Dunkirk: The once-buzz horse on the Derby Trail got the help he needed to remain among the Top 20 in graded stakes earnings to qualify for the Run for the Roses. Many experts believe his runner-up performance in the Florida Derby was among the best of the year. He has stepped up big after each of his three starts without racing as a two-year-old. So did Curlin without a juvenile foundation, but he finished third in the '07 Derby.

10. Chocolate Candy: Runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby worked five furlongs in a nifty 59 1/5 on Sunday over the Pro-Ride surface. The multiple stakes winning son of Candy captured the El Camino Real and California derbies, but he still must duplicate or improve his synthetic form on the dirt.

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Kentucky Derby by the Numbers
by Greg Melikov

Get 2009 Kentucky Derby coverage including updated articles and handicapping advice as well as Kentucky Derby Picks and live Kentucky Derby Odds.

Numbers often play a part of horse racing from odds and post positions to speed and pace figures. It's no different in America's Race.

Did you know that since 1992, only two winners of the Kentucky Derby posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 or less in their final prep: Sea Hero in ''93 and Giacomo in '05.

Nine of the past 14 Derby winners ran at least two triple digit Beyers in their final three preps. And five either ran the same number at Churchill Downs or regressed slightly.

One thing is certain: Hitting the board in the final prep is paramount. All but three winners in the past 47 years triumphed at Louisville after finishing out of the money in their last prep, but they ran fourth.

In '05, Giacomo scored the second biggest upset in history after finishing fourth in the Santa Anita Derby and returned $102.60. The last SA Derby winner to score at Louisville was Sunday Silence in '89.

Two horses that ran fourth a couple years apart in the Blue Grass won the Derby and paid very well: Sea Hero, $27.80 in '93, and Thunder Gulch, $24.50 in '95.

During the past 47 years, 16 Kentucky Derby champs chose the Blue Grass as the final prep. Ten ran in the Wood and six raced in the SA Derby.

Eight three-year-olds that scored in their final outing during the 1970s triumphed on the first Saturday in May. Two others finished third, including '73 Triple Crown champ Secretariat.

In the Wood Memorial, Secretariat's stablemate Angle Light went straight to the front and never looked back. A new challenger to the supremacy of Secretariat named Sham finished second. Ah, but in the 99th Derby Sham was the runner-up and Angle Light was a distant 10th.

The post position that produced the greatest number of winners the past 47 years is No. 10 - 7. Next with five each are posts two and eight followed by four from posts two, three and five.

During the past 14 years, seven winners broke from post 13 all the way out to 20. Two posts are winless: 17 and 19. Three horses scored from post 16 while a pair won from 15.

The largest margin of victory in America's Race is eight lengths, shared by four: Triple Crown winners Whirlaway, '41, and Assault, '46; as well as Old Rosebud, '14, and Johnstown, '39.

But there have been nine derbies in which the winner was only a nose better than the runner-up: Spokane, 1889; Azra, 1892; Ben Brush, 1896; Plaudit, 1898; Ala-a-Dale, 1902; Brokers Tip, 1933; Iron Liege, 1957; Tomy Lee, 1959; and Grindstone, 1996.

I especially remember the 122nd Derby. It was so close many people thought Cavonnier had edged Grindstone. Here are the chart caller's observations:

"GRINDSTONE commenced to rally approaching the end of the backstretch, worked his way between horses along the inside around the far turn, angled out five wide entering the stretch and finished strongly to wear down CAVONNIER in the final stride while drifting out.

"The latter moved within easy striking distance between horses entering the backstretch, came out five wide to make a run on the far turn, was struck across the face by the whip of (fourth-place finisher) HALO SUNSHINE's rider nearing the stretch and, after gaining a clear advantage leaving the furlong grounds, just failed to last."

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This year's Kentucky Derby candidates offer something for everyone

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas calls Saturday's 135th Kentucky Derby "a complete smorgasbord."

There's not an unbeaten horse or dazzling 2-year-old champion as in recent years. But the capacity 20-horse field expected to be entered on Wednesday morning for Churchill Downs' 1¼-mile classic is a compelling assembly of 3-year-olds.

"It's a beautiful collection of personalities and horses from different areas," said Lukas, who will try to win a fifth Derby with Flying Private. "The thing that makes it so interesting is ... you also get these synthetic racetracks factoring in."

Churchill oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said even with Quality Road's latest quarter crack, the once-beaten Florida Derby winner and Wood Memorial victor I Want Revenge figure to be neck-and-neck for morning-line favoritism, with odds of 7-2 and 4-1 or possibly 4-1 and 9-2. Battaglia's not sure which horse will be the top pick.

"It's tough to say what (the bettors) are going to think, what they'll feel like is a plus and a minus," Battaglia said. "That's what makes the Derby so darn tough. In a normal race, nobody would know about this quarter crack."

Godolphin has its best chance yet with Regal Ransom and Desert Party, the 1-2 finishers in the $2 million UAE Derby. Pioneerof the Nile (Santa Anita Derby), General Quarters (Blue Grass), Papa Clem (Arkansas Derby), Friesan Fire (Louisiana Derby) and Musket Man (Illinois Derby) looked very good in capturing their final preps. Runners-up Dunkirk (Florida Derby), Hold Me Back (Blue Grass), West Side Bernie (Wood) and Chocolate Candy (Santa Anita Derby) should benefit from the Derby's extra eighth-mile and a faster early pace.

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Quality Road Out of Derby Contention

Quality Road, who figured to be among the top choices for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will not start in the Run for the Roses, it was confirmed Monday morning by Chris Baker, farm manager of Edward Evans’ Spring Hill Farm.

“There was some tenderness in the foot this morning and he’s not 100%. (Trainer) Jimmy (Jerkens) wasn’t comfortable breezing him, and without a work, he can’t go,” Baker said. “He’s not going to make the race.”

Quality Road, a homebred son of Elusive Quality   has been battling a second quarter crack for the last few days. He returned from a mile and three-quarter gallop on the Belmont Park training track April 26 with a tinge of blood from the newly-patched quarter crack.

According to Elliott Walden, racing manager of WinStar Farm, jockey John Velazquez, who was named to ride Quality Road, will now take the mount on Mr. Hot Stuff. Mr. Hot Stuff, a full brother to dual grade I winner Colonel John was bred by WinStar. He worked five furlongs April 26 at Hollywood Park.

Jerkens had hoped to put a final workout into the Quality Roady colt April 27 over Belmont Park’s training track, but the quarter crack did not respond well enough to treatment.

“It’s not terribly bad but it’s not right,” Jerkens told New York Racing Association officials. “He’s really sensitive on the quarter.”

Quality Road overcame a different quarter crack on his right hind foot suffered during his track-record victory March 28 in the Blackberry Presents the 58th Running of the Florida Derby (gr. I)  developed this injury late last week. An acrylic patch was applied by noted hoof specialist Ian McKinlay April 26.

Although treated with a drying agent and an antiseptic for 24 hours thereafter, the hoof was still sensitive, and plans to travel to Churchill Downs were scrapped.

“If this thing calms right down he’ll be back on track,” said McKinlay.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Evans, who was at Belmont Park. “The Preakness and the Belmont (Stakes) are possibilities.”

Quality Road has three wins from four lifetimes starts. Out of the Strawberry Roadmare Kobla, he was a smashing winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) in his 3-year-old debut Feb. 28 at Gulfstream Park and last time out won the Florida Derby.

“The good news is we have a very talented 3-year-old,” Baker said. “We’ll wait and get him right and go from there.”

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With a lucky break in the weather, the 135th Kentucky Derby on Saturday could shatter all modern marks in attendance and betting handles with a field of 20 horses and the winner harder to find than Judge Crater.

When Derby week started at Churchill Downs yesterday, there was one universal cry from horsemen on the backstretch: There's no Big Brown this year. Then, under their breaths, "Thank God."

In other words, there's no stickout in this lineup, unlike last year when Big Brown towered over the competition. No idol to topple, no superhorse to scare you away.

"I could name you 10 horses who could win it," said Bob Baffert, the astute trainer who already has won three Derbies and will saddle a top contender, Pioneerof the Nile, this week.

"It's wide open," echoed D. Wayne Lukas, who has won four Derbies, and will saddle a 50-1 longshot Flying Private on Saturday. "They don't know we're here, but they might by Saturday night. This is not my first barbecue."

In the past four years, the Derby has pulled in crowds ranging from 156,000 to nearly 158,000 with betting topping $118 million. It wouldn't take much to better those records, especially with a 13th race added to Saturday's card and $40 admission just to walk in the gate.

Yesterday, as golden sunshine flooded the historic, twin-spired old track, Churchill Downs never looked more spectacular.

In this year's Derby, the horses split into four sharply defined divisions.

At the top are those who have run the highest Beyer speed figures from races on dirt. They are Quality Road -- whose status for the Derby is questionable because of quarter-cracks -- with a fig of 111, Dunkirk 108, Friesan Fire 104, I Want Revenge 103. Most expect the winner to come from this group.

