This weekend, the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” enters into the stretch drive at Oaklawn Park where War Academy, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, and Falling Sky (10-1) will go to the starting gate in the 77th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). I profiled both colts in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook, and I think they will be competitive.
But of the pair, I like War Academy the best. He’s yet to earn any Derby points, and he’s trained by Bob Baffert – who also has Den’s Legacy (6-1) entered in the prestigious graded-stakes race.
War Academy is lightly raced with two wins and a fourth-place finish in three starts. It remains to be seen if he can earn the points needed to get into the Derby starting gate. However, if War Academy lives up to his breeding, I look for him to be competitive in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
War Academy’s sire, Giant’s Causeway, was an outstanding competitor that won from 7- to 10-furlongs and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.
Giant’s Causeway was undefeated in three starts at 7-furlongs as a 2-year-old winning the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes.
At the age of three, Giant’s Causeway was 6-4-0 in 10 starts and won the 10-furlong Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1), International Stakes (Group 1) and Eclipse Stakes (Group 1). He also won the 8-furlong Sussex Stakes (Group 1), St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1) and the 7-furlong Gladness Stakes (Group 3).
The distaff pedigree of War Academy is pretty strong with the Classic Champion Thoroughbred A.P. Indy as the damsire. I also like it that the tail-female family of War Academy and A.P. Indy are the same tracing to Mayonaise (Family 3-l) and that line produced the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Silver Charm and Triple Crown winner Citation.
In addition, Reine-de-Course mare Missy Baba is the fourth dam of A.P. Indy and the fifth dam of War Academy and that branch of Family 3-l produced, in addition to A.P. Indy, the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Summer Squall and Lemon Drop Kid.
Falling Sky, comes into the Arkansas Derby (G1) with a 3-0-1 record in five starts, including a win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and a third-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
Lion Heart, sire of Falling sky and the 2010 Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Line of David, was a tough competitor and good middle-distance racehorse that won the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) and Hollywood Futurity (G1) as a 2-year-old. As a 3-year-old, Lion Heart finished second in the San Rafael Stakes (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) en route to a second-place finish to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
Falling Sky has been training at Churchill Downs and a recent bullet workout could have him ready to make another move forward in his third start of the season.
Den’s Legacy, with a 2-5-2 record in 11 career starts, is one of the most seasoned colts in this race and he’s always competitive.
As a 3-year-old making his season debut at Santa Anita Park last January, Den’s Legacy finished second in Sham Stakes (G3). A month later at the same track, he finished second in the 8½-furlong Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2). In March, Baffert shipped Den’s Legacy to the Oaklawn Park where he finished third in 8½-furlong Rebel Stakes (G2), just two lengths shy of victory.
Since his third-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2), Den’s Legacy has fired two bullet workouts and I look for him to be competitive in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Oxbow struggled as a 2-year-old and finished his sophomore season with a fourth-place finish in the CashCall Futurity last December. Since then, Oxbow has been competitive compiling a 1-1-0 record in three starts as a 3-year-old.
In his season debut, Oxbow won the Le Comte Stakes (G3) in an 11½-length romp. He followed that with a narrow loss in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), finishing in fourth place, one and a half lengths shy of victory. A month later in the Rebel Stakes (G2), Oxbow finished second narrowly losing to Will Take Charge by a head.
Oxbow likes to run on or near the lead, and that’s fine if you have the speed to carry you over a route of ground. But, I’m so sure just how far Oxbow wants to run and his style of racing could be severely tested today.
The winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) will receive 100 points while second-place will yield 40 points, the third-place finisher will receive 20 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 10 points. Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated April 6, 2013)
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Orb, 150, Shug McGaughey III, $840,000
2 = Verrazano, 150, Todd Pletcher, $810,000
3 = Goldencents, 129, Doug O’Neill, $1,208,000
4 = Revolutionary, 110, Todd Pletcher, $720,000
5 = Lines of Battle, 100, Aidan O’Brien, $1,261,089
6 = Vyjack, 70, Rudy Rodriguez, $405,000
7 = Will Take Charge, 60, D. Wayne Lukas, $512,971
8 = Itsmyluckyday, 50, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $593,600
9 = Govenor Charlie, 50, Bob Baffert, $400,000
10 = Black Onyx, 50, Kelly Breen, $317,130
11 = Normandy Invasion, 44, Chad Brown, $258,000
12 = Mylute, 42, Tom Amoss, $363,365
13 = Oxbow, 36, D. Wayne Lukas, $316,000
14 = Uncaptured, 30, Mark Casse, $394,674
15 = Super Ninety Nine, 30, Bob Baffert, $308,000
16 = Java’s War, 22, Ken McPeek, $201,772
17 = Merit Man, 20, Bob Hess Jr., $357,500
18 = Den’s Legacy, 20, Bob Baffert, $325,000
19 = Falling Sky, 20, John Terranova II, $157,500
20 = Departing, 20, Al Stall Jr., $130,000