Impressive prep race winners, eye-catching maiden performances, a future wager pool in the books, and a bevy of noteworthy workouts… there’s a lot to digest from last week’s action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
Let’s dig in and review all the latest news and notes:
Changes on the Leaderboard
There was no doubting the superiority of Caddo River in Friday’s Smarty Jones S.at Oaklawn Park. Favored at 3-5, the son of Hard Spun trounced his rivals in gate-to-wire fashion, carving out splits of :23.12, :47.16, and 1:12.42 before drawing clear to win the one-mile test by 10 1/4 lengths in 1:38.19.
Trained by Brad Cox, who already has expected 2-year-old champion Essential Quality in his stable, Caddo River picked up 10 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification points to debut in eighth place on the leaderboard. Meanwhile, distant Smarty Jones runner-up Cowan doubled the four points he earned from finishing second in the Dec. 18 Remington Springboard Mile S., settling in 13th place on the leaderboard with eight points.
Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2
Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 was open for betting over the weekend, with undefeated Sham (G3) winner Life Is Good closing as the 7-1 individual favorite over 8-1 shot Essential Quality.
Life Is Good’s odds did drift up slightly from his 5-1 price in Pool 1, perhaps because he had to work harder than expected to win the Sham by three-quarters of a length. But bettors still have confidence in the speedy son of Into Mischief, who hails from the barn of six-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert.
Caddo River, fresh off his blowout victory in the Smarty Jones, closed as the third individual favorite at 13-1.
Recent Maiden Winners
Two exciting colts broke their maidens in eye-catching fashion last Saturday. Prevalence, a Godolphin homebred trained by Brendan Walsh, made the most buzz with a stunning debut victory at Gulfstream Park. After dueling for the lead, Prevalence drew off under barely any urging at all to win the 7-furlong sprint by 8 1/2 lengths.
But The Great One actually recorded an even larger margin of a victory in a one-mile maiden heat at Santa Anita. Coming off a narrow runner-up effort in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), the Doug O’Neill trainee tracked a fast pace, then seized command and drew off to score by 14 lengths in 1:37.28. The Mar. 6 San Felipe (G2) is next on the agenda for The Great One.
On the Work Tab
Capo Kane: Cruised through 5 furlongs in 1:01.96 on Wednesday at Parx Racing.
Eagle Orb: Took to the Belmont Park training track on Wednesday to clock an easy 5 furlongs in 1:03.07.
Essential Quality: Turned in his stiffest workout of the year on Sunday at Fair Grounds, breezing 5 furlongs in 1:01.60.
Get Her Number: Posted his first workout of the year on Friday at the San Luis Rey Training Center, going 3 furlongs in an easy :38.80.
Hot Rod Charlie: Took a step toward a start in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) by breezing 6 furlongs in 1:16.60 on Friday at Santa Anita.
Jackie’s Warrior: Breezed 5 furlongs on consecutive Mondays at Fair Grounds, getting the distance in 1:01.40 on Jan. 18 and in 1:01.80 on Jan. 25.
Keepmeinmind: Fired off a bullet workout on Tuesday at Oaklawn, breezing 5 furlongs in 1:00.00.
Medina Spirit: Breezed in company with stablemate Spielberg on Friday at Santa Anita, traveling 5 furlongs in 1:01.20.
Midnight Bourbon: Lecomte (G3) winner wasted no time returning to the work tab, breezing a half-mile in :51.00 on Monday at Fair Grounds.
Rombauer: Turned in a third consecutive 5-furlong workout on Friday at Santa Anita, getting the distance in 1:02.20.
Sittin On Go: Clocked 5 furlongs in 1:01.14 on Saturday at Gulfstream.
Smiley Sobotka: Took things easy on Saturday at Gulfstream, working 5 furlongs in 1:03.47.
Spielberg: Continued his preparations for the Robert B. Lewis by clocking 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 on Friday at Santa Anita, going in company with stablemate Medina Spirit.
Road to the Kentucky Oaks
Adding blinkers clearly paid off for The Grass Is Blue in Sunday’s Busanda S. at Aqueduct. Her third attempt to win a stakes proved to be the winning one as she eagerly tracked a slow pace, fought her way out of a pocket at the top of the stretch, and rallied to win the 1 1/8-mile race by one length.
The Grass Is Blue secured 10 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, placing her 10th on the leaderboard. Busanda runner-up Coffee Bar earned four points while going down to a game defeat, but currently sits 16th in the qualification rankings, a couple slots outside the Top 14 cutoff mark.
The final weekend of January is going to be a busy one. Gulfstream headlines the action with the Holy Bull (G3) and Forward Gal (G3), which will respectively award Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks qualification points on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four finishers. Iroquois (G3) winner Sittin On Go is among the prominent runners expected to take aim at the Holy Bull.
Across the country, Santa Anita will offer up the same points for the Robert B. Lewis (G3), a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep expected to draw Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) winner Spielberg and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Hot Rod Charlie.
Finally, Oaklawn Park will get in on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks action with the Martha Washington S., where another 17 points (split 10-4-2-1) will be up for grabs. A field of six has been entered, with Golden Rod (G2) third-place finisher Coach among the probable favorites.