The second division includes those who have prepped for the Derby on synthetic tracks. Not one of them has even hit a 100 Beyer. The best performed are: Hold Me Back 97, Pioneerof the Nile and Mr Hot Stuff on 96, General Quarters 95 and four horses -- Papa Clem, Chocolate Candy, Advice and Flying Private -- on 94.

The conventional railbird wisdom is that these horses are too slow. They may be in for a shock.

Two horses make up the third division, the great unknowns: Regal Ransom and Desert Party, who have prepped for the Derby among the desert sands of Dubai. Nobody can be sure whether they are going to run like champions or camels.

Baffert has an opinion.

"They're gonna be tough," he said of the Dubai shippers. "They look good, they're training good, they're speedy and they are going to be in the race, up there, close from the start."

The final group includes the hopefuls, the kind of horses who show up every year sporting a little encouragement in their form but essentially are outclassed.

Now mix in the imponderables. Quality Road has been stricken with two quarter cracks in the past month, Dunkirk couldn't race as a 2-year-old because of shin problems, Square Eddie spent the winter recovering from a stress shin fracture, Friesan Fire hasn't had a race in seven weeks, Musket Man has a sprinter's pedigree.

That's why track oddsmaker Mike Battaglia has not yet figured out which horse he will make favorite. He does know the price is likely to be about 4-1.

The big Derby riding move was top jockey Garret Gomez's choice of Pioneerof the Nile, on whom he has won four straight stakes, over the buzz horse, Dunkirk.

Baffert said he put no pressure on Gomez to go with Pioneer.

"I told them, if you don't want to ride him, don't ride him," he said. "I want somebody who wants to ride my horse. It was a tough call for Garrett because they're both good horses. But one [Dunkirk] is lightly raced and I think Garrett decided, 'The future is now.' "

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Kentucky Derby by the Numbers: Dosage Dilemma

Racing fans trying to pick the winner of the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) won’t get much help relying solely on the Dosage System. Eighteen of the 20 candidates ranked by graded stakes earnings qualify according to the Dosage format. In other words, the odds are overwhelmingly good that a horse boasting the right Dosage figures will win. But playing all 18 at the betting windows might not be the best way to turn a profit.

The Dosage system is a mathematical analysis of a horse’s pedigree based upon the presence and location of certain major sires (each one is called a chef-de-race) in a horse’s four-generation pedigree. Females are not included.

Chef-de-race sires are grouped in five different catogories, ranging from speed (brilliant) to extreme stamina (professional). In between are the categories intermediate, classic, and solid. The closer a chef-de-race stallion appears in a subject horse’s pedigree, the greater the influence. A chef-de race sire is assigned 16 points; second generation chef-de-race sires are assigned 8 points; third generation chef-de-race sires are assigned 4 points; and fourth generation chef-de-race sires are assigned 2 points. A formula is then used to determine a horse’s Dosage Index (DI) and a Center of Distribution (CD).

Horses with a DI higher than 4.00 and a CD above 1.25 are considered unlikely to negotiate successfully the 1 1/4 miles of the Kentucky Derby the first Saturday in May. Thus, a DI higher than 4.00 and a CD higher than 1.25 mean too much speed and not enough stamina in a horse’s pedigree.

In recent years, the Dosage system has been used in conjunction with the annual Experimental Free Handicap for 2-year-olds to help pick the Kentucky Derby winner. Under the Dosage/Experimental dual qualifier system, horses weighted within 10 pounds of the Experimental Free Handicap topweight are eligible to win the Derby, provided they have the right dosage, meaning a DI not higher than 4.00 and a CD not higher than 1.25.

Square Eddie, who ran third in the April 18 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland in his final Derby prep, ranks as the top dual qualifier among the top 20 graded stakes earners. His DI (3.40) and CD (1.00) are under the guidelines. His 123-pound impost on the 2008 Experimental was three pounds less than the 126 pounds assigned topweight and champion 2-year-old male Midshipman.

Four others rank as dual qualifiers among the top 20 graded stakes earners. Pioneerof the Nile sports a DI of 3.89, a CD of .86, and a 120-pound Experimental ranking. The others are I Want Revenge, Chocolate Candy, and West Side Bernie.

I Want Revenge checks in with a DI of 3.00 and a .69 CD. He was weighted at 118 on the Experimental.

Both Chocolate Candy and West Side Bernie were weighted on the Experimental at 116 pounds. Chocolate Candy has a DI of 2.08 and a CD of .70 while West Side Bernie has a DI of 1.80 and a .50 CD.

The two Derby candidates among the top 20 graded stakes earners that check in over the limit by Dosage Index are Win Willy and Mine That Bird. The former sports a DI of 5.00, and the latter has a DI of 5.40.

Another candidate, Musket Man, checks in right at 4.00 with his DI. His CD is 1.10

Since Fusaichi Pegasus  opened the decade with a victory in the 2000 Kentucky Derby, only one Derby winner has sported a DI above the cutoff. Giacomo  , the 2005 winner, checked in with a DI of 4.33.

Following are the Dosage Indexes and Centers of Distribution for all the Derby winners this decade:
Big Brown  (2008) 1.67 and .36
Street Sense  (2007) 2.14 and .68
Barbaro (2006) 2.41  and .70
Giacomo (2005) 4.33 and .94
Smarty Jones  (2004) 3.40 and 1.00
Funny Cide (2003) 1.53 and .46
War Emblem(2002) 3.40 and .95
Monarchos   (2001) 1.40 and .28
Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) 3.67 and .96

Following are the Dosage Indexes and Centers of Distribution for the top 20 leaders by graded stakes earnings for this year’s Run for the Roses:
Advice (by Chapel Royal) 3.80 and .83
Chocolate Candy (Candy Ride) 2.08 and .70
Desert Party (Street Cry) 3.80 and 1.00
Dunkirk (Unbridled's Song) 3.00 and .68
Flying Private (Fusaichi Pegasus) 3.67 and .88
Friesan Fire  (A.P. Indy) 3.00 and .65
General Quarters (Sky Mesa) 2.69 and .67
Hold Me Back (Giant's Causeway) 3.44 and .80
I Want Revenge (Stephen Got Even) 3.00 and .69
Mine That Bird (Birdstone) 5.40 and 1.19
Musket Man (Yonaguska) 4.00 and 1.1
Mr. Hot Stuff (Tiznow) 2.11 and .64
Papa Clem (Smart Strike) 3.36 and .92
Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker  ) 3.89 and .86
Quality Road (Elusive Quality) 2.38 and .73
Regal Ransom (Distorted Humor) 2.00 and .54
Square Eddie (Smart Strike) 3.40 and 1.00
Summer Bird (Birdstone) 2.56 and .69
West Side Bernie (Bernstein) 1.80 and .50
Win Willy (Monarchos) 5.00 and 1.13

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Derby Preview - Part I
By Anthony Stabile

We’re less than a week away from the 135th running of the G1 Kentucky Derby and like almost every other year we’re still not sure as to who will be in the starting gate come post time.

In most years this turmoil is caused by those at the bottom of the graded earnings list whose connections hem and haw until entry time before deciding what they want to do. This year, though, the one who is at the center of it all is Quality Road, who may actually go off as the favorite should he make it to the Derby.

In just four races, Quality Road has accomplished what it takes some years to do. After breaking his maiden at Aqueduct in his debut for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, Quality Road was second in an entry level Gulfstream allowance before Jerkens added Lasix in the G2 Fountain of Youth.

That day, Quality Road showed a new dimension as he rated just off the pace as opposed to setting it before drawing off to a convincing 4 ½ length win. One month layoff, in his two turn debut, Quality Road managed to stave off a furious far turn surge by Dunkirk to win the G1 Florida Derby by almost two lengths.
Unfortunately for his connections, Quality Road popped not one, but two quarter cracks since, the same injury that plagued Big Brown throughout his career, and his status for the Derby will hinge on how he rains early in the week. Should he make the Derby, he’ll be ridden by John Velazquez, who was aboard for his last two victories.

Though he is the only one of two G1 stakes winner we’ll discuss today, there is one thing that Quality Road has in common with the rest of the contenders that’ll be mentioned in this story – he’ll be his trainers’ first starter in the Run for the Roses. Of the group, that one that has accomplished the most besides Quality Road would have to be General Quarters.

Claimed out of his winning debut for $20K by owner/trainer Tom McCarthy last may, all General Quarters has done since is win the G3 Sam F. Davis and G1 Blue Grass. General Quarters shed blinkers after finishing second in a pair of minor sprint stakes at Tampa Bay Downs to win the Davis by a widening 3 ½ lengths before encountering trouble when fifth in the G3 Tampa Bay Derby.

A better trip couldn’t have been scripted in the Blue Grass as jockey Eibar Coa kept General Quarters out of trouble throughout before striking the lead on the far turn while on his way to a comfortable 1 ½ length score. The red-hot Julien Leparoux will be aboard in the Derby as Coa has opted to ride a familiar foe of General Quarters, Musket Man.

A winner of five of six career starts, Musket Man’s lone defeat came at the hands of General Quarters in the Davis when Musket Man failed to fire his best shot in his two turn debut and had to settle for third. In the T.B. Derby, Musket man didn’t have the best of trips and was further back than usual but managed to shake loose in deep stretch to run down the leaders at the wire.

