Derby/Oaks Notes: Mr. Big News Derby-bound; Gamine favored in Oaks
By US Racing Team
Add another zero into the field for the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) – a horse with zero Kentucky Derby qualifying points, that is.
Mr. Big News becomes the second 3-year-old to get a shot to Run for the Roses. Since there aren’t enough Derby-points earners to fill up the maximum field of 20 horses, stakes earnings then comes under consideration. Money Moves is the other horse with zero Derby points.
The post-position draw is Tuesday, Sept. 1 and then the field becomes official with Tiz the Law expected to be the strong favorite in what is shaping up as an 18-horse field.
In the past few days, four of the 20 listed contenders were withdrawn from Derby consideration – Dr Post, Caracaro, Shirl’s Speight and Rushie – and two have been added – Money Moves and Mr. Big News.
Mr. Big News, trained by Bret Calhoun, he ran sixth in the Blue Grass (G2) July 11, and won the Oaklawn Stakes on April 11.
“I know we don’t have some of the numbers like Tiz the Law, Art Collector and Honor A. P. but this horse is improving,” Mr. Big News owner Chester Thomas of Allied Family Stables said. “I think he is absolutely going to love the distance and will make a big run late.”
The son of Giant’s Causeway will be ridden by Gabriel Saez.
In this year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with so many Derby preps canceled and others rescheduled and added to the list over the past four months, why not take a shot if you can get into the field?
Since the Derby field was limited to 20 starters in 1975, at least 20 have been entered since 2004, and 19 of the last 21 years. Scratches during Derby week, though, have seen full fields of 20 actually start just three of the past seven years.
Max Player puts in final work
Four furlongs in 49.80 seconds at Churchill Downs on Monday morning capped off Max Player’s preparations for Saturday’s Derby.
“He’s continuing to do well,” Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I’m extremely excited about how he’s going to run in the Kentucky Derby. I love how he looks going over the racetrack. His attitude is really good. He came in with a really good attitude and was moving really well. That has stayed the same.”
Asmussen, looking for his first Derby win, took over training of Max Player from Linda Rice after the horse finished third to Tiz the Law in the Travers (G1) on Aug. 8.
Oaks Update: Baffert’s Gamine draws No. 5 post in x-horse field
Trainer Bob Baffert’s sensational filly Gamine was made the even-money favorite over the likes of Swiss Skydiver and Speech and drew the No. 5 post in a nine-horse field for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1).
“I like five,” Baffert said. “Being in the middle is always good. Right now, the most important thing is that she ships well, that she relaxes, gets in there and breaks well. She’s training really well. We still have a few more hurdles, I’m happy with that spot.”
Gamine is coming off two amazing performances – she won the Acorn (G1) at Belmont by 18¾ lengths and the Test (G1) at Saratoga by seven lengths.
She is one fast filly, and expect her to head straight for the lead.
“You know I leave that up to Johnny,’’ Baffert said, referring to jockey John Velazquez. “It depends on how she breaks. But she’s really quick. She’s really quick away from there. She’s just fast, she’s really fast.”