Risen Star & Fountain of Youth Shake Up Derby Standings
Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, Florida
Ive Struck A Nerve Takes Over Points Lead
This past weekend kicked off the Kentucky Derby Championship Series with the Risen Star Stakes in Louisiana and the Fountain of Youth Stakes in Florida. These two races are the beginning of the first leg of the series which sees the points awarded for the top four finishers increased by five times over the points given during the prep portion of the schedule. With neither of the top two points leaders (Shanghai Bobby, Goldencents) running, we were assured to have a different looking leader board at the conclusion of the weekend.
The Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park had a tremendous finish, with Orb claiming the victory in his first graded stakes race. Todd Pletcher’s Violence has been a hot name in horse racing for much of the winter after beginning his career with three consecutive wins, two of those being graded stakes victories. Violence got out of the gate in good shape and set just behind the leaders for much of the first half of the race, where Majestic Hussar was in charge heading into the final turn. At this point, Cerro and Violence, the two favorites made a move on the frontrunner. At the top of the stretch, Cerro relented and Violence seemed to be taking charge and moved out front, but Orb was making up ground and was able to put on a burst in the final 100 yards to give him a narrow victory. Speak Logistics finished third and Majestic Hussar faded to fourth. Orb, trained by Hall of Famer Claude McGauhey won his third consecutive race and first graded stakes race, earning him 50 points, which could be enough to earn him a spot in the Kentucky Derby. In a bit of sad news, Violence was found to have a fractured right front medial sesamoid and will not be on the Derby trail this year.
The Risen Star Stakes featured a 13 horse field that wasn’t very heavy on experience, but was full of potential. Several of the participants were coming off claiming or maiden races when they took the track on Saturday. Chad Brown’s Normandy Invasion got quite a bit of the pre-race hype this week along with Bob Baffert’s Code West, and D. Wayne Lukas’ Oxbow, who came into the race third in the Derby Championship Series point standings. At a half-mile, Code West and Proud Strike were neck and neck, but Code West was able to pull in front with Oxbow gaining ground. At the turn for home, Oxbow had a short lead, battling with Code West as Palace Malice and Ive Struck A Nerve came on strong from the outside. The finish was very close and exciting going four wide with Normandy Invasion making a strong bid just behind. Ive Struck A Nerve, trained by Keith Desormeaux, was able to nose out the win over Code West with Palace Malice overtaking Oxbow at the wire for third. With the victory, Ive Struck A Nerve became the new points leader with 51, as he had previously earned a point finishing fourth in the Lecomte Stakes.
If Saturday was any indication, there are still relatively unknown thoroughbreds out there ready to do battle and claim a spot in the Kentucky Derby conversation. Next up in the Derby Championship Series is the Gotham Stakes on March 2nd, which will likely feature Todd Pletcher’s top five colt, Overanalyze, who won the Remsen Stakes back in November. Be sure to check out the DerbyDeals.com Top 5 Kentucky Derby Contenders for more information on upcoming races and the points standings.
Kentucky Derby Championship Point Standings (through 2/25/2013)
Ive Struck A Nerve: 51
Shanghai Bobby: 24
Ive Struck A Nerve Wins Risen Star
Orb Wins The Fountain of Youth
- The Kentucky Derby Championship Series Begins
This weekend (February 23rd) kicks off the championship series and with those two races we will be guaranteed to see a new leader at the top of the points standings, as neither Goldencents, nor Shanghai Bobby will be on the track at the Fountain of Y