Coa climbed aboard Musket Man for trainer Derek Ryan for the first time in his final Derby prep, the G2 Illinois Derby which he won in workmanlike fashion by two lengths at Hawthorne Park, the fourth different track he has won at.

Like Musket Man, West Side Bernie is a colt that seems to put in a solid effort no matter where he runs. Churchill Downs will be the seventh different strip he’s run over in what will be just the eighth start of his career, all of which have been a round two turns.

After breaking his maiden on dirt at Monmouth and winning the G3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile over the synthetic Turfway Park surface, West Side Bernie is winless in five starts. Don’t hold that against him though because in those five starts he’s managed to be third in the both G3 Delta Jackpot and G3 Holy Bull and second in the G1 Wood Memorial in his last start. Stewart Elliott, who rode Smarty Jones to a Derby win in 2004 rides for trainer Kelly Breen.

Another sporting a solid resume is Papa Clem. Trained by Gary Stute, Papa Clem closed out his two-year-old season with a two turn maiden win after a pair of off the board finishes in sprints to start his career. After getting beat ½ length in the G2 Bob Lewis, Papa Clem tried dirt for the first time in the G2 Louisiana Derby. Racing over a sloppy course in his dirt debut, Papa Clem set the pace before tiring to finish second while holding off a pair of late threats to hold the place.

In his next start, Papa Clem showed an ability to come from off the pace en route to a victory over a stubborn, since retired Old Fashioned in the G2 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. Regular rider Rafael Bejarano has the call in the Derby.

G2 Rebel winner Win Willy, fourth in the Arkansas Derby will not only be the first Derby starter for trainer McLean Robertson, it’ll also be jockey Monty Berry’s first foray onto racings’ biggest stage.

Before the Rebel, Win Willy won a couple of races on dirt and was off the board in a turf race before storming down the lane to also run down Old Fashioned over a slick Oaklawn surface. In the Arkansas Derby, Win Willy was caught five wide from post 9 while managing to close some ground late and would greatly benefit if the pace is hotly contested this Saturday.

Finally, a couple of real longshots will be looking to make their respective conditioners first brush with the roses a good one. They are Summer Bird and Mind that Bird. In his last start, Summer Bird closed from far back to be third in the Arkansas Derby for trainer Tim Ice and fellow Derby rookie, jockey Chris Rosier. Trained by Chip Woolley, Mind that Bird’s four wins have came over the Polytrack at Woodbine as a two-year-old. Calvin Borel, who won the 2007 Derby on Street Sense, will ride.

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Derby Preview - Part II
By Anthony Stabile

Part I – Part II

In this edition of Derby Preview, we’ll be discussing five colts that started out their careers on the West Coast. So grab an In & Out burger and throw on a Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg CD ‘cause we goin’ back to Cali!!

Historically, the Californian contingent of Derby runners has often been considered afterthoughts BEFORE the Derby was even run. Then, they were completely written off when all the racetracks were forced to switch to synthetic surfaces. But if you think you’re going to get off that easy this year, think again.

With the defection of Quality Road on Monday due to quarter cracks, it looks as if I Want Revenge will be the clear cut favorite when the field enters the starting gate. And long before he treated us in New York to a pair of amazing efforts, he was cutting his teeth out west.

After three third place finishes in sprints, trainer Jeff Mullins stretched I Want Revenge out and was rewarded with a wire-to-wire maiden score. A little less than two months later, he was beaten a nose in the G1 CashCall Futurity and found himself on the Derby trail.
After a third place finish in the G2 Bob Lewis, his first start with blinkers, I Want Revenge headed east to try his hand at conventional dirt in the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct. Sitting just off the early pace, I Want revenge turned the Gotham into a one horse show in the stretch, drawing off in ultra-impressive fashion to win the Gotham by almost nine lengths, a win that prompted IEAH Stables, majority owner of Big Brown, to purchase half the colt for a reported $4 million.

I Want Revenge followed up that performance with an even more impressive one in the G1 Wood Memorial, also at Aqueduct. After walking out of the gate and spotting the field close to a half dozen lengths under regular rider Joe Talamo, I Want Revenge was deftly guided through the field under nothing more than a hand ride to win by an easy 1 ½ lengths, stamping himself as one of the favorites for this years Derby.

Though he’s never run on dirt, it’s hard to argue with anyone that prefers Pioneerof the Nile over I Want Revenge as Pioneerof the Nile has defeated his rival the two times they met. After starting his career with trainer Bill Mott, Pioneerof the Nile was transferred to three time Derby winner Bob Baffert’s barn and hasn’t lost since.

A win in the CashCall was followed by wins in the Bob Lewis, the G1 San Felipe and most recently in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. A stone closer in his first six starts, Pioneerof the Nile has shown a remarkable ability to adapt on the fly, making solid middle moves in his last two starts when jockey Garrett Gomez sensed a lack of pace. Keep in mind that though he hasn’t raced on dirt, he did train over it earlier in his career with Mott.

Second place S.A. Derby finisher Chocolate Candy is another who’ll need to handle the dirt if he’s to have any chance in the Derby. A winner of over $500K on synthetic surfaces, Chocolate Candy had little success sprinting early on in his career before turning the corner once trainer Jerry Hollendorfer stretched him out.

Chocolate Candy was third in the CashCall before winning both the California Derby and G3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California. Mike Smith, who shocked the Derby world aboard the 50-1 Giacomo in the 2005 renewal, will ride for the first time.

One of the more intriguing entrants in this years Derby almost has to be Square Eddie. After starting his career in Europe, Square Eddie was shipped to the U.S. for the G! Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last October, a race he won by almost 5 lengths. After finishing second in the G! Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, trainer Doug O’Neill decided to put him away and plotted a three-year-old campaign.

In his first start this year, Square Eddie finished second in the G3 San Rafael after which it was decided he’d try dirt in his next start. But it wasn’t to be as he suffered a shin injury that many thought would keep him off the Derby trail. O’Neill pressed on, however, and was going to run him in the Derby off of a series of workouts before deciding on the G2 Lexington instead. After making a spectacular run on the far turn that saw him grab the lead for a bit, Square Eddie tired to third. Corey Nakatani will ride him for the first time in the Derby.

Mr. Hot Stuff figures to be the Californian lost in the shuffle as he hasn’t accomplished anywhere near as much as his fellow Left Coasters have. After breaking his maiden three starts back, Mr. Hot Stuff finished third in both the G3 Sham and S.A. Derby for trainer Eoin Harty who also conditions this colts’ full brother, Colonel John. John Velazquez has picked up the mount.

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Square Eddie out with shin injury

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -Kentucky Derby contender Square Eddie is out of the Run for the Roses.
Trainer Doug O'Neill says his 3-year old colt had a reoccurrence of a shin problem that hindered his training over the last three months.

O'Neill said Square Eddie developed a hot spot in the shin at Churchill Downs over the weekend.

O'Neill said the injury kept Square Eddie off the Derby trail earlier this year. He finished third in his last start on April 18 in the Lexington Stakes.

O'Neill plans to give the horse a few weeks off before deciding where to race next.

The injury is not believed to be career threatening.

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Breaking Down the Kentucky Derby - Part I

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The 135th Kentucky Derby is approximately one week away, and almost all the participants are settled in the Bluegrass State. The only three unaccounted for are Mr. Hot Stuff, Colonel John's full brother, and the top two finishers of the Florida Derby: Quality Road and Dunkirk.

Mr. Hot Stuff is expected to arrive on Monday, while Dunkirk will move north from Florida on Tuesday. Quality Road was supposed to turn up on the same day as his Gulfstream Park rival, but everything is on hold due to a recently discovered second quarter crack.

The new crack on his right front foot is not as severe as the one found on his right hind foot in the winner's circle of the Florida Derby. However, with the Kentucky Derby less than 10 days away, any injury is serious enough to warrant concern.

If Quality Road cannot put in his final workout by Monday, then trainer Jimmy Jerkens will not send him to Churchill Downs. If that's the case, the race becomes a wide-open affair, with at least half the field sporting a decent chance for victory. And even if he does run, how confident can his supporters be after two quarter cracks just four weeks before the biggest race of his life?


Every year, the 20-horse field can be placed into three distinct groupings: A) the main contenders, B) the colts that might not win but can't be eliminated in the exotics, and C) the longshots with a near-zero chance of victory, as well as a limited chance at filling out the trifecta and superfecta.

The last of the three-letter choices will be examined in part one of this three-part series.

There is still some debate whether or not trainer Todd Pletcher and owner WinStar Farm will send Advice to the Derby after the colt won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 18. The final decision will be made following a Monday morning workout at Churchill Downs.

If Advice does indeed reach the starting gate it's highly doubtful he'll be a force to be reckoned with. The son of Chapel Royal has tons of ability as witnessed by last weekend's race, but he failed to fire in his lone start on traditional dirt, finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Sunland Derby in late March.

It's interesting to note that WinStar Farm already has a pair of Derby entrants in Hold Me Back and Mr. Hot Stuff, so it's entirely plausible that both owner and trainer could decide to withdraw Advice from the race in order to grant Join in the Dance a spot in the party.

