Preakness Stakes Winning Analysis with Wagering Strategies

Fresh off a successful KY Oaks and KY Derby, 19-time NHC Qualifier Rich Nilsen is back with his Preakness Stakes analysis and three Spot Plays on Saturday’s undercard at Pimlico. Every horse is a value play and includes his expert wagering strategies.


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Last year’s Preakness Stakes Analysis by Rich Nilsen

Pace analysis: There is not a lot of speed in this year’s running of the Preakness Stakes.  Longshot Coffeewithchris will likely insist on the early lead, as National Treasure and John Velasquez sit in close pursuit, ready to pounce.  There should be a gap of a couple of lengths to Mage running in the third spot.

Top Selection: # 1 NATIONAL TREASURE (4/1) – comes off a troubled trip when a respectable 4th in the G1 Santa Anita Derby and now makes his first start back for Bob Baffert, who has won this race no less than seven times.  The son of Quality Road dons new blinkers for today’s race and he’s been training up a storm in preparation for a race that he has been pointed to by the Hall of Fame trainer.  He should sit a perfect, forward-running trip in a race featuring a modest pace and prove the one to catch in the lane. John Velasquez, who has been riding great recently, is in search of his first Preakness win, one of the few races he lacks on his incredible resume.

2nd Selection: # 3 MAGE (8/5) – this colt has done absolutely nothing wrong in his career and I see no reason why he won’t run another bang-up race.  The Gustave Delago runner has won twice in his career, both times at double-digit odds, but he will likely be odds-on here.  A win would not be a surprise but I think the Baffert charge has just a good a chance and will offer more value.

3rd Selection: #6 PERFORM (15/1) – the Shug McGaughey runner is the value play in this field.  He overcame all sorts of traffic issues to storm home and win the Fedrico Tesio Stakes at Laurel last time out.  It’s interesting that Shug chose to run this horse instead of Pat Day Mile winner General Jim.  Perform is sitting on another strong effort.

Wagering Strategy: Play # 1 National Treasure to Win.  Exacta partwheel over 3, 6.  Smaller exacta 6-1.  Trifecta key #1 over 3, 6.

Rich Nilsen qualifies for the 16th time

Rich Nilsen gave out the 4-1 Kentucky Oaks winner this year and his third selection (and first longshot), Mystik Dan, won the Kentucky Derby at odds of 16-1!  Here were his write-ups:

Kentucky Oaks:

Top Selection: # 5 THORPEDO ANNA (5/1) – Trainer Kenny McPeek, one of the best Kentucky horsemen over the past decades in the Bluegrass State, enters the best filly he has ever trained. This brilliant daughter of Fast Anna scored first time out going 7 furlongs last fall at Keeneland and destroyed the field by 8 ½ lengths after closing from way back. You just rarely see a first time starter win like this, especially going 7 furlongs and at Keeneland. She proved that was no fluke by returning to beat allowance company by 9 lengths and running a monster triple-digit BRIS Late Pace Figure. After running second in the G2 Golden Rod, she was put on the shelf for her three-year-old season. Anna returned at Oaklawn Park and despite breaking from the 10 hole and facing a quality field, she proved her dominance once again, drawing off by 4 lengths. The G2 Fantasy winner has been training well since that start and comes into this race in prime form. She drew well and is clearly the horse to beat.

Kentucky Derby 150:

3rd Selection: # 3 Mystik Dan (20/1) – This colt was an impressive maiden winner at Churchill going only 5 ½ furlongs. He was a speed horse as a two year old, but trainer Kenny McPeek retooled this horse and developed him into a runner that can come from off the pace. And did he ever in the G3 Southwest Stakes, finishing powerfully in the mud to win by 8. I didn’t like him in the G1 Arkansas Derby, with his only big number on a wet track, but the colt ran very well with sneaky trouble. Going around the first turn, the horse to his inside bolted and slammed into Dan. That cost the colt several lengths but he did not give up. He put in a sustained run and ran a sneaky good third. He can move forward off that race, and we know he loves the track. Nice price for the exotics.


