For two horses, Blue Grass Stakes a pivotal Ky. Derby test

April 09, 2007|By Bob Mieszerski | Bob Mieszerski,LOS ANGELES TIMES

What many view as the most important Kentucky Derby prep takes place Saturday at Keeneland with the running of the Blue Grass Stakes.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion Street Sense and Robert B. Lewis winner Great Hunter will be the two favorites in the Grade I race over the Polytrack in Lexington, Ky.

A win by either one in the Blue Grass would almost certainly make him the favorite when the Kentucky Derby is run three weeks later at Churchill Downs.

The results in two of the three Derby preps that were run two days ago didn't exactly bolster the case of either Street Sense or Great Hunter.

Any Given Saturday, who was a nose behind Street Sense in a thrilling Tampa Bay Derby last month at Tampa Bay Downs, was a well-beaten third in the Wood Memorial. Wasting a perfect trip, the Distorted Humor colt finished nearly four lengths behind Nobiz Like Shobiz, who rebounded from a loss in the Fountain of Youth in his first race with blinkers.

Meanwhile, Sam P, who was second, a little more than a length behind Great Hunter in the Lewis, was third in a lackluster Santa Anita Derby. The son of Cat Thief was no match in the stretch for either King of the Roxy or long-shot winner Tiago. A half brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby upsetter Giacomo, Tiago had never won a race legitimately - his maiden win had come through a disqualification - before the Santa Anita Derby.

The most impressive winner on Saturday might have been Cowtown Cat. The improving Distorted Humor colt wired his rivals in the Illinois Derby while favored Cobalt Blue had his hopes of a start in Kentucky dashed with a seventh-place finish.

Of course, impressive Illinois Derby winners in recent years such as Greeley's Galaxy and Sweetnorthernsaint have flopped in Kentucky, but War Emblem did parlay a victory in the race at Hawthorne into a surprising win at Churchill Downs.

Besides the Blue Grass, the other race of note Saturday is the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. Curlin, who is unbeaten in two starts, will try to remain perfect heading into Kentucky.

Bob Mieszerski writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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