A pair of stakes Saturday on different surfaces has lured several 3-year-olds that ran in one or more Triple Crown races this year.
The $600,000 Virginia Derby on Saturday features three colts in the eight-horse field that have enjoyed more success on turf than dirt.
Likely favorite Paddy O’Prado, third in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Preakness, is going for his third victory on the grass. He hit the board in all five trips over three different turf courses, going 2-1-2, and is the horse to beat.
The son of El Prado is trying to duplicate Battle of Hastings’ Colonial Double last year when he followed his Turf Cup victory with a win in the Virginia Derby.
Paddy O’Prado comes off a three-length triumph in the 1 3/16-mile Turf Cup on June 19 with regular rider Kent Desormeaux aboard. Only Two Notch Road, the pacesetter that finished third beaten 4 ¾ lengths, is returning for the 13th running of the Grade 2 contest at 1 ¼ miles.
Two Notch Road has three wins in five outing on the grass, but at shorter distances. The son of Partner’s Hero scored twice in a pair of allowance contests during 2010 at Monmouth Park either on the lead or in front in the stretch.
Another pace factor could be Krypton, who led most of the way while winning two of three with Rajiv Maragh in the saddle. The son of Rock Hard Ten won his last at a mile on the Belmont grass in the Hill Prince on June 4.
Interactif is 2-1-1 of four outings on the turf. Trainer Todd Pletcher decided to switch the son of Broken Vow back to the grass after he finished seventh in the Belmont.
Stately Victor, eighth in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont, got the better of Paddy O’Prado in the Blue Grass on Kenneland’s Polytrack by a 4 ¾-length margin April 10. The son of Ghostzapper broke his maiden in ’09 on Saratoga’s grass course. Ramon Dominguez climbs aboard for the first time.
The $200,000 Swaps Stakes, scheduled for Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track, features Sidney’s Candy hoping to resume his winning ways on Left Coast synthetic surfaces.
The son of Candy Ride won three consecutive stakes on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride main track before his horrible showing on the muddy Churchill Downs dirt finishing 17th. That ended a three-race winning streak culminating with a 4 ¾ -length score in the Santa Anita Derby.
Trainer John Sadler also is sending out stablemate Twirling Candy, unbeaten in two sprints at Hollywood.
His main challengers in the 1 1/8-mile contest, with only four betting interests, are three of the three top finishers in Hollywood’s Affirmed on June 19.
Winner Golden Itiz was considered a likely starter until trainer Ron Ellis announced Tuesday he wasn’t satisfied with the colt’s training punctuated by Sunday’s covering of five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 handily.
“He didn’t work that well and that’s not like him,” Ellis told the Daily Racing Form. “I don’t think he’ll run.” The son of Tiznow had captured three straight after a third in his career debut last February.
Affirmed runner-up Skipshot scored three times in six starts at California tracks. Third-place finisher Alphie’s Bet comes into the race with two stakes victories this year: Hollywood’s Snow Chief and Santa Anita’s Sham.
Completing the field is Summer Movie, fourth in the Affirmed. The son of Holy Bull has two victories, but both were on the grass.