It just so happens that Pletcher also trains Join in the Dance, a front- running colt that should ensure a faster early pace, beneficial in assisting not only his main threat in Dunkirk, but WinStar Farm's come-from-behind duo as well. (All this could be moot if Quality Road is unable to run, thereby allowing both Advice and Join in the Dance to enter into the field.)

If Join in the Dance makes it into the Derby, he's a solid bet to finish last for two reasons. First, he's likely to be used as a sacrificial lamb to help speed up the early fractions. Second, and perhaps more importantly, a Todd Pletcher-trained horse has finished last three straight years and five times this decade, along with a pair of next-to-last place finishes in '04 and '05.

The only other colt that could challenge him for last place is Mine That Bird.

The three-year-old gelding was not even considered a Derby possibility, as his two preps this year came in ungraded races at Sunland Park. The son of Birdstone ran second in the Borderland Derby before finishing fourth in the Sunland Derby, a length and three-quarters ahead of Advice.

Calvin Borel picks up the mount after two questionable rides from Casey Lambert in the aforementioned races. Mine That Bird has the speed to pressure the early pace down the backstretch but with Borel in the saddle, one wonders if the '07 Kentucky Derby-winning jockey will try to throttle the gelding's speed in order for a faster finish.

Mine That Bird ended 2008 with a last-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and there's nothing to suggest improvement will come against a much tougher field.


Four-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas is back after a four- year layoff. The Hall of Fame horseman sent out Going Wild to finish 18th in the '05 Derby at odds of 59-1, and his Flying Private has a very good chance of duplicating both numbers in this year's running.

The Kentucky-bred has 10 career starts, more than any horse in the field except General Quarters. This will be his seventh race in 2009 alone, an unheard of amount in this day and age.

After a pair of seconds in the Mountain Valley Stakes at six furlongs and the Lane's End at 1 1/8-miles, the son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus ran fifth to Papa Clem in the Arkansas Derby. Over the last 25 years, there has not been a single horse to win the Run for the Roses while finishing lower than fourth in his prior race. (Denis of Cork came close last year with a third to Big Brown after running fifth in the Illinois Derby.)

Flying Private did have a troubled trip in the Arkansas Derby. He was forced wide around the first turn by Papa Clem and then was pulled back approaching the far turn, losing tons of ground. Still, it would be a major upset if he were to win with just a maiden victory under his belt.

Trainer Eoin Harty has called his late-running colt Mr. Hot Stuff a "doofus" and "Colonel John on meth." The reason for the comparison to last year's Santa Anita Derby winner is quite obvious as they are full brothers. Nevertheless, until Mr. Hot Stuff wins another race, it's doubtful he'll be mentioned in the same breath as his more renowned sibling.

There's no doubt the colt has talent, but immature horses do not win the Kentucky Derby. Mr. Hot Stuff needed five tries to break his maiden and when he crossed the wire first on February 1, many west coast racing fans expected more of the same in the weeks to come.

Those dreams ended fast when The Pamplemousse soundly defeated him in the Sham Stakes by almost eight lengths. He failed to improve in the Santa Anita Derby, finishing third once again, completing his nine furlongs in the same exact time of 1:49 2/5 seconds.

Mr. Hot Stuff could improve come the summer and fall, but a victory on the first Saturday in May is almost impossible.

Trainer Kelly Breen is lucky West Side Bernie is even able to race in the Kentucky Derby. About a week after his gallant second-place finish in the Wood Memorial, the son of Bernstein suffered from a bout of colic, which is abdominal pain in equine terms. The horse is currently healthy but even if he had a good bill of health he would not be a major contender.

West Side Bernie's top efforts have come on dirt but he's too slow to make a dent in this one. In addition, this will be his third race in six weeks so look for him to regress after the solid second to I Want Revenge in the Wood.

Win Willy is another horse with a limited chance for success on May 2. The Monarchos colt came from out-of-the-clouds at 56-1 to win the Grade II Rebel Stakes in mid-March, pulling away from Old Fashioned by 2 1/4-lengths at the wire. Still, he failed to make it two straight after running fourth in the Arkansas Derby at odds of 4-1. It will take a Herculean effort to win on the first Saturday in May, as this Derby field is a million times stronger than the horses he faced in Arkansas.


Summer Bird comes into the race with just three lifetime starts, all at Oaklawn Park and all at the age of three. But unlike Dunkirk, who first raced on January 24, Summer Bird began his career on March 1. It would take almost a miracle for the son of Birdstone to win the Derby in his fourth start in 63 days.

General Quarters is getting a lot of publicity due to his victories in the Sam F. Davis and Blue Grass Stakes. Nonetheless, he "bounced" off the first victory by running fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby and will do so again after his triumph at Keeneland.

The gray colt has sat very close to the pace in all three of his wins and if he employs that strategy in the Derby, he'll be eaten alive by far superior horses. Remember, he's lost more races (eight) than anyone in the field except Flying Private.

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Breaking Down the Kentucky Derby - Part II

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - This second installment of "Breaking Down the Kentucky Derby" involves six horses that have a small chance of upsetting the top five favorites, who will be highlighted later this week.

I have already dissected the group of nine that have virtually zero chance of winning the Derby, and that list includes Mine That Bird, Flying Private, Mr. Hot Stuff, West Side Bernie, Win Willy, Summer Bird, General Quarters, and most likely both Todd Pletcher-trained colts, Join in the Dance and Advice, since Quality Road has been declared out of the race.

Pletcher, who also trains Take the Points, will make the final decision on Tuesday to determine which two of his three horses will run. There is no reason for Join in the Dance not to be entered, as the son of Sky Mesa will provide much-needed early speed to help Dunkirk's cause. And don't be surprised if Take the Points holds down the other spot since that colt will also help ensure a faster pace much more so than Advice.

This next sextet is laced with horses that will draw some attention at the betting windows from wise-guy players looking for a live longshot.


Square Eddie has raced just once since mid-January. A cannon bone injury after a second-place finish to The Pamplemousse in the San Rafael sidelined the Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up for three months.

He returned in the Lexington Stakes, his fifth straight race on synthetics. The Grade II event did not go as planned, after the son of Smart Strike broke out of the gate a length or two behind the rest of the field. For a horse that had been up close to the pace in all three North American starts, the poor beginning forced jockey Edgar Prado to ride him differently than the colt had ever been ridden before.

No one can deny Square Eddie's bold move that brought him from ninth place around the turn all the way into the lead at the top of the stretch. Still, he ran that quarter in 24 1/5, relatively slow for such a powerful burst. All it showed was how average the other horses in the race were. In addition, Square Eddie came up short inside the final furlong, fading to third and becoming another victim of the Polytrack surface where the horse that makes the last move usually wins, as Advice did that afternoon.

Moreover, it seemed Prado had direct instructions from trainer Doug O'Neill to save some of the colt's energy for the Derby, as the jockey did not even go to the whip while being challenged through the stretch.

Three factors have me shying away from Square Eddie. One, he's never raced beyond 1 1/16-miles. Two, he's never raced on dirt, and three, he's had only one start since January 17.

Musket Man is a colt that could surprise but it would take most of the top contenders to regress in order for him to do so.

The Kentucky bred has done nothing wrong in his six-race career with five victories and one third. His win in the Tampa Bay Derby was extremely professional, as he ran all four of his quarters in 24 3/5 seconds or less while finishing his final half-furlong in 6 1/5.

Musket Man proved best once again in the Illinois Derby defeating Giant Oak by two lengths in 1:49 4/5. Incidentally, after knocking off Nowhere to Hide by three lengths at Tampa Bay, he destroyed Nick Zito's colt by 11 at Hawthorne.

On the negative side, Musket Man was all out to beat Join in the Dance by a neck in the Tampa Bay Derby, and not a single horse from the Illinois Derby is headed to Kentucky. He's also a May foal meaning he'll still be a two-year-old come May 2.

Most importantly, it's doubtful Musket Man will improve as the distances increase. His sire, Yonaguska, was a sprinter and his grandsire, Cherokee Run, won the Breeders' Cup Sprint as a four-year-old. Musket Man's dam's side does not help his cause either, as most of those members of his ancestry favor speed over endurance.

Look for Musket Man to make a bid around the far turn but come up well short through the stretch.

Regal Ransom was deemed one of the longshots in the third and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Pool 3 closed with the Godolphin-owned colt at 42-1, despite having defeated stablemate Desert Party in the UAE Derby.

His odds will be much lower on the first Saturday in May due to the defections of other front-running types, namely Quality Road, Old Fashioned and The Pamplemousse. Unfortunately, he won't have it all his own way on the engine, as Join in the Dance will be on a mission to supply a fast pace for Todd Pletcher's star pupil, Dunkirk.

Regal Ransom began his three-year-old campaign in Dubai behind other Godolphin horses such as Midshipman, Vineyard Haven and Desert Party. He ran a game second to Desert Party in the Ford Flex but was no match for him in the UAE 2000 Guineas at a flat mile, losing by 4 3/4-lengths. In fact, the son of Distorted Humor was all out to hold second over Redding Colliery.

