Tune-up for the Kentucky Derby with the big card from Churchill Downs today including the Kentucky Oaks and superfilly RACHEL ALEXANDRA.

My Oaks picks are below.

Check out Thoroughblog’s Derby analysis in tomorrow’s TORONTO STAR newspaper or on-line at thestar.com or here tomorrow morning. Racing begins at Churchill tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.



Musket Man

Derby colt is given a Guiness beer every morning

Canadian press story

Musket Man trainer Derek Ryan relaxed as first Kentucky Derby approaches

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Derek Ryan may be the most relaxed rookie trainer heading into the Kentucky Derby.

The sport’s biggest race can be a nerve-racking experience before 150,000 fans and an international television audience Saturday. Not for Ryan, who seems to be taking it all in stride as he prepares Musket Man, the Tampa Bay and Illinois Derby winner.

The Irishman spends a good portion of the morning doing what he normally does, cracking jokes – no different than at his home base of Monmouth Park. The bicycle, Ryan’s preferred method of backstretch transportation, is parked outside the barn so he can easily tool around. Pressure? What pressure?

“There’s no difference,” Ryan said. “I still have to get up early in the morning, unfortunately. And I’m still looking for a rich woman with a bad heart.”

While Ryan kids around, his horse is a serious runner. Musket Man is 5-for-6, making him one of the better values on the Derby morning line at 20-1. Ryan, who has been known to a make a wager, already locked in a bet on his colt – US$100 at 150-1 in a Derby futures bet made in Las Vegas in January.

“You know what they say: what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Ryan said. “I’d love to go back to cash it. I might not come back with much of the money after I get there.”

The ticket is stashed in a safe place. “It’s in the ashtray in my pickup truck at Monmouth,” Ryan said. “I don’t smoke, so it’s safe.”

BEATING THE RAIN: Papa Clem and Nowhere to Hide logged their final Derby workouts before conditions deteriorated at Churchill Downs on Thursday morning. Read more notes from CP at:



Continuing the big stories of Derby week,

Dunkirk – $3.7 million


Dunkirk, the co-second choice for tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby, did not race until Jan. 24. But he ranked among the favorites for the 135th running of the Churchill Downs classic some 1½ years before that.

That’s the expectation that comes with a $3.7 million price tag, as Dunkirk wore when he topped Keeneland’s 2007 September yearling sale. Such horses are bought with races like the Derby in mind.

“Exactly,” said Demi O’Byrne, the bloodstock and racing adviser for Dunkirk’s owners, quickly amending, “Hoping. Not that you’re expecting; that’s a strong word.”

Dunkirk, whose racing was delayed by a sore shin last summer, is trying to become only the second Derby winner who did not race as a 2-year-old, the other being Apollo in 1882. That’s only slightly more daunting a task historically than trying to be a sales-topper who wins the Derby. www.courier-journal.com/article/20090501/SPORTS08/905010435/Dunkirk+s+a+winner+in+physique++pedigree



and he’s the Derby favourite 


Not the face horse racing needs

By Andrew Beyer

WASHINGTON – While the Triple Crown races capture the public’s attention, the sport of Thoroughbred racing hopes to win new fans by showcasing its glamor and excitement. But the 2008 series turned out to be a public-relations disaster. When Big Brown became the nation’s dominant 3-year-old, his trainer, Rick Dutrow, became the face of horse racing. The media recounted his long history of drug-related infractions. Dutrow unblushingly admitted that he regularly administered anabolic steroids to the Kentucky Derby winner. The steroid issue exploded just after the death of the filly Eight Belles in the Derby, and it fueled a national outcry about the way Thoroughbred racehorses are treated.

Could anything be worse?

Meet Jeff Mullins, the trainer of I Want Revenge, who is favored to win Saturday’s Derby.

















Picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby is always a daunting task. Adding the results of races run over synthetic surfaces further complicates the annual handicapping puzzle for fans, trainers and jockeys.

The surface issue has become a major theme of Derby Week at Churchill Downs as 20 3-year-olds prepare for the 135th running of the race. “That’s the question I’ve been asked the most,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who will saddle Hold Me Back, a colt owned by WinStar Farm.

