The Derby prep is finally turning in and almost every trainer is keeping his fingers crossed. And an injury free ride into the Derby gates is all that they can imagine or think of.
Top favourite Union Rags, who shall be starting at odds of less than 6-1 is a Michael Matz trainee. The trainer, born in 1951, is based out of Florida and had a successful equestrian career earlier as a show jumping rider. He moved into training horses in 1998 and gained great success with Barbaro in Derby 2006. This year he enters the arena with Union Rags, the most successful and promising three year old on the block currently.
Union Rags is closely followed by Hansen who’s topped the news as the most talked about three year old this season. Hansen is being trained by Michael Maker who made a solid entry into the horse racing scenario when his horse Furthest Land won the Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile in the year 2009. Michael aims to achieve a similar effect with Hansen, who has last nailed the Gotham Stakes as a prep race for Derby and is slated to start on more time in Blue Grass Stakes before racing down the field at Churchill on May 5th.
Todd Pletcher needs no introduction; his is a name the entire sport recognizes with. With victories in countless graded stakes and group 1 races, Todd made ripples in the racing arena with his first Derby win in 2010, the first horse out of 24 starters at Churchill Downs in his career, Super Saver game Todd his first Derby win. Last year, a reminiscent of the win as expected with Uncle Mo going the top favourite, however, gastrointestinal illness scratched him off the field and later off racing. This year from the Pletcher brigade, we have El Padrino, Gemologist and Discreet Dancer.
Dearly known as “Bob”, Bob Baffert will make a tempting start again this year with a handful of race horses in different categories, 2yos, 3yos and older horses. While Game On Dude and Lucky Chappy are headed to Dubai for the World Cup, Bob’s potential Derby aspirants include the fast upcoming Secret Circle, who upped his ranks in his recent starts and is one of the top favourites this year. Also coming from the Baffert brigade are Bodemeister, Gemologist and Castaway. There are more from him. Baffert has won the Derby thrice, Preakness Stakes five times and Belmont Stakes once. However, the Triple C rown has constantly eluded this master trainer.
Graham Motion has been recognized as one of the best trainers in Maryland on nine occasions and made a memorable achievement the previous year with his work in Animal Kingdom. This year, Graham’s Lucky Chappy is headed to the Dubai World Cup while the Derby contenders comprise of Went The Day Well, Friscan and State of Play. Graham has one major win from the Derby, and two others from the Breeder’s Cup, Breeder’s Cup Turf and Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Talk about the top trainers for the year is almost incomplete unless Steve Asmussen finds his rightful place. The trainer is a Breeder’s Cup Classic winner in 2007 and has two wins from the Preakness. His most wondrous creations were Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. This year, Asmussen has launched Sabercat and Daddy Nose Best for the Derby attack and while the former may not have climbed up the ladder, the latter, Daddy Nose Best has recently won the Sunland Derby establishing himself in top form as of now.
Mike Harrington would be directing Creative Cause, winner of San Felipe Stakes into Santa Anita Derby before finally plunging into the Derby. Kiaran McLaughlin and his horse Alpha have been the eye of the some major discussions regarding the colt’s next start however, a firm and decisive answer is still awaited. Dale Roman’s Shackleford is now a potential four year old contender; however, his 3yo starter, Dullahan has finished 2nd in his last start at the Palm Beach Stakes and would soon be testing the waters at Blue Grass Stakes on April 14th.
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