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2009 Kentucky Derby Prep Races

Kentucky Derby – Qualifying for the 135th Run for the Roses

Three important Kentucky Derby preps at tracks across the country on Saturday will decide the fate of many 3-year-olds hoping to make the 135th Run for the Roses.

It’s strictly a money situation. For example, Imperial Council must upset probable odds-on favorite I Want Revenge in the $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct to guarantee a trip to Louisville.

If he finishes second to the son of Stephen Got Even like he did in the Gotham that would only add $150,000 to his $50,000 in graded stakes earnings.

As of now, the son of Empire Maker, winner of the 2007 Wood, would tie for 18th among the Top 20 in graded earnings that make the field on the first Saturday in May.

Imperial Council has been training well at Payson Park. He posted a bullet 48 seconds, sharing the fastest of 24 workouts on Sunday, only his second after the Gotham.

Trainer Shug McGaughey stressed that has been his plan. The deeper surface at the South Florida training facility is designed to get a horse fit without having plenty of works.

“He’s galloping out good and strong over a deeper track,” he told the Daily Racing Form. “I think he’s done everything we want him to do.”

I Want Revenge, who has amassed $324,000, is training equally well since returning to California. On Sunday, he went five furlongs in a brisk 58 4/5 at Hollywood Park. “He went well and everything looks good,” said trainer Jeff Mullins.

Several horses also must snare the $450,000 winner’s share in the Wood to reach Louisville, including Atomic Rain, seventh in the Tampa Bay Derby. He has only $40,000 to his credit, but it’s going to be difficult to whip both top contenders.racebook

Among several other 3-year-olds that need to earn more money is the Tampa Bay Derby winner. If Musket Man runs third in Saturday’s $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne, he adds $55,000 to boost his graded earnings to $255,000.

However, Giant Oak, fourth and fifth in two races at Fair Grounds this year, must visit the winner’s circle to claim $300,000. That’s because second money is worth $100,000 and the son of Giant’s Causeway would end up with $174,256.

Many in the 11-horse field hoping to race at Churchill Downs are in the same boat:

Nowhere to Hide, fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby and Risen Star; Toccet Rocket, third in the John Battaglia Memorial; Free Country, fourth in the Sam B. Davis and ninth in the Louisiana Derby; and Al Khali, who defeated Atomic Rain in a Gulfstream 1 1/8-mile allowance contest.

It’s the widest open of Saturday’s preps, all slated at nine furlongs, which includes the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby that shapes up as a three-horse affair.

The Pamplemousse, who took the Sham, just needs to run third to increase his earnings by $90,000 to $270,000. His main opposition is Pioneer of the Nile, winner of three consecutive stakes, who has banked $743,250.

Probable third choice is multiple stakes winner Chocolate Candy, with $220,000, who hasn’t raced in more than six weeks since taking the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.


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  1. I do not think he is the best horse, but there is something about Chocolate Candy that has me thinking Kentucky Derby winner. Until he proves me wrong, he is my favorite.