Winter is arriving in Louisville, and that means one thing: it’s time to start tracking Kentucky Derby contenders.
With the Run for the Roses 142 days away, key prep races are right around the corner. Top 2-year-olds have shipped to Florida, California and Louisiana to train for the tough test that is the Triple Crown trail.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Hansen, trained by Mike Maker, is acclimating to his new base at Gulfstream Park. The light gray colt, who is 3 for 3, will likely contest the early 3-year-old stakes races at that track, which are the Holy Bull on Jan. 29 and the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 26.
Buzz is building for Margano, a full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Margano, trained by Barclay Tagg, won a turf race at Gulfstream in his third start on Dec. 10. Tagg is taking his time with this potential star. So far, the colt has raced only on turf; it remains to be seen if he takes to dirt.
Trainer Dale Romans has a daunting duo of juvenile stars in Dullahan and O’Prado Again. Dullahan, a half brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird, was winless in his first four races before capturing the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. The colt followed that up with a good fourth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. O’Prado Again showed distance is no challenge by winning the Remsen Stakes at 1 1/8-miles at Aqueduct on Nov. 26. The son of El Prado is likely to face Hansen in the Gulfstream prep races.
As expected, trainer Todd Pletcher boasts a long list of contenders, including Kentucky Jockey Club winner Gemologist. The undefeated son of Tiznow is resting and will soon resume training at Palm Meadows in Florida.
Can’t wait until January to watch potential Derby starters? Check out Saturday’s $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park, a 1 1/16-mile test on the all-weather track that features a full field of 13. The race is slated for 7:37 p.m. (EST) and will be televised on TVG.
Photo by: J.J. Hysell