The coronavirus pandemic forced many racetracks to alter their schedules. As tracks reopen around the country, a backlog of Kentucky Derby preps will be run over the next two weeks that will separate Derby contenders from pretenders.
First up is the Los Alamitos Derby on Saturday. As with any three-year-old Derby prep in California, trainer Bob Baffert figures to have a big say in the outcome. Thousand Words, who was eliminated when stumbling badly in the Oaklawn Stakes on a sloppy track in April, tries to get back in the Derby picture in this nine-furlong event. Baffert-trained stablemates Uncle Chuck and/or Azul Coast could join him in the lineup.
Anneau d’Or, runner-up in the Los Alamitos Futurity in December, is another who will try to rebound in the Los Alamitos Derby after splitting fields in the Santa Anita Derby and the first division of the Arkansas Derby.
Café Pharoah will look to secure his spot via the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Café’ Pharoah was impressive winning the one-mile Unicorn Stakes in Tokyo on June 21 and could test his stamina in the Japan Dirt Derby going 1 1/4 miles July 8. His connections have already declared their interest in coming to Kentucky.
The Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand, also on July 8, does not figure to draw any marquee three-year-olds, so it could be a good place for an up-and-comer to grab some Derby qualifying points.
Keeneland’s spring meet was canceled due to the coronavirus, but they have been granted a one-week summer meet from July 8-12. The Blue Grass Stakes on July 11 could include Art Collector, Enforceable, Basin, Mr. Big News, and Shivaree among others. All need some additional points to finalize a spot in the Derby.
The Peter Pan Stakes will be run opening day at Saratoga July 16. Belmont Stakes third-place finisher Max Player is possible, as are Modernist and NY Traffic.
The Haskell Invitational at Monmouth July 18 is the next scheduled stop for the Baffert-trained Authentic. NY Traffic could skip the Peter Pan for the Haskell, and another horse with speed — Ete Indian — is pointing to the race.
Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A. P. will wait for the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar on August 1, while the Travers at Saratoga on the same day is the next scheduled race for Belmont Stakes 1-2 finishers Tiz the Law and Dr. Post. All three are safely in the Kentucky Derby field.
Keep a close eye on these final Kentucky Derby preps to see who falls off the trail and who moves forward at the right time. It could pay large dividends on the first Saturday in September.
Maryland Lasix issue
The Stronach Group (TSG) — owners of Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Pimlico, and Laurel Park racetracks — made a commitment to prohibit the administration of the raceday medication furosemide within 24 hours of a race for two-year-olds in 2020.
More commonly known as Lasix, the medication is a diuretic that is used to control bleeding in the lungs. So far this year, TSG tracks Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, and Golden Gate Fields have conducted Lasix-free races for juveniles. In Kentucky, Churchill Downs has done the same and Keeneland has announced they will run Lasix-free races for two-year-olds during next week’s summer meet.
Late last week, the Maryland Racing Commission ruled that Laurel Park cannot write races for two-year-olds that would prohibit Lasix without a change to the current existing regulations.
In response to the ruling, TSG issued a statement saying that “Laurel does not intend to card two-year-old races under the condition of Lasix.”
Based on this statement, working towards an equitable solution for track management and the horsemen is apparently not on the table.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Los Alamitos Thursday Race 6 — Meso (No. 6). Likely favorite Majestic Diva regressed badly after a huge victory following a layoff in March, and the same pattern applies on Thursday after she daylighted softer returning from a vacation June 7. Meso used a turf race May 31 for conditioning purposes, is better on dirt, and is spotted where she can’t be claimed. She looks like the right alternative.