This past weekend we had three major stakes races from around the United States that offered points towards the Kentucky Derby.
The Withers was the first one run on Saturday afternoon and featured eleven three year olds running a mile and an eighth over a muddy track. Once the mud settled, it was the Chad Brown trained, Early Voting who prevailed in gate to wire fashion as the 6/5 favorite based on what is offered by US sportsbooks.
In only the second start of his career, Early Voting shot to the early lead and opened a sizable advantage that his competition was never able to overcome. Longshot – Un Ojo, which translates from Spanish as “one eye” describing the fact that this horse is missing an eye finished second at 28/1 odds while Gilded Age finished third at 6.80/1 odds.
The second three year old Stakes with Kentucky Derby points on the line was the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes from Gulfstream Park at a mile and a sixteenth. White Abarrio, at odds of 6/1 stalked the early pace and imposed his will turning for home drawing away for an authoritative 4 ½ length win. White Abarrio will be pointed to the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 2nd off this performance.
Morning line favorite- Mo Donegal broke slowly and appeared to idle during the race and finally hit his best stride late finishing a hard-charging third a head behind the slow-breaking Simplification.
Our third three year old prep happened on Sunday afternoon at Santa Anita racetrack in California where heavily favored Messier delivered a tour de force performance winning by fifteen easy lengths at odds of 3/5 in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Messier was only hand urged to the wire in what was arguably the most dominant performance of this young Kentucky Derby prep season.
Controversy surrounded the running of the race as Messier’s trainer, Bob Baffert has been suspended by Churchill Downs and his horses not permitted to race in this year’s Kentucky Derby. We can bet we haven’t heard the end of this controversy as only time will tell what actually will happen.