Was ORB worried after the 2 Kentucky Derby preps yesterday?  The one-word named  horses rule the Derby points standings after Verrazano and Goldencents win, joining the mighty Orb and Revolutionary. Fun times ahead…Manitoba cheering for the Gold on….Canadian horses get rocked, though – Woodbine stakes noms




VERRAZANO – Credit NYRA/Adam Coglianese.


BRIDGING THE GAP – in one word
Verrazano and Goldencents win Derby preps

The reign of the one-word named 3yos continue and Kentucky Derby is in full drive.
VERRAZANO won and is unbeaten, but not many were overly impressed with his victory. The More Than Ready colt did show that he can rate off a slow pace, so he is not speed crazy, and he has some late gumption, but the time of 1:50.27 was about the same as the Gazelle earlier ont he card, a filly race. It seems as if Verrazano’s Beyers will drop out of the triple digits considerably.
Normandy Invasion will go into the Derby with the ‘3rd start off the layoff’ approach in his favour. He is a stretch runner, a teasing type, and will attarct attention once again.
“I think he’s still learning,” added the trainer of Verrazano, whose winning margins in his three prior races were 7 ¾ lengths, 16 ¼ lengths, and three lengths. “He has a tendency to idle a little bit and wait on company down the lane. I thought that today he did that a little bit. It was the first time he had horses real close to him at the finish of a race, so hopefully every step we make is a learning experience for him and he learns to polish off these races off a little better.”
Normandy Invasion, trained by Chad Brown for Fox Hill Farm, was a neck in front of Vyjack, whose four-race winning streak at his home track came to an end.
“We were happy the way he ran,” said Rudy Rodriguez, trainer of Vyjack, who with 70 points likely has secured a berth in the starting gate for the Derby . “I have to talk to the owner and see what he decides. I think they already booked everything up, so I guess we’re going. I think that the plan is to go.”
By virtue of his runner-up effort, Normandy Invasion now has 44 points in the qualifying system.
“I’m happy with my horse’s performance,” said Brown. “I’m very grateful he got up for second, got the points, hopefully, to get into the Derby . If the horse comes back good, I don’t see any reason why a mile and quarter third off the layoff shouldn’t really hit him between the eyes.”


and Manitobans are thrilled!


EQUISPORT’S beautiful image of GOLDENCENTS, from a Canadian bred dam


The story of the handsome colt GOLDENCENTS is a writer’s dream. So many stories behind this 3yo:

*Owners of penny auction living the dream, Basketball coah Rick Pitno owns 5%

*African American jockey from Virgin Islands, last black rider to win Derby, 1902 – Jimmy Winkfield

*Manitoba bred dam of the colt comes from Canadian breeding:

Bold Ruckus, the great Canadian stallion, is the sire of BODY WORKS, a Manitoba stakes winner foaled in Canada. Body Works is the dam of Golden Works, bred in Manitoba by Phil Kives (k-Tel records).


GOLDENCENTS won nicely, he was tracking an honest pace under Kevin Krigger, powered to the lead 2 wide inside the quarter-pole, and then put away Flashback when that expected duel materialized.




USA TODAY FEATURE – by Jennie Rees

 ARCADIA Calif. – Rick Pitino’s horse had an easier time than his Louisville Cardinals.

Goldencents, in whom the Louisville basketball coach owns 5%, pressed a fast early pace before taking command at the top of the stretch to a 1-1/4-length victory against heavy favorite Flashback in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park.

The Cardinals needed a photo finish to beat Wichita State 72-68 in the NCAA Final Four semifinal in Atlanta. It goes without saying that no coach has ever won the NCAA title and owned the winner of the Kentucky Derby, which is Goldencents’ next date.

It was the second consecutive triumph in the West Coast’s premier Kentucky Derby prep for trainer Doug O’Neill, who swept both races last year with I’ll Have Another. And O’Neill once again has catapulted into prominence an obscure jockey.



1     Orb     Shug McGaughey III     150     $840,000
2     Verrazano     Todd Pletcher     150     $810,000
3     Goldencents     Doug O’Neill     129     $1,208,000
4     Revolutionary     Todd Pletcher     110     $720,000
5     Lines of Battle     Aiden O’Brien     100     $1,261,089
6     Vyjack     Rudy Rodriguez     70     $505,000
7     Flashback     Bob Baffert     70     $300,000
8     Will Take Charge     D. Wayne Lukas     60     $512,971
9     Itsmyluckyday     Eddie Plesa, Jr.     50     $593,600
10     Govenor Charlie     Bob Baffert     50     $400,000
11     Black Onyx     Kelly Breen     50     $317,130
12     Normandy Invasion     Chad Brown     44     $258,000
13     Mylute     Tom Amoss     42     $363,365
14     Oxbow     D. Wayne Lukas     36     $316,000
15     Uncaptured     Mark Casse     30     $394,674
16     Super Ninety Nine     Bob Baffert     30     $308,000
17     Java’s War     Ken McPeek     22     $201,772
18     Merit Man     Bob Hess, Jr.     20     $357,500
19     Den’s Legacy     Bob Baffert     20     $325,000
20     Falling Sky     John Terranova II     20     $157,500
21     Departing     Al Stall, Jr.     20     $130,000
22     Code West     Bob Baffert     20     $90,000
23     West Hills Giant     John Terranova II     20     $89,000
24     Tiz a Minister     Paul Aguirre     20     $81,000
25     Golden Soul     Dallas Stewart     14     $84,000



