First off, I must apologize for being a day late with the Pix, but I was busy watching the NCAA title game last night and never got to get on the computer. So, instead of a Monday posting of the Pix, we provide it instead on Tuesday.
#1 Eskendereya- For the first time all spring, we have a new #1 following the weekend. It is now twice that Eskendereya demolished a quality field in a prep race. First, it was the Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream, and now, he crushed a short but sturdy bunch to win the Wood Memorial. He will go to Louisville as the unquestioned favorite in the Derby, given what else happened around the country. This could be trainer Todd Pletcher's best shot to get that ever-elusive Derby triumph.
#2 Lookin At Lucky- First of all, it was a horrible ride by Garrett Gomez in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. Yes, he had the position on the inside and got shut off, but if you listen to trainer Bob Baffert, he never should have been on the inside in the first place. I must say, I was terribly impressed with the way the horse responded to the adversity and re-rallied up the rail after all was lost and still managed to finish a respectable third. While I end up giving him a pass on the loss, he still loses a spot since Eskendereya was so spectacular.
#3 Noble's Promise- He will get his final tune-up before Louisville this coming weekend at Oaklawn Park in the Arkansas Derby. As we all know, the Arkansas Derby has long provided high quality for the Kentucky Derby and I don't see that changing here. The horse posted a bullet workout last weekend as a final prep for the Arkansas Derby, going 5F in 1:00.80. He won't have to deal with nemesis Lookin At Lucky again at Oaklawn and a victory on Saturday will set him up as a legitimate favorite.
#4 Ice Box- This guy just keeps climbing the ladder and getting closer and closer to the top without really doing anything since the Florida Derby score at 20-1. Trainer Nick Zito is one mark in the plus column, but the thing I really like about him is the running style given what promises to be a hot pace on Derby Day. He will be coming from well off that pace and barring any unforeseen trip trouble, I think Ice Box will definitely be in the picture at the end. Whether that picture will also feature roses around him remains to be seen.
#5 Sidney's Candy- I have already declared the Santa Anita Derby a throw-out for Lookin At Lucky after the bad ride and bad luck he encountered. However, that should take nothing away from Sidney's Candy impressive victory on Saturday. He was never really challenged and just drew away to a decisive victory over the fast-closing Setsuko and the recovering Lookin At Lucky. The question does hover over him about his prowess on a regular dirt surface. All six of his previous attempts have been on the Southern California synthetics.
#6 Odysseus- He will get one more prep following his win in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 13. His effort will come in the Blue Grass Stakes over the polytrack at Keeneland on Saturday. He is already in Kentucky and been trying out the polytrack for a few days. Among those he might face should be Pleasant Prince, the runner-up in the Florida Derby to Ice Box. I am highly interested in seeing how much that big effort at Tampa took out of him and what it will mean going forward.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!