The Kentucky Derby is less than five weeks away. This Saturday brings us the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Park, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, and the Santa Anita Derby. Each of these contests awards KD points on a 100-40-20-10 scale, which assures the top two finishers a chance to Run For The Roses on May fourth.
The Wood Memorial Stakes
New York’s premier KD Prep Race is contested at 1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs) on the Main Track at Aqueduct. This race has had 11 Winners go on to capture victory in the Kentucky Derby, four of whom captured the Triple Crown. The most famous loser in the Wood Memorial was eventual Hall of Famer SECRETARIAT, who finished third in 1973.
The race is named to honor Eugene D. Wood, a New York State politician and horse racing enthusiast who had been a founder and past president of the old Jamaica Racetrack where the race was run until 1960. Some major milestones established in the Wood Memorial include nine wins by Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro and seven wins by Hall of Fame trainer James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.
The Bluegrass Stakes
This is Keeneland‘s signature Prep Race for the Kentucky Derby. The race, named for the Bluegrass region of Kentucky which is characterized by grass with bluish-green stems, is held annually in mid-April, and run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles. The 2015 contest marked the race’s return to a dirt surface after the track replaced its synthetic Poly-track in the summer of 2014.
The Blue Grass has produced 19 winners of the Kentucky Derby, nine of which Won the race before tasting Victory on the first Saturday in May. The most recent Blue Grass runner to win the KD was STREET SENSE in 2007. Jockey Bill Shoemaker Won this race six times during his riding career.
The Santa Anita Derby
Inaugurated in 1935, this Mile & 1/8 race is THE West Coast steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby. Since its inception, six Santa Anita Derby Winners have gone on to Win the KD. The most recent, of course, was last years Triple Crown Winner JUSTIFY.
It should come as no surprise that Hall Of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has Won the race six times. Jockey Gary Stevens has been aboard a record nine Winners in here as well. In 2000, Jenine Sahadi, became the first woman trainer to Win the Santa Anita Derby when her charge, THE DEPUTY, finished First.
On Wednesday the Daily Racing Blog will take at look at the entries in these races along with their Morning Line odds. So be sure to stop back.