Blue Grass, Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby Lead Saturday’s Derby Preps
The biggest day of Kentucky Derby prep races comes up Saturday, April 7, with three rich and famous races for Derby hopefuls slated in New York, Kentucky and California. All three are 1 1/8 mile races with a $1 million purse in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) and $750,000 for the Wood Memorial (G2). Saturday’s races are one to watch for future Saturday stars in the Breeders’ Cup in 2018 at Churchill Downs.
The Wood Memorial (5:55 p.m. ET), Blue Grass Stakes (6:23) and Santa Anita Derby (7:12) will all be televised by NBC Sports Network.
The Blue Grass Stakes, at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, will have potential wet weather and track with rain and snow leading into the race Friday night and Saturday morning. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic (2-1) is the favorite in the Blue Grass. Keeneland opened its 16-day meeting on Friday.
The Wood Memorial favorite is Enticed (6-5), and he’s already qualified for the Kentucky Derby with 64 points after winning the Gotham Stakes over the same Aqueduct track March 10, and last Novembers Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.
The Santa Anita Derby is drawing the most interest with the sensational showdown expected between Derby-ready Bolt d’ Oro (6-5) and Derby-hopeful Justify (4-5), the two dominant favorites in the race.
A first or second place finish in any of the three races will likely earn those horses enough points in the Derby selection process to ensure a starting slot in the Kentucky Derby, May 5 at Churchill Downs.
It’s been a long time since the winner of the Wood Memorial won the Kentucky Derby; Fusaichi Pegasus did it in 2000. It’s been even longer for the Blue Grass, as the last horse to score the Blue Grass–Kentucky Derby double was Strike the Gold way back in 1991. California Chrome won the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby in 2014, then finished 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that year and 2nd in the BC Classic in 2016.