A crowd of 157,532 converged on Churchill Downs under sunny skies and mild
temperatures for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Before the main
event, they were treated to 5 more graded stakes races, two of which are Grade
1. These races may be a preview of the Breeders' Cup World Championships
which will be held at Churchill Downs in November.
The last race before the Derby is the $454,900 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic
(G1), a 1 1/8 mile trip around the Matt Winn Turf Course for older horses.
39-1 longest shot Cool Conductor was loose on the lead most of the way,
setting easy fractions of 24.66, 48.36, 1:12.04, and 1:35.49 while as many as
2 1/2 lengths clear. Inside the 1/8 pole, 7-2 second choice English Channel
and 2-1 favorite Cacique made their late charges to the front. English Channel
and jockey Garrett Gomez got the better jump, and was able to hold off the
late-rushing Cacique to win by just 1/2 a length in a time of 1:47.15 over the
very firm course. It was 3/4 length back to 8-1 Milk it Mick in third. Full results chart from DRF
English Channel going to the winner's circle of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Jockey Garrett Gomez said, "I was very confident just before I turned (for home) and when I asked him, I've gotten to see all kinds of videos and watched him run, his heart makes three of him. He's a talented horse and he's got a huge heart." Trainer Todd Pletcher added, "We had a perfect trip. I was a little concerned, because on paper, it didn't look like there was very much speed in there. I was hoping that we could follow somebody and fortunately a couple went out there and we got the perfect trip." He said English Channel will go next in the Manhattan at Belmont Park.
The $291,000 Humana Distaff Handicap (G1), the first of three Grade 1 events
on Saturday, featured a field of six older fillies and mares sprinting 7
furlongs on the main track. 9-10 favorite Behaving Badly battled on the front
end with 14-1 shot Bending Strings through a quarter in 23.05 and a half in
45.89. The favorite had the lead at the 1/8 pole, but 4-1 third choice
Pussycat Doll and jockey Garrett Gomez was closing late from fourth along the
rail to collar the favorite with a sixteenth to go to win by just a length in
a time of 1:21.62 over the fast track. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Bending
Strings in third, while 7-2 second choice Splendid Blended had a poor start
and disappointed in sixth. Full results chart from DRF
Pussycat Doll and Garret Gomez return after winning the Humana Distaff. Jockey Garrett Gomez, winner of two Grade 1's on the afternoon, said, "She got stirred up a little today. Stirred up in the post parade. Maybe it was the big crowd. So I had to get after her some when the running came, had to get her mind where it needed to be. I hit her on the shoulder, though. Not so much behind. She responded well. She ran great and now she's a Grade I winner." Trainer Bob Baffert added, "I'm glad she won this one for Mike (Pegram). He's got himself a Grade I winner and he bred her himself."
The first stakes race on Derby Day is the $229,000 Churchill Downs Handicap
(G2) for older horses sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Battle Won was
sent off as the 5-2 favorite with Charging Indian the 3-1 second choice.
Battle Won set a brisk pace of 22.52 and 45.21 down the backstretch, but
turning for home, 10-1 shot Trickey Trevor, who had stalked the pace in third
out of trouble four wide, made his move to the front for jockey Russell Baze,
took over inside the 3/16 pole and drew away to win by 3 lengths over 7-2 With
Distinction. The running time was 1:21.68 over the fast track. Battle Won
faded to fifth while Charging Indian had nothing in the stretch and was last. Full results chart from DRF
Jockey Russell Baze and Trickey Trevor after winning the Churchill Downs Handicap. Winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said, "It looks like even a veteran horse can run a little bit differently. I wasn't real confident about that horse running with that style (from off the pace). I thought we might jump out of there and get a soft lead, but usually around here, that doesn't happen. Russell (Baze) didn't really hustle him away from there and make him go off on the lead. He could have done that, but he just rode him relaxed and laid where he wanted to."
The $115,100 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (G3) is for older fillies and
mares traveling 1 mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Wend was sent off as the
11-10 favorite off her 2 race winning streak. 10-1 shot Sis City took over the
lead right out of the gate and slowed the pace down through fractions of
24.54, 48.80, and 1:12.79 over the firm going. Turning for home, 5-1 third
choice Mirabilis, who had stalked the pace in third early while wide,
accelerated to the front and was 2 1/2 lengths clear with a furlong to go.
28-1 outsider Special Grayce made a strong late rally from ninth but was left
with too much to do, as Mirabilis prevailed by just a length in a time of
1:35.93. Wend stalked the pace in fourth the whole way but was flat through
the lane and finished fourth. Full results chart from DRF
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela celebrates his win aboard Mirabilis in the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile. Winning trainer Bobby Frankel said, "Patrick (Valenzuela) told me because this filly is so one-paced, that he was thinking about opening up around the turn with her to try to get a jump. But I told him no. I told him that since this stretch is so long, you need to wait. I told him to take a hold for as long as he could. He saw that he had that favorite (Wend) down inside and he did wait. She's a nice filly and now she's a graded stakes winner." Frankel said she would make her next start in New York.
The $119,600 La Troienne Stakes (G3) featured nine 3-year-old fillies
sprinting 7 1/2 furlongs on the main track. Adieu was sent off as the 8-5
favorite. 15-1 shot Morner set a quick pace of 22.59 and 45.68 over the hard
and fast main track with 7-1 shot Joint Effort stalking her to the inside,
while Adieu sat back in fifth but in close contention. Turning for home,
jockey Edgar Prado sent Joint Effort to the lead and she never looked back,
drawing away to win by 3 1/4 lengths, easily holding off the late-charging
Adieu, in a time of 1:28.18. It was 2 3/4 lengths back to 7-2 second choice
Smart N Pretty in third. Full results chart from DRF
Joint Effort and jockey Edgar Prado after winning the La Troienne Stakes. Trainer Dale Romans said, "I thought she would run big today. The race at Keeneland you can just throw out because she's never run good on that surface. The Gulfstream race wasn't that bad; it was a tough race. And her race before that she won a stake. So she got on a track she likes and she put it all together. She's been running in good company. Adieu was coming off a layoff, so it was a good time to take her on." Jockey Edgar Prado added, "She was doing everything so easy, when the horse on the lead drifted out, I took the chance and sent her, and she went on. I just encouraged her a little bit, and she took off like a rocket."
Triple Crown quick links:
Top Kentucky Derby Contenders - my list of the top horses headed to the Derby with profiles for each with photos, stats, and link to more info like past performances and pedigree.
Analyzing the top 2013 Kentucky Derby contenders - My annual analysis of the top contenders to try and select a winner by matching each to the profile of a Kentucky Derby winner using many of the more popular angles and statistical trends. This year there were is a 3-way tie for the top spot: Goldencents, Normandy Invasion, and Overanalyze.
2013 Kentucky Derby And Oaks Security - New enhanced stricter rules will be enforced this year. Be sure to read the rules as many have changed and more things are banned. There will still be magnetic wand searches of all patrons and many things are no longer allowed. Check here to make sure you don't bring anything they will confiscate.
Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2013 - by Jim Mazur. Includes lots of stats for all 3 races and explains how to use a system of statistically derived negative angles to eliminate the "bad" picks.
Review: Kentucky Derby Greatest Moments - Commemorative DVD from Churchill Downs with video from 27 different runnings along with interviews, photos, and historical info. Definitely recommended for any racing fan!
Review: Churchill Downs - America's Most Historic Racetrack by Kimberly Gatto. An entertaining and informative account of the history of the track and it's most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, with lots of photos. Definitely recommended.