Recap Videos from Kentucky Derby 150

Source: Kentucky HPBA

Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan, the day after. Visit the links below to watch the videos.


About the Kentucky HBPA

The Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association is one of the country’s largest horsemen’s groups, representing about 6,000 owners and trainers at Kentucky’s five thoroughbred tracks. As an affiliate of the National HBPA that represents about 30,000 horsemen in the United States and Canada, the Kentucky HBPA’s responsibilities have greatly expanded as the racing industry has become more complex. In addition to its original general benevolence mission, the HBPA is the leading force for horsemen in negotiating contracts with tracks as well as the advancement of the sport through safety and integrity initiatives, promoting racing and assisting in the development of aftercare programs for retired racehorses.

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes – Wednesday

Encino scratched yesterday. Click on the links below for the YouTube videos.
Longtime Kentucky jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. shortly after he helped out trainer Kenny McPeek by galloping his Oaks mount, Fantasy Stakes winner Thorpedo Anna, and taking her to the starting gate to school. Hernandez also rides Mystik Dan in the Derby for McPeek.

Derby 2017 by LunchboxLarry

Jockey Keith Asmussen, son of trainer Steve Asmussen and who is riding Just Steel in the Derby and Lemon Muffin in the Oaks for iconic D. Wayne Lukas.

Victor Barboza, trainer of Grand Mo the First discusses his horse.
Harry Veruchi, owner of $11,000 yearling purchase West Saratoga.
Shot last Friday but just now posted: While most of Into Champagne’s owners have been in horse racing for quite some time, the Kentucky Oaks contender is the first racehorse for Mike and Kathy Davis of Mt. washington, right outside of Louisville. the filly very quickly provided reason to pop the bubbly. Equibase statistics show that 13,153 U.S. horses raced for the first time in 2023; Into Champagne was among the 10 and half percent that won their debut. The Louisville-area partners shared what it’s like having an Oaks filly, speaking outsidetrainer Ian Wilkes’ Churchill Downs barn recently . This is a little different sort of video than I normally do, including a little voiceover at the beginning over the Hammond Productions video of Into Champagne’s workout.

Monday morning:


Michael McCarthy on Turfway’s Jeff Ruby winner Endlessly, who will make his dirt debut in Kentucky Derby 150.
Eric Foster of Utica (near Owensboro) on being in the Kentucky Oaks with his $30,000 maiden-claiming acquisition Everland. We talk to Eric about Everland, being in the Oaks and how he’s juggling being the filly’s groom and hotwalker with his help busy with the other barn horses at Keeneland and his farm in Utica, where he has a training track.
Jesus Castanon, rider of West Saratoga, who 13 years after riding in his first (and so far only) Kentucky Derby with Shackleford (who led until the sixteenth) finally is back in the race. BTW: Shackleford won the Preakness under Castanon in his next start.
Source: KY HBPA

Kentucky Derby 150 Early Week Notes

Source: KY HPBA

Steve Asmussen after G3 Lecomte winner & Louisiana Derby 4th Track Phantom works outside of stablemate Mugen, the five-eighth eighths in 1:00 with fractions of 12.2, 24.1 and 47.3 and out six furlongs in 1:13.3 Video starts with b-roll of the Asmussen-trained Our Pretty Woman, who needs a scratch in order to run in the Kentucky Oaks, and her work, followed by b-roll and work video of Track Phantom. (Video shot from grandstand courtesy Churchill Downs’ Kevin Kerstein).
Phil D’Amato, before Stronghold went out to work (five-eighths in 59.80) under jockey Joe Talamo Sunday at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. Stronghold’s first win came at Churchill Downs – an inordinately tough maiden race in which he beat fellow Derby contenders Resilience and Track Phantom – before he shipped out to D’Amato’s California base. The trainer talks about Stronghold, having to beat Bob Baffert to get enough points in the Santa Anita Derby to earn a Derby trip and notes that his first job at the racetrack was at Churchill Downs working for Chuck Simon.


