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Major Derby preps produce field of 4 potential favorites

The Baltimore Sun

All the significant preps for this year's Kentucky Derby have been run, and, as is often the case, there is no clear favorite. But that's what makes horse racing.

Still, with three weeks to go there will be a few horses worth watching, with the favorite likely being one of these four:

1 . Scat Daddy. This Todd Pletcher colt had to work a little bit to win the Florida Derby but still picked up his fifth win in eight starts. It will be interesting to see who rides the horse. John Velasquez, the first call rider for Pletcher, was in Dubai on the day of the March 31 Florida Derby and Edgar Prado picked up the mount. They are both outstanding jockeys.

2. Nobiz Like Showbiz. Despite a less-than-perfect ride by Cornelio Velasquez in the Wood Memorial, this colt goes in the Derby with four wins in six starts and has never finished out of the money. People are wondering if the third-place finish in the Fountain of Youth or the first in the Wood is more indicative of his ability.

3. Street Sense. On Saturday, his second-place finish by a nose in the Blue Grass could have easily been a win. But it did bring into question his ability to handle a driving horse in the stretch in a race that is an eighth of a mile longer. But the Derby is as much about pacing and luck as it is the best horse winning.

4. Curlin. Oh, do people love this horse. But, oh, if he had only run more races. He won his third in three lifetime starts Saturday in the Arkansas Derby. He's done nothing wrong, but that's the problem. You need to see a horse overcome adversity or maintain a superior edge for a long period of time before you're ready to jump on the bandwagon. Smart bettors will likely stay away from such a lightly raced colt.

The only significant Derby prep left is Saturday's Lexington Stakes. Hard Spun, who has won five of his six starts, is the only horse in the top 10 of the Triple Crown ratings to be running in it. Even if he is successful, it's a tough turnaround to come back so quickly and run 1 1/4 miles for the first time.

In other Derby news, Notional, the second-place finisher in the Florida Derby is off the trail, having fractured a cannon bone during training Saturday. The injury is not life-threatening, but it's unknown whether he will be able to race again.

John Cherwa writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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