April 17, 2024

Far Bridge, Red Route One clash in Dueling Grounds Derby

Far Bridge wins the 2023 Belmont Derby (Coglianese Photography)

Three-year-olds will take center stage at Kentucky Downs on Sunday when the all-turf track hosts the $1 million Dueling Grounds Derby and $1 million Dueling Grounds Oaks for fillies, both over a distance of 1 5/16 miles.

The Dueling Grounds Derby has attracted perhaps its strongest field to date, led by Belmont Derby (G1) winner Far Bridge. A one-length winner of that 10-furlong test in July, Far Bridge was most recently third in the Saratoga Derby (G3) when racing over less-than-firm ground for the first time.

Far Bridge will be facing some familiar foes. Battle of Normandy finished fourth in the Saratoga Derby, while European raider Lion of War faded to last in the field of eight after an early stalking trip. Wizard of Westwood finished far back in the Belmont Derby after taking the Cinema S. at Santa Anita.

An intriguing entry is recent West Virginia Derby (G3) winner Red Route One, who went unplaced in both the Preakness (G1) and Belmont (G1) during the spring. The son of Gun Runner broke his maiden over the Kentucky Downs strip last year in his most recent grass attempt.

Also of note are last-out Kent S. winner Really Good, and Highway Robber and Anglophile, both of whom missed in a photo in the Dueling Grounds Derby Preview at Ellis Park.

The Dueling Grounds Oaks lacks a standout, though it’s more accomplish participants include Honeymoon (G3) winner Selenaia and Pucker Up (G3) heroine Safeen.