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Post Time: Weekend racing notes

By Gene Kershner

The holiday weekend serves up the last two races making up the first leg of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Series." Golden Gate Fields and Oaklawn Park are the sites for the last two races under the 10-4-2-1 point scenario. Next weekend we move into the second leg where the points elevate to 50-20-10-5 through Mar. 24 when the final seven prep races will be worth 100-40-20-10 to the first four finishers. Most pundits are estimating 30-40 points should qualify a horse for the Kentucky Derby.

El Camino Real Derby

On Saturday, the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby will be run just outside of San Francisco, the only race at Golden Gate Fields to be a part of the new Series of qualifying races. A field of nine horses will head to the gate which will include California Derby winner Zeewat (5-2) who will attempt to give jockey Russell Baze his ninth El Camino Real winner. Bob Baffert ships in Manando, the 9-5 morning line favorite, and Aaron Gryder will ride. Manando finished third in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes behind current points co-leader Goldencents. There appears to be an abundance of speed in the race and looks like it should be a duel between the top two.  

Southwest Stakes

On President’s Day, Oaklawn Park will be the site of its second race of the Series, the Southwest Stakes.  Will Take Charge looks to build upon his win in the Smarty Jones Stakes where he picked up 10 points for the victory last month. He will likely face Super Ninety Nine, another Bafffert California shipper who will bring along Rafael Bejarano for the ride. Super Ninety Nine was one of 23 horses included in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager (KDFW) last weekend. Baffert was on fire last year in the Oaklawn prep races winning the Smarty Jones, both divisions of the Southwest and the Arkansas Derby. Other potential challengers include Always In a Tiz, third place finisher in the Smarty Jones behind Texas Bling, another horse likely to enter. Brown Almighty, who has success on the turf, will try one more time for trainer Tim Ice to see if he can follow in the footsteps of his daddy, the 2008 Derby-Preakness winner Big Brown.  

Other Notes

- The 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, was still in serious condition yesterday after surgery on Wednesday for complications incurred after foaling a Bernardini filly early Tuesday morning at Stonestreet Farm. It was discovered during surgery at nearby Rood and Riddle that she had damaged an area in the small colon during the foaling process. She is currently on intravenous antibiotics and fluids in her attempts to recover. The filly, that weighed 140 pounds at birth, is in good health and is under the care of a nurse mare at Stonestreet. 

- Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) announced 109 layoffs of salaried personnel on Wednesday afternoon, including three in its top notch media office. Reduced revenue from agreements with the Ontario government and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation were the impetus for the restructuring at Woodbine.

- Last weekend’s KDFW Pool 1 closed with the “All Others” choice as the overwhelming favorite at 8-5. Seven horses finished between 11-1 and 16-1, including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby who ended up at 13-1. The pool produced the second highest handle in its 15-year history with over $621,000 wagered over the three-day period last weekend. Two more future pools are scheduled before the Run for the Roses on May 5.

The current top ten in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Series include the following:





Shanghai Bobby





















Den’s Legacy



Power Broker



Will Take Charge


Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.


Horse Racing
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Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.