Since its inception in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has been run on the dirt track at Churchill Downs. Until the recent development of the synthetic surfaces, designed to improve running conditions and reduce injuries, Derby candidates typically trained and raced in dirt. That’s no longer the case.




In case you missed it yesterday…

• NOWHERE TO HIDE is a late entrant to the Derby but what a pedigree this colt has. Ever heard of WITH APPROVAL? IZVESTIA? Well this colt is closely related to those Canadian Triple Crown champions. By Vindication, NOWHERE TO HIDE is out of Stirring, an unraced daughter of Canadian stakes winner DAIJIN. DAIJIN (who is the dam of stakes winner HANDPAINTED, the dam of PATENA, once on this year’s Derby trail) is a half-sister to WITH APPROVAL, the 1989 Triple Crown champ.

Their dam is Passing Mood, a daughter of WOODBINE OAKS winner COOL MOOD, one of the first mares ever purchased by Kinghaven Farms. It was the longest margin of victory in the history of the prestigious race. AVOWAL crushed the field in the 1982 Woodbine Oaks – 13 lengths clear of the 2nd place finisher – and solidified her position as the best filly in the land that year.

She was fast too – very fast. She raced 6 ½ furlongs in track record time of 1:15 2/5 and was a champion sprinter at the Sovereign Awards a year after she was champion 3yo filly.

AVOWAL is the granddam of HOLD ME BACK, who is a longshot chance in the Derby. The mare’s daughter Restraint is the dam of the Gian’t Causeway colt. Owned by Rick Kennedy and trained by Art Warner, Avowal is a daughter of L’Enjoleur – Well In Hand. She was managed by Reade Baker, who incidentally celebrates his birthday today. Avowal is the dam of Woodbine stakes winner FREEDOM FLEET and stakes winner ADARLING.

Speaking of Woodbine Oaks runners, ASPENELLE is the second dam of MINE THAT BIRD and she was 2nd in the race. She is by Vice Regent out of Little to Do.

And, Mine That Bird’s grandsire is Canadian-bred SMART STRIKE, who is also the sire of Derby starters PAPA CLEM and ATOMIC RAIN.

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Odds

1 West Side Bernie, Kelly Breen, Stewart Elliott, 30-1

2 Musket Man, Derek Ryan, Eibar Coa, 20-1

3 Mr. Hot Stuff, Eoin Harty, John Velazquez, 30-1

4 Advice, Todd Pletcher, Rene Douglas, 30-1

5 Hold Me Back, Bill Mott, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1

6 Friesan Fire, Larry Jones, Gabriel Saez, 5-1

7 Papa Clem, Gary Stute, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1

8 Mine That Bird, Bennie Woolley, Calvin Borel, 50-1

9 Join in the Dance, Todd Pletcher, Chris DeCarlo, 50-1

10 Regal Ransom, Saeed bin Suroor, Alan Garcia, 30-1

11 Chocolate Candy, Jerry Hollendorfer, Mike Smith, 20-1

12 General Quarters, Tom McCarthy, Julien Leparoux, 20-1

13 I Want Revenge, Jeff Mullins, Joe Talamo, 3-1

14 Atomic Rain, Kelly Breen, Joe Bravo, 50-1

15 Dunkirk, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado, 4-1

16 Pioneerof the Nile, Bob Baffert, Garrett Gomez, 4-1

17 Summer Bird, Tim Ice, Chris Rosier, 50-1

18 Nowhere to Hide, Nick Zito, Shaun Bridgmohan, 50-1

19 Desert Party, Saeed bin Suroor, Ramon Dominguez, 15-1

20 Flying Private, D. Wayne Lukas, Robby Albarado, 50-1



at Churchill

• Inclement weather may play havoc with the big races this weekend – check the track condition at post time today and then monitor how the track is playing. News yesterday is that champion mare ZENYATTA may not even race today in one of the co-features, the Louisville Handicap, because of the track condition.