It was not a good day at Keeneland for some local horses, although NIPISSING‘s 6th place finisher in the Grade 1 Ashland was not bad for her first race of the year. The ONtario sired gal was overmatched int he race and was beaten more than 10 lengths, but it was a reasonable starting point and the Woodbine Oaks in June looks well within her grasp. She is a homebred for Chiefswood Stable, a daughter of Niigon.
SPRING IN THE AIR, a Canadian-bred and Sovereign Award nominee ‘may have bled’ but she was beaten 18 lengths and John Oxley’s gal surely has some bouncing back to do. The American bred stablemate, SPRING VENTURE, who may be named Canada’s champion 2yo filly last year. was beaten 16 lengths.


Queen’s Plate eligible County Lineman finished 10th beaten 16 3/4 lengths  in race 5, an allowance race.




The ASHLAND was won by EMOLLIENT, who ran away from the field and won by 9 lengths in a stunning reversal off orm. She had been blasted a zillion lengths a week ago by DREAMING OF JULIA on the dirt at Gulfstream. Going into the Ashland, trainer Bill Mott said she spun her wheels at Gulfstream and she was sweaty.

Still, that’s what makes this game very difficult for people to learn about the game and stick with it, when a horse comes back to romp after a 30 length drubbing.

In the BAY SHORE STAKES at Aqueduct, Canadian-owned CLEARLY NOW was 2nd beaten a head after being caught late by stretch runner DECLAN’S WARRIOR. Clearly Now was involved in a 3 wide pace battle and was not ridden from off the pace as he was when he won the Swale Stakes in his last start. He was arguably the best horse in the Bay Shore.





John Oxley’s Uncaptured worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 Saturday morning at Keeneland in his final major prep for next Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1).

Working in company Steel Dust Dancer (owned by John Hillier’s Love 2 Win Stable), a three-year-old maiden, Uncaptured started the work a couple of lengths behind his stablemate, drew even at the eighth pole and finished three lengths in front. Clockers caught the first three-eighths in :36.60.

Miguel Mena, who has ridden Uncaptured in his past three starts and is scheduled to have the mount in the Toyota Blue Grass, was aboard Saturday morning for the move that pleased trainer Mark Casse.

“It was a good work. I wanted him to go in around 1:01 and that was a nice horse he was working with,” Casse said. “He shut it down pretty quick after the work. A week before a race, I don’t want a huge workout and a big gallop out.

Winner of the Iroquois (G3) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall, Uncaptured has accumulated 30 points toward the Kentucky Derby. A top-three finish in the Toyota Blue Grass likely would assure a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

“We know he likes Churchill Downs, so hopefully he runs well enough here to get us there,” Casse said of Uncaptured, a son of Lion Heart who finished second in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) in his 2013 debut. “I thought his effort in the Spiral was tremendous.”

Casse has another probable Toyota Blue Grass runner for Oxley in Dynamic Sky, who worked five furlongs in company in 1:01.40 over a fast track at Churchill Downs this morning.

“Norman (Casse’s son and assistant trainer) said Dynamic Sky went extremely well this morning,” Casse said of the Sky Mesa colt who finished second here last fall in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1). “He will come over to Keeneland maybe tomorrow and remain here and have some paddock schooling.”

Casse said Joel Rosario, who rode Dynamic Sky in his most recent start, would have the Toyota Blue Grass mount.


Star Shoot and Woodstock

Below – Lovely LEINAN is back in town and ready for the Star Shoot on April 20, opening day at Woodbine


The Star Shoot, named for the sire of the great SIR BARTON,  has 15 nominees and there could be a heavy favourite in the name of LEINAN. The Jim and Alice Sapara owned filly, a stakes winner last year, was 3rd in the OBS Sprint for fillies on March 11 and has already posted a nice workout at Woodbine, April 3  5 furlongs in 1:00 4/5.
Other nominees include FINDING MORE, a stakes class filly from New Orleans who would also attract attention (she won her maiden at Woodbine) and stakes placed BOLD BIRDIE.

The Woodstock, an open race for 3yo’s, could be the 2013 debut for Nancy Guest’s HONORABLE GUEST (Old Forester), who was recently scratched from the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park.
The 12 nominees for the Woodstock (maned for an old Ontario track) also include Pat Parente’s promising BLACK HORNET (Pioneering, Ontario bred) who was 3rd to Kentucky Derby hopeful Vyjack in a stake in New York in December; FIVE IRON, training in Florida with Brian Lynch and a pair of Robert Tiller trained, Frank DiGiulio owned guys, POWER PHIL and KITTEN CANDY.