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The Countdown

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 3/31/2010 1:53:32 PM

The big guns will be out in full force this weekend with the serious preps of the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial with a backhanded compliment to the Illinois Derby and here is how they are shaping up.

The SA Derby has produced 15 Kentucky Derby winners, the Wood 11 and the Illinois Derby only one in War Emblem.

Those fans in Arcadia channeling Clint Eastwood will be asking themselves as they file into the track SA Derby Day “ Do I feel Lucky”?

Bob Baffert will be shooting for his sixth SA Derby score as he saddles juvenile champ Lookin at Lucky with designs on punching his ticket to Kentucky. The winning Beyers from his local Derby winners runs from the 97 Pioneerofthe Nile recorded last season, to the race’s top Beyer performance when Indian Charlie put up a 111 digit.

Charlie also posted the fastest Derby time of 1:47 which is tied with Sham and Lucky Debonair.

Six for 7 career, Luckin at Lucky overcame an eventful trip to win the Rebel at Oaklawn in his other start this year and will be the solid chalk.

Caracortado will be looking to rebound after flopping as chalk in the San Felipe while Sham hero Alphie’s Bet will be seeking to parlay his victory in the Sham Stakes.

Cardiff Giant needs a turn around after 5 straight losses and will be one of the biggest prices on the tote. Posse Power is bred to run the classic distance and will be trying to build on a good showing in the El Camino Real Derby in his last.

S Power comes from Sidney’s Candy, a speedy son of the unbeaten Candy Ride, Sham second Setsuko and Northern California streaker Skipshot, who already has had 3 demanding races this year.

Abbott and Costello and Whose on First fanatics will have a vehicle in Who’s Up, a runner that is unbeaten in both of his grass races but got whipped by both Candy and Lucky last year.

Boulder Creek rates a longshot glance. A troubled fifth in the Sham, his trainer Craig Dollase was happy with his recent 7-furlong drill and when he says, ‘he’s sitting on a good race’, you can take his word.

Dollase was the youngest trainer ever to win a Breeders’ Cup race when he cashed with Reraise in the 1998 Sprint.

The Wood Memorial has always had an important place in the Triple Crown picture. Two years ago Tale of Ekati shocked at 8-1 in the Wood, but had to settle for a fourth to Big Brown in the Derby. I Want Revenge won the race last year recording a 103 Beyer and would have been the Derby favorite but was injured and has not raced since.

The last runner to win the Wood and succeed in the Derby was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.

They will have to have their collective running shoes on to beat Eskendereya this year they way his former rivals dusted off foes in their next starts.

First Dude has a right to improve after a bad trip in the Florida Derby and he is bred to go long. Awesome Act opened this year with a showstopper in the Gotham, but was losing ground in the lane that day while Jackson Bend was exposed in this loss last time to Eskendereya.

The anti vegetarians in the crowd will be rooting for Carnivore, who appears way overmatched after posting a low figure taking a Laurel maiden special weight race.

Super Saver is yet another Todd Pletcher student aiming for the big time. He is bred for speed on the top, is bred to go long on the bottom with the A.P. Indy influence. He was recently inhaled by Odysseus in the Tampa Bay Derby.

The Illinois Derby until only recently, had been run after the Kentucky Derby, thus competing with the Preakness and it would be a surprise if this year’s winner gets national attention.

The smart money might be on Backtalk. The son of Smarty Jones that cost $250,000 has won at Churchill, twice, at Saratoga and in his last at Delta Downs overcoming a wide trip in the slop. He is in the hands of one of the best trainers in the game in Tom Amoss.

Backtalk put in a 1:09.60 six-furlong work last week that one local clocker said, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Chubby Checker fans will be all over Yawanna Twist, a New York-bred trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. The runner tasted defeat for the first time in Awesome Act’s Gotham win.

American Lion will be trying to position himself with enough Graded earnings to make the Derby cut. He has speed, but has never won beyond 7 furlongs.

Game Ball has a nice kick but is out to prove he can transfer his Tampa form. Schoolyard Dreams was nearly king of the courts at Tampa but lost by a nose in his recent and has to prove he has the constitution to be fully extended and then rebound.

Thirty days and counting.



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