Kentucky Derby Day is the biggest card of racing at Churchill Downs. Before the main event, there were five graded stakes contested over the main track and turf course before the crowd of 164,906, the second largest in history. Conditions were ideal with a dry fast main track, firm turf, sunny skies, and temperatures in the low 70's with some wind.
The first Grade 1 event on the card is the $300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (G1), featuring older fillies and mares sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Las Flores (G3) and Madison (G1) winner Judy the Beauty was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 6 over 8-5 Midnight Lucky, unraced since winning the Acorn (G1) last May, and 6-1 Scherzinger, winner of the Santa Monica (G2). Jockey Rosie Napravnik sent Midnight Lucky to the lead exiting the chute and she set fractions of 22.74 and 45.04 while pressed by Judy the Beauty. Entering the lane, Judy the Beauty tired as Midnight Lucky opened up a 4 length lead through 3/4 in 1:09.01, and cruised past the post 4 1/2 lengths in front of late-running 21-1 Street Girl in 1:22.23. It was another 1/2 length back to Scherzinger third, while Judy the Beauty was fourth.
Results chart from DRF
Left: Midnight Lucky in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "We needed to win a race. The Hoppertunity group, you could have poured us out of a shot glass the last couple of days. We can do that off the layoff, I’ve been doing it all my life, from my Quarter Horse days. She’s brilliant. When she got away on an easy pace the first quarter I knew she had them over a barrel. When she’s on, she’s really on."
Right: Midnight Lucky in the post parade. Winning jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "She broke wonderfully. Coming from the outside (post 8), I was able to take my time getting into position. I was always comfortable. Coming off a year's layoff, she's just as good as she was."
Global View wins the American Turf (G2)
The $250,000 American Turf Stakes (G2) featured a field of ten 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Transylvanian (G3) runner-up Picozza was the 3-1 favorite over 4-1 Storming Inti, fourth in the Transylvanian, and 5-1 Quotient, seocnd in the Pasadena Stakes. Storming Inti and 19-1 Craftsman dueled for the lead through fractions of 23.68, 47.99, and 1:12.39 over the firm course while stalked by Picozza. At the top of the lane, Craftsman tired allowing Storming Inti to inherit a 2 length lead through 1 mile in 1:35.74, but 6-1 Global View, 8th early, rallied 7 wide to get up by a neck in 1:41.65. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Quotient third.
Left: Global View returns to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Tom Proctor said, "His last race was on Polytrack. I'm like everybody else – I've got hope. He got a perfect trip. It's really good when there's not a horse within a length or two of you the first half mile of a race. That's means a lot. (What's next?) "I'll just give him a bath and worry about that later."
Right: Global View in the post parade. Winning jockey Gary Stevens said, "Tom just said, 'Enjoy yourself, have a good time. I want you to concentrate on just the finish. I don't care where you're at early. Just make sure you've got horse to finish up with.' It took me a while through the stretch the first time to wrangle him back, get him to settle. And once he did, it was just a matter of getting him out at the head of the stretch and letting him do his thing. He's got a powerful, powerful kick. I think he's going to be a top, top turf horse, I'm talking Grade 1. He's still learning. He's a big colt. He's still developing right now. He's only going to get better."
The $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2) featured a field of 9 older fillies and mares going 1 mile on the turf. Honey Fox (G2) winner Centre Court was the 7-5 favorite after her close 5th in the Jenny Wiley (G1) over 5-1 Tapicat, fifth in the Honey Fox (G2), and 6-1 Coffee Clique, an allowance winner at Gulfstream last out. 7-1 I'm Already Sexy went to the lead and set fractions of 24.00, 46.98, and 1:10.48 while stalked by Tapicat. On the far turn the pacesetters tired as 36-1 Dame Marie moved up from 6th to gain the lead through 7/8 in 1:22.31. However, Coffee Clique, fourth early, came through between horses to win by 1/2 a length in 1:34.66 over the firm course. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to 9-1 Effie Trinket third, while Centre Court checked in fifth.
Results chart from DRF
Left: Coffee Clique returning to the winner's circle. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "I saw the way two or three horses have the speed in the race. I wanted to just stay off the pace a little bit. My horse is very brave. Turning for home, she split horses and kept on the rail. I saved all the ground. The most important thing on the grass is to save some ground and I think it paid off today."
Right: Coffee Clique heads back to the barn. Trainer Bryan Lynch said, "I thought she settled lovely. It was a good decision on the first turn to take back a bit. He (Jockey Javier Castellano) said she was game down on the inside the last part of it and he didn't really have to get after her. He could feel she was getting into a rhythm. We'll be taking her up to Canada this summer for the grass program up there. This spring she has really come to herself."
The $400,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) features older horses sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. San Carlos (G2) winner and Carter Handicap (G1) runner-up Sahara Sky was sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the field of 11 over 3-1 defending champion Delaunay, second in the Duncan F. Kenner, and 9-2 Shakin It Up, winner of the Strub (G2). Delaunay and 15-1 Falling Sky dueled for the lead down the backstretch through fractions of 22.29 and 44.69. On the turn, 11-1 Central Banker, sixth early, came out 4 wide for room and swept to the lead through 3/4 in 1:08.71. Shakin It Up, 7th early, put in a strong late rally but Central Banker held him off by a head in 1:21.15 over the fast track. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to 5-1 Clearly Nnow third, while Sahara Sky checked in 7th.
