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The Final Important Preps

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 4/13/2011 4:56:13 PM

With about 3 weeks to go, the last couple of key Kentucky Derby preps will be staged this week as the Arkansas Derby goes at Oaklawn Park and the Blue Grass is carded at Keeneland.

First run in 1937, the Blue Grass has been an important stepping-stone to the Kentucky Derby. Shut out in 1942 was the first to post the Blue Grass/Kentucky Derby double.

Tomy Lee and Bill Shoemaker pulled off the trick in 1959 while Chateaugay, Northern Dancer and Lucky Debonair did the two-step in three consecutive years ending in 1965.

Forward Pass, Dust Commander and Riva Ridge were the next 3 steeds to win both of these events. The great Spectacular Bid won the Blue Grass by 7 lengths and then cashed at Churchill.

Strike the Gold in 1991 was the last run to pull off the historic double.

This year in the Blue Grass, the race is an open affair.

Santiva looms the chalk off his second in the Risen Star and his tactical speed will give him first run on the deep closers.

Joes Blazing Aaron will try to make it three in a row after taking the Palm Beach on grass at Gulfstream.

He figures to be winging along with Sensational Sam. If a duel does occur, expect Santiva to possibly get the ideal trip but also expect Willcox Inn to run huge.

That colt has more speed than he shows in last, he ran well local in the Breeders Futurity last year and he’s trained well for this. Value should be there too.

The Arkansas Derby does not have the history of the Blue Grass but I distinctly remember watching Sunny’s Halo win the 1983 running and immediately knew he would win the Kentucky Derby. Eddie Delahoussaye geared Sunny’s Halo down winning at Oaklawn and he left plenty in the tank for Churchill.

Smarty Jones is the other runner to pull off the Arkansas Derby/Kentucky Derby double.

This year’s renewal will feature The Factor, who was visually impressive taking the Grade 2 Rebel in a run away when he was never challenged on the lead.

With Todd Pletcher adding blinkers to his charge Brethren, that son of Distorted Humor could push the issue from the get go.

Dance City has speed and has won 2 of his three races so he may very well muddle the pace too.

Nehro ran his heart out in defeat in the Louisiana Derby and he will benefit by any kind of a speed duel as will Elite Alex, who was caught wide in the La. Derby. The thing about Alex is that he did flash speed early in his career.

Since The Factor could be bet off the board and the school is still out as far as how far he wants to go, the value in the Arkansas Derby could be with the deep closers.

Think about boxing Elite Alex and Nehro in the exacta and hope the race falls apart.



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