There are two major Kentucky Derby prep race this coming weekend, the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Saturday and the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on Sunday. That means this weekend will go a long way to crystallizing the picture for the Kentucky Derby just five weeks out. Here are this week's Super Six Derby Pix:
#1 Union Rags- He will be part of the field in that Florida Derby on Saturday and will likely be the favorite. If he is the winner, then he will likely be the big favorite come Derby Day. His only misstep came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. If he comes through on Saturday, the hype will kick in almost immediately for the big showdown with him and the horse that vanquished him in the Juvenile, Hansen.
#2 Hansen- First, it appeared that he would be going the Florida route, but he lost to the now-departed Algorithms in the Holy Bull. He then went north and rocked the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Therefore, it was assumed he would stick in the Big Apple and run in the Wood Memorial. Not so fast, as he is now scheduled to run in the Blue Grass Stakes over the polytrack at Keeneland. This movement has affected the plans of other runners, but since Hansen is one of the big dogs, his connections can do what they want to.
#3 El Padrino- The first Todd Pletcher trainee on the list has been a vagabond of sorts as well. He flashed on the scene this year after a flashy Allowance win at Gulfstream Park on January 29. From there, he went to Louisiana and eked out a victory in the Risen Star, just withstanding the challenge of Mark Valeski, who will be one of the favorites in the Louisiana Derby this weekend. Meanwhile, El Padrino has gone back to Florida and will be part of the field in the Florida Derby.
#4 Creative Cause- He has been the top dog on the West Coast this season. Yes, he ran third in the San Vicente, but he followed that up with a strong score in the San Felipe on March 10. He will likely be the big favorite in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, which will likely be his last start before heading to Kentucky. Remember, he was not that far behind Hansen and Union Rags in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall, so the deficit to make up really isn't that much.
#5 Alpha- This is the horse that trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has been waiting to see where everyone else was going to go before he decided what to do with him. He might be the best chance Godolphin has had for that elusive Derby win that they want so badly. After all the thrusting and parrying with the schedule, he will go postward in the Wood Memorial on April 7. Granted his Breeders' Cup Juvenile was disappointing, but he has been solid as a rock in two wins over the inner track at the Big A. It will be interesting to see how he does over the main dirt surface there.
#6 Prospective- He was the best of the bunch at Tampa Bay Downs this winter season. He overcame a horrible post draw to run second in the Sam Davis and then withstood a stern challenge from longshot Golden Ticket to win the Tampa Bay Derby itself after drawing the rail. He might be facing off with Alpha in the Wood Memorial on April 7 in New York. However, if you are going to denigrate Alpha for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, then Prospective deserves demerits for the race also since he finished 13th.
Tune in again later this week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!