The UAE Derby was his coming out party. Pressured on the lead by the filly So Shiny, jockey Alan Garcia hugged the rail and maintained the lead throughout keeping Desert Party at bay down the long Nad Al Sheba stretch. However, Regal Ransom was one of many horses to win on the front end that day so his victory was aided by the track bias.

Regal Ransom has a chance to wire the field but it is enormously minute. With Friesan Fire working as if Larry Jones wants him on the lead, a la Hard Spun in '07, and with the expected addition of Join in the Dance, it's looking more and more that Regal Ransom will not have it his own way at Churchill Downs.


Papa Clem failed to fire in his first two starts at 6 1/2 furlongs last November, but he has come into his own in his four, two-turn races.

His connections thought highly enough of him to run in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis against Pioneerof the Nile and I Want Revenge, fresh off a maiden victory, and he would have won the race if not for Pioneerof the Nile's late burst in the final jumps.

Then came another second-place finish in the slop at the FairGrounds where he reportedly did not ship well on the plane down to Louisiana. His journey to Oaklawn Park was picture perfect, and the bay colt responded with a win over Old Fashioned in the Arkansas Derby. It was also the first time Papa Clem settled more than two lengths off the early pace since his debut last year.

However, his move to the top coincided with a slow 24 4/5 quarter, as well as a wretched 49 4/5 half-mile from midway down the backstretch into the homestretch. In addition, he had tons of trouble putting away Old Fashioned, a horse that was injured in the race. Additionally, he might have lost to recent maiden winner Summer Bird if the race was extended another half-furlong.

Papa Clem does possess the heart of a winner as he has showed tremendous guts in putting away I Want Revenge in the Robert B. Lewis, holding off Terrain in the Louisiana Derby and finally in winning the Arkansas Derby. Still, it doesn't look as if he will peak at 10 furlongs so the jury is still out concerning the first Saturday in May.


There aren't many colts better-suited for 10 furlongs than Chocolate Candy. The son of Candy Ride sports one of the top pedigrees in the Derby and there's ample evidence that Jerry Hollendorfer's colt will run his best race at Churchill Downs.

His Beyer Speed figures do not match well with the top contenders but numbers on synthetics are generally six to seven points lower than on traditional dirt. More importantly, his figures have improved in each of his last seven races beginning with a 68 on August 29 of last year to a 94 in the Santa Anita Derby.

Chocolate Candy has won four of his last six races with the two defeats coming to Pioneerof the Nile. He was up against it in the SA Derby due to the scratches of The Pamplemousse and Z Day, leaving the field bare of any speed. Forced to sit behind a slow pace and angled out six wide approaching the top of the stretch, the top-notch closer failed in his attempt to reel in Pioneerof the Nile inside the final furlong.

On the down side, the bay colt will be making his first start on true dirt after nine consecutive synthetic appearances. Nevertheless, his latest 59 1/5 five-furlong workout early Monday morning (second fastest at the distance) gives his backers some hope that he'll continue to move forward this coming Saturday.

Hold Me Back failed miserably in his lone race on traditional dirt in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct last November. However, the horse appears to be a different colt since freshening over the winter in Florida.

In his first '09 start, the son of Giant's Causeway stormed from way back to defeat a field of 12 in the Lane's End. He was expected to regress in the Blue Grass after such a powerful run off the long layoff but the Bill Mott-trainee responded with another bold move to finish second to General Quarters.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who has won the Derby three times, gushed over his colt's Blue Grass performance immediately following the race and couldn't wait to get on him for the big one in Kentucky.

The chances of both Chocolate Candy and Hold Me Back finishing with a flurry will depend a lot on how the final two spots in the field shake out. If Pletcher decides to run both Join in the Dance and Take the Points, then the aforementioned two horses warrant considerable respect, not to fill out the trifecta or superfecta, but to finish first at the wire.

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Add synthetic racing surface to Kentucky Derby handicappers' challenge
Canadian Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trying to figure out how 20 unpredictable three-year-old colts will fare in the Kentucky Derby is tough enough. Throw in the fact that some will be racing on dirt for the first time while others are coming off synthetic surfaces makes it a handicapping nightmare.

"I'm just glad I'm not a gambler," said trainer Jeff Mullins, who will saddle I Want Revenge on Saturday. "I had a hard time when it was just conventional dirt."

Questions abound every spring about the newest crop of three-year-olds. Can they handle running 1 1/4 miles? How will they fare in the calvary charge to the first turn? Will they contend with what's likely to be the largest and most talented field they'll ever run against?

The introduction of synthetic tracks in California and at Keeneland in Lexington three years ago turned handicapping the Kentucky Derby into an even bigger guessing game. This year's group of contenders prepped on a variety of surfaces, and even in California, the composition of synthetic tracks at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park varies.

Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia will set the Derby morning line at Wednesday's post position draw, giving bettors yet another opinion in a sport that thrives on debate.

Just a few years ago, handicappers and fans had their hands full comparing pedigrees and past performances of horses who came to the Derby after prepping at tracks from coast to coast.

"Now you throw synthetics into it, it's a mishmash," said David Lanzman, co-owner of I Want Revenge. "I know a lot of handicappers that try to throw out the form completely and they just handicap over what they see here the week or 10 days coming in.

"What I've seen from my horse, I'm willing to do that."

I Want Revenge was 1-of-6 on synthetic surfaces in California. Then Lanzman and Mullins sent the colt to New York's Aqueduct, where he won the Gotham Stakes by 8 1/2 lengths and rallied to win the Wood Memorial after a terrible start. Both of those races were on dirt.

The surface switch seemingly changed the colt's running style.

"On synthetic, he holds his head really low and his knees come real high, but on dirt he holds his head straight out and throws his feet straight out and is more fluid," Mullins said.

Another California horse, Pioneerof the Nile, will be racing on dirt for the first time Saturday. His first two career races were on the turf, then he switched to synthetics, and has gone 4-for-6 on the artificial stuff, including four consecutive victories since coming to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's barn late last year.

"They're all different, there's not one synthetic that's the same," Baffert said. "Horses can slip a little bit, they can stick.

"Some horses like it, some horses don't like it."

Santa Anita Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile beat I Want Revenge twice on synthetic.

"I'll be scared of him until we at least beat him once," Lanzman said, "but we've done it (run on dirt) and he hasn't. That's our advantage over him."

Also trying dirt for the first time will be Santa Anita Derby runner-up Chocolate Candy and third-place Mr. Hot Stuff. Last year's dirt rookies in the Derby finished no better than sixth.

"If Pioneerof the Nile can do what I Want Revenge did (on dirt), then it's a foregone conclusion that he's the horse to beat," said trainer Nick Zito, who doesn't have a Derby starter this year.

Just how well horses making the transition from synthetic adjust to having dirt kicked back in their faces is another question. During training, horses are timed running alone or with one other horse beside them, so kickback is not an issue.

Baffert is among those who believe conventional dirt will always be the best racing surface. He thinks the artificial mixture of fibre, rubber and sand is better suited for training.

"I don't think they've got the right one yet," Baffert said, referring to synthetic surfaces marketed under such names as Polytrack, Cushion Track and Pro-Ride.

Mullins agreed, saying, "I hope there's not very much future in it."

Both trainers are based in California, so they've been forced to adapt to synthetic, which was introduced and pitched as being safer for riders and animals and easier to maintain.

"The jury is still out," Zito said. "You need more data.

"Some groups have now said you see all these injuries in the hind (legs) and the soft tissue. There's plenty of evidence in that. Conventional dirt is good for horses."

Blue Grass winner General Quarters is one of the handful of Derby contenders who's won on dirt and synthetic.

Hold Me Back, runner-up in the Blue Grass, earned his three career victories on synthetic. The only time he finished out of the money - beaten by 14 lengths - came on dirt at Aqueduct.

"We're not about to say our horse can't run on the dirt just off one race," trainer Bill Mott said. "We're going to give him the chance Saturday and then we'll see."

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Win Willy out, Nowhere to Hide jumps in
By Jay Privman

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The defection of Win Willy on Wednesday morning from the Kentucky Derby opened a spot in the maximum 20-horse field, and it was quickly filled by Nowhere to Hide, whom trainer Nick Zito said would now be entered.

Zito, a two-time Kentucky Derby winner, said Shaun Bridgmohan would ride.

Win Willy, the Rebel Stakes winner, has the beginnings of a fracture in his left front pastern, trainer Mac Robertson said Wednesday morning.

"We took X-rays and on one of the X-rays there's a small line in the pastern going up into the ankle," Robertson said. "Three out of the four vets who looked at the X-ray said it looks like something that could spiral up into the cannon bone. He's not off on it, he's not sore, but there's something that's getting started. Most things start out as little problems and if you look away they become big problems."

Nowhere to Hide, a son of Vindication owned by My Meadowview Farm, has a maiden win from eight starts to his credit. In three starts this year, he has finished fourth in the Risen Star, Tampa Bay Derby and, most recently, the Illinois Derby.

Nowhere to Hide has $55,000 in graded stakes earnings.

