Four Kentucky Derby preps will take place this weekend, but one is clearly the main event.
That would be the Grade 1 Florida Derby, where Bob Baffert will ship Spielberg to face Shug McGaughey's Greatest Honour and Todd Pletcher's Known Agenda.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park and the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai also offer 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers. And the Fukuryu offers 40-16-8-4 points on the Japan road to the Derby.
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Two Kentucky Oaks points preps also are on the schedule. Here is a look at the early fields for the North American preps and other graded stakes on the calendar.
Kentucky Derby preps
Florida Derby (G1), Gulfstream Park, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds
As with Saturday's Louisiana Derby (G2), a leading West Coast contender for the Kentucky Derby ships to face a top East Coast contender. In this case it is Spielberg, winless in two starts since his Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) score, vs. Greatest Honour, winner of three straight. Todd Pletcher's Known Agenda returns to stakes company after an 11-length win in an allowance race last out. Collaborate takes a big step up after breaking his maiden on Feb. 27 for Saffie Joseph Jr. Mark Casse's Soup and Sandwich generated buzz with two easy wins in as many starts. Dale Romans also is expected to have a starter here, but it is yet to be determined which of his five nominees that might be.
Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) Turfway, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds
Gretzky the Great won three in a row, including the Summer Stakes (G1) in September, before finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and third in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes. Tarantino looks to bounce back from a fourth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G2), where he was bumped five-wide at the start. All nominees here are cross-nominated to Turfway's Rushaway Stakes. Three Todd Pletcher nominees – Aviano, Sainthood and Donegal Bay – are expected to run in one or the other.
Kentucky Oaks preps
Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) Gulfstream, 1 1/16 miles, fillies, 3-year-olds
Malathaat puts her 3-for-3 on the line for Pletcher in this race, which awards 100-40-20-10 points toward the Kentucky Oaks. Her last start was her Demoiselle (G1) win in December. Kenny McPeek is expected to start Crazy Beautiful, who has not won since August, and Simply Ravishing, fourth in her last two starts after three straight wins.
Bourbonette Oaks (listed), Turfway, 1 mile, fillies, 3-year-olds
Three of the top four finishers in the Cincinnati Trophy are expected in this race, which offers 20-8-4-2 Kentucky Oaks points. Rey Hernandez's Wait for Nairobi won that start in her first race after breaking her maiden in January. Two lengths back was Phantom Vision, who has finished in the money in each of her four starts for Michael Maker.
Other graded stakes
Pan American (G2), Gulfstream, 1 1/2 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up
Cross Border is expected to return here from his third-place effort in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1). His last win was in the Bowling Green (G2) in August. Churn N Burn is making his stakes debut for Ian Wilkes after an easy win in a Feb. 11 allowance race at this track and distance in February.
Appleton (G3), Gulfstream, 1 mile (turf), 4-year-olds and up
Ever Dangerous returns to graded-stakes company for the first time since finishing fifth in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) in July. Since, he won two straight and then finished second in an allowance race at Gulfstream on Feb. 13. Gray's Fable makes his 2021 debut after spending the second half of last year at Woodbine, where he had two wins in five starts.
Orchid (G3), Gulfstream, 1 3/8 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up
Always Shopping has three wins and a second in her last four starts, including her score in the La Prevoyante (G3) last out. That was a 3-length victory over Delta's King, also expected here. Crystalle took a 10-month break after the 2019 Breeders' Cup, and her allowance win last out in January was her first score in four starts since.
Ghostzapper (G3), Gulfstream, 1 1/8 miles, 4-year-olds and up
Formerly the Hal's Hope, this race has a new name this year. Attachment Rate, 14th in last year's Kentucky Derby, has won 2 of 4 starts since, both in allowance company. Four-year-old Nocturnal has raced only three times – a second-place effort on debut followed by maiden and allowance wins this year after a 10-month break.
Santa Ana Stakes (G3), Santa Anita, 1 1/4 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up
Going to Vegas has finished on the board in her last four races, all graded stakes, for Richard Baltas, who also is expected to start Megahertz (G3) winner Colonial Creed here. Raymundo's Secret won the John C. Mabee (G2) before his fourth-place finish in the Goldikova (G2) last out.