Not one, not two but three Kentucky Derby prep races are on tap this weekend, starting just up the road with the John Battaglia Memorial on Friday night at Turfway Park.
On Saturday, the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park take center stage. Both boast impressive fields, especially the Southwest, which features a much-anticipated 2021 debut.
John Battaglia Memorial
This is the first time the Battaglia has been included in the list of Kentucky Derby qualifying points list. The 1 1/16-mile race awards 10 points to the winner, four points for second, two points for third and one point for fourth.
Trained by Mark Casse, Gretzky the Great won the Grade 1 Summer Stakes last fall at Woodbine on a synthetic surface similar to the one at Turfway. Trained by Wesley Ward, Like the King won an allowance race by 3 1/2-lengths at Turfway Park last time out, Dec. 4. Trainer Brad Cox has entered Kinetic Sky, who broke his maiden with a three-length win at Fair Grounds last time out.
Trainer Mike Maker has Catman, who won the Laurel Futurity last fall, while Pico d’Oro triumphed n the Runhappy Juvenile Stakes at Ellis Park. One to watch is Hush of a Storm, who broke his maiden with a 5 1/2-length win at Turfway, then rallied next time out for his second win. Both Pico d’Oro and Hush of a Storm are trained by William Morey.
John Battaglia Memorial entries
Betting the John Battaglia
Gretzy the Great leads full field for Battaglia
Gretzky the Great to make 2021 debut in Battaglia
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Essential Quality is scheduled to make his 2021 debut in the Southwest, which was pushed back by weather conditions in Arkansas. Trained by Brad Cox, the son of Tapit is 3-for-3 lifetime, with a win in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last fall, as well. Luis Saez has the mount for the 3-2 Morning Line favorite.
Jackie’s Warrior is 4-for-5 lifetime, his only loss coming in the BC Juvenile, where he finished fourth for trainer Steve Asmussen. Before that, the son of Maclean’s Music won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, the Grade 1 Hopeful and Grade 1 Champagne. The Southwest will be his 2021 debut, as well. Joel Rosario has the mount.
Then there’s Spielberg, trained by Bob Baffert, who won the Los Alamitos Futurity last December only to finish fourth in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 30. Martin Garcia has the mount on the son of Union Rags.
The Southwest awards 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, followed by four points for second, two for third and one for fourth.
Southwest Stakes entries
Essential Quality draws the rail for Southwest
Jackie’s Warrior duels Essential Quality in Southwest
Horse Racing Nation: This race is too tough to bet
Southwest Stakes cheat sheet
The Fountain of Youth
Fifty Kentucky Derby qualifying points go to the winner of the Grade 2 $300,000 race over a 1 1/16-miles at the Florida track.
Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes winner Greatest Honour is the 9-5 Morning Line favorite. Trained by Shug McGaughey, the son of Tapit broke his maiden on his fourth try in 2020 before running off with a 5 3/-length victory in the Holy Bull over Tarantino and Prime Factor, both of whom are in the Fountain of Youth. McGaughey won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb.
Fire At Will is second choice at 7-2. Trained by Mike Maker, he has won three of four starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland back on Nov. 6. he did win the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga last year on the dirt.
Drain the Clock and Prime Factor are both 5-1 in the Morning Line. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Prime Factor has raced just twice, winning his debut on Dec. 12 last year before finishing third in the Holy Bull. Trained by Saffie Joseph, Drain the Clock is 2-for-2 in 2021, including a win in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 30.
Fountain of Youth entries
Greatest Honour, Fire at Will top Fountain of Youth
Fountain of Youth cheat sheet
Fountain of Youth odds and analysis
Drain the Clock to stretch out in Fountain of Youth
Gotham – March 6 at Aqueduct
Tampa Bay Derby – March 6 at Tampa Bay Downs
San Felipe – March 6 at Santa Anita Park
Kentucky Derby leaderboard, prep race results and schedule
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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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