Kentucky Derby Kernels (April 26): Baffert’s Muth, Preakness Favorite

Bob Baffert may be banned from sending out horses in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but he has a couple of 3-year-olds primed for the Preakness (G1) two weeks after the Run for the Roses.


Endlessly works, but will he run in Derby?

Muth, winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1), opened as the 3-1 Preakness future wager favorite on Friday (April 26). Baffert’s other top 3-year-old, Santa Anita Derby (G1) runner-up Imagination, opened at 12-1.

Florida Derby (G1) winner Fierceness and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) winner Sierra Leone, expected to be the favorites for the May 4 Derby, are second and third at 9-2 and 6-1, respectively.

The Derby post-position draw is Saturday (April 27).

There are 31 individual entries and a pari-mutuel field of “all other 3-year-olds” in the Preakness future wager. The field is 20-1.

The Preakness future wager has a $2 minimum and 18% takeout. The pool runs until 6 p.m. ET on Derby Day.

Derby runners listed in the pool include Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Catching Freedom, UAE Derby (G2) winner Forever Young, and Blue Grass runner-up Just a Touch, all at 15-1.

Fountain of Youth (G2) and Remsen (G3) winner Dornoch and Louisiana Derby runner-up Honor Marie are 40-1, and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Domestic Product is 50-1.

Three “Win and You’re In’’ the Preakness horses listed are Federico Tesio winner Copper Tax and Bath House Row winner Informed Patriot are 20-1; and Endlessly, winner of the El Camino Real, 50-1.

Fierceness looking good after final workout

His 13½-length runaway in the Florida Derby (G1) made Fierceness the early favorite for the 150th Kentucky Derby. He’s been brilliant and erratic throughout his five-race career, alternating great performances with disappointing ones. The way he’s been training lately makes Todd Pletcher optimistic that he’s ready to finally put tremendous efforts back-to-back.

The son of City of Light was sharp Friday morning in his first timed workout at Churchill Downs, breezing a half-mile in 48.80 seconds for three-time Derby winner John Velazquez. The Hall of Fame jockey smiled when asked about the move, saying, “He went really, really well. He’s been working very solidly lately. He handled the track today very well.”

His Hall of Fame trainer also was pleased. “I’m very, very happy with the work.”

Pletcher likes working his best horses with a stablemate, and Fierceness was paired with turf stakes winner Agate Road. The reigning 2-year-old champion galloped out strongly in 11.80 seconds after the 4-furlong exercise.

A week earlier, his 5-furlong breeze in 1:00.20 at Palm Beach Downs excited Pletcher before he shipped the star colt to Louisville. He called the possibility that Fierceness might improve off the Florida Derby “scary.”

Tough spot to make your main-track debut

Whether Endlessly runs in the Derby or in the American Turf the same day has been a minor subplot since he dominated the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) March 23 on Turfway Park’s artificial surface.

Endlessly worked a half-mile in 47.80 Friday on Churchill’s main track for Umberto Rispoli, who flew in from California before leaving to ride yesterday’s card at Santa Anita.

Owner John Amerman is 92 and has never had a runner in the Derby. Earlier this week, trainer Michael McCarthy expressed his doubts about going in the Derby.

“He has an exceptional turf record (3-for-4) and is undefeated on synthetic (2-for-2),” McCarthy told the Louisville Courier Journal. “If I felt he was as good on the dirt, I probably would have tried it by now.”

However, he understands Amerman’s desire to take a shot, and he’s the boss.

“There’s only one Kentucky Derby,” McCarthy said. “People are in this game their whole lives to get in this position. Some never get there. … Mr. Amerman has been wonderful in racing, breeding. Those are all things we need to take into consideration.”


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