Saturday, April 20th.
Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Florida Derby champ Orb and trainer D. Wayne Lukas' two 3-year-olds put in their final Kentucky Derby workouts on a fast track Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, Orb went four furlongs in 47 4/5 seconds the day after galloping 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Jennifer Patterson.
Lukas had Rebel Stakes runner-up Oxbow and Rebel Stakes champ Will Take Charge each work five furlongs in preparation for Saturday's 139th Run for the Roses.
Oxbow, ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, went the distance in 59 4/5 seconds, the fastest of 34. Stevens was aboard Oxbow for the first time when the colt finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby and will ride him Saturday.
"I don't care for the jocks to work horses," Lukas said Sunday. "Oxbow, it's not for me. It's for Gary. I'm letting him try to get to know him a little better. I don't like to have the jocks work them. It's like giving them a Ferrari and telling them to go out on the interstate here and don't go over 40."
Will Take Charge covered the five furlongs in 1:01 with exercise rider Taylor Carty, 12th fastest on the day.
"I see four or five horses I think are really legit, and there're some pretenders, like every year," Lukas said. "I wouldn't offend any of these guys. I get along with all of them.
"What they've done in the past, they'll do Saturday. Everybody talks about, 'Well, we're going to do this. We're going to do that.' But they'll be doing what they've been doing all along. Don't worry."
Also putting in a workout was Lexington Stakes winner Winning Cause. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Winning Cause went the half-mile in 48 1/5 seconds on the fast Churchill oval. A decision on the colt's status for Saturday will be made Monday.
By Jeff Frank, The Sports Analyst
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It has been a long time (131 years) since a horse won the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. Trainer Todd Pletcher's Verrazano looks to be the colt to snap the streak on Saturday.
Verrazano began his career on Jan. 1 with a 7 3/4-length score at Gulfstream Park. He followed that effort up with a 16 1/2-length win in an allowance race a month later.
The son of More Than Ready then stretched his speed around two turns in both the Tampa Bay Derby and the Wood Memorial to remain unbeaten. However, there are many handicapping experts who look at the Wood as a negative race considering he did not draw off to win by open lengths.
Verrazano was put to the whip for the first time in his career in the Wood, only winning by three-quarters of a length in the slow time of 1:50 1/5. Still, the January foal already had locked up a spot in the Derby. In addition, jockey John Velazquez looked behind for the competition at least nine times throughout the running of the race, showing total confidence in the undefeated colt.
There also are some folks who question Verrazano's chances of winning at 10 furlongs, especially being sired by More Than Ready. Nevertheless, five sprinter/miler horses have sired Kentucky Derby winners over the last 11 years: Leroidesanimaux, Boundary, Elusive Quality, Distorted Humor and Our Emblem.
More Than Ready is a descendent of Hail To Reason, whose sire line has three Kentucky Derby winners (Barbaro, Sunday Silence and Sunny's Halo) in the last 30 years. It doesn't sound that strong, but when matched against the other top contenders it actually is not that bad.
Revolutionary and Java's War come from the Blushing Groom sire line that has just one win in 30 years, while Orb and Normandy Invasion come out of the Seattle Slew line that has zero victories since Seattle Slew became a sire of sires.
Goldencents and Vyjack come from the Storm Cat line, which also has never had a Derby winner. Finally, Overanalyze is by Dixie Union, who is not known as a sire of distance horses.
The bottom line in this year's race is the trip. Verrazano should work out a wonderful trip, sitting behind Falling Sky, Goldencents and maybe Oxbow. The key to victory rests with Velazquez and his ability to move Verrazano at the right time, and then be able to hold off the likes of Orb, Revolutionary, Normandy Invasion and Overanalyze.
Speaking of those four, they will be the colts who have the best chance of winning if Velasquez moves Verrazano too early.
THE NEXT GROUP OF FOUR
Orb is coming into the race in fine form (four wins in a row) and trainer Shug McGaughey is extremely confident in the colt's chances. In fact, there is growing support for Orb as the betting favorite over Verrazano.
Revolutionary has looked outstanding at Churchill Downs for Pletcher. The expected third choice, especially with jockey Calvin Borel, has raced just twice this year with two victories. That is not necessarily a bad thing as the last six Derby winners ran only two times in their 3-year-old season prior to the Run for the Roses.
Overanalyze is the third Pletcher horse in the top four. It is true he ran very slowly in the Arkansas Derby and he's never won two consecutive starts, but he also has run in six straight graded races. The bay colt has more natural speed than Orb and Revolutionary, so he might get the jump on those two, particularly if the early pace is slow.