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

I Want Revenge draws No. 13 in full field
By Marty McGee

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - I Want Revenge will start from post 13 as the 3-1 morning-line favorite Saturday in the 135th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby, for which post positions were drawn Wednesday.

Other starting assignments for major Derby contenders include the two horses that Churchill oddsmaker Mike Battaglia pegged as co-second choices at 4-1: Dunkirk, who starts from post 15, and Pioneerof the Nile, who got post 16. The fourth wagering choice on the morning line, Friesan Fire, got post 6.

I Want Revenge, to be ridden by 19-year-old Joe Talamo, is co-owned by David Lanzman and the IEAH Stables. Last year, IEAH won the Derby with Big Brown.

If all 20 start, this will be the fifth straight year that the maximum number has run in the Derby. Only 18 started in 2004.

1 West Side Bernie 30-1
2 Musket Man 20-1
3 Mr. Hot Stuff 30-1
4 Advice 30-1
5 Hold Me Back 15-1
6 Friesan Fire 5-1
7 Papa Clem 20-1
8 Mine That Bird 50-1
9 Join in the Dance 50-1
10 Regal Ransom 30-1
11 Chocolate Candy 20-1
12 General Quarters 20-1
13 I Want Revenge 3-1
14 Atomic Rain 50-1
15 Dunkirk 4-1
16 Pioneerof the Nile 4-1
17 Summer Bird 50-1
18 Nowhere to Hide 50-1
19 Desert Party 15-1
20 Flying Private 50-1

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Kentucky Derby Horse Rankings
By John Pricci

I jumped on Quality Road’s bandwagon soon after making selections for the Fountain of Youth Stakes in February, but I’ll have to look elsewhere after the co-favorite dropped out of the Kentucky Derby.

A second quarter-crack, this one in the right fore, didn't respond to the Ian McKinlay magic the way the first one did, leaving trainer Jimmy Jerkens no options.

"It's not terribly bad, but it's not right," said Jerkens, who trains Quality Road for owner/breeder Edward Evans. Jerkens, like his Hall of Fame father, is a man of few words. But, to his credit, he never leaves room for ambiguity.

“It's unfortunate," said Evans. “The Preakness and the Belmont are possibilities," the devastated owner offered.

McKinlay, the noted blacksmith who successfully treated Belmont winner Touch Gold and Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, anticipates a quick recovery.

"If this thing calms down, he'll be right back on track," McKinlay said.

With Quality Road out of the starting lineup, the final edition of HRI's Derby Power 10 takes on a whole new look. Dunkirk, who finished second to Quality Road in a close finish at the Florida Derby, landed in the top spot for the first time this season.

Entries for Derby 135 will be drawn Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.

The declaration of Quality Road has a profound effect on the Derby 135 race shape, possibly leaving Godolphin Stable's Regal Ransom as the lone classy speedster in the field. This development is sure to change strategy in many camps, which could take some of the contenders out of their best game.

It's no small irony that trainer Larry Jones and Gabriel Saez have spent all spring trying to teach Friesan Fire how to relax but now might find their fresh, speed sharpened colt on top of Regal Ransom's hindquarters in the early going. Unless Join In The Dance proves he is classy enough to join the pace in a sustained and meaningful fashion.

Of course, there's always a speed joker or two in the Derby deck, so we'll wait and see what happens. The post draw is often crucial, especially in this highly competitive renewal.

The HRI power 10, Kentucky Derby final rankings

No. 1 - Dunkirk (31) 5-1:
This is the colt that wants revenge, but if he's to get it, it won't be against his lone conqueror. Still, Todd Pletcher will gladly accept his first bouquet of Derby roses. He has several shots at the prize, but I agree with the four-time Eclipse Award winner: This colt gives him his best chance ever.

No. 2 - I Want Revenge (29) 5-2: Has been nothing short of amazing since leaving Southern California. First, the tour de force Gotham, then the miraculous Wood. Now comes a series of strong gallops over the Churchill surface and a good work, seemingly indicating there's more in the tank. HRI projects he'll rule a slight favorite.

No. 3 - Pioneerof the Nile (26) 6-1: Hall of Famer Bob Baffert must be spending sleepless nights and asking friends to pinch him while awake. That's how well everything's been going at present. Baffert's never lost a race with the colt who retains Garrett Gomez. His workouts and fluid gallops over the Churchill surface indicate that he loves it. But works aren't races.

No. 4 - Friesan Fire (20) 6-1: Two years ago, Hard Spun put a major scare into his Derby rivals. So can this colt; the dynamics are nearly identical. Hard Spun came in off a six-week layoff, compared to seven, and each had fast five-furlong bullet works coming into the race. But what of the pesky variable about not having raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth?

No. 5 - Desert Party (18) 15-1: Sheikh Mohammed is going to win this race some day - and that day might come right soon. DP has juvenile foundation, relatively competitive figures and he likes dirt. Desert Party was hindered by a speedy surface/moderate pace and a quality rival when second in the UAE Derby. If his Churchill works are the measure, he likes it there.

No. 6 - Chocolate Candy (14) 15-1: Talk about tough trips. Not only was the Santa Anita Derby pace dawdling, but trying to rally approximately six wide into the straight was virtually impossible under those conditions. Given it all, he finished second by a length to Pioneer of The Nile in a race he very likely needed. Hard to find better than the Hollendorfer-Baze tandem anywhere.

No. 7-Regal Ransom (13) 15-1: Talented, yet enigmatic. Despite owning enough pedigree to cross the Atlantic without a boat, he was either shortening stride after setting a moderate UAE Derby pace or he waits on horses. Either way, Desert Party seemed to be reaching him at the finish.

No. 8 - Papa Clem (8) 15-1: Another who appreciated leaving sunny SoCal to test real dirt elsewhere and it all came together at Oaklawn Park. The good news is that he's late developing; the bad is his performance figures leave something to be desired. Additionally, his workout regimen at Churchill has been a tough read.

No. 9 - Musket Man (6) 18-1: One of the best managed horses on the Derby Trail in this or any other year, and the colt responded by winning five of six lifetime starts, a tough trip costing him an undefeated career to date. Eibar Coa had his choice of Derby mounts and landed here. Enough said.

No. 10 - Hold Me Back (3) 20-1: Thus far, trainer Bill Mott has had an excellent 2009, most notably winning important races off layups in just about every division. Winning the Lane's End with this guy, then coming back with a good second in the Blue Grass, might be the best work he's done all year.

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Derby Preview - Part III
By Anthony Stabile

The field for Kentucky Derby 135 is finally set, but it doesn’t include the twenty horses we thought would be running on Saturday. In fact, three horses – Quality Road, Square Eddie and Win Willy – were declared from the race in the days and hours leading up to Wednesday’s draw.

It looked as if we’d have a Nick Zito-less Derby until Wednesday morning when he announced that Nowhere to Hide would run after the defection of Win Willy. After breaking his maiden in his fifth try at Calder in the last start of his juvenile season, Nowhere to Hide has run fourth in three graded stakes this year, the G3 Risen Star, G3 Tampa Bay Derby and G2 Illinois Derby. Shaun Bridgmohan has the call.

Atomic Rain was able to get in on Tuesday, giving trainer Kelly Breen a double shot at making Derby history as Atomic Rain and stablemate West Side Bernie will be his first two starters in the event. Still eligible for an entry level allowance contest, Atomic Rain hasn’t won since breaking his maiden at Monmouth Park last June. He was fourth in the G1 Wood Memorial under Joe Bravo, who’s back aboard for the Derby, in his last start.

Join in the Dance did just that on Tuesday, giving Todd Pletcher three starters for this years Run for the Roses after it appeared as if just six weeks ago that Pletcher, like Zito, wouldn’t be in Louisville for the big one this Saturday. A winner just once in eight starts, Join in the Dance set the pace and tired to be second by a neck in the T.B. Derby two back before tiring to fifth in the G1 Blue Grass last out. Chris DeCarlo will ride.

The second of Pletcher’s runners, Advice, is another who was on the fence until Thursday though his win in the G2 Lexington last out garnered him more than enough of those precious graded stakes earnings. In his lone start on dirt, Advice  was fifth in the Sunland Derby two back with blinkers which were removed in the Lexington, where he came from dead last on the far turn to win going away. Rene Douglas picks up the mount. 
The last of Pletcher’s trio arguably offers him his best chance at winning the roses this year and is perhaps his best chance yet at winning the Derby. His name is Dunkirk and in just three starts, he’s encountered more than most horses will in twenty.

In his late January unveiling at Gulfstream, Dunkirk broke from post 3 and found himself bottled up behind a wall of horses after breaking slowly. On the far turn, jockey Edgar Prado jerked Dunkirk to the outside before turning him loose in the stretch to win by a widening 5 ¾ lengths.

An entry level allowance race, his first start around two turns was next on the agenda and turned out to be more eventful than his debut. Breaking much better than he did in his first start, Dunkirk found himself seven wide on the first turn and five wide on the backside. Approaching the turn, Dunkirk joined the leaders and battled between horses on the far turn before unleashing a similar stretch run to that of his debut to win by an expanding 4 ¾ length score. After the race, Pletcher announced that Dunkirk would run next in the G1 Florida Derby.

