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Coast-to-coast Kentucky Derby prep races this weekend produced at least two interesting starters for the most exciting two minutes in sports. Let’s take a look at each of the  races starting in New York and working our way across the U.S. to California. 

Th Grade 3 Gotham Stakes has produced only one Kentucky Derby winner. But one is enough when you are the incomparable Secretariat. The $300,000 race, contested at one mile at Aqueduct was won by Morello.  The Classic Empire colt out of a Congrats mare received an impressive 96 Beyer for his effort and 50 Derby points. He bested the second place finisher, Dean’s List, handily by 4 1/2 lengths in only his third career start. A $250,000 purchase by a group of self-described regular guys from Saratoga, the undefeated Morello, trained by Steve Asmussen, could become a rooting favorite for yours truly. I love a good underdog. Look for him next out in the Wood Memorial. 
Staying on the east coast but traveling south to Hallendale, Florida the Grade 2 $400,000 Fountain of Youth was a heart stopper. Two horses went down in an ugly spill but walked off on their own volition. Both jockeys were fortunate to be only slightly injured. Meanwhile a very impressive winner, Simplification, turned our heads for a number of reasons. The son of red-hot sire Not This Time out of a Candy Ride mare is perfectly bred for the longer route distances, and had little trouble defeating his foes by 3 1/2 lengths on Saturday. The Fountain of Youth has produced thirteen Kentucky Derby winners, and I really like his chances for the first Saturday in May. Trained by Antonio Sano and ridden by star jockey Jose Ortiz, Simplification earned a 96 Beyer and 50 points for his effort. I like him for both his pedigree and his versatility. This is a horse with a flexible running style and that bodes well for a 20-horse field at Churchill Downs. Look for him next out in the Florida Derby. 
Next, we move across the country to California for the Grade 2 $400,000 San Felipe, which has also produced thirteen Kentucky Derby winners. Contested at a mile and a sixteenth, the San Felipe was won with ease by a beast on the west coast, the undefeated Forbidden Kingdom. Making his fifth career start, the son of American Pharoah out of a Five Star Day mare received a 98 Beyer and 50 points for his geared down 5 3/4 length victory. Trained by Richard Mandella, Forbidden Kingdom had never run past seven furlongs until Saturday. And, while he passed the two-turn test with flying colors, I have serious concerns about his ability to go a mile and a quarter the first Saturday in May. Five Star Day produces sprinters. This guy has speed, and the stamina to carry it two turns. However, I believe he might come up short in the last eighth of a mile against horses like Simplification or Epicenter, who are bred to route.
Finally, I want to mention a fourth prep race on Saturday. The John Battaglia was run Saturday night at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky over the tapeta surface. Though unlikely to produce a Kentucky Derby winner, the $250,000 mile and a sixteenth race was a nail biter as Tiz the Bomb edged out Stolen Base by a neck for 10 points. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Tiz the Bomb had disappointed with a seventh place finish last out in the Holy Bull. He received an 82 Beyer for the Turfway effort which is well below the numbers for the winners of the other three prep races that day. 
If he stays healthy, Simplification gets my vote for the horse most likely to show up in your trifecta on Derby day out of this group. Next up, the Tampa Bay Derby! 

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