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Some Kentucky Derby prep notes heading into Saturday’s Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland:
▪ After being split into two divisions last year, there are only six horses in this year’s 85th running of the Arkansas Derby. Concert Tour is the even-money morning-line favorite. Hozier, who is also trained by Bob Baffert, is 3-1. Caddo River is third choice at 7-2.
▪ Concert Tour is 3-for-3 in his career with all of his starts coming in 2021. The son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 6 at Santa Anita and the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 13. The red-hot Joel Rosario is Concert Tour’s jockey.
▪ Concert Tour sits atop Ben Roberts’ latest Derby Watch rankings.
▪ Hozier is coming off a second-place finish in the Rebel. He broke his maiden on Feb. 15 at Santa Anita. Hozier is a son of Pioneerof the Nile, sire to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Martin Garcia will be his jockey Saturday.
▪ Baffert has won the Arkansas Derby three times, with Bodemeister (2012), American Pharoah (2015), and Nadal (2020 second division).
▪ Caddo River is coming off a disappointing fifth-place finish as the favorite in the Rebel. He won the Smarty Jones Stakes by 10 lengths at Oaklawn on Jan. 22. Trained by Brad Cox, Caddo River will be ridden by Florent Geroux. He is owned by Hot Springs, Ark., resident John Ed Anthony.
▪ Cox says he wants Geroux to be more aggressive in the Arkansas Derby. “We’ll see how things go,” said the trainer. “We’re going to try and be a little bit more involved early — more aggressive, I think, if we can. That’s really the tactics we’re going to take into the race. We’ll see if that works any different.”
▪ Bob Ehalt of the Blood-Horse lists Super Stock has his “live long shot” for the Arkansas Derby. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Super Stock ran fourth in the Rebel. He was third in last year’s Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.
▪ The Arkansas Derby awards 100-40-20-10 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
▪ The NBC Sports Network will televise the Arkansas Derby during its 7 to 8 p.m. slot. Post time is 7:41 p.m.
▪ Saturday’s Lexington Stakes is scheduled for a 5:30 post time at Keeneland.
▪ The Lexington Stakes offers 20-8-4-2 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
▪ Proxy is the 6-5 morning-line favorite. Trained by Michael Stidham and ridden by John Velazquez, Proxy is looking for his first win in 2021. He ran second in the Grade 3 Lecomte on Jan. 16, second in the Grade 2 Risen Star and fourth in the Louisiana Derby on March 20. All three races are run at the Fair Grounds.
▪ Swiftsure is second choice for the Lexington at 5-1. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the sun of Uncle Mo has raced just once this year, but that was a win in a Jan. 23 allowance race at Oaklawn. Irad Ortiz Jr. is the jockey.
▪ The Dallas Stewart-trained Starrininmydreams is third choice at 6-1. The son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver ran fifth in the Louisiana Derby last time out. He was ninth in the Risen Star.
▪ Hockey Dad is at 8-1 after running third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway on March 27. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Hockey Dad is a son of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. He’s won three of four starts this year. O’Neill and Hockey Dad’s owner Reddam Racing were the connections for Nyquist.
▪ Hockey Dad is currently 25th on the Kentucky Derby points list. “We’ll see how Saturday goes,” O’Neill told the Keeneland PR office via test. “He’s a very talented son of Nyquist.”
▪ O’Neill also trains Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie.
▪ Bob Baffert shipped Bezos to Keeneland for the Lexington Stakes after the colt broke his maiden last time out. The son of Empire Maker has made just two career starts.
▪ Writing for America’s Best Racing, J. Keeler Johnson likes 15-1 shot Noble Reflection. “True, he’s facing a formidable task in his second start of the season. But I loved the decisive nature of his maiden win, which came back fast from a speed figure perspective. If Noble Reflection makes the lead from the rail, he can prove difficult to catch at a very nice price. The risk vs. reward ratio feels right to me.”
▪ A gelding, Noble Reflection broke his maiden on March 7 at Oaklawn in his second start. He’s trained by Richard Baltas and owned by Javier Castellano.
▪ Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth winner Greatest Honour is out of the Kentucky Derby, says Shug McGaughey. After a third place finish in the Florida Derby on March 27 and some bruising around the ankles, McGaughey has decided to give the son of Tapit some time off. Owned by Courtlandt Farms, Greatest Honour is three-of-seven for his career. He’s been in the money in all seven of his starts.
▪ UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance will also skip the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Charlie Appelby has indicated that the Godolphin-owned colt will point toward the Belmont, instead. Godolphin also owns probably Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality.
▪ Speaking of the Blue Grass Stakes winner, Essential Quality arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
▪ Jose Ortiz will ride Phipps Stable’s Dynamic One in the Kentucky Derby. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Dynamic One ran second to 72-1 shot Bourbonic in the Wood Memorial last Saturday. Ortiz was to ride Greatest Honour.
▪ Bob Baffert says he was very impressed with Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World. “I was very impressed with John Sadler’s horse Rock Your World,” Baffert told the VSiN racing podcast. “He just kept galloping out. That was pretty impressive.”
▪ Sainthood worked a half-mile in :48.60 at Keeneland on Friday. Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by WinStar Farm and CHC Inc., Sainthood ran second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. He is currently 18th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. WinStar President/CEO Elliott Walden has indicated that the plan is to run Sainthood in the Derby.
▪ A coalition in Uruguay has purchased 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who was trained by Shug McGaughey.