In what would be his stakes debut, Dunkirk was up against it before he even stepped on the course as the Gulfstream strip was ultra-quick that day and speed favoring. As eventual winner Quality Road enjoyed a perfect stalking trip, Dunkirk had to once again make up ground, making up a number of lengths to draw even with the winner on the turn before getting turned away nearing the wire. Though he didn’t win, it was another of example of this colt overcoming adversity, something you don’t see often in a horse as lightly raced as he is. Prado will be back aboard Dunkirk in the Derby after having been replaced by Garret Gomez in his last pair.

Besides Breen and Pletcher, Saeed bin Suroor is the only other trainer that will run multiple horses in the Derby. The powerful Godolphin Stables’ private trainer will saddle both Desert Party and Regal Ransom in the Derby.

After starting their careers in the U.S., both colts were shipped to Dubai over the winter along with their more heralded, and more costly stablemates Midshipman and Vineyard Haven and were pretty much considered second stringers until injury knocked the latter pair off the Derby trail.

Though Regal Ransom was no more than a maiden winner, he managed to finish second to Desert Party, who won the G2 Sanford at Saratoga in just the second start of his career, in their first two starts this year at Nad al Sheba in a pair of minor stakes. Last out in the G2 UAE Derby, Regal Ransom took advantage of a speed biased strip that may very well have been catered to his liking to turn the tables on Desert Party, narrowly defeating him by a ½ length. Alan Garcia will be back aboard Regal Ransom while Ramon Dominguez will ride Desert Party for the first time.

Hold Me Back owns the distinction of being the only runner in this years Derby that will be saddled and ridden by Hall of Famers as trainer Bill Mott will give jockey Kent Desormeaux a leg up aboard the colt in the paddock at Churchill on Saturday. While he’s won three of four starts over synthetic surfaces, including the G2 Lane’s End two back before finishing second in the Blue Grass last out, his lone dirt start is somewhat of an eyesore as he finished a bad fifth in the G2 Remsen behind Old Fashioned in his final start as a two-year-old.

Speaking of Old Fashioned, though he’s retired, his stablemate Friesan Fire still offers trainer Larry Jones and jockey Gabriel Saez a chance at redemption after they received a ton of unwarranted attention after the unfortunate breakdown of Eight Belles who was second in the race last year.

Though he started his career with just one win in four starts, Friesan Fire turned the corner when Jones added blinkers, finishing second in his last start as a juvenile before rattling off three consecutive graded stakes scores at the Fair Grounds earlier this year, including the G2 Louisiana Derby. This Derby will be his first start in seven weeks.

Finally, what would a Kentucky Derby be with a longshot from Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ barn? Flying Private, who is 1-for-10 in his career, will play the role this year. Second in the Lane’s End two back, Flying Private was fifth in the G2 Arkansas Derby last out and will be ridden by Robby Albarado.

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Kentucky Derby Trends
by T.O. Whenham

With most things in life, the more you do them the easier they get. That only makes sense. The same can't be said, though, for handicapping the Kentucky Derby. Just when we seem to get a handle on things, everything changes. Kentucky Derby trends that were once rock solid now look fragile and meaningless, while horses that only recently would have been given no shot to win because of their experience are now legitimate contenders. So much of what we thought we knew about handicapping the Kentucky Derby has either been proven wrong, or has been hopelessly complicated. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:

Layoffs - It used to be so simple - you couldn't win the Derby if you hadn't run a race in the month before the Derby. Needles managed to win off a long rest in 1956, but for the next 50 years no horse managed to, and not that many bothered to try. But then Barbaro changed everything. He waited five weeks between the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby, then he proceeded to annihilate the field in Louisville. Two years later, Big Brown proved that Barbaro's win was no fluke by managing the Florida-Kentucky double again.

This year, Dunkirk is trying the same five-week strategy, and he is far from alone. Regal Ransom and Desert Party both have five weeks and a long trip from Dubai between them and the Derby. The horse really looking to shatter this trend once and for all, though, is Friesian Fire. On March 14 he absolutely crushed the field in the Louisiana Derby. He hasn't run since. That seven-week layoff is virtually unprecedented, and to a lot of observers it makes no sense at all. If trainer Larry Jones can win with this strategy, though, then the Derby prep season could go through yet another change of complexion.

Experience - This is another rock-solid rule that is being threatened. It used to be that you could confidently rule out a horse that had run fewer than six times in his career before the Derby. Only three had managed to win with fewer wins since 1933, and all of them had run five times. Big Brown rocked the foundations of that assertion last year, though - his Derby win came in only his fourth career start. This year, two more runners - Dunkirk and Summer Bird - come into the Derby with a similar three-race base of experience. Another, Hold Me Back, has run just five times.

Not all things have been threatened recently on the experience front, though - you can still feel fairly confident in disregarding a horse with fewer than three starts as a three year old. Only seven horses since 1937 have managed that feat. Last year, six horses tried it, including the winners of most of the major prep races, but none could overcome the lack of recent experience. That trend looks reasonably secure this year. Only two likely starters - Hold Me Back and Mine That Bird - have run just twice this season, and neither is among the elite Kentucky Derby contenders.

Dirt - Synthetic surfaces give me a massive headache. It's not just that they create a different style of racing that isn't generally as entertaining to watch, that they are maddeningly inconsistent despite claims that they shouldn't be, or that the science behind their adoption is questionable. The big thing here is that it's so darned hard to figure out how a horse is going to handle a move from the synthetics to the dirt. Handicapping the surface used to be so simple - a horse would have almost no reason to run on turf before the Derby, so everyone ran on dirt and it didn't matter. Now, though, things aren't so simple. Some horses come into the Derby without ever having run on dirt, and others have limited experience. Dirt behaves very differently than synthetics, and it can be a challenge for horses not used to it - especially in big fields, and especially if the horse is not a front-runner.

As of yet, a horse that has prepped on synthetic surfaces has yet to win the Derby or even to do particularly well. The sample size is small, though, so we can't be sure whether that is a meaningful trend or just a coincidence at this point.

This year's field raises complicated synthetic questions. Likely favorite I Want Revenge changed from a decent horse into a superstar when he moved from synthetics to dirt this spring. He clearly likes the real surface, so it shouldn't be an issue. I can't help but think about Gayego last year, though. He was good in California, moved to dirt for the Arkansas Derby and was great, but then finished just 17th in the Derby. Even more challenging for handicappers are top runners Pioneerof The Nile and Chocolate Candy - two California imports that have never been on dirt. Mr. Hot Stuff is another California runner that is a dirt virgin. He's a full brother to Colonel John, an entrant in the Derby last year. That horse ultimately excelled on dirt, wining the Travers Stakes at Saratoga last August. He didn't take to the surface nearly as well in Kentucky, though, finishing a disappointing sixth.

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

2009 Kentucky Derby Jockeys
by T.O. Whenham

As we get ready every year to try to pick a Kentucky Derby winner, the smallest of men are often the biggest of stories. With a race as big and crowded as the Derby, the jockeys play a very important role. A good rider can steer a horse out of trouble and get the most out of its talent. A bad ride can spell disaster. More than other races, handicappers need to seriously spend their time handicapping the jockeys and their ability to excel under the pressure of the race. The 2009 version of the Kentucky Derby has the potential based on the talent heading for the starting gate to be among the best in a long time. Here's a look at some of the jockey questions and issues that are going to be tough to figure out between now and post time:
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Joe Talamo - Talamo has the mount on I Want Revenge, the likely post time favorite. The jock has shown a great deal of commitment to this horse, traveling to New York for his last two races despite being based in California. Talamo has a lot of talent and almost endless potential, and it seems like a very good bet that he will win a Derby at some point in his career. There's a problem, though - he's only 19 years old. Making a Derby debut is tough at the best of times, but especially so when a rider is so young. The added pressure of being on the favorite will only increase the intensity of the experience, and the potential for things to go wrong. Talamo generally rides well, but he has the ability to make a bone-headed move from time to time. His mount is ridiculously impressive, and Talamo has ridden him well in his last two big wins, but I'd certainly feel more confident if a more established rider had gotten the nod.

Garrett Gomez - You could argue that someone other than Gomez is the best active rider in the sport right now, but you would be wrong. Gomez wins when it matters, and he can get the most out of his mount when others wouldn't. He's also a good indicator of just how tough winning the Derby is - despite his dominance, he doesn't have a win in the big race. He has a good shot at it this year aboard Bob Baffert's Pioneerof The Nile. Gomez also forces us to play amateur psychologist - he had the mount both on his Derby mount and on the highly-regarded Dunkirk throughout the prep season, and he could have ridden either one in the Derby. The fact that he chose Pioneerof The Nile seems to be a big endorsement of that horse over Dunkirk, but now we have to decide whether that is actually the case, and what that means for the comparative chances of both horses.

