The 142nd Kentucky Derby is showing its age, in a gray kind of way. Four of the expected 20 horses in the field Saturday are subtly different shades of gray, from the lightest in Japan-based Lani, to the more steely grays Mohaymen and Destin to the most dappled of all in Creator.
The top three finishers in last month’s Ashland Stakes at Keeneland headline a field of 14 3-year-old fillies entered Tuesday for Friday’s 142nd running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
Five years after being scratched from the 2011 Kentucky Derby, Uncle Mo is slated to have a remarkable three offspring of his in the 142nd Kentucky Derby on May 7 with unbeaten juvenile champion Nyquist, graded stakes winner Mo Tom and Grade I-winner Outwork.
The inside portion of the track has been jockey Corey Lanerie’s bread and butter. If the 10-time leading rider at Churchill Downs is going to have a mount get passed in the stretch, one better be prepared to go around because it will be a frigid day in the underworld before he lets someone best him by coming up the rail.
Unbeaten juvenile champion Nyquist put in a solid maintenance move in preparation for his expected start in the Kentucky Derby on May 7, covering 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 while working in company with stablemate Ralis at Keeneland on Saturday morning.
Hard-luck graded stakes winner Mo Tom put in an impressive move at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, working a half-mile in 47 seconds flat in his second drill since finishing a troubled fourth in the Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 26.
Champion and current Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist did not go back to the track at Keeneland as originally planned Thursday after the son of Uncle Mo was found to have a slightly elevated white blood count.
Airoforce, a member of the Herald-Leader’s original 2016 Derby Dozen, was installed as the 3-1 morning-line favorite in an overflow field of 12 for Saturday’s 45th running of the Grade 3, $500,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes.
Prior to last season, some of Thoroughbred racing’s most optimistic and learned participants were buying into the suggestion that something needed to change when it came to the makeup of the American Triple Crown.
Normally, this is the time of year when one could make a second job out of sorting through the armada of well-regarded Todd Pletcher-trained sophomores, trying to tab which ones will represent the seven-time Eclipse Award winner come the first Saturday in May.
When you have a multiple stakes winning, chestnut California-bred on the Kentucky Derby trail with Victor Espinoza as his jockey, comparisons to 2014 Horse of the Year and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome are certain to come.
Mohaymen has the divisional buzz and champion filly Songbird has many convinced she is the best 3-year-old in training, period. But until someone gets a nose down in front of juvenile champion Nyquist, trainer Doug O’Neill is happy to let the hype mingle over others so long as his charge keeps on keeping on.