Pgm. # Horse Trainer Jockey Morning Line

1 Tweeter D. Wayne Lukas Miguel Mena 30-1

2 Be Fair D. Wayne Lukas Rafael Bejarano 15-1

3 Stone Legacy D. Wayne Lukas Kent Desormeaux 30-1

4 Gabby’s Golden Gal Bob Baffert Victor Espinoza 10-1

5 Justwhistledixie Kiaran McLaughlin Julien Leparoux 5-2

6 Rachel Alexandra Hal Wiggins Calvin Borel 3-5

7 Nan Craig Dollase Corey Nakatani 20-1

8 Flying Spur Bill Mott Garrett Gomez 8-1



• There is not much to this race, small field and a stunning black gal by the name of Rachel Alexandra. Her workout the other morning – which you can view on any of the Kentucky Derby sites or on YouTube, was a shocking move – galloping out 6 furlongs in a sparkling 1:10.

Many people would pick her for the Derby! With the prospect of a wet track, her chances get even better. I tried to beat her, but I don’t think it can be done.

Bill Mott trainee FLYING SPUR is a mud loving gal out of a superstar mare herself – Lakeway. Looks next best and the only one with a chance to upend the fave.

Some of the other features today include:

Canadian-bred JAZZ NATION (City Zip) in the Aegon Sprint:

Friday, Churchill Downs, post time: 1:26 p.m. EDT

AEGON TURF SPRINT S.-GIII, $100,000, 3yo/up, 5fT


1 Chitoz Forest Wildcat Pletcher 10-1

2 Smart Enough Horse Chestnut (SAf) Fisher 3-1

3 Hewitts Concerto Hess Jr 15-1

4 Captivating Cat Storm Cat Mott 8-1

5 Due Date El Prado (Ire) Margolis 12-1

6 Chamberlain Bridge War Chant Calhoun 5-2

7 Cannonball Catienus Ward 3-1

8 Accredit E Dubai Maker 6-1

9 Jazz Nation City Zip Lukas 20-1

Friday, Churchill Downs, post time: 2:10 p.m. EDT

LOUISVILLE S.-GII, $350,000, 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16m


1 Swift Temper Giant’s Causeway Romans 15-1

2 Zenyatta Street Cry (Ire) Shirreffs 4-5

3 Miss Isella Silver Charm Wilkes 15-1

4 One Caroline Unbridled’s Song Arnold 3-1

5 Unforgotten Northern Afleet Stewart 20-1

6 Modification Vindication O=Neill 20-1

7 French Kiss Hussonet Hartlage 30-1

8 Unbridled Belle Broken Vow Pletcher 3-1



• CREASE INFRACTION, a Canadian-bred 11 year-old gelding with $690,000 in the bank, was 3rd beaten 7 lengths in a claiming race for just $8,000 yesterday at Penn National. The old timer, multiple stakes placed for several connections, raced for the Dont Tell the Wives Stable.














Saturday, Newmarket, Britain


G1, ,426,000, 3yo, c/f, 1mT


1 17 Ashram (Ire) Indian Haven (GB)

(i83,000 wnlg >06 GOFNOV; 70,000gns yrl >07 TATOCT)

O-Godolphin; B-Waterford Hall Stud; T-Saeed bin Suroor; J-Frankie

Dettori. Lifetime Record: 4-2-1-0, ,44,532.

Last Start–6th Oct. 18 G1 Dewhurst S.

2 9 Cityscape (GB) Selkirk

O-Khalid Abdullah; B-Juddmonte Farms; T-Roger Charlton; J-Steve

Drowne. Lifetime Record: 4-1-3-0, ,49,049.

Last Start–2nd Apr. 18 G3 Greenham S.

3 15 Delegator (GB) Dansili (GB)

O/B-Mrs Poilin Good; T-Brian Meehan; J-Jamie Spencer.

Lifetime Record: 4-2-1-0, ,51,363.

Last Start–1st Apr. 16 G3 Craven S.

4 13 Evasive (GB) Elusive Quality

O/B-Cheveley Park Stud; T-Sir Michael Stoute; J-Ryan

Moore. Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-1, ,34,922.

Last Start–1st Oct. 25 G3 Horris Hill S.

5 8 Finjaan (GB) Royal Applause (GB)

O-Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum; B-Shadwell

Estate Company Ltd; T-Marcus Tregoning; J-Tadhg

O=Shea. Lifetime Record: 5-2-1-1, ,79,393.

Last Start–3rd Oct. 18 G1 Dewhurst S.

6 14 Gan Amhras (Ire) Galileo (Ire)

(i145,000 yrl >07 GOFMIL)

O-Jackie Bolger; B-Ennistown Stud; T-Jim Bolger;

J-Kevin Manning. Lifetime Record: 3-1-1-1, ,217,502.

