The Derby door of opportunity is still ajar, but time is running out. There are three major preps this Saturday each offering 100 points to the Winning horse, which virtually locks down a spot in the gate on May 7th.
Here then, the big three this weekend:
THE WOOD MEMORIAL STAKES New York’s premier Kentucky Derby prep race is contested at 1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs) on the main track at Aqueduct. The Wood 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 was eventual Hall of Famer SECRETARIAT, who finished 3rd in 1973.
The Wood Memorial 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 include nine Wins by Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro and seven Wins by Hall of Fame trainer James Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons.
THE SANTA ANITA DERBY Inaugurated in 1935 at Santa Anita Park, it is the signature West Coast steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby. Since its inception, six Santa Anita Derby Winners have gone on to Win the Kentucky Derby.
The race is contested by 3-year-olds at a distance of 1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs). Gary Stevens (jockey) and Bob Baffert (trainer) have Won the Santa Anita Derby nine and six times, respectively.
In 2000, JENINE SAHADI, became the first woman trainer to Win the Santa Anita Derby when THE DEPUTY, was the first across the wire.
THE BLUE GRASS STAKES This is the signature Derby prep from Keeneland Racetrack. It is held annually in mid-April over 1 1/8 miles.
The race, named for the Bluegrass region of Kentucky which is characterized by grass with bluish-green culms, has been contested since 1937.
The 2015 running marked the race’s return to a dirt surface after the track replaced its synthetic Polytrack in the summer of 2014.
The Blue Grass at Keeneland has produced 19 Winners of the Kentucky Derby, nine of which Won the Blue Grass before tasting Victory in the Run For The Roses.
The most recent Blue Grass runner to Win the Kentucky Derby was STREET SENSE in 2007.