Tap into Derek Simon’s Kentucky Derby Betting Guide – Learn some vital trends for putting your wagers and selections together.

D. Wayne Lukas after Arkansas Derby runner-up Just Steel works an easy half in 50.40 at Churchill Downs for Saturday’s 150th Kentucky Derby. “The Coach” also talks about his jockey, University of Texas McCombs School of Business grad Keith Asmussen. Video starts with b-roll (grandstand video courtesy Churchill Downs’ Kevin Kerstein).

Brian Coelho of Central California, who got into horse racing three years ago, was on hand at Churchill Downs to enjoy his first Kentucky Derby horse in the Arkansas Derby runner-up. “It’s a dream come true,” he says. Coelho now has part of more than 20 horses, saying that his wife “wanted a racehorse. When I do things, it’s usually jump with both feet in.”

Bill Mott on works by Wood Memorial winner Resilience and champion filly Just F Y I. (He also talks about the disappointment that his 2019 Kentucky Derby winner Country House, who was moved up to victory upon the interference disqualification of Maximum Security, was not able to race again and prove himself as a top horse.

From today’s Churchill Downs’ Derby barn notes:

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is bringing Wood Memorial (GII) winner Resilience up to the Kentucky Derby (GI) in old school fashion. On Sunday, Mott sent Resilience out for his third work in 10 days as the colt covered four furlongs in :49.20 during the 7:30 a.m. training session.
Shortly after stablemate and champion Just F Y I completed her half-mile breeze in advance of the Kentucky Oaks (GI), Resilience got down to his own bit of serious business in a solo move with blinkers on. The son of Into Mischief was well in hand through fractions of :12.60 and :24.80 before galloping out in 1:01.40.
And on Just F Y I’s work:  In registering her third workout in 10 days, George Krikorian’s homebred filly continued to flaunt good energy as she broke off solo during the 7:30 a.m. training period with trainer Bill Mott looking on from his pony. Alvarado was a passenger through splits of :24.80 with a gallop out in 1:02.40.

Saturday morning:

Labor investigation targets area racing trainer Brown


Chad Brown after Toyota Blue Grass winner Sierra Leone worked in company with Tampa Bay Derby winner Domestic Product for Derby.
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who rides Sierra Leone in Derby but was aboard Domestic Product for work. “I’m living the dream right now,” Gaffalione said. Video starts out with some b-roll. Sierra Leone and Domestic Product’s splits were 13, 24.4, 36.2 and then out six furlongs in 1:13.1 and 1:26.1
Brad Cox on decision

made to run Lexington winner Encino in Derby after strong workout with Louisiana Derby winner Catching Freedom.


Danny Gargan – one of three Louisville-born trainers in next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby – talks about his contenders Dornoch and Society Man, who worked together a half-mile in a lively 46.3 seconds, galloping out five-eighths in 59 and 1:12.3.

Friday, April 26:

