While most eyes will be focused on Motown's Super Bowl this weekend, many orbs will be peering through binoculars at tracks in Florida and Southern California as horse racing moves another couple steps toward the Kentucky Derby. First Samurai, the highly-touted son of 2000 Kentucky Derby champion Fusaichi Pegasus and third place finisher in October's Breeders Cup Juvenile, will run in the Grade II 7 1/2-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, one of two races with Derby implications on Gulfstream Patk's Saturday card. It will mark the colt's 3-year-old debut as Edgar Prado will be aboard, replacing the recently-retired Jerry Bailey. The $150,000 race attracted a field of eight, with First Samurai a 6/5 favorite. First Samurai's handlers say they are cautious about expecting too much from the colt in its 3-year-old bow. Others in the field include Keyed Entry, 5/2, and Blazing Rate and Fabled, both 6/1.
Gulfstream also will host the 1 1/8th-mile Grade 1 Holy Bull Stakes, another $150,000 event. It drew a full field of 14, with Barbaro the 7/2 choice, followed by Itsallaboutthechase at 4/1 and Flashing Bull and Dr. Dercherd at 6/1.
Santa Anita Park has a pair of major races on its Saturday menu, including one for 3-year-olds and another for 4-year-olds that lured a quartet of 2005 Derby runners, including winner Giacomo, who hasn't raced since finishing seventh in the Belmont Stakes. The Run for the Roses prep Sham Stakes will feature trainer-to-the-stars Bob Baffert's top Derby hopeful, Bob and John, who was the 7/5 choice. Sky Diving at 5/2 and Sacred Light also are in the field of six for the Grade III Sham.
High Limit is a 7/2 choice in the 1 1/8th-mile Strub Stakes, which carries a $300,000 purse. The Grade III race drew 13 horses, including four that factored into last year's Run for the Roses. Besides the favorite, Giacomo, who is returning from an injury, and Wilko, are both 6/1, and Greeley's Galaxy is 10/1. Dixie Meister also is 6/1. John Avello, the former Bally's and Paris race and sports book manager who now oversees racing operations at Wynn Las Vegas, plans to post matches on all four races, but said Friday he'd been too busy the past week to do more than give the horses a quick glance. "I'm just looking at numbers now," he said.
"But nothing jumps out at me." May 6 is Derby Day this year. .
By: Lynda Collins