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Kentucky Derby 134 Update: April 11

| Churchill Downs Communications | 04/11/2008 #
  • Kentucky Derby contender Pyro

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro, the 5-1 second choice in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, will go for his third straight victory of 2008 when he faces 11 rivals Saturday in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I) at Keeneland.

Pyro, a homebred son of Pulpit out of the Wild Again mare Wild Vision, has compiled a record of 6-3-2-1 with earnings of $1,056,718. In 2008, Pyro has captured the Risen Star (GIII) and Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds.

Shaun Bridgmohan, who has ridden Pyro in all of his starts, will have the mount Saturday and break from post position seven.  A victory would solidify his status as one of the major contenders, and perhaps the betting favorite, in the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on May 3 at Churchill Downs.

Among Pyro’s rivals in the field that includes all Triple Crown nominees are three horses coming off stakes victories and all trained by men who have won the Kentucky Derby.

Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer will saddle two horses for owner Robert LaPenta. Cool Coal Man, winner of the Fountain of Youth (GII) in his most recent start, will break from the rail under two-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Kent Desormeaux. Zito’s other runner is Stevil.

Eric Fein’s Big Truck, trained by Barclay Tagg, enters the Toyota Blue Grass off a victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (GIII). Team Valor International and Vision Racing’s Visionaire, trained by Michael Matz, took the Gotham (GIII) in his most recent start.

Visionaire closed at 19-1 in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager; Cool Coal Man was 20-1 and Big Truck 32-1.

The field for the Toyota Blue Grass, from the rail out, is Cool Coal Man, Bear Stables’ Kentucky Bear, Stonerside Stable’s Cowboy Cal, Stevil, Starlight Stable, Donald Lucarelli and Paul Saylor’s Monba, Big Truck, Pyro, Marylou Whitney Stables’ Stone Bird, Equine Prep Management’s Medjool, Briarwood Stable’s Miner’s Claim, Zayat Stables’ Halo Najib and Visionaire.

ADRIANO TO WORK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS ON SUNDAY – Courtlandt Farm’s Adriano, winner of the Lane’s End Stakes (GII) over Polytrack at Turfway Park, is scheduled to travel from Keeneland to Churchill Downs on Sunday morning for a workout on the one-mile dirt track over which the Kentucky Derby will be run on May 3.

Trainer Graham Motion hopes to use the work to gauge how the son of A.P. Indy handles the track.  If the work goes well, Adriano could train up to the Kentucky Derby.  If Motion is unimpressed, the colt could remain at Keeneland to run in next week’s $325,000 Coolmore Lexington (GII) over the Polytrack surface at the Lexington track.

EVENLY MATCHED FIELD OF 14 IN ARKANSAS DERBY – Zayat Stables’ Z Fortune is the lone graded stakes winner in the field of 14 entered for Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (GII) at Oaklawn Park, but that does not mean he has the field over a barrel.

Of the other 11 Triple Crown nominees in the mile and one-eighth test, eight have placed in graded stakes and are hoping to use the centerpiece of the Hot Springs meet to vault into Kentucky Derby prominence.

Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Robby Albarado, Z Fortune will break from post position 12. Z Fortune won the LeComte (GIII) at Fair Grounds and subsequently finished second in the Risen Star (GIII) and fifth in the Rebel (GII).  Asmussen and Albarado teamed to win the Arkansas Derby with Curlin last year.

Z Fortune closed at 54-1 in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager that closed April 6.  Four other Pool 3 propositions are in the Arkansas Derby: Dogwood Stable’s Blackberry Road (46-1), Cubanacan Stables’ Gayego (57-1), B. Wayne Hughes’ My Pal Charlie (73-1) and Kenneth Maier’s Liberty Bull (74-1).

The field for the Arkansas Derby, from the rail out, is as follows: Ellen and Peter Johnson’s Victory Pete, Beau Greely, John Greely IV and Phil Houchens’ Tres Borrachos, Horton Stables’ Shekinah, Mike McCarty’s King’s Silver Son, Gayego, Alex and Joann Lieblong’s Isabull, My Pal Charlie, Blackberry Road, Liberty Bull, the Millard Seldin Revocable trust’s Golden Yank, Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Ablaze With Spirit, Z Fortune, Cecil Peacock’s Indian Sun and Russata Stables’ Jazz In The Park.

All but Ablaze With Spirit and Jazz In The Park are Triple Crown nominees.

PONI COLADA HEADS NORTHERN SPUR FIELD – Bob Zollars and Mark Wagner’s Poni Colada, an eight-length winner of the Borderland Derby at Sunland Park in February, heads a field of 10 entered for Saturday’s $75,000 Northern Spur Stakes at a mile at Oaklawn Park.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Poni Colada has compiled a record of 8-3-1-0 with earnings of $132,366. Poni Colada finished seventh in the WinStar Derby at Sunland Park in his most recent start.

Three other Triple Crown nominees are in the Northern Spur field. Headlining that trip is Dream Walkin Farms’ Sebastian County, who ran third in last summer’s Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) and was third in his 2008 debut in the Mountain Valley Stakes.

Other Triple Crown nominees are Shortleaf Stable’s Red Sandy and George Gilbert, K. Chan, Glyn Kelly and L.A. MacLennan’s Royal Hudson.

HEY BYRN FACES SIX IN HOLY BULL – Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn, a late Triple Crown nominee, heads a field of seven entered Wednesday for Saturday’s $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (GIII) at a mile and three-sixteenths at Gulfstream Park.

A romping winner of his first two starts in 2008, Hey Byrn finished fourth in the Florida Derby (GI) in his most recent start on March 29. Hey Byrn will break from post position two under Chuck Lopez.

Two other Triple Crown nominees are in the field: Bear Stables’ Chief Bear and Richard Brand’s Web Gem.

FIVE TRIPLE CROWN HOPEFULS EYE LA PUENTE – J. Paul Reddam’s No Jepordy, fourth in the March 16 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park in his most recent start, heads a list of five Triple Crown nominees in a full field of 12 entered Wednesday for Saturday’s $100,000 La Puente Stakes at a mile on the turf at Santa Anita.

No Jepordy, who also ran third in the Borderland Derby at Sunland Park in February, has compiled a record of 6-1-0-3 with earnings of $90,560 for trainer Doug O’Neill. Corey Nakatani has the mount.

Other Triple Crown nominees in the field are Joy Ride Racing’s Afleet Ruler, Legacy Ranch’s Capture the Call, Joseph Duffel’s Nevada Worrier and Diamond A Racing Corp.’s Tiz West.