Owner-breeder Mike Repole addressed the media at Churchill Downs the morning that 2-year-old champion and Florida Derby winner Fierceness had his final work for the Kentucky Derby. This video is long but very entertaining – and sobering. Fierceness is the third 2-year-old champion that Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher have brought to the Derby. Uncle Mo was scratched the day before and Forte the morning of the race last year. Repole says that’s not bad luck – it’s good look that he’s back the very next year. Repole mentioned his close friendship with the late Kobe Bryant and said that puts having what you think is a bad day in perspective.
Todd Pletcher after Fierceness’ work at Churchill Downs with jockey John Velazquez. Video starts off with b-roll and work video (video shot from grandstand courtesy Churchill Downs’ Kevin Kerstein). Fierceness worked a half-mile in 48.4 after splits of 12.4, 24.4, 36.4 and then really picked it up on the gallop-out: Five-eighths in 1:00.3, 1:12.3 and 1:26 pulling up.
Saffie Joseph talks about Catalytic, who in his third start finished a well-beaten second to champion Fierceness in the Florida Derby – but earning the points to get in the Kentucky Derby. He also discusses being in the Derby the year after his horses, including Derby entrant Lord Mile, were scratched following the inexplicable collapsing and death of two of his horses. No wrong-doing was found, and Joseph was allowed back at Churchill Downs. But the circumstances cost him his 2022 Florida Derby winner White Abarrio, who went on to win the Grade 1 Whitney and Breeders’ Cup Classic for Rick Dutrow. Joseph says the experience made him a better person. Video begins with lots of b-roll of Catalytic training. Note: In this video, the interviewer incorrectly says that White Abarrio won the Met Mile. He was third in that race.

More Kentucky Derby 150 Notes

churchill downs ky derby dayFrom Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Todd Pletcher, after possible Derby favorite (and 2-year-old champ) Fierceness and G1 Ashland winner Leslie’s Rose trained at Churchill Downs for the first time after arriving Monday. In Fierceness, Pletcher for the third time brings in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion (all owned by Mike Repole) to the Kentucky Derby. He’s hoping Florida Derby winner Fierceness is the first of the three to make it to the starting agate.
Jockey Ben Curtis, who came over from his European circuit looking for a new challenge in riding in America, finds himself with a Kentucky Derby mount only six months into riding in the U.S. Curtis finished second on Honor Marie in the Louisiana Derby, and trainer Whit Beckman and the owners opted to keep him aboard for the Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky-based trainer Whit Beckman talks about keeping Ben Curtis on Honor Marie amid a barrage of phone calls from representatives of more prominent riders looking for a mount. (He talks about much more)
Source: Kentucky HBPA

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes

Kentucky HBPA communications has provided some outstanding resources to handicap the upcoming Kentucky Derby 150 on May 4, 2024. This includes interviews with trainers of the connections.

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes – Monday, April 22

Part 1 of interview with Brook T. Smith. Video starts with b-roll of Keeneland’s G1 Toyota Blue Grass winner Sierra Leone, in whom Louisville philanthropist and entrepreneur Brook Smith owns 16 percent.
Part 2 of Brook T. Smith: Sierra Leone’s 16-percent owner issues a challenge to 150 Churchill Downs owners or horses to raise money for the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs. ‘I almost thought about creating a challenge. If we could just get 150 owners, or 150 horses, and 1% of that 150 (gets donated to the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs), since it’s Derby 150, that moves a bigger needle than people realize.’ You won’t get a bigger platform than now. So get it started! ‘You heard me. That was kind of a challenge, I guess. Let’s find 150 horses running at Churchill and winning money and let’s ask those owners to think about 1 percent….’ The Derby winner’s total purse will be about $3.1 million out of the total purse of $5 million

Uncover the Winner and the Automatic Tosses in Kentucky Derby 150 from guru Derek Simon’s Kentucky Derby Betting Guide – just released.

Here’s the work description from today’s Derby/Oaks update by Kevin Kerstein:
RESILIENCE – Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman’s Resilience had a serious tune up for Kentucky Derby 150 Monday with a five-furlong move in 1:01.60 under jockey Junior Alvarado, who has the mount in the “Run for the Roses.” Resilience galloped about one-mile before he worked Monday at 9 a.m. The winner of the Wood Memorial (GII) breezed an opening quarter-mile in :25.80 and easily galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60, according to Churchill Downs Clocker John Nichols.
George Krikorian’s Ashland (GI) runner-up Just F Y I returned to the work tab Monday with a sharp five furlong breeze in :59.80 at Churchill Downs. Trained by Bill Mott, Just F Y I cruised through opening eighth-mile fractions of :12.20, :24.20 and :36 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.20 and seven furlongs in 1:25.40. She completed one mile in 1:40.20 while remaining in hand under jockey Junior Alvarado.

