The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

“CHAMPIONSHIP” PREPS

Edited Churchill Downs Release – Derby fans will be on the edge of their seats Saturday afternoon as a trio of Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series events will give a more clear picture of the field for “America’s Greatest Race.”

          Saturday’s Championship Series action will start at 4:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) with the $750,000 Wood Memorial (Grade II) at Aqueduct featuring the duo of undefeated 3-year-old graded stakes winners Early Voting and Morello. A half-hour later, Grade II winner Smile Happy will face 11 rivals in the $1 million Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland. The action will close at approximately 5:30 p.m. when the speedy two-time Grade II winner Forbidden Kingdom takes on runaway 15-length Robert B. Lewis (GIII) champ Messier in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (GI).

          All three races will award the top four finishers points on a 100-40-20-10 scale toward qualification to the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) on Saturday, May 7.

          Fans can wager on all three races on www.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The trio of stakes will be broadcast on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m.

SMILE HAPPY TABBED AS 9-5 FAVORITE IN $1 MILLION BLUE GRASS – Lucky Seven Stable’s $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) winner Smile Happy was made the early 9-5 favorite against 11 rivals as he attempts to stamp himself as one of the top choices for this year’s Kentucky Derby (GI) in Saturday’s $1 million Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland.

          The 98th running of the Blue Grass will go as Race 9 of 11 at 5:15 p.m. First post is 12:30 p.m. The Blue Grass will be televised on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. and fans can wager on www.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The Blue Grass will award a total of 170 qualifying points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale toward a spot in the starting gate in the Run for the Roses.

          Smile Happy, trained by Kenny McPeek, made his 3-year-old debut in the $400,000 Risen Star (GII) at Fair Grounds where he closed from five lengths off the early pace to finish second behind top Kentucky Derby contender Epicenter. Smile Happy will be ridden by Corey Lanerie, who was aboard the colt for his victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

          Another top contender in the Blue Grass is Jeff Drown’s Risen Star third-place finisher Zandon. Trained by Chad Brown, Zandon finished a half-length behind Smile Happy in the Risen Star after encountering trouble at the start. The son of Upstart will be ridden by Flavien Prat from post 4.

          Here’s the complete field for the Blue Grass from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Commandperformance (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Peltcher, 12-1); Fenwick (Paco Lopez, Kevin McKathan, 20-1); Trademark (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver, 30-1); Zandon (Prat, Brown, 5-2); Volcanic (Adam Beschizza, Mark Casse, 20-1); Emmanuel (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher, 5-1); Golden Glider (Ricardo Santana Jr., Mark Casse, 20-1); Ethereal Road (Luis Contreras, D. Wayne Lukas, 15-1); Rattle N Roll (Brian Hernandez Jr., McPeek, 8-1); Smile Happy (Lanerie, McPeek, 9-5); and Blackadder (Florent Geroux, Rodolphe Brisset, 20-1); Grantham (Tyler Gaffalione, Mike Maker, 15-1).

SPEEDY FORBIDDEN KINGDOM FACES MESSIER IN SANTA ANITA DERBY – MyRaceHorse and Spendthrift Farm’s speedy two-time Grade II winner Forbidden Kingdom is set to battle 15-length Robert B. Lewis (GIII) champ Messier in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (GI).

          The 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby will go as Race 6 of 12 with a post time of 5:30 p.m. The Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series race will award the top four finishing horses points on a 100-40-20-10 scale towards a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.

          Forbidden Kingdom, trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, drew post No. 4 for the Santa Anita Derby. The son of American Pharoah won his last two starts, the $200,000 San Vicente (GII) and $400,000 San Felipe (GII), in front-running fashion. The chestnut colt will be ridden by Juan Hernandez at morning line odds of 6-5.

          Drawn one post to his outside is SF RacingStarling RacingMadaket StablesRobert MastersonJay SchoenfarberWaves Edge CapitalCatherine DonovanGolconda Stable and Siena Farm’s $200,000 Robert B. Lewis winner Messier. Now trained by Tim Yakteen, Messier became one of Southern California’s top 3-year-old prospects as a juvenile when he won the $100,000 Bob Hope (GIII) at Del Mar and followed that with a one-length runner-up finish to Slow Down Andy in the $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (GII). The Empire Maker colt dominated his 3-year-old bow in the Robert B. Lewis. Messier will be ridden by John Velazquez and was made the even-money morning line favorite by oddsmaker Jon White.

          Here’s the complete field for the Santa Anita Derby in order of post positon (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Happy Jack (Abel Cedillo, Doug O’Neill, 20-1); Armagnac (Drayden VanDyke, Yakteen, 20-1); Forbidden Kingdom (Hernandez, Mandella, 6-5); Messier (Velazquez, Yakteen, even); Win the Day (Umberto Rispoli, O’Neill, 20-1); and Taiba (Mike Smith, Yakteen, 4-1).

          Fans can wager on the Santa Anita Derby at www.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The race will be shown NBC as part of a 90-minute broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. which also features the $1 million Blue Grass and $750,000 Wood Memorial.

UNDEFEATED GRADED STAKES WINNERS EARLY VOTING, MORELLO CLASH IN GRADE II WOOD MEMORIAL – Undefeated graded stakes winning colts Early Voting and Morello will clash against six other 3-year-old rivals in Saturday’s $750,000 Wood Memorial (Grade II) at Aqueduct.

          The 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial, which offers points on a 100-40-20-10 scale towards the Kentucky Derby (GI), will go as Race 8 of 11 with a post time of 4:45 p.m.

          Klaravich Stables’ Early Voting, who is undefeated in two starts, drew post No. 3 in the Wood Memorial. Trained by Chad Brown, Early Voting was a front-running 4 ½-length winner of the $250,000 Withers (GIII) in early February. A son of former Horse of the Year Gun Runner, Early Voting will attempt to give New York-based Brown his first victory in the Wood Memorial.

          “He went first time around two turns and he passed the test well,” Brown said. “He definitely gained experience and he appears to be training well. He prefers to be forwardly placed, so hopefully he’ll be there again.”

          Early Voting will be ridden by 2019 Wood Memorial-winning jockey Jose Ortiz.

          Diamond T RacingBlue Lion Thoroughbreds and Craig Taylor’s $300,000 Gotham (GIII) winner Morello will put his unbeaten streak on the line Saturday from post 5. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Morello has steadily progressed in distance since his six-furlong debut in late November at Aqueduct. In his next start, the son of Classic Empire won the $100,000 Jimmy Winkfield at seven furlongs before winning the one-mile Gotham. Morello will once again be ridden by Jose Lezcano.

          Here’s the field for the Wood Memorial from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Mo Donegal (Joel Rosario, Todd Pletcher); Golden Code (Kendrick Carmouche, Pletcher); Early Voting (Ortiz, Brown); Long Term (Javier Castellano, Pletcher); Morello (Lezcano, Asmussen); Skippylongstocking (Junior Alvarado, Saffie Joseph Jr.); and A. P.’s Secret (Manny Franco, Joseph); Barese (Dylan Davis, Mike Maker).

          Fans can wager on the Wood Memorial at www.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The Wood Memorial will be the opening race broadcast on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. The broadcast will also feature the $1 million Blue Grass and $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.

CYBERKNIFE, WHITE ABARRIO, TIZ THE BOMB VAULT INTO DERBY CONTENTION – Following Saturday’s trio of Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series races, Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Cyberknife, Florida Derby (GI) winner White Abarrio and Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) winner Tiz the Bomb are all headed to the first Saturday in May.

Facebook Share
Twitter Share
LinkedIn Share
Email
Print

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.