CRAWFORD | Road to the Derby takes some turns, loses contender - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Road to Kentucky Derby takes some turns, loses contender

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It was a busy weekend on the Kentucky Derby trail, with one significant departure and a surprise arrival atop the new points-based Kentucky Derby standings as the value of prep races increased.

Violence, unbeaten as a 2-year-old for trainer Todd Pletcher, actually topped The Courier-Journal's Kentucky Derby poll and ran a respectable second in Saturday's Grade 2 $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, but was found to have fractured his right front medial sesamoid in an exam after the race.

Despite now sitting in third place on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard for his 30-point runner-up effort, Violence is off the Derby trail.Derby standings

"It's such a disappointment to see such a promising colt sustain an injury," Pletcher said. "He's been training beautifully and made such an impressive effort in his second-place finish yesterday."

It doesn't get much more impressive, however, than the effort that beat Violence on Saturday. The late-running Shug McGaughey-trained Orb kicked into gear turning for home in the Fountain of Youth and made a mammoth late run to win his third straight.

Orb benefited from fast early fractions to rally late, and now sits in second place in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings. Now, after losing his first three by a combined 31 lengths, Orb appears to have matured into a Derby threat.

McGaughey, a Hall of Famer who hasn't tried the Derby often and hasn't won the race, now appears headed for another opportunity.

"Don't worry about the Kentucky Derby," McGaughey said, "I am worried about it. I've been worried about it since I started rubbin' horses in 1971 or '2."

Of Orb's late run, Jockey John Velasquez said, "He was going along nice and smooth. I actually had to ride him pretty hard from the half-mile to the quarter pole to keep position and I hoped it wouldn't take anything out of him for the stretch. But it actually worked out great."

Speak Logistics finished third, followed by Majestic Hussar. The winner paid $12.80, $4 and $3.

The biggest surprise of the weekend -- and of the Derby season so far -- came in the Grade 2 $400,000 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, where 135-1 longshot Ive Struck a Nerve struck from out of nowhere to beat some big names for trainer Keith Desormeaux, the brother of three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Kent Desormeaux.

Ive Struck a Nerve lost to the D. Wayne-Lukas trained Oxbow by 13-1/2 lengths last time out, but Desormeaux said the colt's earlier troubles were caused by bad trips. It took him eight races to break his maiden, and that was his only win heading into the Risen Star.

He raced well back under jockey James Graham, then gathered steam on a six-wide move in the stretch.

In winning, he not only ran down Lukas' Oxbow, but Bob Baffert's Code West and Todd Pletcher's Palace Malice to return  $272.40, $110.60 and $42.40 -- and take his place as the Road to the Kentucky Derby points leader.

"I can't believe it," Desormeaux said. "We've always thought highly of the horse. The expectations were we would finally get a clean trip at that distance. He's never had a clean trip around two turns."

Code West finished second, followed by Palace Malice and Oxbow. Starting last weekend and running for five weeks, prep races are worth 50 points to the winner, 20, 10 and five to the next four finishers. The "semifinal" season will feature seven major prep races, worth 100-40-20-10.

In the first year of the points system, nobody's quite sure how many points will get a horse into the field, though a win in any prep from here on is expected to be enough.

Matt Bryan of Big Chief Racing, owner of Ive Struck a Nerve, is thinking that way.

"I called my wife and told her to get fitted for a Derby hat,'' Bryan said. "As long as I live I will re-live this race over and over. We've been waiting for a clean trip and we got it today."

Desormeaux said the Louisiana Derby is next for Ive Struck a Nerve.

POINTS STANDINGS: On Churchill Downs' official site, Violence was removed from the extended Derby standings, since he's off the trail with an injury. The policy here will be to include the horse in the standings the week after the points are earned, to denote the accomplishment, then to remove any horses known to be out of Derby contention the following week.

NEXT UP: The Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday has no shortage of Derby hopefuls. Overanalyze, owned by Mike Repole, is a two-time graded stakes winner, and both came at Aqueduct. Rudy Rodriguez's Vyjack is unbeaten in three starts and Grade 2 Hutcheson winner Honorable Dillon has won twice and never finished out of the money in four starts.

Copyright 2013 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed quotes to this report.

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