Derby trail

West Coasters Breeze Towards Next Preps

Edited Press Release Both National Treasure (Quality Road) and Skinner (Curlin) worked five furlongs Sunday in preparation for the GI Santa Anita Derby that also serves as a final west coast prep for the GI Kentucky Derby. A day earlier, Geaux Rocket Ride (Candy Ride {Arg}) had his first work since finishing second in the GII San Felipe S. National Treasure, the morning-line favorite in the San Felipe before scratching due to a bruised foot, worked five furlongs in 1:00 for trainer Tim Yakteen. Stablemates Practical Move (Practical Joke) and...

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This Side Up: Run to Win, Not Win to Run

(Listen to this story by clicking the play button below.) [audio mp3=""][/audio] We live in a world where change is routinely mistaken for progress, draped in the cheap frills of "modernization"--a word that needs treating with extreme suspicion, implying as it does that any who challenge innovation are obstructing our species in some otherwise inexorable journey to fulfilment. Nobody can sensibly deny that a great deal of change has indeed been for the better. Few who honor her memory at Keeneland on Saturday, I'm sure, would like to have been...

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A Small Stable with Big Dreams, Eddie Barker Eyeing Derby

Since he ran his first horse in 1994, Eddie Barker's routine has never changed. Every day, he gets up at an ungodly hour and heads to his work, which is his barn on the NYRA backstretch. The reward has been some winners here and there, but never more than 23 in a single year and not one of them a graded stakes winner. The GI Kentucky Derby? It's a race he watches on television. In a sport dominated by the likes of the Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher, Chad Brown, Steve...

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This Side Up: Another Fine Messier

Red Smith put it well; of course he did. So well, in fact, that he said it all over again. In 1975, writing one of the pieces that won a Pulitzer Prize the following year, Smith declared that Kentucky Derby week was "the only one in 52 when the instrument of Satan known as horse racing becomes a showpiece of the American sports scene." Four years later, back at the same point in the cycle, he wrote that little old ladies in Wisconsin would this week be glad to learn...

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This Side Up: Still Amending the Derby Agenda

We should have known better. The moment we deceived ourselves that we had a crossroads of perfect symmetry, with four standout colts converging inexorably on the first Saturday in May, one promptly limped off the trail and then last weekend another was beaten at odds-on. Nobody, then, will be making any assumptions when the other two complete their GI Kentucky Derby preparations, Concert Tour (Street Sense) in the GI Arkansas Derby next week and Essential Quality (Tapit) as the geographical and narrative pivot of three rehearsals staged coast to coast...

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Tapit Doubles Down on Twin Spires

He doesn't need the publicity: as he approaches the evening of his career, his fee is $185,000 and, with his book as wisely controlled as ever, demand should always exceed supply. Nonetheless, there's something highly gratifying about the prospect of Tapit redressing one of the few gaps in a resume that otherwise qualifies him as unmistakably the most accomplished stallion in the land. The horse himself, of course, would remain totally unwitting--just as he was, when his 20th birthday last Saturday was so aptly marked by two sons emphatically confirming...

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This Side Up: Proxy Steps In to Try that Unique Fit

Derby dreams at this time of year can prove as ephemeral as the vapours rising into the glacial air of Hot Springs. But the owner of the champion juvenile knows perfectly well that plans, with Thoroughbreds, can only ever be provisional--and that the postponement of Monday's Oaklawn card is a relatively trivial inconvenience to Essential Quality (Tapit). To recall the graver vexations that can unravel a Derby colt, Sheikh Mohammed needs only rewind to the last cycle, and the last colt that offered to requite perhaps the greatest single ambition...

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