Photo: Oaklawn Park
and War Academy
, who will represent Hall of Fame trainer
Bob Baffert in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on Saturday, arrived
on the grounds Wednesday and each went to the track before the break
Thursday morning to check out their new surroundings and gallop 1 ¼
Even though War Academy has only had three starts, all in
Southern California, and didn’t hit the board in his lone stakes try in
the San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita in his second time out on February
17, he raised his game to a new level when he traveled two turns under
Mike Smith last time out in an $80,000 allowance/optional claiming race.
The effort was impressive enough to install him as the 2-1 morning line
favorite in the Arkansas Derby field of 10.
certainly is getting a lot of buzz,” said Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s top
assistant. “He’s a Giant’s Causeway colt, he’s a good looking colt, and
he’s hopefully going in the right direction now. We couldn’t be happier
with him. But, he’s untested. We’ll find out on Saturday.”
colt will carry the famed navy and orange colors of Michael Tabor, John
Magnier and Derrick Smith as he tries to earn enough points to gain a
starting berth in the Kentucky Derby. He currently has no points in the
standings, but could secure his spot by living up to all of the hype
because the winner of the Arkansas Derby will gain 100 points while the
place and show horses will get 40 and 20, respectively.
Legacy earned 20 points to date and ranks in 18th place for one of the
20 spots in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. An improvement from his
third in the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), which was the final Oaklawn
prep race for the Arkansas Derby, is what Baffert had in mind when he
sent the son of Medaglio d’Oro back to Oaklawn.
Arkansas for both of them because that’s been our route to the Derby and
we’ve been successful here,” said Barnes, who accompanied Bodemeister
last year when the Baffert-trainee cruised to a 9 ½ length win in the
Arkansas Derby. “Den’s Legacy is possibly getting a little overshadowed
by his stable mate. He kind of had an inside trip in the Rebel. Robby
(Albarado) said it was just tight the whole way. This time he drew a
little more to the outside, so hopefully he’ll have a cleaner trip this
Albarado retains the mount on Den’s Legacy, who will break
from post #5 and is 6-1 on the early line. War Academy keeps services
Mike Repole’s Overanalyze
galloped 1 ¼ miles on
Thursday morning as trainer Todd Pletcher continued to tighten the
screws on the son of Dixie Union. With only 10 Kentucky Derby points to
date, he’s standing on the outside looking in and on Saturday needs to
show much more than he did while fading to fifth last time out in the
Gotham Stakes (G3).
“We were kind of hoping for six or seven,”
assistant trainer Ginny DePasquale said of his draw for the No. 9 post
in the 10-horse field . “In the Kentucky Derby, you’d love to have the
10 to 12 post, but not here. In his past races, he’s run on the front
end and come from behind, so we’ll have to play it by ear, see how he
breaks and hope for a clean trip.”
Overanalyze is the third
choice on the line at 4-1 and he will be partnered for the first time
with Rafael Bejarano, who takes over for the sidelined John Velazquez.Falling
arrived on the grounds at 4:30 a.m. Thursday after vanning from
Churchill Downs and once he was settled in, he was hand-walked around
the paddock. Reynaldo Abreu, John Terranova’s assistant, planned to send
him out on the track to stretch his legs on Friday.
The son of
Lion Heart and grandson of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero, who was
purchased privately by an ownership group headed by James Covello before
his victory in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in
February, is 10-1 in the morning line. His connections think his odds
might be generous.
“He’s going to run his race. He always tries hard and we like his chances,” Abreu said.
the Arkansas Derby will be put up or shut up time for Falling Sky, who
has 20 points and is precariously placed at 19 for one of the 20
Kentucky Derby berths.
“It absolutely is time for him to step
up,” said Abreu. “This is going to be the third time he’ll run for us
and now we need to see if he’s good enough. He needs to earn that right
to go on to Kentucky.”
Abreu has been with Terranova for four
years, but has worked in the past for Pletcher, D. Wayne Lukas and Nick
Zito and thus has been involved with plenty of their Kentucky Derby
starters over the decades. He recognizes a horse, who has that certain
something special when he sees it.
“Falling Sky does have it,” he
acknowledged. “This horse has got a lot of talent. He’s a little bit of
a handful sometimes, but he loves to train and he loves his job. He’ll
get the mile and an eighth distance on Saturday, for sure.”
