Bet the Kentucky Derby preps: Derby dreams abound in Florida, Louisiana & UAE

March 29, 2013

​TORONTO, March 29 – The road to the Kentucky Derby, to be held May 4 at Churchill Downs, continues on Saturday with the Grade 2, $2-million UAE Derby, at Meydan; the Grade 1, $1-million Florida Derby, at Gulfstream Park; and the Grade 2, $1-million Louisiana Derby, at Fair Grounds.

Racing fans can watch and wager on the UAE Derby (10:25 a.m. EST), Florida Derby (6:19 p.m EST) and Louisiana Derby (6:42 p.m. EST) via HorsePlayerInteractive.
There are big points up for grabs this weekend with a trio of Derby preps offering 100 points to the winner and, almost certainly, a spot in the starting gate on the First Saturday In May.
Are You Kidding Me (15-1), trained by Woodbine legend Roger Attfield, is a latecomer to the Kentucky Derby trail. The bay colt will leave from Post 9 in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile test.
“The owners are interested to see what kind of horse he is, so we’re going to put him in there and see what he shows us,” said Attfield.
Owned by his breeders Ron Kirk, John Bates, Mike Riordan, Aaron Sones et al, Are You Kidding Me broke his maiden sprinting on the Woodbine ‘Poly’ in July and followed that score up with a half-length win on the turf over Breeders’ Cup-bound Nancy O.
Are You Kidding Me, out of Sweet Awakening, a half-sister to Grade 2 Illinois Derby winner Recapturetheglory, then tried his luck in a pair of graded events, finishing second in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes, on the E.P Taylor Turf Course; and fifth, defeated less than three lengths, in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity, at Keeneland.
In the Keeneland race, Are You Kidding Me found himself without racing room in a solid field that included Java’s War and Dynamic Sky – – who finished second and fourth, respectively, behind Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby.
“He ran a very good race at Keeneland. He got into a little bit of trouble there and didn’t get loose until quite late. It was a very positive race, I thought,” noted Attfield.
To launch his three-year-old campaign, Attfield entered the Kentucky-bred son of Run Away and Hide in Gulfstream’s Grade 2 Swale Stakes (March 2), but scratched the colt after drawing post 12.
“I had him entered in the Swale, which is only seven-eighths, but he had a bad post that day and we decided to come out of there,” recalled Attfield. “We went over to Tampa in an allowance race and he ran a very good race there, beaten in a photograph, but it was a good race.”
That comeback race, a one-mile turf allowance, saw Are You Kidding Me finish a closing second, defeated just a nose, to Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Noble Tune​.
On Saturday, Are You Kidding Me will make his first dirt start in the 1 1/8-mile test, while also looking to pick up his first points in the new Kentucky Derby points system.
Attfield believes the colt will relish the added distance.
“I think he’ll be fine. The way he’s trained, he certainly seems like he will be,” offered Attfield. “It’s a really strong field and it’ll give us a really good idea of what direction we should go in from there.”
Attfield added that Are You Kidding Me is training well over the dirt at Payson Park, and is cautiously optimistic the bay can duplicate his morning effort in the afternoon.
“He trains really well over it,” started Attfield. “We worked him the other day behind a horse and got him into quite a bit of dirt…as much as one horse can make, which is considerably different from a race. It didn’t seem to bother him and we’re looking forward to seeing what he shows.”
If Are You Kidding Me is to join the growing list of Kentucky Derby contenders, he will have to better last year’s two-year-old champion, Shanghai Bobby, as well as Grade 3 Holy Bull winner Itsmyluckyday and Fountain of Youth champ, Orb.
“If he doesn’t run a really creditable race, it would be silly to think of any Derby ideas or anything else,” said Attfield. “I think he’s going to be a nice horse down the road for sure.”
Let’s take a quick look at some of the main contenders in the Florida Derby:
Shanghai Bobby (5-2): Speedy juvenile champ has drawn the rail which means jockey Rosie Napravnik will likely have to put the Harlan’s Holiday colt into the race early, allowing rival Itsmyluckyday (Post 3), who provided ‘Bobby’ his only defeat in January’s Grade 3 Holy Bull, to take up a comfortable stalking position.
With 24 points to his name in the Derby points standings (see below), Shanghai Bobby needs a result here and while front-runners are often victorious at Gulfstream, a mile and an eighth might be the Todd Pletcher colt’s undoing.
Itsmyluckyday (2-1): Lawyer Ron colt is a two-for-two on the main track at Gulfstream with back-to-back 100+ Beyer Speed Figures. Trained by Edward Plesa, Jr., Itsmyluckyday put his name in the Derby picture with a 6 ¾-length score in the Gulfstream Park Derby, and confirmed his star status by taking down Shanghai Bobby in the Holy Bull.
He’s posted a pair bullet works at Calder training up to this event and the race sets up well for him and jockey Elvis Trujillo, especially if Merit Man can burn ‘Bobby’ out on the front end.
With only 10 points to his name, Itsmyluckyday needs to finish first (100 points) or second (40 points) to guarantee a spot in the Derby starting gate.
Orb (3-1): With 50 points to his name thanks to a win in the Fountain of Youth, this Shug McGuaghey colt already has enough points to make the Derby gate.
Orb raced against a slew of big names early on as a juvenile including Violence and Vyjack, before finally taking his maiden in November at Aqueduct when stretched out to a mile.
A son of Malibu Moon, Orb won his three-year-old debut closing into a slow pace in an optional claimer. Orb continued his winning ways last out, once again beating the Gulfstream front-runner bias, this time closing into a considerably quicker pace.
Orb will relish the distance, no question, and he’ll be the one the rest fear in the final sixteenth.
Indy’s Illusion (20-1): A homebred for Charles Fipke, Indy Illusion closed to be third in the above-mentioned optional claimer versus Orb. Last time out, the son of A.P.Indy, trained by Barclay Tagg to be ridden by Rajiv Maragh, missed by a neck to well-regarded Mark Casse colt Gunderman. Given that he’s proven at the distance, Indy’s Illusion might provide a bit of excitement in vertical wagers.
SELECTIONS:
1. Orb
2. Itsmyluckyday
3. Indy’s Illusion
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Racing fans will want to be up early on Saturday morning as HPI offers wagering on the Dubai World Cup card starting from 9 a.m. EST.
The Daily Racing Form’s Marcus Hersh has been a strong presence from Dubai offering up an excellent preview, ‘Dubai World Cup looks ready for U.S. to reclaim’, while also tweeting out a great number of valuable insights for handicappers trying to get a handle on the lucrative card.
Follow Marcus Hersh on Twitter @DRFHersh.
The UAE Derby boasts a 12-horse field with He’s Had Enough (8-1), owned by Canadian J. Paul Reddam, a familiar face for North American bettors. Mario Gutierrez gets the call on the Tapit colt.
El Camino Real Derby champ Dice Flavor (5-1) is the other U.S-based horse in the field.
That duo will take on a strong international field of contenders from Italy, UAE, Great Britain, Ireland and Japan.
Secret Number (3-1), a son of Raven’s Pass owned by Godolphin, is the lukewarm morning-line favourite.
Excellent analysis of the Dubai World Cup card is also available at Dubai Race Night, with further coverage available on Twitter from Pat Cummings @DubaiRaceNight.
The card is headlined by the $10-million Dubai World Cup which features North American stars Animal Kingdom, Royal Delta and Dullahan taking on top international runners such as Hunter’s Light and Red Cadeaux.
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The final Derby prep of the day is the Grade 2, $1-million dollar Louisiana Derby as Withers Stakes winner Revolutionary squares off against Risen Star runner-ups Code West and Palice Malice.
Revolutionary (3-1), trained by Todd Pletcher and to be ridden by Javier Castellano, was a dramatic winner of the Withers with an exhilarating stretch run, through traffic, to win by a neck.
Code West (9-2, Baffert/Garcia) and Palice Malice (5-1, Pletcher/Prado) completed the triactor behind long shot Ivestruckanerve in the Risen Star.
Departing (8-1, Stall/Hernandez) and Ground Transport (20-1, Stidham/Guidry) might offer bettors a little value in what seems a wide-open affair.
Departing, a son of War Front, is undefeated in three starts earning a career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure last time out winning Sam Houston’s Texas Heritage Stakes.
Ground Transport, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, lost his debut when sprinting against Departing. However, since taking his game to two-turn events, the dark bay colt has reeled off a pair of wins at Fair Grounds. While his top Beyer Figure (80), is lower than his more heralded rivals, he appears to be training up a storm in the morning with a bullet-riddled work tab.
And Titletown Five (8-1) looms a great price prospect for the dangerous jockey/trainer combo of Jon Court and D. Wayne Lukas. Titletown Five battled Violence and Orb in a loaded maiden race at Saratoga last August, finishing second. Titletown Five broke his maiden by nine lengths at Churchill Downs in October and was a game second at Oaklawn in his three-year-old debut. A son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, Titletown Five just might relish stretching out for the first time.
Racing fans can watch and wager on all of Saturday’s great racing via HorsePlayer Interactive.
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CURRENT KENTUCKY DERBY POINT STANDINGS

