Horse racing roundup: Union Rags still the 1 in AP's Run to Roses Top 10
Picking the favorite for the Kentucky Derby may be as tough as picking the winner.
Without a breakthrough star heading into the May 5 Derby, there's a stable full of 3-year-olds worthy of the leading role when a full field of 20 horses spring from the starting gate at Churchill Downs.
Begin with Union Rags, who opened on top and now finishes No. 1 on the AP's final Run to the Roses' Top 10 list of Derby contenders. Other potential Derby favorites are Bodemeister, Creative Cause, Dullahan, Gemologist and I'll Have Another.
Union Rags comes into the 1¼-mile Derby off a third-place finish in the Florida Derby after winning the Fountain of Youth.
Not the most stellar credentials, but by finishing with a flourish in his last race after a tough trip trainer Michael Matz is hoping Union Rags will be at his best on Derby day.
Bodemeister, with an eye-catching, 9½-length victory in the Arkansas Derby in just his fourth career start, is No. 3 this week.
Gemologist, No. 2 on the AP list, is unbeaten in all five of his starts, including a victory in the Wood Memorial. Dullahan, No. 5, came rumbling down the stretch and overtook Hansen in winning the Blue Grass, and the California-based duo of I'll Have Another (sixth on the AP list) and Creative Cause (fourth on the list) ran 1-2 in the Santa Anita Derby.
Rounding out the list: Hansen at No. 7, Take Charge Indy at No. 8, Went the Day Well at No. 9, and Alpha at No. 10.
Velazquez, Ghostzapper head racing Hall class
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Jockey John Velazquez can add Hall of Famer to a résumé that includes wins in thoroughbred racing's biggest events and two years as the nation's top rider.
Velazquez, along with 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and trainers Roger Attfield and Robert Wheeler, were elected to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame on Monday.
Velazquez has won 4,803 races, including 733 stakes, and earned more than $263 million since 1990. He was the nation's top rider in 2004 and 2005.
The four inductees, elected in the contemporary category by the 183 members of the Hall of Fame voting panel, will be inducted Aug. 10 at the hall in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Havre de Grace retired
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Havre de Grace, the 2011 Horse of the Year, has been retired after injuring an ankle following a workout at Churchill Downs.
Last year, Havre de Grace took Horse of the Year honors by winning five of seven races. She also finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
The 5-year-old bay mare won nine of 17 starts with four places and two shows and earned $2,586,175.