Martin Garcia picks up the mount for the first time and is expected in Hot Springs on Thursday to get acquainted with the colt.Frac
galloped 1 ½ miles on Thursday morning after walking through the
paddock under tack and schooling there during Wednesday’s races. The Ken
McPeek trainee drew post No. 8 and is 15-1 in the line.
(Lebron, who will ride him on Saturday for the first time) has been on
him the last three days and they are getting a long great,” said Phil
Bauer, McPeek’s assistant at Oaklawn. “He’s hitting the ground pretty
good and we’re happy with him. We’re also happy with our draw. He broke
his maiden from post 12 at Churchill Downs, so he’s been out there and
seen it from there before.”
Bauer and Frac Daddy were together at
Churchill Downs during the 2012 fall meet but then the colt went to the
Florida division to race at Gulfstream Park over the winter.
hadn’t seen him until he got here,” said Bauer. “He was long and lanky
as a two-year-old, and he seems to have filled out a little and grown up
Mike Langford’s Carve
galloped once around the racing
strip on Thursday morning and was scheduled to school at noon in the
paddock. Trainer Steve Asmussen, who is due to arrive on Friday to
saddle the son of First Samurai and grandson of A.P. Indy in the
Arkansas Derby, and the crew expect a better effort than his sixth place
finish in the Rebel last time out.
“He’s trained really well out
of the Rebel,” said assistant trainer Darren Fleming. “This will be
only his fourth career race and he’s learning every time out. But this
is not an easy spot for him.”
Langford, a commercial real estate
developer from Jonesboro, Arkansas claimed the gelding from breeders
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider when he was entered in a $30,000
claiming race for his first start here on January 25.
“Steve and I
both landed on this horse at the same time,” said Langford, who was at
the barn. “I called Steve and he already had his eye on him. We liked
his breeding, among other things.”
Carve, who will be ridden by Oaklawn’s leading jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., drew the rail this time out and is 20-1 in the line.
didn’t really have a chance in the Rebel because he was back too far,”
Langford said. “We’re hoping he’ll be a lot closer to the pace this
, who was a late addition to the field on
the morning of the draw, was scheduled to leave trainer Darrin Miller’s
stable in Kentucky Thursday evening and arrive at Oaklawn early Friday
He finished second last out in the $75,000 Rushaway Stakes
on the Polytrack at Keeneland at 1 1/16 miles and will switch back to
dirt in the Arkansas Derby.
“It’s hard to say how he’s going to
take to the Oaklawn surface, but he has won on the dirt at Gulfstream,
Calder and Tampa, and then on the Poly, so he seems to be able to take
his track with him,” said Miller, who will not be on hand to saddle the
gray/roan son of Divine Park. “But he has to step up his game if he’s
going to move on to the Kentucky Derby. Absolutely.”
Hernandez, Jr., who will be in town to ride Breeders’ Cup Classic winner
Fort Larned earlier on the card in the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2),
has picked up the mount on the 20-1 choice on the line.
Danele Durham was sitting in her car by the barn housing Texas Bling
Thursday morning, listening to the Beatles’ recording of “Let it Be.”
“He’s doing fabulous, just fabulous. This song is perfect because sometimes you just have to let it be,” she said.
Bling, 20-1 in the morning line, galloped 1 ½ miles on Thursday and
Durham said she would take it easy with him right up to the race.
like to run my horses fresh,” said Durham, who has 24 in her care,
mostly for Texas Bling’s owner and breeder the Hall’s Family Trust. “He
couldn’t be any better. This is shaping up just like a story book.”
tale will have a very happy ending for Durham, who has yet to win a
graded stakes race or even run a horse in a Grade 1 event.
is my first time running in the Arkansas Derby and I’m very excited,”
she said. “To win a Grade one would be very, very nice.”Heaven’s
, owned by the Hot Springs-based husband and wife cardiologists
Dr. K.K. and Dr. Devi Jayaraman, galloped an easy 1 ½ miles on Thursday
morning and will jog and walk on Friday.
“He worked real good in
his last breeze and galloped out real strong. He gets better every week
and I’m not just saying that. Sometimes horses go backwards but this one
is moving forward. He’s fitter and better than ever before,” said Bill
Martin, who conditions the Jayaraman’s homebred son of Run Away and Hide
out of the Awesome Again mare Heavens Passport along with his brother,
Israel Ocampo has been named to ride the 30-1 shot for the first time in what will be the colt’s ninth start.
kind of a speed horse and Joe and I felt like he fits him better and
will be able to get him to relax a little more,” said Martin.