Three-Year-Olds Prep for Derby and Oaks

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Ted Black

April 2nd, 2017

Thoroughbred racing fans were treated to a quartet of prep races for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks on Saturday afternoon at the Fair Grounds and Gulfstream Park and the results proved somewhat formful.

In the Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby, Always Dreaming sat just off the early tempo then surged to command at the top of the lane and drew clear late to a four-length score. A sophomore son of Bodemeister trained by Todd Pletcher, Always Dreaming has won all three of his starts this year and banked almost $640,000 and punched his ticket to the Derby.

State of Honor settled for second for the third time in four starts this year for trainer Mark Casse, while favored Gunnevera settled for third in a modest effort for trainer Sano Antonio. Nevertheless, both State Of Honor and Gunnevera are likely headed to the Derby.

Earlier that afternoon at the Fair Grounds, Girvin continued his solid form spree when he rallied from well off the pace to capture the Grade II, $1 million Louisiana Derby. A sophomore son of Tale Of Ekati trained by Joe Sharp, Girvin notched his second straight graded stakes score and third win in as many tries over the Fair Grounds main track and looks destined for Churchill Downs.

Both preps for the Kentucky Oaks were won in similar, impressive fashion. Salty, fresh off a victory in a one-turn maiden special weight race, rallied from well off the pace to capture the Grade II, $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks for three-year-old fillies. Salty has won twice in three starts and looms a serious threat in the Kentucky Oaks.

That same afternoon at the Fair Grounds, Farrell rallied from well off the pace to capture the Grade II, $400,000 Fair Ground Oaks. A sophomore daughter of Malibu Moon trained by Wayne Catalano, Farrell has won four straight races and five of seven starts overall and looms the favorite for the Kentucky Oaks since Unique Bella has been sidelined.

Also at the Fair Grounds, Honorable Duty rallied from well off the pace to capture the Grade II, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap. A five-year-old Distorted Humor gelding trained by Brendan Walsh, Honorable Duty has won three straight races and six of 12 career outings and now looms a serious prospect for the Grade II, $1.25 million Charles Town Classic on April 22.