Spotlight on Union Rags ahead of Florida Derby// Buzz builds for Cigar Street// Bodemeister going to Arkansas// Secret Circle, Drill work

You can tell from the sheer number of linked stories below that the Derby Trail is getting serious.  Many of the articles and videos have a singular focus on Union Rags, who will be the short priced favorite in Saturday’s Florida Derby (G1).  All handicapper picks so far have him on top. Somewhat surprising is that several are trying to beat Todd Pletcher-trained El Padrino in the second spot. Take Charge Indy or News Pending seem to be the choices for the bottom half of the exacta.  In any event, most everyone is hoping for a dominating performance from Union Rags to spark hype going into the Triple Crown season// Javier Castellano describes El Padrino as “laid-back” and seems accepting of the fact he gave up the mount on Union Rags to ride for Pletcher instead// Buzz is picking up for Cigar Street in Sunday’s Louisiana Derby (G2).  It will be just his third race, but Cigar Street is coming off a 13 3/4 length maiden romp at the Fair Grounds which was as visually impressive as any win from the other Louisiana Derby entrants// Alpha is still on course for the Wood Memorial (G1)- as of now.  Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin hasn’t switched the plan in almost a week, which is a nice respite from the once frequent changes to the horse’s schedule.  McLaughlin thinks Gemologist is the one to beat in the Wood.  He and Alpha will most likely face Casual Trick, My Adonis, Street Life, The Lumber Guy, and Tiger Walk// Bob Baffert is out of the hospital in Dubai, where he suffered a heart attack earlier in the week.  His assistant Jimmy Barnes said Bodemeister, who finished second last time out in the San Felipe (G2), will ship to Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby (G1).  Baffert’s Secret Circle and Drill put in official workouts Thursday, with the former posting a bullet move in 5-furlongs and the latter going an extended 1 mile// Lucky Chappy continues to be the center of attention for the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai.  Much of that has to do with his Derby winning connections Graham Motion and Team Valor.  He faces a tough challenge Saturday against several successful horses, includes Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Wrote// more…

All eyes on Union Rags (Bloodhorse Blog)
Castellano rolls with the punch (The Downey Profile)
How far can Cigar Street go? (Zipse at the Track Blog)
Lucky Chappy set for UAE Derby (
Thursday’s UAE Derby notes (The Downey Profile)
Zoldan-owned horse to again run Derby (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

Florida Derby: Dick’s Picks (The Downey Profile)
Florida Derby: That Handicapping Show (Bloodhorse)
Florida Derby: Gary Stevens Picks (Monster’s and Critics)
Louisiana Derby: Commish’s Picks (The Downey Profile)

Super Six Derby Pix (They Are Off Blog)

Secret Circle SA- 5F- 58:40- H- 1/37
Drill SA- 1M- 1.38:00- H- 1/1
Longview Drive- HOL- 7F- 1.27:20- H- 2/5