Creative Cause short price in Santa Anita Derby// Gemologist, Alpha square off in Wood// IL Derby crowded and anyone's guess

The fields for three important Kentucky Derby preps were drawn Wednesday- the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Wood Memorial (G1), and Illinois Derby (G3).  The results will send some prospects onto Churchill Downs where their connections will make the famous walk from the backside to the paddock, while others will be left behind to only dream of the scene for next year.  Creative Cause drew the rail in the Santa Anita Derby and is the 6-5 favorite.  He will face nine others including surprise San Felipe (G2) winner I’ll Have Another.  Although I’ll Have Another has not raced in nine weeks, he has been given a heavy workout load that involved two 7-furlong moves and a long mile.  Full entries and a link to PPs can be found below// Attention will be focused on headliners Alpha and undefeated Gemologist in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, but it wouldn’t surprise me if My Adonis or Street Life thrust themselves into the Derby picture with good showings// The Illinois Derby had a whopping 17 entries which includes 3 also-eligibles.  The race appears wide-open with Currency Swap the tepid 4-1 favorite.  He comes off a well-beaten 2nd place to Gemologist in a Gulfstream allowance, but earned his respect from a victory in the Hopeful (G1) back in September. Mike Repole, who you may remember from the Uncle Mo soap opera last Derby, will try to make it back to Louisville with Our Entourage in the Illinois Derby.  Full entries and preview articles below// Bob Baffert returned to Santa Anita Wednesday.  He was apparently moving slowly from the surgery performed post-heart attack in Dubai.  Other than his three in the Santa Derby, it was confirmed Secret Circle and Bodemeister are headed to Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby (G1) April 14th// Larry Jones reported Mark Valeski is fine after losing a shoe in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and will train as if he’s going to the Derby.  Jones will be watching the outcome of this weekend’s preps with great interest as a strong showing by any longshot could bump Mark Valeski off the top 20 graded earnings list// Isn’t He Clever is another horse on the bubble in graded earnings, but his connections are taking no chances.  He will enter the Arkansas Derby in hopes of earning more cash.  If Isn’t He Clever advances to the Kentucky Derby it would be his 5th race in 13 weeks, which is quite a busy schedule in comparison to the recent trend of lightly raced Derby starters// more…

Santa Anita Derby (G1)
Preview Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet / TTimes 1 / TTimes 2

Wood Memorial (G1)
Preview Articles: NYRA / Bloodhorse / DRF 1 / DRF 2 / Brisnet / TTimes

Illinois Derby (G3)
Preview Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet

The Bay Shore (G3)
Preview Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet

3-year-olds to watch (In The Money Blog)
Expect the unexpected (Bloodhorse)
Louisiana Hero or hype? (Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds Blog)

Secret Circle- SA- 6F- 1.13:40- H- 1/10 
Castaway- SA- 4F- 48:40- H- 6/22
Longview Drive- HOL- 4F- 49:20- H- 11/24


Notes and bits from web and Twitter
“On Fire Baby one of 20 noms to Grade 2, $300K Fantasy; also nominated to Ark. Derby; no decision on next spot, Hartlage said Wed.”- Mary Rampellini via Twitter

“Kenny McPeek on ATR resets 3yo's: Golden Ticket (abcess) to miss Blue Grass for Lexington; Atigun, (orig. Ark Derby), likely to Blue Grass. Saturday Launch, ent. in KEE Transylvania Fri., still IL Derby intended. AQU MSW winner Unstoppable U possible for Lexington.”- Steve Byk via Twitter