Kentucky Derby Prep Results and Dubai World Cup Hopefuls

Even casual and newbie horse racing fan knows that the Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs is perhaps the most important thoroughbred horse race of the year. But each year the Dubai World Cup, the richest day in horse racing, runs 9 events which are firmly in the cross-hairs of thoroughbred horse owners and trainers. The Dubai World Cup main event delivers a staggering $10 million to the winner, and this year the Dubai World Cup Carnival calendar had races for both Thursday and Saturday, February 27 and March 1. Three-year-old filly Ihtimal (daughter of Shamardal) easily moved from fifth place to first, and won the Group 3 UAE Oaks in Dubai by a full 10 lengths. Gold City bested second-place My Freedom by a little more than two lengths in the evening opening handicap, and Ireland's My Catch finished a length in front of Jallota in the Meydan Classic.

In Kentucky Derby news the undefeated Samraat continued his winning ways, edging fellow New Yorker Uncle Sigh in Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. The two talented rivals first met at the February 1 Withers Stakes, where Samraat was victorious by a length. However, this was not just a two horse race. In Trouble looked like he was going to spell trouble for Samraat as a pacesetter, and the three horses were in the race the entire way until Samraat moved from third to first down the stretch. Look for the media to play up an upcoming rivalry matchup during this year's Run For The Roses between Uncle Sigh and Samraat, who has moved up to number 8 in the Top 10 Kentucky Derby contenders list composed and updated weekly by ESPN.

Samraat trainer Rick Violette said he would be "... lying if I said we weren't already thinking about it (Kentucky Derby)." The horse will be shipped back to Florida, but might return to the Grade I Wood Memorial on April 5. Uncle Sigh has now compiled 1 win and 3 very close second place finishes, and trainer Gary Contessa knows he has a young and talented, if undisciplined, horse on his hands. Contessa said that Uncle Sigh would definitely be at the Wood Memorial. Sticking to the same race, no one should figure In Trouble out of Triple Crown contention, as he won the Grade II Futurity at Belmont Park in just his second career start. The long layoff after being put away last winter may have cost In Trouble a victory here, but he will definitely be running as a Wood contender. Samraat, In Trouble and Uncle Sigh all showing at the Wood Memorial? Mark April 5 on your calendar for some serious thoroughbred excitement.

At Gulfstream Park for the May 1, Saturday $150,000 Grade III Palm Beach Stakes, a race which could definitely have an impact on Triple Crown events, Gala Award ran a strategic race for the victory. Tracking the pace throughout before taking the lead in the stretch and holding off a late push by Mr. Speaker, the Kentucky-bred colt won by 1/2 length with John Velazquez in the irons. In his third start, all at Gulfstream Park, Gala Award now has a second-place finish and 2 straight wins. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who currently boasts the most horses eligible for the Kentucky Derby, said that the horse has "improved a lot."

In three of four particular Kentucky Derby futures pools which closed this weekend with "all others" offered at 3 to 1, Cairo Prince was showing 9 to 1 odds. This shows the extreme uncertainty of the Kentucky Derby picture at this time, and long shot bettors might find Samraat and Uncle Sigh attractive at 30 to 1 and 42 to 1 respectively. Obviously those odds are continuously changing, and the long journey to Churchill Downs will be resumed this week with three important races; the $300,000 Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita, the $350,000 Grade II Tampa Bay Derby on Florida's Gulf Coast, and the $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel Park in Maryland. Cairo Prince still sits atop the ESPN Top 10 Kentucky Derby contenders list this week, and Sheik Mohammed's Godolphin Stable recently purchased a majority interest in that horse for an undisclosed amount of money.

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