Blue Grass pace will be hot, Hansen vulnerable?// Union Rags back to work// Mike Smith gets Derby mount

What a difference a day makes.  The immediate sentiment after the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) draw on Wednesday was that it was Hansen vs. “the rest”.  Thursday rolls along and the tides change.  Whether the reasons have to do with actual doubts about the favorite or simply bettors trying to find more of a payoff remains unclear.  3 of the 5 handicapper picks below have Dullahan as the winner, which is not crazy when you look at the colt’s class and success at Keeneland.  The debate on Hansen’s chances are centered on pace, with at least 6 entries showing a propensity for early speed.  Although Hansen showed some ability to rate in the Gotham (G3), he was not far off the pacesetter and had the luxury of staying in the clear on the outside.  He could be under considerably more pressure Saturday, both from a speed and crowding perspective// Jennie Rees from the Courier Journal posted a video interview with trainer John Sadler in which the trainer says he pulled an audible to run Holy Candy in the Blue Grass (G1) due to the apparent favorable pace scenario.  He thinks his colt could be flying from the back of a hotly contested battle.  Sadler also says Holy Candy is one of the most talented horses he’s ever trained// There are nice features on Blue Grass entrants Ever So Lucky and Prospective below as well// The connections of Cozzetti are hoping for a quick pace in the Arkansas Derby (G1), seeing as the colt proved he can close in his last race the Tampa Bay Derby (G3)// Union Rags put in his first official breeze at Palm Meadows since a third place finish in the Florida Derby (G1).  The possible Derby favorite’s first workouts off a race are usually modest in final time, however Thursday’s work was a zippy 48:40 for 4-furlongs.  Observers noted he did it with ease.  Union Rags will ship to Keeneland on Saturday where he will work either there or Churchill Downs the following week// I’ll Have Another will ship to Churchill April 28th.  Trainer Doug O’Neill says the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner is showing “great energy”// With Julien Leparoux committed to ride Union Rags in the Kentucky Derby, Mike Smith picked up the mount on Daddy Nose Best.  The El Camino Real (G3) and Sunland Derby (G3) winner is a sleeper candidate who has done nothing wrong in his two races as a sophomore// Kiaran McLaughlin stated Alpha will van to Churchill Downs on Monday where he will work twice before the Derby// more…

Race pages for Arkansas Derby (G1) and Blue Grass (G1) with past performances, picks, and previews here

Daily Kentucky Derby News:

Arkansas Derby

Blue Grass Stakes
Time for Hansen to step up (Sports Network)
Hansen faces big test in Blue Grass (View From The Blue Grass Blog)

Final chance to grab graded earnings (And Down The Stretch They Come)
Arkansas Derby
Triple Crown Insider [video] (TwinSpires Blog)

Blue Grass Stakes
Triple Crown Insider [video] (TwinSpires Blog)

Other Kentucky Derby News and Opinion
Union Rags workout reports: DRF / Bloodhorse / TTimes 

Union Rags- PMM- 4F- 48:40- B- 2/16
Russian Greek- KEE- 4F- 50:00- B- 24/27

Notes and bits from web and Twitter:
Union Rags final Fla. work 1/2 in :48.32 at PM final 1/4 :23.81 going EZ galloped out 1:01.39 looked great!”- Mike Welsch via Twitter

“Union Rags 4F 48.40 at Palm Meadows. Splits 24.60, 36.60. Out 1:01.60. Next ship & breeze at Kee, then work at CD on 4/28 or 29”- Derby Media via Twitter

“McLaughlin confirms Alpha vans to Churchill on Monday; to work twice before Derby”- David Grening via Twitter