It will certainly seem that way this Saturday if you are a horse racing fan at all. There will be three major Kentucky Derby prep races, one of them featuring the 2009 Juvenile Champion as well as many of those considered to be among his top rivals for the prize on May 1. Also, the two finalists for the 2009 Horse Of The Year Award will both be running as well, although their expected meeting with each other is still a month away.
Trainer Bob Baffert hotfooted it out of Southern California with Lookin At Lucky following his last workout at Santa Anita on Monday and is going postward with the likely Derby favorite in the Grade 2 $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. He is expected to be facing Noble's Promise, Dublin, Uh Oh Bango, and others in what could be the best prep race of the season thus far. The Grade 2 $150,000 San Felipe Stakes will take place on Saturday at Santa Anita. While it only drew a field of seven, five of those have already made some waves on the way to Louisville. Interactif, American Lion, Sidney's Candy, Dave In Dixie, and Caracortado are already on the watch list for the Derby and given the shortish nature of the field in the San Felipe, this certainly appears to be the most competitive of the three preps this weekend. The other prep this weekend is the Grade 3 $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs. Only two from this field get any major recognition heading in, Uptowncharlybrown flamed out badly in the Sam Davis, also at Tampa Bay, finishing well behind the big winner, Rule. Super Saver will be making his 2010 debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, who is loaded with Derby contenders this season. Ramon Dominguez gets the ride here because regular rider Calvin Borel will be elsewhere.
That elsewhere would happen to be the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where Borel's biggest ace in the hole will be making her 2010 debut as well. Horse Of The Year Rachel Alexandra comes back to the races for owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes. She will only be facing four other competitors in this ungraded race, but this is expected to be merely a stopover on the way to the ultimate showdown with Zenyatta, expected to come in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 9. Speaking of Zenyatta, she is also expected to be back on the racetrack this Saturday. Zenyatta should be entered in the Grade 1 $250,000 Santa Margarita as her final prep before heading to Arkansas for the matchup with Rachel Alexandra that everyone has been salivating over for nearly a year now.
There will be a lot to be paying attention to on Saturday. I certainly will be enjoying it all and I hope you will too. It should be the kind of a day that reminds all of us why we love and care about horse racing the way we do.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!