On the dirt – and on the grass – a few more Kentucky Derby contenders emerged over the weekend.
Most of the Derby prep action took place in Florida, where trainer Todd Pletcher’s Why Tonto and Cowboy Cal ran 1-2 in Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park and trainer Nick Zito’s Fierce Wind took the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
The results didn’t change the upper echelon of this week’s Run to the Roses Top 10 list of Derby contenders, but there was a minor reshuffling in the lower tier.
Pyro, off his brilliant finish to win the Risen Star two weeks ago, remained No. 1, while Zito’s undefeated 2-year-old champion War Pass was second and Majestic Warrior third.
Z Fortune, second in the Risen Star, dropped four spots to No. 10 based on strong efforts from several other 3-year-olds over the past 10 days.
Cowboy Cal, despite a second-place finish on the grass Saturday, moved up two spots to No. 6 after an acceptable run on the grass. Pletcher said his colt didn’t handle the first turn very well, but “nothing today would necessarily change any plans” for him.
The 3-year-old colt owned by Stonerside Stables is being pointed toward a final prep in the Blue Grass on Polytrack at Keeneland (April 12) before moving on to the May 3 Derby (on dirt).
Why Tonto, meanwhile, has won three of eight starts for Starlight Stable. There was no immediate word on the colt’s next start.
Fierce Wind, with his half-length victory over Big Truck in the Sam F. Davis on dirt, gives Zito yet another Derby prospect to go with a group that already includes War Pass, Anak Nakal and Cool Coal Man.
“This is that time of year when they all start coming out of the woodwork,” Zito’s assistant, Tim Poole, said. “He (Fierce Wind) took a step in the right direction. Hopefully we can stay on that path toward the ultimate goal – you all know where that is.”
Also of note, trainer Bill Mott’s Z Humor ran a disappointing fifth in the Sam F. Davis as a 7-5 favorite, while Steve Asmussen may have himself another Derby contender in Poni Colada, who won the Boderland Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico on Saturday.
Several Derby prospects are set for Monday’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, including Denis of Cork and Turf War.
1, Pyro. 2, War Pass. 3, Majestic Warrior. 4, Tale of Ekati. 5, Court Vision. 6, Cowboy Cal. 7, Anak Nakal. 8, El Gato Malo. 9, Georgie Boy. 10, Z Fortune.
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