Run for the Roses Contenders

With the Run for the Roses now just a few months away, let’s take a look at how the field is shaping up, and which contenders are doing what.

There are a number of big prep races ahead and the new points system is in play, so the excitement level grows – as does the competition – as jockeys and trainers look to be a part of the two most exciting minutes in sports at Churchill Downs on May 4.


Bred in Kentucky and trained under the watchful eye of Edward Plesa Jr., Itsmyluckyday has been a big riser amongst the contender set lately. He beat Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on the last weekend in January, which was a big result. Itsmyluckyday is now two-for-two in 2013 and looks to be in peak form as he preps for the Grade 1 Florida Derby on Mar. 30. That’ll be his final prep race prior to the Kentucky Derby, so sharps will want to pay close attention to his form and see if he’s ready to run at Churchill.

Titletown Five

This horse has gained a lot of notoriety leading up to the Derby thanks in large part to his co-owner – former Green Bay Packers legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung. (“Titletown” refers to Green Bay.) The Derby season started well for Titletown – he scored a win on October 28 – but has since had a knee chipped removed and has been out of action.

Four-time Kentucky Derby victor D. Wayne Lukas told USA today that Titletown’s comeback effort will be difficult, but noted he’s a “very talented horse”.

Frac Daddy

Like Titletown Five, here’s another horse that’s struggling with injury at the wrong time. He finished sixth to Itsmyluckyday at the Holy Bull on January 26, fading down the stretch due to a “grabbed quarter”. (The horse grabbed its front hoof with a rear hoof, tearing skin and tissue.) How quickly Frac Daddy can return to training is the huge wildcard here. If he’s able to recuperate and get back into the Fountain of Youth (again, at Gulfstream Park) on February 23, he could turn his pre-Derby season around. If not, it could be trouble.

Dewey Square

Dewey Square finished behind Frac Daddy at Holy Bull despite not having any of the same injury issues; it was a total disaster of a performance. While it hasn’t completely derailed his Derby lead-up campaign, Frac Daddy is going to need to bounce back at the Fountain of Youth or the Florida Derby because he simply cannot have two bad performances leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

That said, jockey Dale Romans has high hopes for Dewey Square in his next two races.

“I think he’s developed mentally more than anything,” Romans said. “He seems to have more confidence out there.”

About Tennessee Leduc

Born in Summersville Kentucky, Tennessee is an impassioned fan of horse racing, women, civilized debauchery, and... mint juleps. He writes, he reads, he listens, but above all he experiences the world he lives in.

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