Normandy Invasion has been training well in Louisville and should appreciate the added distance. However, he's won just one race in five lifetime starts.
THE NEXT BATCH OF FIVE
Java's War has run impressively on dirt, synthetics and turf. Don't forget, his second-place finish to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby came off a 3 1/2-month layoff. The main problem will be positioning. It is highly likely he will be 19th or 20th at the start, and if the pace is not that fast, he'll need to run a career-best to win.
Goldencents could be the leader approaching the far turn. Unfortunately, he will have to deal with the oncoming Verrazano, and if he passes that test, he'll have to hold off the charges of the other top-flight runners. When combined with a pedigree unsuited for 1 1/4 miles, it is doubtful trainer Doug O'Neill will replicate last year's Derby win with I'll Have Another.
Palace Malice comes into the Run for the Roses off a heavy schedule that includes two races since March 30. He is a gritty colt from the very successful Mr. Prospector sire line, but Pletcher is adding blinkers for the race and horses coming into the Derby with equipment changes are not that successful.
Itsmyluckyday runs better fresh, so improvement from his Florida Derby effort is expected, but outside of Shanghai Bobby, he has not defeated anyone of note.
The bandwagon for Mylute has picked up steam over the last couple of weeks, which means he will not be anywhere near the 30-1 odds he should be. The second-place finisher in the Louisiana Derby has a lot going for him: Two starts as a 3-year-old, from the Mr. Prospector sire line, improving speed numbers and a powerful closing kick. The main problem is that the kick usually comes a furlong too soon, which leaves Mylute hanging down the stretch.
Starting off with a mythical bankroll of $100, place $48 to win on Verrazano, $5 exacta boxes of Verrazano with Orb, Revolutionary, Overanalyze and Normandy Invasion and $2 exactas Verrazano over Java's War, Palace Malice, Mylute, Charming Kitten, Black Onyx and Golden Soul.
THE JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"
1) Verrazano - Undefeated star is the one to beat.
2) Orb - Must not be too far back as pace will be slow.
3) Revolutionary - Same could be said for son of War Pass.
4) Overanalyze - Pletcher colt will be slightly overlooked.
5) Normandy Invasion - Has been working well in Louisville.
6) Java's War - Might be at the mercy of the early pace.
7) Palace Malice - Needs best effort to get the roses.
8) Mylute - Talented but does not have killer instinct.
9) Goldencents - Distance the main question for this colt.
10) Itsmyluckyday - Will be a factor for the first mile.
11) Vyjack - Solid five-furlong work late last week.
12) Charming Kitten - Ran as well as No. 6 in Blue Grass.
Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Defections from the Kentucky Derby by two of trainer Bob Baffert's 3-year-olds could open the door for another of Todd Pletcher's Kentucky Derby hopefuls.
On Tuesday, Baffert notified Churchill Downs that Super Ninety Nine and Den's Legacy will not be entered in the Run for the Roses on May 4. That puts Lexington Stakes winner Winning Cause into the top 20 on the Kentucky Derby points list.
"We're going to see how he trains this week and I'm considering breezing him on Sunday," Pletcher said about entering the Alto Racing 3-year-old. "We won't make any sort of decision until then."
Pletcher has Verrazano, Revolutionary, Overanalyze and Palace Malice pointed toward the Run for the Roses with Charming Kitten a possible starter based on points accumulated.
Joining Pletcher's team as a favorite for the Derby is Florida Derby winner Orb, trained by Shug McGaughey. The colt has won four straight as has Verrazano.
McGaughey is pleased with the physical development of Orb who will have Dubai World Cup winning jockey Joel Rosario in the saddle.
"He gained weight between the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby," McGaughey said. "He was a totally different horse in looks and demeanor."
Orb is owned by Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable and was training at Payson Park in Florida prior to arriving at Churchill Downs this week.
"There was not a whole lot to look at when he was at Payson (Park)," McGaughey said. "There's no lights, no grandstand and not a lot of activity. There you have deer and you can hear the cows move."
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky Derby Festival’s U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest, with five hot-air balloon events, lifts off Thursday and runs through Saturday.
Participating in the Great Balloon Race for a 28th year will be a southern Indiana man. Jerry Copas of Clarksville has flown balloons since he was a teenager. He is now president of the Kentucky Balloon Society.
Copas says in his 27 years of racing, he's never won First Place, but this year he plans on bringing home that trophy.
