Bluegrass Stakes headlines final round of big Derby preps
Keeneland Race Course will offer up the biggest card of the year at the Lexington track, with the Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes as the centerpiece of a five stakes filled card. Uncaptured has been given the role of morning line favorite in the huge fourteen horse field that will go the 9 furlongs in the Bluegrass. Uncaptured finished a quality closing second in the Spiral Stakes last time out at Turfway Park. He’s proven he likes a synthetic surface as he’s 4 for 6 career over an all weather surface and Miguel Mena will retain the mount for trainer Mark Casse. He’ll face numerous horses that are looking to accrue those precious Kentucky Derby qualifying points, including Java’s War, Palace Malice and Undrafted. Java’s War was a good second behind likely Kentucky Derby favorite Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby back in early March. He also was third in his lone attempt over a synthetic, a good closing third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity right here at Keeneland. Palace Malice was the recipient of a pretty tough trip in the Louisiana Derby and he could be dangerous for trainer Todd Pletcher who is solid with horses going to the All-weather for the first time. Undrafted has been sprinting at Gulfstream Park this winter but has won going a mile on the grass at Gulfstream. His lone all-weather appearance was a smashing maiden breaker at Keeneland nearly a year ago. Dynamic Sky and Tesseron are both horses who could improve at prices getting onto the synthetic surface.
The undercard is loaded with quality events, including the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes on the grass. Daisy Devine won this race last season and brings a 7 for 9 career turf record into this spot. She will have to beat two very solid runners who have drawn the inside spots, Old Tune and Centre Court. Old Tune is two for two since coming to the States and will be again ridden by Joel Rosario. Old Tune took two straight Grade 3 events at Tampa Bay Downs and should be prominently placed early on in this spot. Centre Court drew the rail and comes into this race with two straight Grade 2 wins. Julien Leparoux will have the mount and Centre Court comes off a win in the Honey Fox at Gulfstream, a race in which she beat Samitar, who will run in the Jenny Wiley as well.
The Grade 1 Madison Stakes features sprinters, including West Coast runner Byrama who will try Keeneland for the first time. Byrama seems to have a tendency to hit the board but not win as of late, so there could be some viable price plays. Jamaican Smoke broke her maiden at Keeneland last spring and should be part of the early pace. Perfect Officer won this race last year and looks to be quite formidable in this spot. Grade 1 winner Next Question and Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner hasn’t been at his best recently, but a return to his best, puts him as a contender. Fair Grounds specialist Gantry looks tough in the Commonwealth Stakes, but he’ll have to best some serious sprinters including Candyman and Bind.
Keeneland kicks off the Saturday card at 1:05pm EST with the Bluegrass Stakes carded as Race 10 at 5:40pm EST.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Bluegrass Stakes
1. Dynamic Sky
2. Palace Malice
BetPTC.com Selections for the Jenny Wiley Stakes
1. Centre Court
2. Daisy Devine
3. Old Tune
BetPTC.com Selections for the Madison Stakes
1. Jamaican Smoke
2. Fantasy of Flight
3. Kune Kune
BetPTC.com Selections for the Shakertown
1. Perfect Officer
2. Next Question
Longshot: Something Extra
BetPTC.com Selections for the Commonwealth
Longshot: Bernie the Maestro
A million bucks up for grabs in the Arkansas Derby
Ten three year olds will compete in the $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby on Saturday, all looking to cement their spots in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Oxbow will look to improve on his second place effort in last month’s Rebel Stakes, a race that saw him get caught late by Will Take Charge. He’s been a pretty consistent runner thus far in his career, including his smashing eleven length win in the Lecomte. Gary Stevens will take over the riding assignment for Oxbow as trainer D. Wayne Lukas is looking to find the right rider for his three year old. Oxbow drew the far outside, so he will have to work out a trip from that draw. Overanalyze didn’t draw much better, having been assigned position number nine. Overanalyze struggled in his first start as a three year old and will need a solid finish in the Arkansas Derby to get the needed Derby points to get in the field of twenty on May 4th. Lightly raced War Academy will certainly get some attention for a few reasons. First off he’s trained by Bob Baffert who has had great success at Oaklawn Park in recent years. Secondly, he was super impressive in his last start, a smashing optional claiming win at Santa Anita. Mike Smith will once again be on board of War Academy who drew post two.
Justin Phillip heads up a tough cast of eight runners in the Count Fleet Handicap for sprinters. He’s taken on some of the toughest sprinters in the country and will be making his second start at Oaklawn after a smashing allowance win last time out. Laurie’s Rocket and Flashpoint both come out of the Hot Springs Stakes where they finished one/two.
Fort Larned will be the one to beat in the Oaklawn Handicap. After a brutally unlucky stumble at the start of his last start, the Breeders’ Cup Classic champ will look to rebound in this Grade 2 event. He’ll have to beat the top three from the Razorback Handicap, Cyber Secret, Golden Ron and Atigun who are all back in this spot.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Arkansas Derby
1. War Academy
3. Den’s Legacy
Longshot: Falling Sky
BetPTC.com Selections for the Count Fleet
2. Justin Phillip
3. Laurie’s rocket
Longshot: Outta Tune
BetPTC.com Selections for the Oaklawn Handicap
1. Fort Larned
2. Win Willy
BetPTC.com Selections for the Northern Spur
1. Looking Cool
3. Red Wings
Longshot: Malibu High
Lone Star Park and Hastings Race Course open up this week
Racing from the Lone Star State as well as north of the border will kick off for two big meets, as Lone Star Park in Texas and Hastings Race Course in British Columbia both begin meets this week. Racing at Lone Star Park will open up on Thursday evening, as they will run on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the Spring at 7:35pm EST for night racing and then at 2:35pm EST on Saturday’s and Sundays. Headlining the meet will be the annual big Memorial Day card that features the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.
Hastings Race Course will race on weekends exclusively for the first few weeks until Friday nights join the action on May 31st. Post time on Saturdays and Sundays is 4:50pm EST and Friday Night racing will commence at 10pm EST. BC Cup Day will be run on Monday August 5th and the Grade 3 BC Derby will go on Sunday September 8th.
Saturday Stakes Action at BetPTC.com
Calder Race Course
Race 11 Calder Oaks 5:30pm EST
Race 6 Commonwealth Stakes 3:35pm EST
Race 7 Shakertown Stakes 4:05pm EST
Race 8 Madison Stakes 4:36pm EST
Race 9 Jenny Wiley Stakes 5:05pm EST
Race 10 Bluegrass Stakes 5:40pm EST
Lone Star Park
Race 9 JEH Stallion Stakes 6:19pm EST
Race 7 Northern Spur Stakes 4:38pm EST
Race 8 Oaklawn Handicap 5:14pm EST
Race 9 Count Fleet Handicap 5:50pm EST
Race 10 Arkansas Derby 6:28pm EST
Race 7 Foxy JG Stakes 3:07pm EST
Race 8 Lyman Handicap 3:34pm EST
Race 5 Sam Houston Juvenile 8:44pm EST
Race 7 Sam Houston Derby 9:36pm EST
Race 9 Sam Houston Futurity 10:28pm EST
Race 4 Runaway Stakes 5:02pm EST
Race 8 Las Cinegas Handicap 7:07pm EST
Race 4 Sunburst Stakes 4:14pm EST
Race 5 West Texas Juvenile 4:40pm EST
Race 8 Copper Top Futurity 5:55pm EST
Race 10 Copper Top Futurity 6:47pm EST