Results chart from DRF
Left: Central Banker in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Al Stall Jr. said, "I thought there was going to be a ton of pace in there and when I saw him lay close and pretty comfortable, I guess they weren't going quite as fast as I thought they were. He got that outside draw as opposed to the inside draw in the Carter. And Corey (Nakatani) said when that horse came up on him on the outside that he could literally feel (Central Banker) gritting his teeth and fighting. This horse has as big of a heart of any horse I've ever had in my career, by far. He's a racehorse, that's exactly what he is."
Right: Central Banker heads out for the post parade. Winning jockey Corey Nakatani said, "Al said to warm him up anyway I wanted and that he's a horse I could do anything with so I said, 'OK, let's go get the money.' He's a horse that runs better when he has a target and I was able to tuck him in there. When (Shakin It Up) came at him, he re-broke and was all racehorse from there. He made me look good."
The final stakes of the undercard was the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1), a 1 1/8 mile trip over the Matt Winn Turf Course for older horses. A field of 10 went to post with two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan sent off as the 1-2 favorite off his win in the Makers 46 Mile (G1), over 7-1 Seek Again, winner of the Hollywood Derby (G1), and 9-1 Kaigun, runner-up in the Makers 46. 16-1 Bright Thought set the early pace of 24.17, 48.05, and 1:12.28 over the firm course while stalked by 28-1 Skyring and Wise Dan. Entering the stretch, Wise Dan and Seek Again came through to get to the front through 1 mile in 1:36.01. Wise Dan dug in to push his head in front at the line to get the victory in 1:47.43. It was 1 1/4 length back to 10-1 Boisterous third.
Results chart from DRF
Left: Wise Dan returns after the race. Winning trainer Charlie LoPresti said, "That was the horse I worried about. That was a thriller. He won't let a horse go by him. If they get to him, he's not going to let them go by. The way he has trained and the way he's done, I would say, at this point in time, he's better than he was last year."
Right: Wise Dan heads over to the paddock before the race. Jockey John Velazquez said, "I had to really fight him. When the other horse came to him on the outside, he got real aggressive and I had to really fight him back. I didn't want to do that because he threw his head up, but I had no choice. He was definitely tired."
Triple Crown quick links:
Tonalist upsets in the Belmont Stakes - He just got up to beat pacesetter Commissioner by a head with Medal Count third at Belmont Park on Saturday. Heavy favorite California Chrome had a bad start finished in a dead heat for 4th with Wicked Strong. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
True North Stakes and Belmont Gold Cup - Friday before the Belmont Stakes was headlined by the True North Stakes (G2) won by Palace along with the first running of the 2 mile Belmont Gold Cup won by Charming Kitten. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Belmont Stakes Friday Photos - Photos from the morning works on the Friday before the 2014 Belmont Stakes, including California Chrome, Commanding Curve, Tonalist, and Ride On Curlin.
2014 Belmont Entries - A field of 11 was entered with California Chrome the favorite at 3-5 breaking form post 2. Check out the horses with post positions, morning line odds, full profiles and free past performances here.
Belmont Stakes Workout Photos - Photos from the morning works on the Saturday before the 2014 Belmont Stakes, featuring Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome in his final timed work before the big race. Also out were Commanding Curve, Tonalist, and Ride On Curlin.
Analyzing the Belmont Stakes Contenders - My annual analysis using popular angles and statistical trends to see who best matches the profile of a Belmont winner. California Chrome is not alone on top!
California Chrome romps in the Preakness (G1) - He took charge in the stretch and won by 1 1/2 lengths over late closing Ride On Curlin on Saturday at Pimlico with Social Inclusion 6 1/2 lengths farther back in third. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Preakness Undercard Stakes Results - There were 7 other stakes on Preakness day including the Dixie (G2) won by Utley and the Gallorette Handicap (G3) won by Somali Lemonade. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 7 races here.
Stopchargingmaria wins the Black-Eyed Susan - Stopchargingmaria duelled with Vero Amore down the stretch and won by a neck in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) on Friday at Pimlico with Fortune Pearl third and favorite Sloane Square 9th. On the undercard, Revolutionary won the Pimlico Special (G3). Get the results, charts, and photos for all the stakes on the card here.
2014 Preakness Thursday Photos - Nine of the 10 Preakness entrants are at the Pimlico stakes barn and most of them went out on a foggy Thursday morning. Check out photos for each here.
2014 Preakness Entries - A field of 10 was entered on Wednesday with Derby winner California Chrome the 3-5 favorite drawing post 3. Check out the horses with post positions, morning line odds, and free past performances here.
California Chrome wins the Kentucky Derby - California Chrome stalked the pace then took the lead after a mile and drew off to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 1 3/4 lengths over longshot Commanding Curve and Damza. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Analyzing the Top 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.
Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard - the points earned by contenders in these designated prep races are what will determine who gets in the Kentucky Derby and Oaks at entry time this year. Updated weekly.
Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2014 - 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. Revamped for 2014 to new format with additional info.
Security still tight for 2014 - if you are going to the Derby or Oaks be sure to check here to find out what you can bring in with you. The enhanced security from last year is back again so no big cameras, camcorders, big purses, or coolers. Check here to make sure you don't bring anything they will confiscate.
Kentucky Derby Future Wager - This year there were 4 pools starting in November of 2013 plus a single pool for the Oaks. Surprisingly, thie field of all other 3-year-olds was the favorite in all 4 pools.