A wild Kentucky Derby prep weekend culminated with a 109-1 shot shocking the Louisiana Derby on Sunday. April Fools jokes were running rampant, but perhaps the cruelest of all was on the connections of winner Hero of Order. Trainer Gennadi Dorochenko clearly didn’t understand the rules for qualifying for the Derby when he emphatically said they were heading to Louisville next. Although Hero of Order fetched a $600,000 check for the victory, which is more than enough earnings to qualify for the Derby, he is not nominated to the Triple Crown. Simply put, as long as 24 nominated horses are entered in the Kentucky Derby-- which will most likely be the case-- Hero of Order is shut out regardless of graded earnings standings.
Hero of Order took advantage of a fast track and modest fractions by staying towards the front just off pacesetter Comisky’s Humor. It appeared Mark Valeski, Rousing Sermon, or Cigar Street would catch him in the stretch, but Hero of Order was able to hold on. The final eighth was a slow 13:47 which doesn’t say much for the Louisiana Derby field in general. Rousing Sermon, who finished third by a nose, was the only challenger that appeared to make a decent closing move. Nonetheless, 2nd place finisher Mark Valeski along with Rousing Sermon could have enough earnings for a shot at the Roses- they currently sit at #17 and #16 on the list respectively.
The graded earnings list is getting very tight. The current cut-off line is $188,000 but that could very well move higher with upcoming big purse preps. Last Friday, many would have never believed the top 20 would include the names of Daddy Long Legs, Wrote (who was already high on the list, but uncertain for the Derby), Take Charge Indy, Rousing Sermon, and Reveron.
Daddy Long Legs and Wrote obviously make the list based on their earnings from Saturday’s UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai [note: Wrote was already in a good spot with winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf]. Irishman Aidan O’Brien has won just about every major European race along with many prestigious stateside stakes, but hasn’t translated that luck to his attempts in the Kentucky Derby. Wrote and Daddy Long Legs would be his 4th and 5th representatives in America’s greatest race. How they handle the dirt surface will be the two million dollar question, but there have been multiple winners who possess turf prowess in their pedigrees including last year’s winner Animal Kingdom.
Take Charge Indy will get a decent amount of wagering play on Derby Day based on his defeat of Union Rags in the Florida Derby (G1) and the fact Calvin Borel is the pilot. Borel was able to use the rail and his horse’s early speed to wire the field Saturday. While it was surprising that he beat the early Derby favorite Union Rags, Take Charge Indy was rounding into form. His first race back from a layoff was a gutsy effort on a sealed track in which he relinquished the lead to El Padrino in the final furlong. With several subsequent breezes and a dry track he was able to turn the tables on El Padrino Saturday. Take Charge Indy doesn’t necessarily need the lead in the Derby to be effective, but Borel will most likely prefer to position him towards the front. His pedigree is suited for the 10-furlong distance, and with a few buzz worthy works leading into May 5th, Take Charge Indy could be among the favorites.
As for Union Rags in the Florida Derby (G1), opinions seem mixed. Jockey Julien Leparoux blamed the slow break, fast track, and the fact he was bottled up by El Padrino and Javier Castellano. Leparoux said Union Rags was handling the kickback of dirt fine, but in the replay the horse does not look comfortable. Whether that was due to a tight hold, crowded space, or flying dirt remains a mystery. In most of Union Rags’ victories he has been kept in the clear and Saturday’s effort may have exposed a flaw that should be noted in the likely crowded Kentucky Derby. Nonetheless, he did make a strong move down the stretch having to weave inside and out before eventually getting into his fast closing stride.
Reveron did well to hang on for 2nd but seemed to tire down the stretch as he was having difficultly running straight. El Padrino finished 4th and his effort starting from the top of the stretch can best be described as fair and plodding. The plan is for all of the top 4 finishers to meet again Derby day.
Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool closed Sunday. Union Rags was still the favorite at 9/2. Creative Cause was a little surprising at 8-1. With a good effort in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), he should be sub 5-1 Derby day. ‘All Others’ at 6-1 does include some likely Derby entrants including Wrote, Daddy Long Legs, and Reveron// Gemologist put in his final move ahead of Saturday’s Wood Memorial (G1). Trainer Todd Pletcher was “really, really pleased”// More workouts were reported for likely Blue Grass (G1) and Bay Shore (G3) contestant// more…
Louisiana Derby (G2)
Winner: Hero of Order
Trainer: Gennadi Dorochenko
Jockey: Eddie Martin Jr.
Chart: Equibase chart
Graded Earnings List
Official List 4/1/12 (Churchill Downs)
Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #3
Take Charge Indy heading to Churchill early (Bloodhorse)
Useful prep for Union Rags (Left at the Gate Blog)
Adirondack King prepares for Blue Grass (Brisnet)
Smith picks up mount on Midnight Transfer (The Downey Profile)
Stat PMM- 4F- 48:93- B- 15/42
Gemologist PMM- 5F- 1.00:44- B- 1/6
Adirondack King KEE- 5F- 1.02:60- B- 11/13
Dullahan GP- 5F- 1.02:10- B- 10/11