Kentucky Derby horses still going strong

Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

We always seem to hear how bad the 3 year olds are – 2011 was the exception. The first 11 finishers in last years Kentucky Derby are still in training and/or racing – Animal Kingdom, Nehro, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford, Master of Hounds, Santiva, Brilliant Speed, Dialed In, Pants On Fire, Twice the Appeal and Soldat.

The next three Kentucky Derby horses are still around too! Number 12 is Stay Thirsty who is taking a break and is expected to resume training within the month and race in April (owner says anywhere but Churchill Downs as he has not done well there). Number 13 is Derby Kitten and he just raced at Gulfstream Park last month. Number 14 is Decisive Moment who worked at Calder recently.  So it appears that in 2011, the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky proved that 3 year olds involved in horse racing may be more that people think.

Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom is scheduled to race on February 25 at Tampa Bay Downs.  Last year’s Preakness and Belmont winners are both entered The Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, February 11.

Here is the complete field for the Donn Handicap in post-position order with jockeys : Where’s Sterling, Jose Lezcano; Mission Impazible, Javier Castellano; Ruler On Ice, Rosie Napravnik; Redeemed, Edgar Prado; Soaring Empire, Julien Leparoux; Al Khali, Alan Garcia; Flat Out, Alex Solis; Trickmeister, Ramon Dominguez; Shackleford, Jesus Castanon; Hymn Book, John Velazquez and Sangaree, Rajiv Maragh.

In post-position three of the Donn Handicap is the 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice. The gelding, trained by Kelly Breen, will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik, one of Breen’s regular jockeys.

“She’s been riding up a storm at Fair Grounds,” said Breen about Napravnik. “With Garrett Gomez out (with an injury), it’s an opportunity to go with Rosie.” Owned by Lori and George Hall, the gelding proved to be one of the top three- year-olds last year. Along with his Belmont Stakes win, he was third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic after being bumped at the start.   “At times he has a little bit of trouble with the pace. He’s just not that quick out of the gate,” said Breen.

Ruler On Ice was third in the Sunland Derby, second in the Federico Tesio, third in the Haskell, fourth in the Travers and runner-up in the Pennsylvania Derby. He finished his 2011 season with a fifth place finish in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. Ruler On Ice has banked more than $1.6 million for the Halls with three wins in 12 career starts.

Shackleford, last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, will start from post-position nine in the Donn Handicap with regular rider Jesus Castanon in the saddle. Trained by Dale Romans, the chestnut colt is owned by Michael Lauffer and W. D. Cubbedge.

In addition to the Preakness win, Shackleford posted a second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile behind Caleb’s Posse at Churchill Downs. Earlier in the year, he was fourth in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and he was fifth in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park.