Late upgrades -
John Velazquez, one of the better riders in the country, was due to ride Quality Road, the Florida Derby winner and potential Derby favorite. That horse dropped out the week before the race with a quarter crack injury, so Velazquez was left without a mount. Mr. Hot Stuff, the brother of Colonel John, an entrant last year, was fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, and didn't have a Derby rider. Normally, a horse like that wouldn't get a top rider. It worked out that Velazquez will be on the horse this year, and that gives Mr. Hot Stuff a better chance of winning than he would otherwise have had. Another horse from the Santa Anita Derby got a similarly impressive upgrade of riders leading up to the big race. Chocolate Candy's saddle had been a revolving door - Russell Baze and Joel Rosario had each ridden him for one race in his last two. Both have given way to Mike Smith. Smith is a Hall of Famer, a Derby winner, and one of the best big-money riders in the world. There is a good chance that we will see more out of Chocolate Candy in the Derby than we have seen up to this point.

Introductions necessary in the paddock - In most cases the Derby rider has previously ridden the horse in a race. When they haven't they have virtually always worked the horse in the morning a couple of times to get comfortable with them and build he trust that is important to a big performance. That's what makes Julien Leparoux such an odd case. He'll be on General Quarters - a legitimate contender that has proven capable of uncorking a big race. Leparoux will have never touched the horse before he gets boosted on minutes before the race starts. Other guys - Calvin Borel, Ramon Dominguez, Robby Albarado, Mike Smith - will also be making their debuts on new mounts in the race, but you can be sure that they will all be better acquainted with their charges than Leparoux. Leparoux says he often rides horses with this much prior exposure, but never in a race this big.

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

2009 Kentucky Derby Predictions
by T.O. Whenham

Who is going to win the Kentucky Derby? That's a million dollar question at this time of year. Some years I have a pretty good answer to that question, and occasionally it's even the right answer. The last three years have been particularly simple - I was emotionally and financially attached to Barbaro, Curlin and Big Brown by March. The depth and talent of the field this year, though, has made it much harder for me to come up with a clear answer. Making Kentucky Derby predictions this year, then, has come down more than usual for me to looking for value in the morning line odds and acting accordingly.

I also make my predictions this year with a bit of trepidation. This is the second time that I will be attending the Derby in person. The first time was in 1996 when Grindstone won. Through straight bets and exotics I had 14 different horses in the field covered. Grindstone was not one of them. That hurt, and I live in constant fear of seeing that happen again this time around. With that in mind, here's how I break down my Kentucky Derby predictions:

The favorite is currently I Want Revenge, and that likely won't change. He has had two very impressive races in New York, and I really want to believe that he is a star. At the price he is likely to go off at - in the neighborhood of 3/1 - I just can't back him, though. He wasn't nearly as impressive in California as he was in New York, and the New York class wasn't exactly dominant this year. The horse will also be ridden by Joe Talamo, a 19-year-old jockey making his Derby debut. Talamo is talented, but I have troubling believing he will be at his best on this stage. I Want Revenge could be special, but at this price he is very easy to discard in my mind. He'll factor into exotics, but he's not a winner in my book.

Friesan Fire is another horse I am willing to toss out. He's ridiculously talented, and was very impressive last time out. He hasn't run in seven weeks, though, and I refuse to believe that a horse can get ready for this kind of race off of that much rest. It hasn't happened before, and I am not willing to bet at 5/1 odds that it will happen now.

In between I Want Revenge and Friesan Fire on the morning line lay two horses I quite like - Dunkirk and Pioneerof The Nile at 4/1. Dunkirk's lack of experience is an issue - he has just three career starts, and he didn't win last time out. He has the most eye-popping talent in this field, and I wouldn't at all be surprised to see him win, but at this price I have to reluctantly pass.

Pioneerof The Nile has issues as well - mostly that he has never run on dirt. That's a big problem in my eyes - no horse that has run exclusively on synthetics has yet looked particularly good in the Derby. There are a few reasons I am not as concerned about this as I would normally be, though. Bob Baffert is a Derby training savant, and he has the definite air of confidence around him this year. Garrett Gomez is the best jockey in the country right now, and he not only will be riding the horse but he chose him over Dunkirk. The horse has also shown a lot of class in his last two wins. Both races have featured strange and awkward pace scenarios, yet the horse has fought through them to come out on top. That determination and unflappable nature should serve him well on Saturday. Of the elite contenders, Pioneerof The Nile is the one I most trust and support.

Now for a few longer prices. First and foremost, I can't believe that Musket Man is at 20/1. He's has looked very good in his races this year - all wins. He's clearly improved each time out. He's trained well coming into the race, and he is looking physically imposing and impressive. I was expecting to see him at about 14/1, and even that would have seemed more than fair. If he stays near or above his 20/1 morning line price then he'll have to factor in all over the betting spectrum. Another 20/1 horse that presents real value at that price is Papa Clem. He's the Arkansas Derby winner - a distinction shared by some impressive horses in the last decade. He's beaten I Want Revenge, and he's as seasoned against top competition as any horse in the field. If he stays at or near his price he'd be a steal.

So, there it is. If I were to pick one winner it would be Pioneerof The Nile. He'll be joined in the exacta by Musket Man, Papa Clem, and perhaps Dunkirk. For the deeper exotics I would also throw in I Want Revenge, Hold Me Back, and Chocolate Candy.

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Re: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Kentucky Derby Preview
By:Jeff Hochman

With the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday lets take a look at my top five contenders in random order. These are my ML odds. The official odds and PP's will be determined on Wed.

I have picked the winner in three straight Kentucky Derby's and 9 of 13 in Triple Crown Races. Most Horse experts thought Big Brown would flop as the favorite in the 20th PP. Not me! He ended up winning in a romp. One of these 5 horses will win. Make sure you sign up on Saturday for the big winner.

The betting favorite has won the Kentucky Derby just 4 times since 1979 but three since 2000. Most recently was Big Brown (2008), Smarty Jones (2004), before that it was Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), and than you have to go back all the way to Spectacular Bid in 1979. The favorite has Never won the Kentucky Derby two years in a row.

What is the Dosage and why it's important: Dosage is a mathematical analysis of the strengths in a thoroughbred pedigree based upon the location of certain outstanding sires in its family.

You may have heard that any horse whose DI is greater than 4.00 cannot win the Kentucky Derby. This figure was selected not by man, but by history because up until 1991, no horse with a higher DI had ever won the race. (Strike the Gold won with a DI of 9.0 only because Alydar was yet to be named to the Chef-de-Race list in the Classic category. After that designation, the DI for Strike the Gold fell to the more realistic figure of 2.6 which more accurately reflected his abilities and those of most offspring of Alydar.)

Real Quiet won in 1998 with a DI over the 4.0 limit, and subsequent Chef-de-Race additions have actually raised his DI even further. Such is the nature of statistics - it won't be accurate 100% of the time.

The 4.0 barrier is still a good historical yardstick for a classic distance race, but is bound to be broken again someday - only because horses don't race against distances, they race against other horses. Also, when looking at the best Beyer figure I like to see a Horse with at least one 100 or more on his resume.

I still find it very hard to back and Horse in the Kentucky Derby that has a dosage of 4.00 or higher. It has worked well for me in the past.

I Want Revenge ML: 7/2 Dosage: 3.00

I Want Revenge is unbeaten since switching from a synthetic to a dirt track. Since being beaten at Santa Anita Park in February by Pioneerof the Nile and Papa Clem, I Want Revenge and regular rider Joe Talamo have combined for two straight victories at Aqueduct, romping in the Gotham Stakes in March and taking down the Wood Memorial in April despite a rough start. He has not been training well this week at CD and is no lock.

Pioneerof the Nile ML: 6/1 Dosage: 3.00

Pioneerof the Nile has never raced on dirt, but that hasn't stopped him from looking superb in workouts at Churchill Downs this week. Undefeated this year, Pioneerof the Nile has made huge strides in his ability to focus from gate to wire - a quality that was lacking early on this season. The only question remaining is whether his form will translate from synthetic to dirt. Time will tell.

Friesan Fire ML: 9/1 Dosage: 3.00

Undeafted this year, Friesan Fire hasn't raced since his triumph on March 14 in the slop at Fair Grounds in the Louisiana Derby but if the rain keeps falling at Churchill Downs, that experience on an off-track will be advantageous come Derby day. What may be a disadvantage is that Friesan Fire has not raced outside of Fair Grounds since December 2008 and could find the transition to Churchill Downs difficult. A well-rested horse but might come up rusty.

Chocolate Candy ML: 12/1 Dosage: 2.08

Who doesn't like Chocolate Candy! Very tasty. Last year he won the Real Quiet Stakes and was 3rd in the Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park. Won the California Derby at Golden Gate for his 3-year-old debut and followed up with a win in the El Camino Real Derby. Went in the Santa Anita Derby for his final prep and finished a slow closing 2nd to Pioneerof the Nile by a length.

West Side Bernie ML: 14/1 Dosage: 1.80

Has the lowest dosage in the field. Even lower than last year's winner, Big Brown. Last year he won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway, was 6th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, then 2nd in the Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs. Rallied from last to finish 3rd in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park for his 3-year-old debut. Finished a disappointing 6th Lane's End Stakes at Turfway beaten 8 lengths by Hold Me Back. Came back to finish 2nd in the Wood Memorial 1 1/2 lengths behind I Want Revenge for his final prep.

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