Bobby Zen

Featuring $200-million worth of improvements in its new paddock area, Churchill Downs hosted the draw ceremony for next weekend’s GI Kentucky Derby and GI Kentucky Oaks during its opening night card Saturday.

As usual, the proceedings drew some cheers, and jeers, from the crowd. Possibly numbered among the latter, the connections of the 5-2 morning line favorite Fierceness (City of Light) couldn’t have been overly thrilled with drawing post 17 for Saturday’s Run for the Roses. Campaigned by his breeder Mike Repole, the reigning juvenile champ comes into the race off a scintillating victory in last month’s GI Curlin Florida Derby. Already developing a bit of a reputation for his propensity for being a one on, one off type of character, the colt’s trainer was pragmatic about the post position moments after the draw.

“We just need to break cleanly like he did in the Florida Derby, and I think he has enough talent to put himself in the right spot,” Todd Pletcher said.

The colt will be accompanied by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who was also aboard for the colt’s latest three victories, including last fall’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.

His antipodal counterpart in the gate, Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg and Brook Smith’s Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) drew post 2, and was installed the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. Trained by Chad Brown, who is looking for his first Derby win, the $2.3 million Fasig-Tipton Saratoga graduate is undefeated this season, having won the GII Risen Star S. and GI Toyota Blue Grass S. Perfect under Tyler Gaffalione, the 11-time leading rider at Churchill Downs has the mount.

Brown also saddles Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Product (Practical Joke), who will exit post 15. Installed a 30-1 chance on the morning line, the GIII Tampa Derby winner will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.

“Not that bad,” said Brown when asked how he thought his horses drew. “Sierra Leone, he’s in just a touch farther in than I wanted but he didn’t get the 1 hole, so I’m OK with that. With this particular horse, what I didn’t want was the 19 or 20. In fact, it would have been hard for him to drop over without losing ground, significant ground around the first turn.”

He continued, “With Domestic Product, I thought it was a very good draw for him. He has a lot of natural speed, he should be in the second flight, and I think that Irad [Ortiz Jr.] will have plenty of options from the 15 for that long run down the stretch the first time to sort of position himself hopefully, behind the half dozen speed horses.”

The only other horse under 10-1 on the morning line is GII Louisiana Derby scorer Catching Freedom (Constitution), who was penciled in at 8-1 while exiting post 4. Carrying the flag for Albaugh Family Stables, the Brad Cox trainee is reunited with Flavien Prat, who was also aboard for his latest victory. A pair of sophomores were given 10-1 chance-Qatar Racing, Resolute Racing and Marc Detampel’s Just a Touch (Justify), runner up in the Blue Grass and Japanese invader Forever Young (Jpn) (Reel Steel {Jpn}). The former, who breaks from post 8, will be accompanied by Florent Geroux, while the latter, who won both the G3 Saudi Derby and G2 UAE Derby, will get the services of Ryusei Sakai and will exit the 11 hole.

The trainer with the most prior Derby wins with four, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, saddles B C Stables’ Just Steel (Justify), who drew favorably in post 6. The colt will be ridden by Keith Asmussen, who will be competing in his first Kentucky Derby Saturday. A $500,000 Keeneland September purchase by Lukas, the colt was given a 20-1 chance on the morning line.

“It’s fine,” said Lukas. “I just didn’t want inside. I don’t care for the inside, but anything from probably the 5 out is comfortable.”

The remaining Derby horses are listed as follows: 1) Dornoch (Luis Saez, 20-1); 3) Mystik Dan (Brian Hernandez, 20-1); 5) Catalytic (Jose Ortiz, 30-1); 7) Honor Marie (Ben Curtis, 20-1); 9) Encino (Axel Conception, 20-1); 10) T O Password (Jpn) (Kazuski Kimura, 30-1); 12) Track Phantom (Joel Rosario, 20-1); 13) West Saratoga (Jesus Castanon, 50-1); 14) Endlessly (Umberto Rispoli, 30-1); 16) Grand Mo The First (Emisael Jaramillio, 50-1); 18) Stronghold (Antonion Fresu, 20-1); 19) Resilience (Junior Alvarado, 20-1); 20) Society Man (Frankie Dettori, 50-1). AE 21) Epic Ride (Adam Beschizza, 50-1); 22) Mugatu (Joe Talamo, 50-1).


Tarifa Set as Oaks ML Favorite

Highlighting a 14-horse Oaks field, Godolphin’s Tarifa (Bernardini) drew post 8 and was established the 7-2 morningline favorite for Friday’s Classic for the fillies. Flavien Prat has the mount on the the GII Rachel Alexandra S. and GII Fair Grounds Oaks winner. The homebred filly is trained by Brad Cox.

“I think post positions are a little overrated,” said Cox. “If you have the right horse, you can really win from anywhere. I think both horses [Tarifa and stablemate Gin Gin breaking from post 2] had a solid work the other morning so that’s most important at this stage to me.”

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The second choice on the morning line at 4-1, Whisper Hill Farm’s Leslie’s Rose (Into Mischief), drew on the far outside in post 14 for trainer Todd Pletcher. A $1.15 million Keeneland September purchase, the winner of the GI Ashland S. will be reunited with Irad Ortiz Jr., who has been aboard all four of her lifetime starts.

Last season’s juvenile champion filly Just F Y I (Justify) draws lucky number 13 in the Oaks gate for George Krikorian and trainer Bill Mott. Victorious in last season’s GI Frizette S. and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, the homebred will be ridden by her regular partner, Junior Alvarado. She was installed the 9-2 third choice on the morning line.

“She won the Breeders’ Cup from the 12,” said Mott. “Hopefully, she’ll have a good clean trip and have a chance to get over. If she’s on her game, she’ll break pretty good and hope it works out as well as it did in the Breeders’ Cup.”

A pair of fillies were weighted at 5-1 on the morning line-GII Fantasy S. scorer Thorpedo Anna (Fast Anna), who drew post 5 and Ways and Means (Practical Joke), who will exit post 11. The former is campaigned by Brookdale Racing, Mark Edwards, Judy Hicks and Magdalena Racing and trained by Ken McPeek. The latter, a Grade I placed filly conditioned by Chad Brown, is a homebred for Klaravich Stables. Thorpedo Anna will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. while the latter will be accompanied by Tyler Gaffalione.

The remaining horses in the field are: Tap Jenalie (Manny Esquivel, 30-1); Where’s the Ring (Jose Lezcano, 15-1); Regulatory Risk (Jose Ortiz, 20-1); Lemon Muffin (Keith Asmussen, 30-1); Fiona’s Magic (Luis Saez, 30-1); Everland (Abel Cedillo, 30-1); Into Champagne (Julien Leparoux, 30-1); Power Squeeze (Daniel Centano, 12-1). AE 15) Our Pretty Woman (Joel Rosario, 15-1); 16) Candied (Luis Saez, 20-1)

The post Derby Favorite Fierceness Draws in 17, Sierra Leone Gets Post 2 appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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