Nyquist KY Derby 2016

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes –

Sunday, April 21

Steve Asmussen interview. Fresh off driving all night after Saturday’s races at Oaklawn Park, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen was at Churchill Downs dark and early Sunday morning for workouts for his Kentucky Derby contender Track Phantom (5 furlongs in 1:00.80 in company with Carbone) and Kentucky Oaks contender Our Pretty Woman (5 furlongs in 1:00 in company with stakes-winner Otto the Conquerer.
Interview with trainer Val Brinkerhoff, who in addition to have New York’s G3 Gazelle winner Where’s My Ring is working on relocating a string of horses from Southern California to Kentucky. Video begins with some b-roll of Where’s My Ring.

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes – Saturday April 20

We caught up with trainer Chad Brown after Keeneland’s G1 Toyota Blue Grass winner Sierra Leone worked Saturday morning at the Lexington track (half-mile in 48.80 in company with White Palomino). In pursuit of his first victory in the Kentucky Derby, Chad also is running Tampa Bay Derby winner Domestic Product. According to the Keeneland clockers, Sierra Leone logged splits of :12.40, :24.20 and :36.80 before galloping out in 1:01.20 and 1:15.60 under exercise rider Kriss Bon. Click here for Keeneland’s video of the work.
B-roll of Sierra Leone, with exercise rider Kriss Bon aboard on the inside, working with stablemate White Palomino.
Eric Foster talks about having his first Kentucky Oaks winner in Turfway Park’s Bourbonette Oaks winner Everland, claimed out of a $30,000 maiden-claiming race, and Maxisuperfly, an $18,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase who could go in Churchill Downs’ Eight Belles or the Edgewood on turf.  Eric Foster is from Utica, KY near Owensboro and is a regular fixture at Ellis Park. He comes into the Kentucky Oaks fresh off his first trainer’s title, taking the crown at Turfway Park.

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes – Thursday April 18

Kenny McPeek on Kentucky Oaks contender Thorpedo Anna “They better bring a bear, because I’m bringing a grizzly.”
Trainer Kenny McPeek on his go-to jockey Brian Hernandez. The men, who both make the Louisville are their home, will team to try to win their first Kentucky Derby and/or Kentucky Oaks in two weeks.
Outriders keep Dornoch, others safe (starring Lee Lockwood!): On the racetrack, little unexpected happenstances become part of the daily routine. The key is for them not to become big adverse happenstances. For instance, earlier this week, trainer Danny Gargan sent Fountain of Youth winner Dornoch to the track for what was to be a routine gallop under exercise rider Priscilla Schaefer. Another horse unseated its rider behind Dornoch and started running. As it turned out, Dornoch was right in front of Gargan, in a viewing stand, who yelled at Schaefer to keep going, to keep the horse behind her. Meanwhile (and the point of this video), outrider Lee Lockwood got the riderless horse down by the outer rail, collecting him in one of the moves the Churchill Downs outriders make look routine. (Before you watch and say, ‘I could have caught that horse,’ try reacting in time and getting into position to position the horse to get it to that spot.)
“The outriders did a phenomenal job,” Gargan said afterward. “The outriders here are the unsung heroes at these racetracks… .They’re the police of the backside. I tell you, it was impressive how he could stop that horse as fast as he stopped him.” Shot Thursday, April 18

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes – Saturday April 13

Lexington: Hear from trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux after they team to win the last Kentucky Derby points race with Godolphin’s Encino, who now ranks No. 21 in points – giving him a good chance to make the field. We also speak with Mike Maker, trainer of The Wine Steward, who in his first start.

