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This weekend marks another stretch along the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” as two important Championship Series races take place at Santa Anita and Tampa Bay Downs. We’ll get to see some colts that have already been tested along the Derby trail and quite a few more that are making their stakes debut and hoping to grab the 50 points that goes with a victory and would almost assuredly put that horse in the Kentucky Derby.

In Tampa, the up and coming Verrazano is going to make his first start in a graded stakes race. He is the latest rising start to come out of the ample Todd Pletcher stable, destroying the competition in his last race at Gulfstream Park. Verrazano comes into the Tampa Bay Derby as the favorite, with a 2-0 record. His competition is expected to come from the “sky” as Falling Sky and Dynamic Sky are also in Tampa to take a shot at corralling Derby Championship Series points. Falling Sky, trained by John Terranova has won three of his four career starts including the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes back in early February. In that same race, Dynamic Sky finished second and has finished “in the money” in five of his six starts. Mark Casse’s colt also finished second to Joha in the Grade I Breeder’s Futurity last October.

Out in California two of the Horse Racing Nation top five Derby hopefuls, and perhaps the most highly touted colts on the west coast, will be squaring off for the first time. Bob Baffert’s Flashback is undefeated in two races, which includes his maiden contest at seven furlongs and a jump to a mile and 1/16 in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes. In the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Flashback ran away from his closest contenders, Den’s Legacy and He’s Had Enough, after the last turn and showed solid speed with his finish. Goldencents will be led back to the dirt by Doug O’Neill, the trainer of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another. Goldencents has won two points races by taking the Delta Downs Jackpot and Sham Stakes and was runner-up to Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The horses will likely be the favorites on Saturday and a win for either would secure their spot at Churchill Downs in the “Run for the Roses”. A second place would give either horse a nice boost, but could see them just shy of the points they will need to make the Derby. Most analysts say it will take about 50 points to get a horse in the Derby this year, via the new qualifying system.

Be sure to check in with throughout the Derby Championship Series to keep abreast of what his happening on the Derby trail!