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Wicked Strong Running for Boston, Albano Out of Kentucky Derby Contenders

We’re now just weeks away from the biggest and most exciting date on the horse racing calendar – the 2014 Kentucky Derby, to be run at Churchill Downs.

And, as we’ve seen in years past, the lead-up to the Derby is proving to be nearly as exciting as the big race. A number of colts have moved up and down the points leaderboard in the quest to earn a berth in the Derby field – or in certain cases – stave off elimination. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the horses making noise as the Derby draws near.

Keep an Eye on Wicked Strong

Most don’t consider Boston (or the state of Massachusetts in general) a real hotspot for producing horses, but a runner by the name of Wicked Strong is looking to change that.

Owned by Centennial Farms in Beverly, Massachusetts, Wicked Strong raised some eyebrows recently by capturing the $590,000 Wood Memorial, surprising a field that included two undefeated colts, Social Inclusion and Samraat (who won the Gotham Stakes). Wicked Strong came in as a 9-1 longshot and for the majority of the race, looked as though he was finished – until he caught the outside down the stretch and sailed home, winning the race by three and a half lengths and more importantly, secured enough points to guarantee a berth in the Kentucky Derby.

Wicked Strong’s name was actually first “Boston Strong,” until Centennial president Don Little Jr learned another stable had already swept up the name. So one night (at a Bruins hockey game, fittingly), Little and some guests in a suite suggested “Wicked Strong” to pay tribute to the Bostonian lingo.

And the Boston ties don’t end there.

Just to ensure the public that he’s not trying to leverage the now-infamous Boston Marathon tragedy and subsequent “Boston Strong” catchphrase, Little is giving back; he and partners will donate five percent of all of Wicked Strong’s Triple Crown winnings to The One Fund, a charity formed by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino, designed to help those most affected by the Marathon bombings.

Albano Out

Owner and breeder Brereton C. Jones announced this week that his colt, Albano, would be held out of the Kentucky Derby despite a very strong showing in the lead-up season.

You might remember Albano from his fourth-place finish at the Louisiana Derby, or his pair of second place finishes in the Risen Star Stakes and the Lecomte (both were run at the Fair Grounds). While he wasn’t tagged as a major Kentucky Derby contender, Albano did have enough going for him points-wise to get into the mix with another good performance.

Jones, though, simply feels his horse isn’t ready.

Jones noted that Albano was a May colt, and that he lacked the maturity and poise to make an impact at Churchill Downs. How Albano’s departure affects the field remains to be seen. He had 34 points and was inside the top 20 to qualify for the race, so horses on the bubble have to be pleased with this latest development.

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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