A quiet week on the path to Louisville last week as there were no significant Derby preps to speak of. This week, however, things start to get back on track. I'll get to the preps later on but first, let's take care of a couple of housekeeping matters:
- Last week a reader brought up the possibility of running a Road to the Roses league for people reading here at And Down The Stretch They Come. If you have never played Road to the Roses, it's essentially a fantasy-style game where players select jockeys, trainers, and horses, and then accumulate points based on their performance in prep races and the Kentucky Derby. Whichever player accumulates the most points, wins.
Road to the Roses recently began the option of a "Pay to Play" feature, in addition to their free game. I've always just played the free game (since my stable seems to always stink!) and that's what I intend to go with this time.
The 2010 version of Road to the Roses has not yet gone active, but when it does I am going to set up a league for And Down The Stretch They Come and post the relevant details on the site. Sign up, join in, and see if you can build a winning stable.
- If you are a member of Brisnet.com, you can now access their Derby Contender past performances from their website. The PPs are about 100 pages long and include pretty much every horse you can think of that could possibly be a Derby contender.
Follow this link to the PPs, which are listed un "Ky Derby Only". These are extremely helpful for player that wants to get a head start thinking about what 15 horses they are going to select in the Road to the Roses competition. They are also a nice aid if you are thinking about making a Derby Futures wager and are looking for that "under the radar" possibility.
Only one "prep" race took place last weekend, although the race really isn't considered a significant step on the road to the Derby. The WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park saw Kera's Kitten, a three year old son of Kitten's Joy out of a Dixieland Band mare, roll to a wire-to-wire victory over a field of twelve.
By the way, how prolific has Kitten's Joy been lately? He ranked as the #5 first crop sire in 2009 and he's gotten off to a great start here in 2010. It seems like every three year old race in the country has at least one of his offspring in the field.
Kera's Kitchen earned a Beyer of 79 for his win in the WEBN Stakes.
Here's the rest of the non-racing news from the past week:
- Winslow Homer and Piscitelli were both taken off of the Triple Crown trail due to minor injuries. It's difficult to describe Piscitelli as a "major contender" for the Derby; he always seemed like a possible pace horse, at most. However, Winslow Homer certainly had the potential to be player following his win the Holy Bull.
Both horses are expected to resume training in approximately 90 days.
- Trainer D. Wayne Lukas thinks people shouldn't forget about the very talented Dublin when compiling their contender lists. Dublin, as you may recall, was the winner of the G1-Hopeful at Saratoga in early September before going off-form and eventually undergoing surgery to improve the colt's breathing.
Dublin will train and prep for the Derby at Oaklawn Park and recorded a bullet work at six furlongs over the main track on Tuesday morning.
- Early Derby favorite, Lookin At Lucky, has missed a bunch of training time in Southern California due to bad weather and a minor illness. Trainer Bob Baffert told the Daily Racing Form that the colt is back in training and that he is pointing the colt for a March return to the races.
Thee Derby preps are scheduled to run over the weekend - two are traditional prep races while the third is something out of the ordinary. Saturday features the G2-Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct. Both races will be run at 1 1/16 miles.
On Sunday, Gulfstream Park will present the G3-Hallandale Beach Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Since this race is on the turf it's unlikely that the Hallandale Beach will produce any real Derby contenders. However, because it is a graded stake for three year old colts, horses running in this race have the opportunity to accrue those all important graded earnings that determine whether or not a horse gets into the starting gate in Louisville. If a colt were to turn in a big performance in the Hallandale Beach Stakes and then decide to get on the Derby path, the earnings from this race could certainly help them break into the starting gate in May.
I'll have a preview of each of these prep races once the entries are finalized later on this week.
Top 10 Contenders
Still too early to generate any type of decent Top 10 although I think after this weekend and the next we can start to at least sketch some broad strokes.