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Main Track Training Begins

Main TrackNow that the snow has finally melted, the track crew has been feverishly pepping the main oval for use on Friday. The training track opened Wednesday mid-morning and traffic has been steady.

Roughly 140 horses are on site now with major loads expected to arrive this weekend. Hawthorne wraps up their spring meet Sunday and then the Chicago contingent, including the leading owner in the country Midwest Thoroughbreds, will begin to arrive.

Jockey agent Richard Grunder will handle business for Ry Eikleberry, fresh off a Sunland Park riding title, and Giovanni Franco, currently the leading pilot at Turf Paradise.

Demand for stall space is high. Some trainers were put on hold and none got the total number they asked for. It would be great to have 2,600 stalls at Canterbury but the fact is there are slightly less than 1,600 and they need to be filled with useful horses that fit the program here and are ready to run. It takes at least 10 to 12 weeks to get a horse ready to race so those that have been wandering around a pasture since September are light years from being ready. Demand for space is a good problem to have but it also means that some things need to change from an owner’s perspective.

Road to Kentucky Contest

Just two weekly contests remain in the 2013 Road to Kentucky Contest and both involve Churchill Downs.

The Derby Trial is Saturday. Not really a Derby prep but a good reason to hold a free contest. Twilight racing at Churchill with a 5pm first post. Entry cards will be available throughout the day however.

The final contest is of course the Derby Day card and that begins next Saturday at 9:30am.

Even though no fillies are expected to run for the roses, a glance at the Road to Kentucky Overall Leader Board shows distaff dominance. The top four players are female. I don’t have the stats but I would say women are outnumbered by a wide margin. Jessica Rau has a nearly 2,000 point lead over Linda Hernandez who is just in front of Nancy Sobkowiak and Heidi Snow. While Rau is not home and cooled out, she is in the driver’s seat for the trip to the National Handicapping Championship next January.

Advance wagering on the Derby and undercard begins the morning of Friday, May 3.

If you have a Derby horse already feel free to share it with the readers via a comment.