Weekend Recap: Thoughts on Wood, SA Derby, IL Derby// Workout reports, next race plans, more...

While the word ‘chaos’ was thrown around quite a bit one week ago following Kentucky Derby preps in Florida and Louisiana, this weekend’s contests lived up to their billing as clashes of top contenders.  A neck separated Gemologist and Alpha on the East Coast and it was a nose between I’ll Have Another and Creative Cause on the West Coast. All four will move onto Louisville where they will be well backed entries in the Kentucky Derby.

Alpha had the much more difficult trip in the Wood Memorial (G1) Saturday having to check early and deal with yanking to the inside and out frequently by jockey Ramon Dominguez.  Alpha never quit though, and appeared as if he was going to pass the winner Gemologist in the final strides.  Gemologist would have none of it however.  The journey was a perfect outside, unhurried, and in-the-clear trip by Javier Castellano.  In the end, it was Gemologist’s grit and determination that found a second wind once Alpha began breathing down his neck.  It was a gutsy effort by both well-deserved Kentucky Derby entries.  My Adonis, the third choice in the Wood field, disappointed his backers with a second-to-last finish ahead of only the vanned-off Casual Trick (who appears to be ok, but does have breathing problems).  My Adonis now sits at #27 on the graded earnings list and needs a lot of dominoes to fall in order to make the Kentucky Derby.

Trip excuses were given for Creative Cause’s narrow defeat in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), however they were nowhere near the challenges Alpha faced.  Jockey Joel Rosario believed if Creative Cause were on the outside down the stretch instead of in-between horses he would have got the better of winner I’ll Have Another.  That’s possible, but really takes nothing away from the victor who beat his rival in a fair and square all out quarter mile dash down the stretch.  Many felt I’ll Have Another was a prime candidate for a ‘bounce’ given his upset in the San Felipe (G2).  Those same handicappers will probably look for a bounce in the Derby, but aside from one troubled effort in the slop back in September, I’ll Have Another has been a consistent top-level performer.  The story obviously does not end here however.  Creative Cause, much like Alpha, will get a rematch with his new rival on a much bigger stage in four weeks.

The Illinois Derby (G3) usually produces a long shot or two for the Kentucky Derby, and this year will be no different.  Sent off at 12-1 odds, Done Talking will move onto his next race at Churchill Downs at about three times those odds.  It was an impressive display Saturday as he began the race towards the back of the pack and slowly plodded his way to the front in the long stretch drive.  The final time of 1.53:88 was the slowest Illinois Derby in recent history and the Beyer speed figure came back an 86, all of which suggest he’s a level below what he’ll face May 5th.  However, many don’t put much value in final time and speed figures, and could like a stone closer in a race that may have a lot of speed.  There is the possibility the $311,000 in graded earnings may not be enough for entry into the Derby, however there will inevitably be defections that will help his case, regardless of the results of next weekend’s preps.

Trinniberg continued his solid 3-year-old sprint form with an easy win in the Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct Saturday.  Although his connections indicated earlier in the week he could move on to the Derby, they back-pedaled after the race by giving the likelihood of a Derby bid at 15%.

Major contenders for next weekend’s Blue Grass (G1) and Arkansas Derby (G1) put in final serious preparations over the weekend. Hansen, Dullahan, Bodemeister, and Holy Candy all worked officially and times and reports can be viewed below// Bob Baffert suggested Liaison, a non-factor in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby (G1), could still point for the Kentucky Derby if he sees improvement in his upcoming workouts.  Liaison has shown absolutely nothing in all of his dirt tries this year and is ‘Exhibit A’ in making a case to change the current qualifying system for the Derby// Updated contender lists and graded earnings rankings can be found below// more…


Wood Memorial (G1)
Winner: Gemologist
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Replay: YouTube
Wrap-up articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet / TTimes
Beyer: 98 (Preliminary)

Santa Anita Derby (G1)
Winner: I’ll Have Another
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Wrap-up articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet / TTimes
Beyer: 94 (Preliminary)

Illinois Derby (G3)
Winner: Done Talking
Trainer: Hamilton Smith
Jockey: Sheldon Russell
Wrap-up articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet / TTimes
Beyer: 86 (Preliminary)

Bay Shore (G3)
Winner: Trinniberg
Trainer: Bisnath Parboo
Jockey: Willie Martinez
Replay: YouTube
Wrap-up articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet
Beyer: 94 (Preliminary)

Graded Earnings
Official 4/7 (Churchill Downs)


Derby News
Super Saturday (Pull The Pocket Blog)



Bodemeister SA- 5F- 1.00:40- H- 14/55
Holy Candy- SA- 6F- 1.13:40- H- 3/8
Drill- SA- 5F- 1.00:80- H- 20/54
Dullahan- KEE- 5F- 57:40- H- 1/33
Raconteur- KEE- 5F- 1.01:40- B- 21/33
Jake Mo- OP- 5F- 1.00:00- B- 1/3

Hansen- CDT- 5F- 1.00:00 4/14
Golden Ticket- KEE- 5F- 1.03:00- 61/68
Politicallycorrect- KEE- 5F- 59:00- 1/68
Adirondack King- KEE- 5F- 59:80= B- 6/68
Howe Great- KEE- 5F- 1.01:60- B- 44/68
Overdriven PMM- 4F- 49:74- B- 11/13
Isn't He Clever- SUN- 5F- 59:60- H- 1/13
Cozzetti- GP- 5F- 1.00:80- H- 4/12