5 Key Takeaways You Have to Know From a Spectacular Derby Prep Weekend


Tom Pedulla presents 5 key takeaways from an enormous weekend of racing motion that included 4 key Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep races: the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the $402,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park, the $300,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and the $147,500 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park.

The primary three races supplied the highest 5 finishers Derby qualifying factors on a 50-20-15-10-5 foundation. The Battaglia was value 10-4-3-2-1 qualifying factors to its prime 5 runners.

SOMETHING SPECIAL: 4 months is a very long time to be away from the races and but 2-year-old champion Forte acted as if he by no means left. He not solely received the Fountain of Youth, however he left little doubt about his superiority with a 4 ½-length romp. It was no imply feat contemplating that 10 of the final 14 Fountain of Youth winners had been making their second begins off layoffs. Of his eight opponents within the 1 1/16-mile contest, seven loved the advantage of at the least one earlier begin this season. Solely Blazing Sevens, fourth to Forte within the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, was coming off the identical layoff. He appeared to indicate the consequences of that, ending subsequent to final. “It took him a bit time to get going,” stated Joel Rosario, who rode Blazing Sevens. In distinction, Forte was there each step of the way in which for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.

STAYING PUT: Coach Tim Yakteen obtained an inflow of expertise when numerous horses that had been beneath the care of Bob Baffert had been transferred to his barn forward of the San Felipe. Baffert has been suspended by Churchill Downs on account of a collection of treatment violations, stopping his horses from incomes Derby qualifying factors. Three newcomers ran for Yakteen within the San Felipe – Fort Bragg, Hejazi and Mr Fisk. However it was Practical Move, the horse Yakteen has conditioned all alongside, that delivered within the San Felipe by 2 ½ lengths for jockey Ramon Vazquez. “He’s a really wholesome horse. He’s a phenomenally gifted horse,” Yakteen stated. “I’m amazed at how sturdy he’s and the way he has matured from a 2-year-old to a 3-year-old. The whole lot has fallen into place.”

GOTHAM UPSET: Raise Cain didn’t seem to have the credentials to be aggressive within the Gotham, a one-turn mile. He had achieved little for coach Ben Colebrook since breaking his maiden final autumn and had completed fifth within the Leonatus Stakes on Turfway Park’s Tapeta floor in his earlier begin. However he appeared to relish the sloppy, sealed monitor at Aqueduct for the Gotham and he was capable of shut into sturdy fractions to attain by 7 ½ quite stunning lengths. Increase Cain is a Violence colt by the Lemon Drop Child mare Lemon Belle. “He’s bred to go longer and if he had been to go on to the Derby, you often get lots of tempo in there,” stated Colebrook. “I feel greater than something, tempo is what he wants.” Increase Cain rewarded the devoted few with a $49 return on a $2 win wager.

ANOTHER SURPRISE: Jockey Sonny Leon shocked the world when he pulled one of many nice upsets in Kentucky Derby historical past aboard 80.80-1 Rich Strike final 12 months. He stays a person of surprises after piloting Congruent to a 3 ½-length victory within the 1 1/16-mile John Battaglia Memorial. Congruent, owned by Tami Bobo and Lugamo Racing Stable and skilled by Antonio Sano, rallied from final within the early going to pay $35 to win. Wealthy Strike ran fourth within the 2022 Battaglia. “It’s so thrilling to come back again dwelling and win this race after Wealthy Strike ran properly in it final 12 months,” Leon stated.

SWEET VICTORY: Coach Ed Moger Jr. at all times believed Stilleto Boy had a Grade 1 win in him. Now, he has the proof. The 5-year-old gelded son of Shackleford broke via on his ninth try with a slender neck victory for jockey Kent Desormeaux in opposition to Proxy within the Santa Anita Handicap Presented by Yaamava’ Resort & Casino. He additionally snapped a five-race shedding streak together with his first win since he took the Californian Stakes final April 30 at Santa Anita. It have to be famous that Stilleto Boy has usually run in opposition to the perfect of the perfect main into the Large Cap. “It’s been a well-known race in California for a very long time and it feels nice to win it,” stated Moger, 67. “There was no Flightline at present, no Knicks Go or Life Is Good, so right here we’re.”