Copas says he sees a lot of gray hairs in those flying now and wishes the sport weren't so costly so that it could be more accessible to younger people.
The army of food vendors it takes to keep the crowd of nearly 800,00 happy is setting up along River Road in preparation of Saturday's Kentucky Derby Festival kick-off event.
Vendors we talked to said they still expect to see big crowds and long lines at their booths and most say that coffee and hot chocolate will be the big sellers of the day. Others are banking on their hot food selections to carry the day.
Along with the vendors on River Road, the Kentucky Derby Festival's Fest-a-Ville will be open at 7:30 though the fireworks show.
Photos: Will Clark, NewsRadio 84 WHAS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Despite the absence of active military planes, Thunder Over Louisville organizers are promising an exciting air show on Saturday.
The federal sequester grounded the popular fighter jets that have flown in past air shows.
Civilian planes will mostly fill the skies this year. They include demo and aerobatic teams, such as Lima Lima.
UPS will fly one of its 767 jets over the river.
There will be some vintage and retired military aircraft in the show. The German Air Force is bringing a large cargo plane to town.
The air show begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Photo: Lima Lima Flight Team
Lexington, KY (Sports Network) - Eleven 3-year-olds, including one filly, have been entered in Saturday's $200,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in a final attempt to gain entry into next month's Kentucky Derby.
Won last year by 70-1 longshot All Squared Away, the 1 1/16-mile Lexington is the next to last chance to add points in the Kentucky Derby points system. The winner receives 20 points followed by 8, 4 and 2 for the next three finishers. The same amount of points will be available in next week's Derby Trial.
Topping the field is trainer Ken McPeek's filly Pure Fun. Owned by Magdalena Racing, the filly will start from the far outside post with Rosie Napravnik riding. Last week, McPeek sent out Java's War to win the Blue Grass Stakes.
Pure Fun can earn points from the Lexington for a spot in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3. She currently has 20 points.
The filly is coming off a third in the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park on March 23 when she was the 4-5 favorite.
"It looked like she was fighting the track a little the last quarter of a mile," McPeek said after the race. "It's her first start of the year and we thought she had a chance to get beat today. But she's a good filly and it's a step in the right direction."
Of her three wins in nine starts, Pure Fun's lone stakes victory came in last December's Hollywood Starlet. The filly has banked $352,899.
Shipping in from Maryland will be Where's Dominic, trained by Michael Trombetta for R.D.M. Racing Stable. The colt will break from post 5 with Edgar Prado in the saddle.
Where's Dominic finished on the board in two stakes this year at Laurel Park. On Feb 9, he was second to Dynamic Strike in the Miracle Wood Stakes and fourth behind Mr Palmer in the track's Private Terms Stakes on March 9.
Where's Dominic has earned $69.860 with two wins in five starts.
Here is the full field in post position order for the Lexington: Winning Cause, Julien Leparoux; Pick of the Litter, Jesus Castanon; River Rocks, James Graham; Hip Four Sixtynine, Gabriel Saez; Where's Dominic, Edgar Prado; Sunbean, Gary Stevens; Examen, Garrett Gomez; Cerro, Joel Rosario; Wings of Fortune, Calvin Borel; General Election, Joe Rocco Jr. and Pure Fun, Rosie Napravnik.
Post-time for the 32nd Lexington Stakes will be approximately 5:15 p.m. (ET).
Charismatic followed his 1999 Lexington victory with wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
LOUISVILLE, Ky-- Metro Police have several plans in place to make Saturday's Thunder Over Louisville safe and fun for all, despite this week's tragedy in Boston. Some of them are similar to other years, especially when it comes to getting in and out of downtown.
Traffic Commander Joe Seelye says one difference will be that the 3rd Street ramp to downtown from I-64 won't close as early tonight (Friday) as usual, due to the Jason Aldean concert at the KFC Yum Center. He says that'll be held off until about 10:00.
Much of the traffic plan will be the same as in years past. If you want to check your family's route in advance, which Seelye says is a good idea, all the maps of closures and express routes are available on the LMPD website, which you can get to right here. Also as in past years, he urges everyone to be patient leaving... it's going to be slow no matter what.
Chief Steve Conrad says LMPD understands you need a lot of gear to essentially move your family downtown for the day. He urges everyone to keep track of your own things, so someone else won't worry that your cooler or diaper bag is a "suspicious package."
Get a better look at how to navigate in and out of Thunder here