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Arabian Knight To Skip Derby

Speedy Colt Aims for Summer, Fall Campaigns

Arabian Knight, once a favorite in the Kentucky Derby Odds when he rolled to victory in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February, will not run in the great race on the first Saturday in May.

The talented 3-year-old was recently transferred by owner Amr Zedan to trainer Tim Yakteen’s barn from Bob Baffert, who is still under suspension by Churchill Downs and is unable to accumulate Derby points for his horses.

Rich Strike with Sonny Leon up wins the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby
Rich Strike with Sonny Leon up wins the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby - Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

Arabian Knight’s team put out a press release on its decision.

Trainer Tim Yakteen wasn’t happy with his last work and we feel it’s in Arabian Knight’s best interest not to rush and allow him more time to develop,” the statement read. “We know he’s a superior talent and our plan is to point him toward a summer and fall campaign.”

That would put races like the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga, along with the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, as possibilities unless Arabian Knight stays out west.

National Treasure, another Baffert horse transferred to Yakteen, is back in training after being scratched from the San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 4 due to a bruised foot. The third-place finisher in last Fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile could still run in a Derby prep race, perhaps the Santa Anita Derby on April 8.

Tapit Trice Impresses

With Arabian Knight out of the Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher has the top two horses in the Las Vegas horse racing odds for the big race at Churchill Downs on May 6.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Forte, who was dominant while winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream two weekends ago, is the top choice at +300. Tapit Trice moved up to second (+800) after winning the Tampa Bay Derby last Saturday.

Tapit Trice encountered plenty of trouble but steamed down the final stretch to win the 1 1/16-mile race at Tampa Bay Downs by two lengths.

He finished up the way we expected him to,” Pletcher told reporters. “He certainly seems like the farther he goes, the stronger he gets. He’s got a big, long stride. Once he got clear down the lane he really extended himself.

Forte is being pointed toward the Florida Derby at Gulfstream on April 1 and Tapit Trice is likely for the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 8 in horse racing news.

Instant Coffee Ready

Lecomte winner Instant Coffee leads what could be a strong field in the $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on March 25.

Instant Coffee won the 1 1/16-mile Lecomte in January and skipped the Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb. 18 to point toward this race. The son of Bolt d’Oro breezed five furlongs in 1:01.0 on March 11 for trainer Brad Cox.

Cox could also send out Jace’s Road and Tapit’s Conquest in the 1 3/16 Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, which awards 100 points to the winner. Tapit’s Conquest is also being considered for the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in New York on April 8.

Litigate, another Pletcher-trained colt who won the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs by 1¼ lengths in his first stakes race on Feb. 11, was expected to be one of the morning-line favorites in the horse racing odds for the Louisiana Derby. But the son of Blame suffered a setback recently and is off the Derby trail.

No problem for Pletcher, who is expected to send lightly-raced Kingsbarns to Fair Grounds for his first stakes race in the Louisiana Derby. The son of Uncle Mo is 2-for-2, including a 7¾-length victory in a 1-mile, 40-yard Allowance race at Tampa on Feb. 12.

O’Neill Has Two in Dubai

There are three other Derby Trail races next weekend, including two more that offer 100 points to the winner.

American trainer Doug O’Neill is expected to enter both Tall Boy and Ah Jeez to run against several Japanese runners and Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s talented colt Cairo in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 2 UAE Derby at Meydan in Dubai.

Tall Boy won the Grade 3 UAE 2000 Guineas at one mile on Feb. 10, and Ah Jeez, the son of former UAE Derby champ Mendelssohn, won a 7-furlong Allowance race on Feb. 24 – both at Meydan. Cairo is 3-for-5 with two seconds. Baffert’s Worcester is also expected to run in the UAE Derby, but cannot earn points.

The 1⅛-mile Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks is also scheduled for Saturday at Turfway Park in Kentucky. Pletcher’s Major Dude, who won the Kitten’s Joy Stakes on Feb. 4 at Gulfstream on turf, heads the projected field on the synthetic course. John Battaglia Memorial winner Congruent and Grade 3 Street Sense Stakes winner Two Phil’s are also expected to go.

The 1⅛-mile Grade 3 Sunland Derby is set for March 26 at Sunland Park in New Mexico if you are betting online. It awards 50 Derby points to the winner. Henry Q, who won the Mine That Derby by 14¾ lengths as a prep, is expected to headline the field.

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