He may face Conveyance in the Rebel
Trainer Bob Baffert thinks reigning 2-year-old champion and early Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky will make his season debut on March 13, but he’s not sure if that race will be at home on the synthetic track at Santa Anita or on the road for the colt’s first test on actual dirt.
The race at Santa Anita is the $150,000 San Felipe, but a trip to Oaklawn Park for the $300,000 Rebel is also possible. The Rebel would also be a logical spot for the unbeaten Conveyance, who won last week’s Southwest Stakes for Baffert. But the Hall of Fame trainer and three-time Kentucky Derby winner said the son of Indian Charlie could travel to the new Meydan Race Course in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to run in the $2 million UAE Derby on March 27.
The road to the Kentucky Derby took a little detour last weekend as the racing card at Santa Anita on Saturday was rained out, along with the key Sham Stakes for 3-year-old Derby hopefuls.
The race has been re-scheduled for this Saturday, barring any further downpours. Its importance can’t be over-emphasized since only one of the 10 entrants has any stakes experience.
Two colts from the barns of Hall of Fame trainers loom as the likely favorites and they could emerge as fresh-faced contenders on the road to Churchill Downs and the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1.
One is The Program, who is coming off a narrow victory over stablemate Indian Firewater in a Santa Anita allowance race and will be ridden by Martin Garcia. The latter returned to run second in last week’s Turf Paradise Derby.
Owned by Thoroughbred Legends Stable, The Program ran fourth to another Baffert-trained stablemate, champion 2-year-old Lookin At Lucky, in Hollywood Park’s CashCall Futurity.
Another likely to draw attention is Setsuko, a son of Pleasantly Perfect trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella. Setsuko has run five straight races at two-turn distances and Rafael Bejarano will be in the saddle.
In action that wasn’t rained out, Vow To Wager finished second to Codoy in Saturday’s John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park, but was elevated to the win after track stewards disqualified the latter for interference in the stretch.
Vow to Wager was coming off of a maiden victory over the synthetic Polytrack surface at the Northern Kentucky track and went off at odds of 23-1. Favored Kera’s Kitten finished last after battling for the early lead.
Oddly enough, there was another disqualification on Saturday. In the Borderland Derby at Sunland Park, favored Storming Saint finished second to maiden Raise the Bridle following a rugged stretch run, but found his way to the winner’s circle when the latter was disqualified by track stewards and placed second.
Storming Saint had finished a neck behind Raise the Bridle, who is owned by the Mark Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch and Dr. Leonard Blach’s Buena Serte Equine – the team that owns 2009 Kentucky Derby winner and Borderland Derby runner-up Mine That Bird.
In the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park, Don’t Blame the Cat edged clear in the stretch for a one-length victory. The Rick Dutrow trainee notched his third victory in four career starts.
At Gulfstream Park, British import Radiohead, a troubled seventh in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, picked up his first U.S. victory and made a successful debut on dirt in an easy win in a one-mile allowance race on Saturday.
The son of Johannesburg led a 1-2 finish for trainer Rick Dutrow as he defeated Homeboykris by 3½ lengths.
Radiohead, winner of the Group Two Norfolk Stakes last June for trainer Brian Meehan, covered the distance over a "fast" track in 1:35.90 in his first race for Dutrow, who won the 2008 Kentucky Derby with Big Brown.
Earlier on the Saturday card, Robert LaPenta’s Miner’s Reserve scored an impressive one-mile maiden win in 1:35.87 for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito.
Vale of York, the only horse to finish in front of 2009 2-year-old champion Lookin At Lucky has been mostly invisible on the road to the Kentucky Derby while spending the winter in Dubai, but he is nearing his return to the spotlight.
The upset winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita is set to return to racing on Thursday in Dubai..
The racing careers of promising 3-year-olds Dryfly and Maximus Ruler will continue – but not in time for the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown campaign.
Injuries have taken both colts out of consideration for the Derby 136.
Charles Cella’s Dryfly, winner of Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones Stakes, suffered an injury to his left knee in a disappointing ninth-place finish in last week’s Southwest at Oaklawn Park that trainer Lynn Whiting said could be a stress fracture.
"It’s something he certainly has every right to come back from," Whiting said. "It’s disappointing, but we’ve all had things like this happen."
Meanwhile, trainer Clark Hanna said Lecomte runner-up Maximus Ruler would likely be out until late spring with a sore left front shin.
"We’re a little disappointed," he said. "He didn’t break anything. He just needs a little time."
Hanna said Maximus Ruler could return to racing in mid-May.
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