Derby Hopefuls Line up at Fair Grounds, Meydan in Key Preps

Two key prep races for the Kentucky Derby are on tap on Saturday, the $2 million UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan in Dubai and the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Both races offer up 100-40-20-10 points toward entry into the Run for the Roses.

The UAE Derby drew a field of seven including one that made the trip from the United States. Frank Conversation, who won the El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Fields in his last start, drew the rail for trainer Doug O’Neill.

The one to beat in the race is the filly Polar River, who won the UAE Oaks (G3) in her last start to remain undefeated in four career starts. Her connections said she would not go on to the Kentucky Derby, but did not rule out a start in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

The UAE Derby is part of the richest night in racing. The feature on Saturday night is the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) which features 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome.

Down in the Bayou a field of 11 will head to the starting gate for the Louisiana Derby, with seven of the runners coming out of the Risen Star Stakes (G2) which was won by Gun Runner, who is currently listed at 20-1 in early Kentucky Derby wagering.

The Steve Asmussen trainee drew the rail post and will be making his second start as a three-year-old. He had run fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his last start as a juvenile.

Mo Tom went into the Risen Star off a win in the Lecomte (G3), but had some traffic troubles and had to settle for third in the Risen Star, beaten 1 ½ lengths for the top spot. He is listed at 25-1 in future Kentucky Derby betting.

One runner with a good shot that did not compete in the Risen Star is Greenpointcrusader, who ran second in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park in his last outing. The winner of that race was Mohaymen, who is currently the betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby at odds of 7-2.

Trained by Dominic Schettino, the colt is the lone Grade 1 winner in the field, taking the Champagne at Belmont Park in the slop last October.

After Saturday’s two Derby preps there are just seven Road to the Kentucky Derby points races left to be decided.

This year’s Kentucky Derby will be contested at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7.

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