By Dick Downey
While there are no scoring races for the Kentucky Derby this weekend, there are several races of interest scheduled for Saturday that include 33 Triple Crown nominees. Here's a survey of them.
Our focus is on five tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, Laurel and Santa Anita. Publication of Saturday entries at Oaklawn were pending when this was posted.
The well-regarded Elnaawi, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, headlines the fourth race at Aqueduct on Saturday. It's an allowance optional claimer going a mile on the inner dirt track. Channing Hill will ride the son of Street Sense for Shadwell Stable. Elnaawi broke his maiden at Aqueduct on Jan. 12 and is the only Triple Crown nominee in the five-horse field.
Carson's Crown is the only Triple Crown nominee in the tenth race at Fair Grounds on Saturday. This is another allowance optional claimer, but it's going only six furlongs. Trained by Michael Stidham, Carson's Crown will be ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr. from post 1. Ike and Dawn Thrash are the owners.
Perhaps the most-watched 3-year-old race of the weekend will be the fifth at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. This 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claiming race has a field of nine featuring four Triple Crown nominees: Almost English from Toby Keith's Dream Walkin Farms, trained by Nick Zito; Declan's Warrior, also trained by Zito, running for Lucky Shamrock Stable; Little Distorted, trained by Darrin Miller for Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton's Silverton Hill LLC; and the Jack Wolf-ledStarlight Racing's Park City, trained by Todd Pletcher.
The $125,000, one-mile Miracle Wood stakes at Laurel Park is the eighth race on Saturday. Eight 3-year-olds have been entered, including three Triple Crown nominees: Dynamic Strike, owned by Fitzhugh LLC and trained by Richard Small; Vegas No Show, a Kelly Breen trainee owned by George and Lori Hall; and West Hills Giant, trained by John Terranova II for Robert Castelli, Andrew Cohen and Gina Bentivegna.
In addition to these four races, there are five maiden special weight races and an allowance on Saturday at Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita -- with four of them on turf. The right-hand sidebar shows details about race numbers and times.
The sixth at Gulfstream Park is probably the most interesting of the other races. It's a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on dirt with nine nine entered. Among them are six Triple Crown nominees: Dyker Beach, Freedom Child, Saint Vigeur, Tapulous, Wabbajack and War Dancer.
The seventh at Gulfstream is a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance that's drawn a field of 14. Triple Crown nominees among them number five: Irsaal, Jack Milton, Prado Cat, Pyrite Mountain and Track Rocker.
The twelfth at Gulfstream, a maiden special weight on turf, drew 16 entries with three Triple Crown nominees: Harrythenavigator, Moro Tap and The Man Himself.
The seventh race at Fair Grounds, about 1 1/16 mile on turf for maidens, has 12 entered. Among them are only two Triple Crown nominees: Dorsett and Perfect Title.
At Santa Anita, there is another turf race for maidens, this one going nine furlongs. The race drew 11. King's Giant, Perfect Set and Syndicated are Triple Crown-nominated. It's race 4.
At six furlongs on dirt, the seventh at Santa Anita is a maiden special weight with nine entered. Five of them are Triple Crown nominees: Bench Press, Joelito, Tortola, Way Best and Zee Bros.