I saw a couple of colts in the UAE Derby on March 25 in Dubai that may grow on me by the time the first Saturday in May rolls along at Churchill Downs.
There was a great stretch battle between Thunder Snow and Epicharis, which Thunder Snow won in the final jump in racehorse time of 1:57.81 for the mile-and-three-sixteenth race over a heavy track after some unusual rains and strong winds in the desert.
Both of the colts easily won enough points to be in the starting gate on May 6 for the Kentucky Derby. Thunder Snow picked up 100 points and Epicharis received 40 for running second, and he was the leader in the Japanese racing series for a spot in the Kentucky Derby. But since he won in a point’ race outside of Japan, Mont Saint Legame is the top Japanese colt that would get the invitation. I think I explained that right, but I’ll let Churchill Downs worry about how all that works out.
Todd Pletcher shipped Master Plan to Dubai for the race and he picked up 20 points for third and he is worth watching but he may need more points.
Hence put trainer Steve Asmussen and Calumet Farm back in the Kentucky Derby picture after he won the Sunland Derby on March 26 at Sunland Park in New Mexico. The son of Street Boss picked up 50 points for the win in the mile-and-and-eighth race. Conquest Mo Money was second and received 20 points but he is not Triple Crown nominated. It will cost his owners $200,000 for the late fee to get into the Derby. Hedge Fund was third and Irap was fourth at Sunland.
I don’t know what I saw in the Spiral Stakes on March 25 at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky, all I know is I wasn’t impressed. It’s run on fake dirt and that hasn’t paid off too many times. Only Animal Kingdom came out of that race to win the 2011 Derby. Fast and Accurate, a son of Hansen, won the race and his owner Dr. Kendall Hansen said he would put up the $200,000 late entry fee. Good luck with that. Blueridge Traveler, Convict Pike and Kitten’s Cat, all grass horses, were the next three finishers.
The next races will be on April 1 with the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Orleans and the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in Hallendale Beach. The remaining points’ races have a top prize of 100 points each except for the Lexington on April 15 at Keeneland in Kentucky. There only are seven points’ race left with the Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass on April 8 and the Arkansas Derby on April 15.
My top 10 picks for this week are: (The full points’ list can be found at the Churchill Downs web site)
Gunnevera 64 points
Thunder Snow 100
Classic Empire 32
Cover Photo: Thunder Snow lunges past Epicharis; Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club Photo