News and notes for the weekend - 04/18/13

With the Kentucky Derby just a short 16 days away and the more prominent and pertinent prep races in the books, I will just offer a few thoughts heading in the weekend. First, the Derby talk is in full bloom around the CBS 6 newsroom. Earlier this week I was asked by our Capital Correspondent Pat Bailey who was going to win The Run For The Roses. I shot off a few names like Verrazano and Orb, the obvious favorites. I also told him to keep an eye on Normandy Invasion and Revolutionary. Both of those should go off at a decent price and have shown me some things. It would not be shocking to see either one take the race. Revolutionary got a big boost too with the addition of Calvin Borel as jockey. He has won the Kentucky Derby three times. The most remarkable was in 2009 on Mine That Bird. I was in the Churchill Downs infield that year and as MTB was sprinting to the wire, drawing clear of the field, you could have heard a pin drop. I do not typically put too much stock in the jock, but with Borel in the Derby, take notice.

I have also been discussing the Derby with Anchorman Ed O'Brien. He likes Verrazano at this point. I agree. I will be watching his Wood Memorial trip again and again. At first glance, it might not have looked that great. He might have gotten bailed out by the wire with Normandy Invasion was closing on him. There are some trip handicappers that are of that mindset, but others who say his run was deceptively good. I fall somewhere in the middle. Normandy Invasion was coming and with the extra distance in the Derby, would he have gotten to the line first? But, afterwards, jockey Johnny Velazquez said he has never had to hit Verrazano, he has only shown him the whip. So with a little prodding could Verrazano come through with a gigantic stretch drive? I will be investigating that.

It is the last weekend at The Big A. I had two enjoyable Saturdays at Aqueduct this year. I saw the Withers and the Wood and met some of the strangest people in my life. Aqueduct gets a bad rap sometimes, but I truly enjoy that place. Next week, NYRA moves to Belmont. Secretariat is waiting for the horses in the paddock there. By the time June rolls around, here's to hoping a Triple Crown contender is still alive and ready for the challenge at Belmont.

The G-III Coolmore Lexington Stakes will be run on Saturday at Keeneland. 11 horses entered, including the filly, Pure Fun. She draw the far outside post. Should she win, Pure Fun can transfer the 20 qualifying points over to the Kentucky Oaks and be eligible for that 14 horse field. There is still a lot of shake up at the bottom of the Kentucky Derby list. With a top-loaded field the lower portion could opt-out of the Derby. The entries would then go on down the line, inviting the next highest point total. That's it for now, don't forget follow @TheChalkBlog on twitter and 'Like' CBS6 Albany on Facebook for continuous updates throughout the weekend. Good Luck!

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