Rank

Horse

Trainer

Points

1

Will Take Charge

D. Wayne Lukas

60

2

Vyjack

Rudy Rodriguez

50

3

Govenor Charlie

Bob Baffert

50

4

Black Onyx

Kelly Breen

50

5

Orb

Shug McGaughey III

50

6

Verrazano

Todd Pletcher

50

7

Hear The Ghost

Jerry Hollendorfer

50

8

Oxbow

D. Wayne Lukas

36

9

Uncaptured

Mark Casse

30

10

Flashback

Bob Baffert

30

11

Goldencents

Doug O’Neill

29

12

Shanghai Bobby

Todd Pletcher

24

13

Java’s War

Ken McPeek

21

14

Den’s Legacy

Bob Baffert

20

15

Falling Sky

John Terranova II

20

16

West Hills Giant

John Terranova II

20

17

Code West

Bob Baffert

20

18

Dynamic Sky

Mark Casse

13

19

Speak Logistics

Eddie Plesa, Jr.

11

20

Itsmyluckyday

Eddie Plesa, Jr.

10

21

Overanalyze

Todd Pletcher

10

22

Super Ninety Nine

Bob Baffert

10

23

Power Broker

Bob Baffert

10

24

Revolutionary

Todd Pletcher

10

25

Abraham

Todd Pletcher

10

t-26

Elnaawi

Kiaran McLaughlin

10

t-26

Palace Malice

Todd Pletcher

10

SECOND ROUND OF CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
date race track points (1-2-3-4)
March 30 Florida Derby Gulfstream Park 100-40-20-10
March 30 UAE Derby Meydan (Dubai) 100-40-20-10
March 30 Louisiana Derby Fair Grounds 100-40-20-10
April 6 Wood Memorial Aqueduct 100-40-20-10
April 6 Santa Anita Derby Santa Anita 100-40-20-10
April 13 Arkansas Derby Oaklawn Park 100-40-20-10
April 13 Blue Grass Keeneland 100-40-20-10
“WILD CARD” RACES
date race track points (1-2-3-4)
April 20 Lexington Keeneland 20-8-4-2
April 27 Derby Trial Churchill Downs 20-8-4-2
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