With only a few more preps remaining before the Kentucky Derby, the majority of contenders know if they are in or out for the big dance. However, a few “bubble” horses will be affected by two more preps this weekend; the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and the Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes. (The Coolmore Lexington Stakes on April 21 is typically the very last prep, and is sometimes used for one final contender to obtain a spot in the starting gate.)
The possible runners for the April 14 Arkansas Derby were announced today. Secret Circle, Bodemeister, Optimizer, and Isn’t He Clever will headline the 1 1/8 miles test at Oaklawn. Atigun, Cozzetti, Handsome Mike, Heavy Breathing, Jake Mo, Najjaar, Raconteur, Sabercat, and Stat are also under consideration for the $1 million race.
The Bluegrass Stakes is also shaping up for this weekend. Keeneland’s main race for 3-year-olds will be the final prep for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen. The popular colt, who took home the Eclipse Award for 2-Year-Old Male Champion, will face a field including Prospective, Howe Great, and Hero Of Order. The latter was a somewhat surprising addition to the cast. Several horses may or may not contest the race, but the full list of possibles also includes Adirondack King, Drill, Dullahan, Ever So Lucky, Golden Ticket, Holy Candy, Midnight Crooner, Politicallycorrect, Russian Greek, and Scatman. Raconteur and Heavy Breathing are under consideration for both the Bluegrass and the Arkansas Derby.
Several of the contenders that intend to run this weekend turned in workouts yesterday and today. Yesterday, Jake Mo went 5 furlongs in 1:00.00 breezing at Oaklawn, which ranked 1st of 2 works. Dullahan drilled a quick 5 furlongs at Keeneland, stopping the clock in a blazing :57.40 handily, which was the fastest of 33 workouts. He could be ready to fire in the Bluegrass Stakes. Drill worked 5 panels at Santa Anita yesterday in 1:00.80 handily, which was ranked 20th out of 54. Although he is considered possible for the Bluegrass, he is more likely headed for the Northern Spur Stakes. Finally, yesterday, Bodemeister worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 handily, the 14th best of 54 at the distance.
Today’s works included a rather slow workout by Daddy Nose Best who breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02.40 at Churchill Downs. This was the 14th fastest of 15 works, but was just fine as a leg-stretcher for the son of Scat Daddy. His next start will be in the Kentucky Derby. Secret Circle, the likely favorite for the Arkansas Derby this weekend, turned in a 5 furlong workout at Santa Anita, stopping the clock at 1:00.20 handily. This ranked as the 9th fastest of 19 workouts. Optimizer, who will be facing Secret Circle in Arkansas Derby, finished his preparations by working 5 furlongs at Oaklawn in 1:01.20 breezing, which ranked 2nd of 3. The son of English Channel, who was a surprising 2nd last time out in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes to Secret Circle, is in need of more earnings to ensure himself a start in the Run For The Roses. Rousing Sermon, most recently 3rd in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, turned in a nice workout at Hollywood Park, going 4 furlongs in :49.20 handily. The work was the 4th fastest of 14. It is unclear at this time if Rousing Sermon, who is currently on the bubble, will go to Louisville or not.
Check back tomorrow and everyday as we march towards the first Saturday in May!