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Brisnet Handicappers Edge Derby and Oaks notes. 3/26/10.

KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

MARCH 25, 2010

by James Scully

ICE BOX (Pulpit) rallied from last to post a 20-1 upset in Saturday's Florida Derby (G1), edging 29-1 longshot PLEASANT PRINCE (Indy King) by a nose, and the result flattered ESKENDEREYA (Giant's Causeway), who easily handled both colts in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2).

The "Road to the Derby" will be in full swing this coming weekend with the Louisiana Derby (G2), Lane's End (G2), Sunland Derby (G3) and U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2).

Florida Derby

Ice Box entered the Florida Derby as a perceived third stringer in the Nick Zito stable, with JACKSON BEND (Hear No Evil) and FLY DOWN (Mineshaft) garnering much more attention over the winter, but the chestnut stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a $450,000 payday that adversely affected his stablemates, who are still scrambling for enough graded earnings to make this year's field.

With Jose Lezcano in the saddle, Ice Box benefited from a fast pace that took its toll on 9-5 favorite RULE (Roman Ruler), who contested early splits of :23 1/5, :46 2/5 and 1:10 3/5. Ice Box trailed all 10 rivals with three-eighths of a mile to run and closed strongly down the middle of the track to get up in the final strides, registering a career-best 101 BRIS Speed and a 108 Late Pace number. However, his final time (1:49.19) was 13 seconds slower than the filly Devil May Care (Malibu Moon) in the Bonnie Miss (G2) earlier in the program.

From the female family of 1985 Derby winner Spend a Buck, Ice Box offered a good middle move in the Fountain of Youth before flattening out and is eligible to keep improving for his two-time Derby-winning conditioner. The late runner merits a look for the exotics at long odds on Derby Day, especially if the pace is wicked as expected, but Ice Box and Pleasant Prince don't rate as serious win contenders. Saturday was the third meeting between the two, and they received marginal Speed numbers in their previous encounters. Both took a significant jump forward in the Florida Derby.

Rule weakened following his early exploits, but he could gain plenty in defeat. After facing little pace resistance in the Sam F. Davis (G3), Delta Jackpot (G3) and Jean Lafitte S., he dueled most of the way in his first start at nine furlongs and still managed to finish a clear third after being passed. This kind of performance can toughen up a front runner, and Rule figures to receive plenty of stamina from his female family and has six weeks to regroup for the Derby. The colt's BRIS Speed ratings compare favorably to any three-year-old this season, but his run style -- all four wins in wire-to-wire fashion -- remains a concern in a speed-laden field.

Trainer Wesley Ward hopes to train Pleasant Prince straight up to the Derby, but the Florida-bred is on the cusp of the 20-horse threshold (excluding fillies and other expected defections) with $162,500 in graded earnings. There will be plenty of shuffling over the next month as horses move up the list and drop out of consideration, and Nowhere to Hide (Vindication) actually made the 2009 Derby field with only $55,500 in graded earnings. Look for the cut-off to be much higher this year. Eskendereya, who bypassed the Florida Derby in favor of the April 3 Wood Memorial (G1), is one spot below Pleasant Prince with $150,000 in graded earnings. Others who need to make some money in their final Derby prep include:

Swale

D' FUNNYBONE (D'wildcat) confirmed his status as the nation's top three-year-old sprinter in Saturday's Swale S. (G2) and is expected to remain in one-turn events for the time being, with the possibility of joining the Triple Crown fray in the Preakness (G1).

"My first choice for him next would be the (April 24) Withers ([G3] at Aqueduct), a one-turn mile, then see where we are," trainer Richard Dutrow said following the Swale.

Owner Paul Pompa Jr. visited the winner's circle with Big Brown in 2008, so he doesn't need to chase the Derby experience, and D' Funnybone would be taken out of his comfort zone at 1 1/4 miles. He appeared to weary late in the seven-furlong Swale, as Edgar Prado hustled him to hold off the fast-closing Ibboyee (Medallist), and registered only a 101 BRIS Speed rating for the 1 1/4-length decision. That number is a couple of points lower than Big Drama (Montbrook), who won but was was placed second via disqualification in the 2009 edition. Champion sprinter Lost in the Fog netted a 106 for his win in the 2005 Swale.

