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2024 Derby Preps: Dornoch Favored in Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct; Odds, Picks

The New York path to the Kentucky Derby (G1) moves into round 2 on Saturday with the $250,000 Remsen (G3) at Aqueduct – the one Derby prep for promising 2-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles.

It’s a test for trainers to gauge whether their juveniles can run well at a longer distance in the buildup to going 1 ¼ miles in the Derby on the first Saturday in May.

A field of 10 was entered, with Dornoch the 5-2 morning-line favorite off a 6 1/2-length win at third asking at Keeneland on Oct. 14.

A son of Good Magic and a full brother to 2023 Derby winner Mage, Dornoch is trained by Dany Gargan, who says the colt is still green, a bit goofy, but really good after three races.

“Last time, he broke good and was up there,” Gargan said of the colt’s gate-to-wire win at 1 1/16 miles. “He still goofed off at the end of the race. When he gets by himself, he plays around. He’s real professional when he’s with other horses. He looked around a little bit and didn’t switch (leads) as fast because he’s playing around. But it was a big performance and he ran fast.”

The Remsen offers Derby qualifying points of 10-5-3-2-1 to the top five finishers.

Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Entries and Rising Stars in The Remsen

Two-time Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher entered two colts, Street Sense (G3) runner-up Moonlight at 9-2 and 10-1 Private Desire, fourth in the Nashua Stakes in his last race following a maiden win at second asking.

The Remsen is one of four graded stakes races on Cigar Mile Day: the others are the Kentucky Oaks (G1) points qualifier Demoiselle (G2), the Go for Wand (G3), and the Cigar Mile Handicap (G2).

Gargan, who won the Remsen last year with Dubyuhnell, believes the longer his colt goes the better.

“I don’t think it (the distance) will be any problem at all,’’ Gargan said. “He’s a big horse.

Copper Tax, already well seasoned with six starts, comes into the Remsen with a five-race winning streak, most recently taking the 6-furlong James F. Lewis III at Laurel Park on Nov. 11 for trainer Gary Capuano. He is 10-1.

Chad Brown’s Talented Pair and Rick Dutrow Jr.’s Where’s Chris: Racing Highlights

Other contenders include a pair of Chad Brown trainees – 4-1 Sierra Leone and 10-1 Domestic Product. Sierra Leone debuted with a 1 ¼-length win at Aqueduct on Nov. 4. The son of Gun Runner was a $2.3 million purchase at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale.

“Obviously, he’s a highly regarded horse because of his wonderful pedigree and his purchase price,” Brown said. “It’s nice that he got his career started with a win right off the bat. He’s a very promising horse and hopefully, he takes to the two turns which he should.”

And let’s not forget about Rick Dutrow, Jr., who will send out Where’s Chris, winner of the Nashua. Where’s Chris, a son of Twirling Candy, 6-1 with Isaac Castillo board?

The picks: 1 Sierra Leone 2 Dornoch 3 Moonlight 

The field for the $250,000 Remsen (G2), from the rail out, with jockey, trainer, odds:

1 Le Dom Bro (Jose Gomez, Eniel Cordero), 50-1
2 Domestic Product (Manny Franco, Chad Brown), 10-1
3 Dornoch (Luis Saez, Danny Gargan), 5-2
4 Moonlight (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Todd Pletcher), 9-2
5 Drum Roll Please (Javier Castellano, Brad Cox), 10-1
6 Billal (Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott), 12-1
7 Sierra Leone (Jose Ortiz, Chad Brown), 4-1
8 Where’s Chris (Isaac Castillo, Rick Dutrow, Jr.), 6-1
9 Copper Tax (Kendrick Carmouche, Gary Capuano), 10-1
10 Private Desire (Jose Lezcano, Todd Pletcher), 10-1


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