Thoroughbred Racing Roundup, Kentucky Derby Contenders Update

Bob Baffert is a Hall of Fame horse trainer for good reason. And Todd Pletcher is no slouch as a thoroughbred trainer himself. After this past weekend's action, those two men claim 5 of the top 6 prospects for the Kentucky Derby, little more than five weeks away. Baffert's Midnight Hawk flew like his namesake, but was outdone by another of that trainer's horses in the race, Chitu. The numerological meaning of Chitu explains that those with this moniker can often be found lost in thought, but can also be quite successful in an analytical situation. If Chitu analyzed the field and responded in that fashion, he was certainly not lost in thought or otherwise, coming from behind to take the Kentucky Derby Grade III prep race, the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico by 2 and 3/4 lengths. Assistant trainer Jim Barnes said the colt is "getting fitter and fitter," and is peaking at just the right time for a Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown run.

We Miss Artie Joins the Kentucky Derby Discussion

Todd Pletcher saw We Miss Artie win Saturday's Derby Prep at Turfway Park in Kentucky. The $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park had We Miss Artie come from deep in the 12 horse field to advance three wide through the stretch turn. It looks like a Show effort was the best he would get, as Harry's Holiday and Coastline battled for the victory. But Pletcher's strong colt shot to the outside and lunged to win by a nose. Probably qualifying for the Kentucky Derby, the horse has shown the most strength at all-weather tracks and on the grass. This definitely makes him an enigmatic choice as a possible Kentucky Derby winner, giving him long-shot odds that will make for a favorable if unlikely payday if a savvy thoroughbred horse gambler gets his money down now.

Top 5 Contenders for The Run For The Roses Hold Strong

As of Monday, March 24, the official Kentucky Derby website shows Cairo Prince, California Chrome and Candy Boy as the top three horses, in that order, picked by Kentucky Derby experts to win that important race. Tapiture and Intense Holiday round out the Top 5 Derby contenders, but every week more horses throw their hat in the ring as possibilities for this year's Run for the Roses on May 3. Legal horse betting in many online venues allows for futures betting, and although We Miss Artie's troupe is certainly grooming the talented colt for the Kentucky Derby, that horse is also the 4 to 1 futures favorite at many Internet sportsbooks for the Queen's Plate on July 6 at Woodbine. Bred in Ontario, We Miss Artie could run in both the Kentucky Derby as well as Canada's top three year old race. As we home in on what is one of the premier horse races in the world, Kentucky Derby Prep races show three on the calendar for next week.

Kentucky Derby Preps on the Schedule for March 29

At Gulfstream Park the 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby runs Saturday, March 29, as does the UAE Derby at Meydan, a 1 3/16 mile race. The third Derby Prep run that day is the Louisiana Derby, a 1 1/18 mile jaunt at the Fair Grounds. Cairo Prince appears to be the favorite at this point in the Florida Derby. And after this upcoming weekend's races, that leaves only the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby on April 5, the Blue Grass and the Arkansas Derby on April 12 and the Lexington on April 19 as Kentucky Derby Prep races. Honor Code will miss the Wood Memorial, and may be off the Derby trail altogether. But archenemies Samraat and Uncle Sigh are slated for the Wood, as well as Florida standout Social Inclusion, who surprised Honor Code in their last race.

Elsewhere Around the World

In Australia, former New Zealand Derby champ Silent Achiever bested Carlton House late to win Saturday's Group 1 Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill by a short head. In England, Robin Hood's Bay took the Group 3 Winter Derby to earn a spot in the Coral Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championship. In Hong Kong 89 horses were named for that city's two international Group 1 races, including Military Attack and The Fugue. And back in the states in the Classic Division, Romansh and Long River (both Godolphin horses) finished 1 - 2 in the $150,000 Grade III Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct. On the turf Fire With Fire took the $200,000 Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita. And Halo Dolly led from cover to cover to win the $100,000 Dream of Summer Stakes for California bred fillies and mares. Tune in next week for a Kentucky Derby contenders update after the all-important Prep races run on the 29th.

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