OTB Race Previews
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OffTrackBetting.com - The most prestigious race on North American soil - the G1 Kentucky Derby will be run this Saturday, May 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Some of the best three year olds in the world will take to Churchill Downs' dirt track and race 1 1/4 miles searching for the winner's share of the $2 million purse and the honor of being called a Derby Champion.
A full field of 20 plus two Alternate Entries have been confirmed for the Kentucky Derby - race 12 on Churchill Downs stacked Saturday schedule. Post time is 6:46 PM. Here is a look at the top 20 qualifiers from the 39 prep races and the past performances that led them to this lucrative and prestigious G1 race.
Classic Empire 4-1 - Mark Casse trained Eclipse Award winning 2-year-old colt was very good in his first two career starts - two wins - in the G3 Bashford Manor Stakes with an impressive 105 Beyer Speed Figure July 2 and a maiden score at first asking May 4 - both results at Churchill Downs . He followed that with a very disappointing DNF as favorite after losing his rider in the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga September 5 but has bounced in a huge way with a good win in the G1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland October 8. He followed that with an impressive win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a slightly disappointing third in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream February 4 and a terrific bounce-back statement win last time out in the G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park April 15. Classic Empire now has five wins and a third place finish in seven career starts against some top fields and is expected to be strong again Saturday. He finished second in the Derby points standings with 132 and will try to keep the roll going from gate 14 with Julien Leparoux in the reins of the morning line favorite.
Always Dreaming 5-1 - Todd Pletcher trained colt has placed in all five career starts - three wins, a second and a third place finish. He enters on a terrific three race win streak - the G1 Florida Derby last time out in his stakes debut at Gulfstream April 1, an Allowance Optional Claiming here March 4 and a maiden score at Tampa Bay January 25 - all three in dominant fashion. Always Dreaming has improved every time out and looks ready for another good run here. John Velazquez gets the call on the intriguing co-second choice from post 5.
McCraken 5-1 - Ian Wilkes trained gelding has five career starts with four impressive wins and a third place finish. Last time out was that third place finish - in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 8. His wins came in the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay February 11, by 1 1/4 lengths in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes November 26, by 3 3/4 lengths in the minor Street Sense Stakes October 30 and a maiden score at first asking October 2 - the last three at Churchill Downs. McCraken has been impressive so far in his career and hopes for a third graded stakes win from post 15. Brian Hernandez Jr. has been tabbed to ride the other second choice from post 15.
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Irish War Cry 6-1 - Graham Motion trained colt will race for the sixth time Saturday having posted four wins in his five starts so far for trainer Graham Motion. Last time out was a terrific bounce back win in the G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 8 which followed his only career blemish - an almost unfathomable seventh as even-money favorite in the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park March 4. Before that he won the G2 Holy Bull Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths with a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in upset fashion over the terrific Classic Empire and Gunnevera at Gulfstream February 4 and posted wins in the restricted Marylander Stakes December 31 and a maiden score by 4 1/2 lengths at first asking November 11 - both at Laurel Park. Irish War Cry was terrific last time out, has won two of his three graded stakes starts and will try for a third from post 17 with Rajiv Maragh in the saddle.
Girvin 15-1 - Joe Sharp trained colt led the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings with 150 points. He has four career starts with three wins and a second place finish - all at Fair Grounds. Last time out was his biggest win to date - the G2 Louisiana Derby April 1 after a good win in the G2 Risen Star Stakes February 25, an OK second in his stakes debut - the minor Keith Gee Memorial Overnight Stakes February 4 and an impressive maiden score at first asking in December. Girvin has been impressive indeed and will try to continue that trend from post 7. Mile Smith gets the call.
Gunnevera 15-1 - has four wins and two seconds and a third place finish in nine career starts for trainer Antonio Sano. Last time out was a slightly disappointing third in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream April 1 which followed a superb victory on that track in the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes March 4, a respectable second behind Irish War Cry and ahead of Classic Empire in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream February 4 and another a terrific win by 5 3/4 lengths in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot November 19. He's also had a fifth behind the terrific Classic Empire among others in the G1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland October 8 and a good eye-opening win with a 97 Beyer Speed Figure in the G2 Saratoga Special August 14. Gunnevera has won three of his last six starts (all three graded stakes) and has hit the board in his last four overall against some very good competition. Javier Castellano gets the call from post 11.
Gormley 15-1 - John Shirreffs trained colt will hit the track for the seventh time Saturday. His first start resulted in a nice win by 4 1/4 lengths at Del Mar September 4 and his second was a terrific wire-to-wire three length win in the G1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita October 1. He enters off another good win in the G1 Santa Anita Derby April 8 which followed a somewhat disappointing fourth in the G2 San Felipe Stakes on that track March 11 and another impressive win - in the G3 Sham Stakes - a race he beat American Anthem and recorded a 102 Beyer Speed Figure at Santa Anita January 7. He also had a seventh as third choice in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November. Gormley has now won four of his six career starts but has failed to fire at times as well. He was third in the Derby points race with 125 but seems a tad difficult to trust considering his up-and-down lead-up to this race. Victor Espinoza has the mount from gate 18.
