Road to Derby: Trio of Key Preps on Tap on Saturday

Intense Holiday is the 2-1 favorite for the Louisiana Derby (Photo credit: Fair Grounds)

The road to the 2014 Kentucky Derby heats up on Saturday with a trio of points races, and the fourth and final Kentucky Derby Future Pool (KDFW) opens on Thursday, closing just prior to the running of two of the preps.

The $1 million Florida Derby (G1) features one of the early Derby favorites in Cairo Prince, who makes his first start since winning the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. The colt is the 6-1 second choice in Pool 4 of the KDFW while Bovada has the colt listed at 10-1.

The $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) drew a field of 10 led by Risen Star (G2) winner Intense Holiday, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The Todd Pletcher trainee is listed at 20-1 in Pool 4 of the KDFW and is currently at 25-1 at Bovada.

Don’t forget the $2 million UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan is also a Derby points race. The race has a 10:25 am (ET) post time as part of the Dubai World Cup card.

Here is a quick look at the three Derby preps. My full analysis and selections will be in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.


Florida Derby

Eight will go in the Florida Derby led by Cairo Prince, who is the 9-5 morning line favorite. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee needs to run his race, as he currently has just 18 Derby points, good for 18th place in the 2014 Kentucky Derby Points standings. With defections that might be good enough, but a top three finish would virtually assure the colt a starting spot.

The colt should get a solid pace to run at, which will be set by Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Wildcat Red. Both General a Rod and Constitution bring some speed to the race as well.

Last year’s Florida Derby winner Orb went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown in 2008 and Barbaro in 2006 also parlayed Florida Derby victories into roses.

Five of the last 10 Florida Derby winners came out of the Fountain of Youth, while two prepped in the Holy Bull. Three others came out of allowance races including 2012 winner Take Charge Indy.

Cairo Prince Wins Holy Bull


PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds

1. Wildcat Red, J. Velazquez, J. Garoffalo, 3-1

2. Matador, J. Leparoux, M Casse, 15-1

3. Cairo Prince, L. Saez, K McLaughlin, 9-5

4. Constitution, J. Castellano, T A Pletcher, 4-1

5. East Hall, J. Leyva, W A Kaplan, 20-1

6. General a Rod, J. Rosario, M Maker, 7-2

7. Allstar, O. Bocachica, M J Vitali, 30-1

8. Spot, C. Lanerie, N P Zito, 8-1


Louisiana Derby

Seven that competed in the Risen Star are back in the race including the top three finishers. Albano was my top pick in the Risen Star and the colt was able set moderate early fractions and was nailed on the wire by Intense Holiday. It was a tough beat at 13-1.

Albano is back but the pace appears likely to be quicker, with Louies Flower, In Trouble and Rise Up all showing quickness in previous outings.

Four of the last seven Louisiana Derby winners came out of the Risen Star including Pants On Fire, who was sixth in his prep in 2011. Last year’s winner was Revolutionary, who prepped with a win in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct.

There is one New York shipper this year. The Tony Dutrow trained in Trouble set the early fractions before weakening to finish third in the Gotham (G3). The outing was his first start off a 5 ½ month layoff.

Intense Holiday Wins Risen Star


PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds

1. Intense Holiday (KY), M E Smith, T A Pletcher  2-1

2. King Cyrus (KY), J Graham, T A Pletcher  15-1

3. Louies Flower (FL), M Mena, W B Calhoun   20-1

4. Flat Gone (KY), K J Desormeaux, J K Desormeaux   50-1

5. Gold Hawk (KY), S Bridgmohan, S M Asmussen   12-1

6. Vicar’s in Trouble (LA), R Napravnik, M J Maker   4-1

7. Commanding Curve (KY), R Albarado, D Stewart  20-1

8. Rise Up (KY), G Melancon, T M Amoss   10-1

9. In Trouble (KY), J Rocco Jr., A W Dutrow   4-1

10. Albano (KY), K D Clark, J L Jones   9-2


UAE Derby

A field of 12 will go in the UAE Derby, and the 100 points to the winner is enough to assure a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby, while the 40 for second likely would be enough to get into the starting gate on the first Saturday of May.

The Aidan O’Brien trained Giovanni Boldini is the most familiar face in the field. The colt shipped to Santa Anita last fall and ran a solid second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The colt had the lead in the stretch and was run down late by Outstrip.

O’Brien has won the last two runnings of the race, winning with Daddy Long Legs in 2012 and Lines of Battle last year. Lines of Battle then ran seventh in the Kentucky Derby while Daddy Long Legs fared even worse, getting eased and finishing last of 20.

The Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby will be televised live by the NBC Sports Network at 6:30 (ET). The UAE Derby will be televised live on HRTV and TVG with a 10:25am (ET) post time.

Giovanni Boldini runs second in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf


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