D' Funnybone makes it look easy but his Speed ratings aren't overwhelming. He received only a 100 when opening this season with a one-length victory in the Hutcheson S. (G2), and his career-best, a 103 for the Saratoga Special (G2), came last August.

Upcoming

Risen Star (G2) hero DISCREETLY MINE (Mineshaft) has been installed as a lukewarm 7-2 favorite on the morning line for Saturday's Louisiana Derby, and the Todd Pletcher-trained colt may revert to stalking tactics with plenty of additional speed in the 13-horse cast. DROSSELMEYER will look to improve upon his fourth-place effort as the favorite in the Risen Star, but he'll have to overcome the far outside post. Late runners STAY PUT and FLY DOWN could both prove dangerous.

El Camino Real Derby (G3) winner CONNEMARA (Giant's Causeway), a half-brother to 2004 Derby runner-up Lion Heart, will be the horse to beat in Saturday's Lane's End over the Polytrack at Turfway Park. Other contenders include RANGER HEARTLEY (Lost Soldier), who edged Conneamara in the California Derby before finishing fifth in the El Camino Real; Risen Star third-placer NORTHERN GIANT (Giant's Causeway); and recent Palm Beach (G3) runner-up DEAN'S KITTEN (Kitten's Joy).

Godolphin's MENDIP (Harlan's Holiday), a smashing 6 1/4-length winner of the Al Bastakiya S. at the same about 1 3/16-mile distance, could earn a trip to the Kentucky Derby with a victory in Saturday's U.A.E. Derby on the Dubai World Cup undercard. The unbeaten colt will have Frankie Dettori up.

Sunday's Sunland Derby was upgraded to Grade 3 status and features a lofty $800,000 purse. CONVEYANCE (Indian Charlie), a front-running winner of the Southwest (G3) and San Rafael (G3) this season, will be at the New Mexico track for Bob Baffert, and Risen Star runner-up TEMPTED TO TAPIT (Tapit) and Gotham (G3) third-placer NACHO FRIEND (Friends Lake) will both invade from the East Coast.

Eskendereya, Lookin at Lucky head Pool 3 Future market

ESKENDEREYA (Giant's Causeway), a dazzling 8 1/2-length winner of the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, and LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike), America's reigning two-year-old champion and winner of Oaklawn Park's Rebel S. (G2) in his 2010 debut, loom as the likely favorites heading into the third and final three-day pool of Churchill Downs' 2010 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW).

Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia has installed the Todd Pletcher-trained Eskendereya as the 5-1 favorite and Lookin at Lucky, who is bidding to provide Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert with his fourth Kentucky Derby victory, as the 6-1 second choice in his morning line odds for the 24 wagering interests in KDFW Pool 3. But the Mutuel Field, which includes all three-year-olds other than the 23 individual horses in the pool, is expected to again attract strong support from Future Wager fans. The "All Others" bet, the favorite in each of the previous 2010 KDFW pools, is the 8-1 third choice in the Pool 3 morning line.

Wagering in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager at racetracks, satellite wagering sites and advance deposit wagering outlets, which include TwinSpires.com, will open at noon (all times EDT), on Friday. Betting on the pool is scheduled to conclude on Sunday at 6 p.m.

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager provides fans with an opportunity to bet weeks in advance on contenders for the Kentucky Derby (G1) at odds that could be more attractive than those they would receive on the day of the race. All KDFW pools include exacta wagering. The Derby Future bet is a $2 minimum win wager. The minimum wager for a straight exacta, which requires the bettor to select the Kentucky Derby's top two finishers in the exact order of finish, is also $2, while the minimum for exacta boxes and wheels is $1. There are no scratches and no refunds in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. If Churchill Downs determines that injury, illness or other circumstance will prevent the participation of any individual betting interest in the Kentucky Derby, wagering on that interest will be suspended.

The wagering interests for Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are dominated by the stable of four-time Eclipse Award-winner Todd Pletcher, who trains a record seven horses in the pool, one more than the previous record established in 2010's second three-day pool. Along with Eskendereya, Pletcher trains AIKENITE (Yes It's True) (50-1), CONNEMARA (Giant's Causeway) (20-1), DISCREETLY MINE (Mineshaft) (20-1), INTERACTIF (Broken Vow) (20-1), RULE (Roman Ruler) (20-1) and SUPER SAVER (Maria's Mon) (20-1). Pletcher is seeking his first victory in the America's greatest race.