Hence 15-1 - Steve Asmussen trained colt has two wins, a second and a third place finish in his six career starts. He made his graded stakes debut last time out and scored a nice upset win in the G3 Sunland Derby March 26 after finishing a disappointing seventh in the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park February 20 posting a maiden score on that track January 16 and a second, a third and a seventh respectively in MSW races to start his career. Hence has been just OK so far in his career and hopes to build on a career best effort from gate 8 with Florent Geroux aboard.
Tapwrit 20-1 - has three wins and a second place finish in six career starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. He debuted with a tenth and was good in his next four starts - a maiden score at Gulfstream Park West October 6 was followed by a nice win in his stakes debut- the $75,000 Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park December 10, a quality second behind McCracken at 9-1 odds in the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay February 11 and a terrific win over McCraken in the Tampa Bay Derby March 11. Tapwrit took a slight step back last time out however - a fifth in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 8. He had been on a serious upward trajectory this past winter and now searches for a bounce back performance with Jose Ortiz guiding him from gate 16.
Irap 20-1 - Doug O'Neill trained colt has one win, three seconds and a third place finish in his eight career starts. He started his career with a third and a fourth respectively in a pair of MSW races and went on to a respectable runner-up finish in the G1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity December 10. He enters off a career-best effort - a terrific win in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 8 after a slightly disappointing fourth in the G3 Sunland Derby March 26 and consecutive runner-up finishes - behind Conquest Mo Money in the minor Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park February 26 and the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita February 4. He also had a fourth after tiring as 9-5 favorite in a MSW at Santa Anita December 31. Irap has been decent so far and showed last time out against a very good field that he could contend from post 9. Mario Gutierrez is scheduled to ride.
Thunder Snow 20-1 - Irish bred colt was just OK at home for trainer Saeed bin Suroor but caught fire once arriving in the UAE in October. He had three starts at Meydan and three nice wins including the Group 2 UAE Derby last time out March 25, the Group 3 UAE Guineas in February and the Group 1 Criterium International in October. Winners of the UEA Derby traditionally don't do all that well in the Run for the Roses - hopes are that this entry will be different. Christophe Soumillion has been tabbed to ride from gate 2.
Practical Joke 20-1 - Chad Brown trained colt has six career starts with three good wins, two seconds and a third place finish. He won by five lengths as favorite in a six furlong maiden race at Saratoga August 6, he won the G1 Hopeful Stakes by a game neck on that track September 5 and posted victory in the G1 Champagne Stakes at Churchill Downs October 8. He enters on the heels of consecutive runner-up finishes - the G2 Blue Grass Stakes last time out at Keeneland April 8 and the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park March 4 which followed a decent third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile November 5. Practical Joke has been a factor in every race so far in his career and will be looking to snap a three race losing streak on the biggest stage Saturday. Joel Rosario rides from post 19.
J Boys Echo 20-1 - will hit the track for the seventh time for trainer Dale Romans having posted two wins, a second and a third place finish so far. He stepped into stakes company for the first time four starts back and finished fourth in the G3 $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot November 19 and followed that with third in the G3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct February 4 and a terrific 3 1/2 length win with a 104 Beyer Speed Figure in the G3 Gotham Stakes on that track March 4. Last time out was a slight step back - a fourth in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 8. He started his career with an impressive 5 1/2 length maiden score here October 2 and a second in his debut - at Churchill Downs October 2. J Boys Echo has been OK so far in his career and will be out to gain a little consistency Saturday. Luis Saez has been tabbed to ride from post 13.
Lookin at Lee 20-1 - impressive Steve Asmussen trained colt finished fifth in his debut but has looked decent in eight starts since. Last time out was a third in the G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park April 15 which followed a sixth in the G2 Rebel Stakes on that track March 18, another third in the G3 Southwest Stakes there February 20 and a fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November. He also posted a respectable second in the G1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland October 8, another second in the G3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs September 17, a good win in the minor Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes August 8 and a maiden score on that track July 22. Lookin at Lee has been competitive but looks for his first win overall since August from the rail with Corey Lanerie guiding him.
State of Honor 30-1 - Mark Casse trained colt has a win, four seconds and two third place finishes in 10 career starts. He made his graded stakes debut February 11 and finished a decent third behind McCraken and Tapwrit after fading in the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay and followed that with another respectable second in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 11. Last time out was another decent runner-up finish in the G1 Florida Derby April 1. He also posted consecutive runner-up finishes in minor stakes action this past winter - in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream January 7 and the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine November 13. Before that was a maiden score at Woodbine and three off-the-board finishes in similar races on that track this past summer. State of Honor has been good lately and will be after a first stakes score Saturday with Jose Lezcano in the saddle from gate 6.