Last Start–2nd Sept. 28 Parknasilla Hotel Goffs (C&G) Million

7 3 Imperial Guest (GB) Imperial Dancer (GB)

(20,000gns yrl >07 TATOCT)

O-John Guest; B-John Guest Racing Ltd; T-George

Margarson; J-John Egan. Lifetime Record: 10-3-0-1,


Last Start–7th Apr. 16 G3 Craven S.

8 10 Lord Shanakill Speightstown

($110,000 yrl >07 KEESEP)

O-Mogeely Stud & Mark T Gittins; B-Vimal Khosla,

Gillian Khosla & Templeton Stud; T-Karl Burke; J-Jim

Crowley. Lifetime Record: 8-2-2-3, ,176,575.

Last Start–2nd Oct. 18 G1 Dewhurst S.

9 12 Mastercraftsman (Ire) Danehill Dancer (Ire)

O-Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier & Michael Tabor;

B-Lynch Bages Ltd; T-Aidan O=Brien; J-Pat Smullen.

Lifetime Record: 5-4-0-0, ,347,063.

Last Start–4th Oct. 5 G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere

(Grand Criterium)

10 11 Monitor Closely (Ire) Oasis Dream (GB)

(140,000gns yrl >07 TATOCT)

O-Lawrie Inman; B-Cliveden Stud Ltd; T-Peter Chapple-

Hyam; J-Alan Munro. Lifetime Record: 4-1-1-1,


Last Start–2nd Apr. 15 £400000 Tattersalls Timeform 3yo Trophy

11 6 Ocean’s Minstrel (GB) Pivotal (GB)

(5,500gns wnlg >06 TATDEC; 18,000gns yrl >07

TATOCT; 21,000gns 2yo >08 TATAPR)

O-Ocean Trailers Ltd; B-Black Horse Farm; T-John Ryan;

J-Jerry O=Dwyer. Lifetime Record: 5-2-0-0, ,26,235.

Last Start–1st Apr. 4 Listed International Trial S.

12 4 On Our Way (GB) Oasis Dream (GB)

(55,000gns yrl >07 TATOCT)

O-John May; B-Whatton Manor Stud ; T-Henry Cecil;

J-Tom Queally. Lifetime Record: 6-2-1-2, ,40,823.

Last Start–4th Apr. 15 Listed Feilden S.

13 17 Ouqba (GB) Red Ransom

(140,000gns yrl >07 DONAUG)

O-Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum; B-Highclere

Stud; T-Barry Hills; J-Richard Hills. Lifetime Record:

8-3-1-1, ,61,543.

Last Start–1st Apr. 15 Listed European Free H.

14 16 Pure Poetry (Ire) Tagula (Ire)

(i27,000 wnlg >06 GOFNOV; 40,000gns yrl >07 TATDEC)

O-Mrs Julie Wood; B-R Collins & Jerry Kennedy;

T-Richard Hannon; J-Richard Hughes. Lifetime Record:

7-3-0-1, ,42,867.

Last Start–3rd Apr. 16 G3 Craven S.

15 5 Rip van Winkle (Ire) Galileo (Ire)

(i170,000 yrl >07 ITYSEP)

O-Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith;

B-Roberto Brogi; T-Aidan O=Brien; J-Johnny Murtagh.

Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-0, ,43,081.

Last Start–7th Oct. 18 G1 Dewhurst S.

16 1 Sea the Stars (Ire) Cape Cross (Ire)

O-Christopher Tsui; B-Sunderland Holdings Ltd; T-John Oxx;

J-Michael Kinane. Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-0, ,69,772.

Last Start–1st Sept. 28 G2 Beresford S.

17 7 Zafisio (Ire) Efisio (GB)

O-H Downs & D Looney; B-Airlie Stud & Sir Thomas

Pilkington; T-Roger Curtis; J-Darryll Holland. Lifetime

Record: 6-3-0-1, ,139,806.

Last Start–5th Nov. 12 G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud



• The anti horse slaughter movement has grown in recent years and a lot of that is thanks to Alex Brown Racing, a teacher/exercise rider’s website that has connected horse lovers around the planet. Here he talks with Knowledge @ Wharton: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajg9Z-8nobQ