Horse racing mailbag topics include Nest, Arabian Knight and Forte

Time to clean out the ol’ mailbag, which today features questions about the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a talented filly still waiting to make her 4-year-old debut and why the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award is so special to its recipients.

So without further adieu, let’s turn to The Answer Man and get these queries addressed:

Q: What’s the latest on Nest, last year’s 3-year-old champion filly who I don’t think has raced yet this year? Is she still active or been retired?

A: Nest, trained by Todd Pletcher, enjoyed a banner 2022 and after a brief respite is being pointed toward a race at Churchill Downs next month. The daughter of Curlin won the Ashland, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame last year and finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She’s on track to make her 4-year-old debut in the Grade I La Troienne on April 5. “We gave her time off and she’s grown up and developed,” owner Mike Repole told the Thoroughbred Daily News recently. “We all know what happens with Curlins between 3 and 4. It’s hard to think this way, but she might even be better this year.”

Q: Has Arabian Knight developed some sort of injury they are not telling us about, or are his connections truly just taking their time with him?

A: I believe it’s the latter. The colt’s owner, Amr Zedan, posted a Twitter message late Saturday saying trainer Tim Yakteen was not happy with Arabian Knight’s last work and he’ll receive “more time to develop.” Zedan added: “We feel it’s in Arabian Knight’s best interest not to rush. We know he’s a superior talent and our plan is to point him toward a summer and fall campaign.” So no Kentucky Derby or Preakness. They’re looking at races like the Haskell, Travers and Breeders’ Cup Classic. This actually is not a surprising move. Arabian Knight has raced only twice and has zero Derby qualifying points. He’s also missed training time because of all the rain that’s hit the Southland. There’s an old axiom in horse racing: If you’re good to the horse, the horse will be good to you.

Q: Now that Arabian Knight has been withdrawn from Derby consideration, is Forte an overwhelming favorite?

A: He is in my book. In my latest Kentucky Derby Super Six, I had Arabian Knight and Forte atop the list and Practical Move a level below the top two. Forte has done nothing wrong so far, winning five of six and passing the eye test when it comes to impressive performances. I think Practical Move, who won the Los Alamitos Futurity and San Felipe Stakes in performances that produced good final times for the mile and sixteenth, is a top 3-year-old, but I’m not sure he can beat Forte. We’ll know more after the final Derby preps during the next month, but as of now, I am very bullish on Forte.

Q: My son, a huge horse racing fan, had never heard of George Woolf until he read in your paper about Javier Castellano winning the award this year. Can you provide a little background on the jockey himself and maybe the reason why the award is so special to today’s riders?

A: Nicknamed “The Iceman,” Woolf was a Canadian jockey who became famous for riding the great Seabiscuit to victories in 1938. During the fourth race at Santa Anita on Jan. 3, 1946, the 35-year-old Woolf was unseated from his mount, Please Me, as the field rounded the clubhouse turn. He suffered a concussion, was taken to the hospital and died the following day. Woolf was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale and Gene Autry sang at his funeral. Santa Anita has presented the one-time-only award since 1950 to the jockey in North America who “demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct both on and off the racetrack.” One of the reasons it’s so special to riders is because it’s determined by a vote of their peers nationwide. It was announced Thursday that Castellano will accept his award Sunday at Santa Anita in a winner’s circle ceremony.

Related Articles

Sports |

Santa Anita horse racing consensus picks, Sunday, March 12, 2023

Sports |

A Mo Reay wins Santa Anita’s Beholder Mile

Sports |

Santa Anita horse racing consensus picks, Saturday, March 11, 2023

Sports |

Santa Anita horse racing consensus picks, Friday, March 10, 2023

Sports |

Horse racing notes: Ed Moger Jr. still marveling his Big ‘Cap win

Q: Can you email me the key Del Mar dates this summer? I’m making vacation plans and need to know.

A: Del Mar’s summer meet, which was highly successful in 2022, begins Friday, July 21 and ends Sunday, Sept. 10. Key Grade I race dates: $400,000 Bing Crosby Stakes, July 29; $400,000 Clement L. Hirsch, Aug. 5; $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, Aug. 19; $1 million Pacific Classic, Sept. 2; $300,000 Del Mar Debutante, Sept. 9; $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, Sept. 10.

Follow Art Wilson on Twitter @Sham73

Share the Post:

Related Posts

Generated by Feedzy