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes – Monday, April 8

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott on Wood Memorial winner Resilience. He also talks about winning the Derby with Country House, who crossed the line second in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but inherited the victory upon the disqualification of Maximum Security for interfering with other horses.
Bill Mott on champion Just F Y I’s second in Friday’s Central Bank Ashland Stakes in her first start of the year after being scratched from Gulfstream Park’s Davona Dale when she spiked a temperature on race day.
Whit Beckman, who has his first Kentucky Derby horse since his first full season of training in 2022, talks about Louisiana Derby runner-up Honor Marie, last fall’s Kentucky Jockey Club winner at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes – Sunday, April 7

Trainer Danny Gargan on Fountain of Youth winner Dornoch’s fourth place finish in Keeneland’s Grade 1, $1 million Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland and Society Man’s second at 106-1 odds in Aqueduct’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Keith Mason, part owner of Dornoch and Society Man through the West Paces Racing syndicate he started with Larry Connolly.
The West Paces Racing partnership, among the owners of ToyotaBlue Grass fourth- place finisher Dornoch, started their day at Keeneland watching another one of their horses, Society Man, run in New York’s Wood Memorial. His finish at 106-1 odds puts him in the Kentucky Derby with his stablemate. Just imagine if Society Man had WON the Wood. (He finished second behind Resilience, but earned 50 points to ensure a spot in the Derby.)

Kentucky Derby 150 Notes – Saturday, April 6

From earlier in the day: interview with former MLB star Jayson Werth, a partner in Dornoch, who finished fourth in the Blue Grass.

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Resilience Earns Spot in G1 Kentucky Derby with Wood Memorial Win

by Keith McCalmont for

Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman’s Resilience, under perfect handling by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, punched his ticket for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby with a prominent score in Saturday’s Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“His mother won going a mile and an eighth and he’s getting better,” Gargan added. “So, I’m excited to have two for the Derby, both by Good Magic.”

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Resilience, who added blinkers following a fourth-place finish last out in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, picked up the maximum allotment of 100-50-25-15-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points available to the top-five finishers in the nine-furlong test for sophomores.

Mott credited his local assistant, Leana Willaford, along with a heady ride by Velazquez, for the improved performance.

“He ran very well. Leana did a great job with him. It was a similar trip to what we were hoping for. The blinkers didn’t hurt, did they,” said Mott, who won the 2019 Wood Memorial with Tacitus.

Bred in Kentucky by Pam and Martin Wygod, the regally-bred Into Mischief colt has a strong turf pedigree out of the winning Smart Strike mare Meadowsweet, who is a half-sister to the Grade 1 and multiple graded stakes-winning Storm Cat progeny Courageous Cat and After Market – all three are out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Rahy mare Tranquility Lake. Jalil, a Group 2-winner on dirt, is also by Storm Cat and out of Tranquility Lake.

Emily Bushnell, daughter of Marty and Pam Wygod, was full of praise for the entire team.

“We’re just so excited. He showed up, and Bill has done such an amazing job with him. Johnny rode him perfectly, and we’re just so happy,” Bushnell said. “I feel so lucky to be part of this incredible horse. He has brought my family’s breeding program full circle. My father’s dedication and love for the thoroughbred industry has spanned multiple years and Resilience is the product of a broodmare line he has nurtured and it is so exciting to see him succeed at this level.”

Resilience broke alertly from the inside post and saved ground into the first turn as the Eric Cancel-piloted longshot Evening News marked the opening quarter-mile in 23.45 seconds over the fast main track with 80-1 shot Lonesome Boy in third under Adam Bowman.

Evening News maintained his lead over Lonesome Boy down the backstretch as Velazquez angled Resilience to the outside in third position with Grade 3 Gotham-winner Deterministic saving ground in fourth under Joel Rosario after a half-mile in 47.49. Evening News showed the way through three-quarters in 1:12.31 and was enveloped by a swarm of rivals through the final turn as Resilience vaulted to the lead with Society Man looming one to watch under Luis Rivera, Jr.