Interactif is one of eight new individual betting interests in the pool. Others include ICE BOX (Pulpit) and PLEASANT PRINCE (Indy King), the one-two finishers in last week's Florida Derby (G1); Gotham S. (G3) winner AWESOME ACT (Awesome Again); Sham S. (G3) winner ALPHIE'S BET (Tribal Rule); MAKE MUSIC FOR ME (Bernstein), SCHOOLYARD DREAMS (Stephen Got Even) and HOMEBOYKRIS (Roman Ruler).

The 23 individual wagering interests in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools are chosen by a panel that includes Brad Free, Southern California correspondent for Daily Racing Form; Mike Watchmaker, DRF's national handicapper; and John Asher, Churchill Downs vice president of racing communications.

Real time odds and exacta payouts can be found online under "Contenders" and "News" links at www.kentuckyderby.com, the official web site for the 136th running of America's greatest race and the definitive online resource for the Kentucky Derby experience.

2010 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 'Road to the Derby' series starts Saturday

Like every prolific sporting championship, the Kentucky Derby (G1) is the culmination of months -- even years -- of preparation, determination and the heart-felt desire to win America's greatest race for horses. For many, the chance to compete in the Kentucky Derby is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and not making the cut means saying goodbye to a dream.

Just like the road to the Super Bowl, World Series and Final Four, teams of Thoroughbred horses, owners, trainers and jockeys must perform well in schedule of preparatory races -- a playoff series -- in order to earn a start in the "Run for the Roses."

The newly launched "Road to the Kentucky Derby" television series, produced in partnership by Churchill Downs Incorporated and NBC Sports, will take viewers into the middle of this gutsy competition and show them the intense commitment made by both human beings and horses chasing the Kentucky Derby dream.

The three-part series, slated to run on consecutive Saturdays from March 27 through April 10, will provide live coverage of six Derby prep races, key competitions that contenders must win to earn a coveted spot in the Derby's 20-horse starting gate. The series will also give viewers at home a sense of the spectacle surrounding a day at the races, including snapshots of the fashion, food, famous faces and racing's real "characters" -- the fans -- to draw viewers into the social scene that makes racetracks the ultimate source for entertainment.

"We are excited to partner with NBC Sports on this new approach to televised horse racing, which has helped us grow viewership for the Kentucky Derby telecast over the last three years," said Bob Evans, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Incorporated. "Derby prep races are still the focal points of each telecast, and viewers will have the chance to invest themselves in the compelling storylines of Derby hopefuls as they earn a berth in America's premier horse race. By blending traditional sports coverage with feature and lifestyle stories, we will offer entertainment programming that appeals to a broad audience, including women and younger viewers, while widely distributing live racing coverage for our core fans."

The broadcast schedule for the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series is as follows:

MARCH 27 (USA Network, Fair Grounds, 5-6 p.m. EDT):
* $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2), Fair Grounds
* $500,000 Lane's End (G2), Turfway Park

APRIL 3 (NBC Sports, Santa Anita, 5-6 p.m. EDT):
* $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1), Santa Anita
* $750,000 Wood Memorial (G1), Aqueduct

APRIL 10 (NBC Sports, Keeneland, 5-6 p.m. EDT):
* $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), Oaklawn Park
* $750,000 Blue Grass (G1), Keeneland

While viewers take in the action at home, fans at the track will have the chance to enjoy the "DreamBet" of a lifetime. Churchill Downs Incorporated will sponsor a special promotion at each of the broadcast host tracks for the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, allowing on-track patrons to enter a drawing for the opportunity for a free $10,000 wager on the broadcast host track's race. A winning fan will be drawn at random during the course of the racing program at each broadcast host track. Churchill Downs will then place a $10,000 "win" wager on the horse the winning contestant at each host site selects in the following races:

* Louisiana Derby on March 27
* Santa Anita Derby on April 3
* Blue Grass on April 10

Viewers at home can watch to see if the contestant wins big as the race unfolds. Churchill Downs Incorporated piloted a similar wagering concept during its three "Downs After Dark" night racing events in the summer of 2009 that proved extremely popular with fans of all ages and wagering experience levels. For more information and to review official rules for each "DreamBet" Sweepstakes visit www.KentuckyDerby.com/dreambet.

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