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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Arkansas Derby: Last Chance for Louisville

4/9/2014

Commissioner finished third in the Sunland Derby after breaking badly and reportedly throwing a shoe. That left him short of Derby points he’ll try to make up in the Arkansas Derby.

Commissioner, trained by Todd Pletcher, has 10 points and is in 33rd place on the Derby leaderboard. He needs a big effort on Saturday.

Stable mate Danza needs a career-best effort as the lightly-raced son of Street Boss has yet to compete in any of the Kentucky Derby qualifying races.

Mark Casse’s two Arkansas Derby runners, Conquest Titan and Thundergram, each galloped 1 1/2 mile on Wednesday in preparation for the race. Conquest Titan was scheduled to school in the paddock on Thursday afternoon.

“Conquest Titan and I flew in from Louisville, and the trip was uneventful,” said Norman Casse, who is his father’s top assistant. “Thundergram has been here for the meet and stayed behind for the Derby after we shipped the rest of our division to Kentucky.”

Conquest Titan stands in the 36th spot for the Kentucky Derby with nine points, and Saturday will also be his last chance – and Thundergram’s first chance -- to qualify.

“Obviously, we’d love to run in the Kentucky Derby and this race presents that opportunity,” said Casse.

Thundergram, who gets blinkers for the first time, broke his maiden at Oaklawn two starts back and then was second in a first level optional claiming race on March 16. The current entry represents a significant class hike. Conquest Titan already has a stakes win on his resume, but it was a long time ago – the Swynford Stakes at Woodbine in August.

“When he first came into serious training, I knew he was pretty special,” Casse said of Conquest Titan. “What that means is that he was playing a different game than the rest of our 2-year-olds. We were disappointed when he didn’t run well in the Tampa Bay Derby in his last start, but he broke his maiden by five-and-a-half lengths in a stakes in only his second start, so we think he’s really a special horse.”

Conquest Titan, who will be ridden by Calvin Borel, will come from the back of the pack in a race that figures to have a lively pace that should involve Thundergram.

“I know that the Arkansas Derby will be a dog fight,” said Casse. “I hope that both Conquest Titan and Thundergram show up and run a good race. If so, we’ll be right there at the end.”

Meanwhile, the flight carrying a contingent of California horses, including Arkansas Derby contender Bayern, arrived on the grounds Wednesday afternoon at 2:45 p.m. Bayern also has no Kentucky Derby points.

Strong Mandate is in 27th position with 11 points, and Rise Up is right behind him with 10. Only Tapiture is in a secure position with 42 points and 13th place on the leaderboard.

Edited Oaklawn Park release

Saturday, R11
Grade I Arkansas Derby
Oaklawn Park
$1,000,000
1 1/8 Mile
Dirt
Post Time 7:07 ET

Post   Horse  ML  Jockey Sx  Wt Trainer
1 Danza (KY)  15-1 J. Bravo C 118 T. Pletcher
2 Knock Em Flat (KY)  20-1 L. Quinonez C 118 D. Von Hemel
3 Tapiture (KY)  9-5 J. Rosario C 122 S. Asmussen
4 Ride On Curlin (KY)  12-1 J. Court C 118 W. Gowan
5 Thundergram (FL)  30-1 N. Arroyo Jr, C 118 M. Casse
6 Commissioner (KY)  8-1 M. Smith C 118 T. Pletcher
7 Conquest Titan (KY)  10-1 C. Borel C 122 M. Casse
8 Bayern (KY)  2-1 G. Stevens C 118 B. Baffert
9 Strong Mandate (KY)  9-2 L. Saez C 122 W. Lukas

All will run with Lasix

Equipment Changes: 5 - Thundergram - Blinkers On

Owners: 1 - Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners ; 2 - Sam Britt & Michael House ; 3 - Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (Ron & Joan Winchell) ; 4 - Daniel J. Dougherty ; 5 - John C. Oxley ; 6 - WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt) ; 7 - Conquest Stables LLC (Ernie Semersky & Dory Newell) ; 8 - Kaleem Shah, Inc. ; 9 - Robert C. Baker & William L. Mack

Breeders: 1 - Liberation Farm & Brandywine Farm; 2 - Upson Downs Farm; 3 - Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC; 4 - G. Watts Humphrey Jr. & Louise IrelandHumphrey Revocable Trust - 2008; 5 - Stanley Boileau; 6 - WinStar Farm, LLC; 7 - Michael Edward Connelly; 8 - Helen Alexander; 9 - G. Watts Humphrey Jr.

 

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