Resilience stayed on strong down the lane as Society Man chased and closers Protective and Grade 3 Withers-winner Uncle Heavy, who was off a step slow, began to make up ground. But there was no reeling in a runaway Resilience, who bested Society Man by 2 1/4-lengths at the wire in a final time of 1:50.28. It was a further 1 1/2-lengths back to Protective in third with Lonesome Boy and Uncle Heavy claiming the remaining Kentucky Derby points. Elysian Meadows, Tuscan Sky, Deterministic, Evening News, Merit and Gettysburg Address rounded out the order of finish. El Grande O was scratched prior to the start.

The Dexter Haddock-ridden Deposition fell when squeezed while trying to make a move between Uncle Heavy and Protective in mid-stretch and unseated his rider. Dr. Sarah Hinchliffe, NYRA’s Veterinary Department Director, reported that Deposition stood up under his own power and walked onto the equine ambulance and was transported to the Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists clinic for further evaluation. Haddock was transported to local hospital for further evaluation.

Jockey John Velazquez, Jr. Discusses the Win

Velazquez picked up his fifth Wood Memorial win following past success with Eskendereya [2010], Verrazano [2013], Outwork [2016] and Vino Rosso [2018]. The veteran rider, who won the Grade 1 Florida Derby last weekend with Fierceness, said Resilience improved once he found clear racing room.

“We broke really well, which was what we wanted to do. He got a little bit aggressive, more than I wanted to in the first part. Then I put him out and he kind of relaxed better on the outside of horses,” Velazquez said. “The reason we put blinkers on is because he’s kind of hesitant in passing the horses. So, I kind of engaged him a little bit early to see if he’d pass horses and he passed them. Then I was like ‘Oh man I might’ve broken a little too soon.’ Then he just kept me busy down the lane.”

Velazquez, who guided Resilience to a fourth-out maiden score on New Year’s Day at Gulfstream Park along with his last out Risen Star effort on February 17, said the addition of blinkers was key.

“Very nice horse,” Velazquez said. “The second time I rode him, he kind of got shy away from the horses coming out and didn’t want to pass, then all of a sudden everybody passed him at the sixteenth pole. Then I said, ‘maybe blinkers will keep him smart and focused and running’ and it did today, so this is where to do it.”

Resilience banked $400,000 in victory to improve his record to 6-2-1-1 for total purse earnings of $494,630. He returned $11 for a $2 win ticket.

An emotional Rivera, Jr. was full of praise for the Danny Gargan-trained runner-up Society Man, who he guided to a fourth-out maiden win last month at the Big A.

“It means a lot. I don’t have words to explain this. We’re going on the road to the Kentucky Derby and it’s awesome,” Rivera, Jr. said. “I don’t even know how to explain it. He ran beautiful. I didn’t expect him to be that close, but the pace was a little bit easy so I got to be closer and I didn’t expect to be there. He put me in a perfect spot the whole race and whenever I asked him to go, he exploded. The horse that won was a better horse, but still, my horse showed a lot.”

Gargan sent out Dornoch, a full-brother to last year’s Kentucky Derby-winner Mage, to a fourth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland. The veteran conditioner said he was overwhelmed by the effort from Society Man, a Good Magic chestnut out of the stakes-placed Colonel John mare You Cheated.

“What a race he ran. I was super proud of him, and I thought for a minute he was going to get there,” Gargan said. “He’s learning and getting better, and obviously we’re going to look at the Derby with him. 50 [points] gets you in usually. We couldn’t be more excited.

Live racing resumes  with a first post at 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit

Here Are Five Movies About Horse Racing to Watch

William Forrest, Barry Fitzgerald (rear), and Shirley Temple in 1949’s “The Story of Seabiscuit.”

