Well folks, it’s finally here. Kentucky Derby week has arrived! It seems like centuries have past since last year’s Derby and the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the so called “greatest 2 minutes in sports” – is fast upon us.
I’ll be chiming in with updates, thoughts, and random musings whenever possible this week as the suspense continues to build (hopefully to a fever pitch) in anticipation of the run for the roses. There’s a lot happening on the Derby front as the horses arrive at Churchill and begin their final preparations for the biggest race of their lives.
Post positions are scheduled to be drawn on the afternoon of Wednesday (April 30th). We’ll take a look at the post position draw on Wednesday night and see how it impacts the likely contenders. For now, here are some of the headlines for Monday:
- Proud Spell is being pointed to the Kentucky Oaks rather than the Kentucky Derby. After much deliberation, Larry Jones is going to enter his prized filly for a run against the girls rather than a battle of the sexes with the boys.
- Eight Belles, however, looks like she may still wind up facing the boys in the Derby. Jones mentioned that he likes her chances considering how the top colts all appear vulnerable. He also thinks she can “beat up” the boys due to her size and abilities she’s shown in his barn all year. She’s being entered in both the Oaks and the Derby, and the post position draw for the Derby on Wednesday will likely decide where she goes. Ideally, Jones would love to have a chance to sweep both the Oaks and the Derby. We’ll see how this plays out. She’s a major player in my opinion if she runs in the Derby on Saturday.
- Colonel John is starting to show signs that he likes the dirt at Churchill. Since arriving at Churchill, the son of Tiznow and likely 2nd betting choice in the Derby has taken some time to find his footing. His first couple of gallops around the track had folks suggesting he looked a bit timid or unsure of himself. On Sunday the Colonel put those notions to rest with a very impressive 5 furlong workout in 57.45, galloping out to 6 furlongs in 1:11.20. If Sunday’s workout is any indication, it looks like the Colonel is ready to bring a big effort this weekend.
- Smooth Air is back on track after a brief temperature scare late last week. Trainer Bernie Stutts has gotten the colts temperature back down to normal and the colt is both eating well and returning to the track as of Sunday after missing his Friday and Saturday workouts.
- Adriano worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.80, galloping out to 6 furlongs in 1:14.40 for trainer Graham Motion. Edgar Prado will be aboard on Saturday for the Derby. The colt still faces questions about how well he’ll race over the dirt after being more of a turf/synthetic specialist thus far in his career.
- Ramon Dominguez will take the reins on Monba for trainer Todd Pletcher in Saturday’s Derby. Dominguez gets the call due to Prado’s defection to Adriano. Ironically, Dominguez rode Adriano 4 times in the past, but Adriano’s connections chose Prado for the Derby. Rene Douglass, who has ridden Monba several times, will likely take the mount on Z Humor instead.
- Court Vision continues to train well for Bill Mott. The colt went 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 and galloped out to 6 furlongs in 1:14 on Sunday. After winning two Stakes as a 2-year-old, Court Vision has yet to turn in a signature performance as a 3 year-old. He has a pair of 3rd place finishes in the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial thus far on his resume for 2008. Garrett Gomez will be riding Court Vision in Saturday’s Derby.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned as I’ll share whatever information I can with you throughout the week. I’m even toying with sharing my wife’s amazing homemade barbecue sauce recipe – as (weather permitting) it would be a sin not to grill out this Saturday while playing the Churchill under-card.