Road to Santa Anita Begins, Kentucky Derby Draws Closer

The new year is upon us and that means the 2014 Kentucky Derby is even closer than before. Let’s get you up to speed as we prepare to bet on the Kentucky Derby.

Sham Stakes

One of the biggest pre-Derby races is the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, which usually features a field filled with Churchill Downs hopefuls. But in order to get to Santa Anita, horses must position themselves well, and their first opportunity to do so will be in the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes in Arcadia.

The Sham will feature six sophomores, many of whom are gaining pre-Kentucky Derby betting buzz. One of those is Top Fortitude, a horse known equally for its running ability and celebrity ownership duo – former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice (recently hired by the Atlanta Falcons) and Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

Top Fortitude has shown well in pre-race runs, working five sharp furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:01.60 to kick off the ’14 campaign. Jockeyed by Kayla Stra, Top Fortitude will become a legit Derby contender should he show well at the Sham.

Another horse worth watching is Life Is a Joy, the top money earner in the field. He’s coming off a solid second-place finish in the King Glorious Stakes at Hollywood Park in late December, this after bursting onto the scene in October with a win at the Charlie Palmer Futurity – besting the field by six lengths.

We’d be remiss without mentioning Ontology, a spy horse from Reddam Racing LLC that has banked nearly $110,000 this season and showed well in a one mile turf race in late December. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Ontology has also ran well in pre-race trials, cruising through five furlongs in a fast 59.60 about three weeks ago.

Kentucky Derby Betting News for Ria Antonia

Ria Antonia is ready to run with the boys.

One of the hottest names in the industry, Ria Antonia is shaping up to be the filly to beat this Derby season after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race (thanks to She’s a Tiger being disqualified for interference). In the latest Kentucky Derby horse racing odds, Ria Antonia was the biggest mover on the board by dropping from 400-1 to 100-1 and in light of the move, owner Ron Paolucci is upping the stakes.

Ria Antonia is going to run with the boys this month, as she’ll head down to Fair Grounds to run in the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. Paolucci also floated the idea of his prized filly running some prep races at Oaklawn.

While Derby-winning fillies are rare – only Carolyn A in 1947 and Grecian Princess in 1964 have accomplished the feat – Paolucci likes the idea of Ria Antonia making a run for it on the 50th anniversary of Grecian Princess’ famous run.

Why? Because of her size and power, for one thing. Ria Antonia is almost 17 hands tall and has shown a remarkable ability to kick down the stretch – but she’s not alone there. Paolucci has praised a number of fillies that are tearing up the track this winter including She’s a Tiger, Artemis Agrotera and Sweet Reason.

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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