There are some really great movies that have been made about horse racing, from Phar Lap to the popular films about Seabiscuit and Secretariat…

“Phar Lap” (1983)

This movie chronicles the story of the much-loved Australian racehorse Phar Lap and the stable hand Tommy Woodcock (Tom Burlinson) who helps set the thoroughbred on a course to victory.

Phar Lap raced to stardom in the 1930s, winning the Melbourne Cup and 22 other weight for age races. His final victory was at the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico in track-record time.

At the time of Phar Lap’s death in 1932, he was the third highest stakes winner in the world. This is an absolute classic and a great movie.  If you have not seen it, find a way to watch it…

Met Mile and Belmont Stakes Notes

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Zedan Racing Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winner Taiba will skip Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap, at Belmont Park.

Taiba worked seven-furlongs in 1:27.40 Friday at Santa Anita in what was to be his final prep for the one-turn mile for 3-year-olds and up which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at the Arcadia, California oval. He has not raced since an eighth-place effort in the Group 1 Saudi Cup on February 25 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

“His works have been good, but not like I’d like to see them. I just don’t think he’s ready for something like that yet,” said Baffert, who won the 2017 Metropolitan with Mor Spirit. “I’m going to wait and run him at Del Mar. He’s doing well, but not well enough for the Met Mile. To run in the Met Mile, you have to bring your ‘A’ game and I don’t think he’s quite there yet.”

The 4-year-old Gun Runner colt’s trio of Grade 1 scores came in the Santa Anita Derby last April, the Pennsylvania Derby in September at Parx and the Malibu in December at Santa Anita.

National Treasure Works for Belmont Stakes

SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan’s Grade 1 Preakness-winner National Treasure is slated to breeze Monday in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

The Quality Road sophomore added blinkers and made all the running in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness on May 20 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez up, outdueling Blazing Sevens for a narrow head score with Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Mage settling for third.

Baffert said he is hopeful that National Treasure will appreciate the added ground in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion.”

“You never know until they do it,” Baffert said. “He handled the Preakness distance and it wasn’t a problem for him. We’re all in the same boat. None of them probably want to go that far, but if they don’t go too fast, they can do it.

“I just want him to show up like he did at Pimlico,” added Baffert. “He’s never really run a bad race. All his races have been competitive. He’s a pretty consistent horse. He’s happy and he’ll breeze tomorrow and hopefully everything goes well.”

Baffert, who previously won the Belmont Stakes with Point Given [2001] and Triple Crown-winners American Pharoah [2015] and Justify [2018], will be in attendance Saturday for the final leg of the Triple Crown.

National Treasure graduated at first asking in September at Del Mar and hit the board in a trio of stakes in the Grade 1 American Pharoah [2nd] in October at Santa Anita, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile [3rd] in November at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Sham [3rd] in January at Santa Anita. He finished fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April ahead of his Preakness coup.

Zedan Racing Stables’ graded-stakes placed Arabian Lion rolled to a frontrunning four-length score last out under Velazquez in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard.

While initially under consideration for the Belmont Stakes, Baffert decided to point the Justify chestnut to the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores.

“On the turnback, sometimes they run well. We’ll send him back to two turns again after that,” Baffert said.

Arabian Lion, who boasts a ledger of 6-2-2-0 for purse earnings of $217,600, entered the Sir Barton from a pacesetting runner-up effort to First Mission in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Lexington on April 15 at Keeneland.

Undercard of Belmont Stakes 2023

Baffert will also enter multiple graded-stakes placed Fort Bragg in the Woody Stephens. The Tapit colt, who was third in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity in December, finished second last out in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile a neck back of returning rival General Jim on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

“He’s still improving and filling out,” Baffert said. “He’s maturing and there’s a lot of room to improve.”

Baffert previously won the Woody Stephens with Bayern [2014] and American Anthem [2017].

The Belmont Stakes headlines the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival that features a total of 16 stakes events from Thursday, June 8 through Saturday, June 10. For additional information on the 2023 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and details on hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing, visit