Battle of Midway 30-1 - has placed in all four career starts for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer - two wins, a second and a third place finish - all at Santa Anita. Last time out was a respectable runner-up finish in the G1 Santa Anita Derby April 8 after one of his wins - an Allowance Optional Claiming March 9, a third in his first stakes action - the G2 San Vicente Stakes February 12 and a win at first asking - January 21. Battle of Midway has been a factor every time out and hopes to be again Saturday. Flavien Prat gets the call from post 11
Patch 30-1 - has just three career starts for trainer Todd Pletcher with one win and a pair of runner-up finishes. He enters off a respectable second in his stakes debut - the G2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds April 1 which followed a maiden score at Gulfstream February 18 and a second in his debut - January 15 also at Gulfstream Park. Patch has been OK so far and aims for a career-defining win Saturday. Tyler Gaffalione gets the call from the outside gate 20.
Untrapped 30-1 - has placed in five of six career starts for trainer Steve Asmussen - one win, three seconds and a third place finish. Last time out was a career-worst effort - a sixth in the G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park April 15 after a respectable third in the G2 Rebel Stakes on that track March 18 and consecutive seconds - the G2 Risen Star Stakes February 25 and the G3 LeComte Stakes January 21 - both at Fair Grounds. Untrapped had been competitive every time out before his hiccup last time out and hopes to bounce back from gate 4. Ricardo Santana has the mount.
Fast and Accurate 50-1 - has six career starts for trainer Michael Maker with three wins and a second place finish. He enters on a nice three race win streak - the G3 Spiral Stakes in upset fashion last time out in his graded stakes debut at Turfway Park March 25, in front-running fashion in the minor Sage of Monticello Stakes at Gulfstream Park February 20 and a Maiden Claiming at Turfway Park December 4. He failed to place in his previous two starts. Fast and Accurate has been trending upward indeed and looks to make it four straight wins Saturday with Channing Hill in the reins from post 3.
Sonneteer 50-1 - will be looking to break maiden Saturday in his eleventh career start - he has four runner-up finishes and two third in 10 starts so far. Last time out was a fourth in the G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park April 15 which followed a second in the G2 Rebel Stakes on that track March 18, a second and a third respectively in a pair of MSW races at Santa Anita and a fourth in the minor California Derby at Golden Gate in January. Sonneteer has been decent so far and hopes to finally break through Saturday with Kent Desormeaux guiding him from gate 12.
Royal Mo 20-1 - Alternate Entry has six career starts for trainer John Shirreffs with two wins. two runner-ups and a third place finish. He started his career with consecutive seconds in MSW races and then broke maiden at Del Mar by a pretty good 1 1/4 lengths November 27. Royal Mo went on to a very nice win in the G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on this track February 4 and then back to earth with a ninth place finish in the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park March 18. Last time out was an OK third in the G1 Santa Anita Derby April 8.
Master Plan 50-1 - Alternate Entry - Todd Pletcher trained colt broke maiden in his second career start and went on to a second in the minor Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream in December and a nice win in the minor OBS Championship (Colts and Geldings Division) Stakes at Ocala Training Center. He took his show to Dubai where he finished a decent third in the Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan in March.
Race 12 on Churchill Downs' Saturday card with a Post Time of 6:46 PM.
|1||Lookin At Lee||20-1||Corey Lanerie||Steven Asmussen|
|2||Thunder Snow (IRE)||20-1||Christophe Soumillon||Saeed bin Suroor|
|3||Fast and Accurate||50-1||Channing Hill||Michael Maker|
|4||Untrapped||30-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Steven Asmussen|
|5||Always Dreaming||5-1||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|6||State of Honor||30-1||Jose Lezcano||Mark Casse|
|7||Girvin||15-1||Mike Smith||Joe Sharp|
|8||Hence||15-1||Florent Geroux||Steven Asmussen|
|9||Irap||20-1||Mario Gutierrez||Doug O'Neill|
|10||Gunnevera||15-1||Javier Castellano||Antonio Sano|
|11||Battle of Midway||30-1||Flavien Prat||Jerry Hollendorfer|
|12||Sonneteer||50-1||Kent Desormeaux||J. Desormeaux|
|13||J Boys Echo||20-1||Luis Saez||Dale Romans|
|14||Classic Empire||4-1||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse|
|15||McCraken||5-1||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||Ian Wilkes|
|16||Tapwrit||20-1||Jose Ortiz||Todd Pletcher|
|17||Irish War Cry||6-1||Rajiv Maragh||H. Motion|
|18||Gormley||15-1||Victor Espinoza||John Shirreffs|
|19||Practical Joke||20-1||Joel Rosario||Chad Brown|
|20||Patch||30-1||Tyler Gaffalione||Todd Pletcher|
|AE||Royal Mo||20-1||Gary Stevens||John Shirreffs|
|AE||Master Plan||50-1||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
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