Un Ojo On Target for Kentucky Derby After Rough Trip

One-eyed gelding has scrapes, stiffness after hitting rail in Arkansas Derby (G1).


The one-eyed New York State-bred gelding Un Ojo  came out of a tumultuous eighth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1) with some shoulder scrapes and stiffness but remains on course for a start in the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).

Trainer Ricky Courville said April 5 that the son of Laoban needed some surgical staples in his left shoulder blade after hitting the rail April 2 during the $1 million stakes at Oaklawn Park, and will be walked the rest of this week as he recovers from the rough trip.


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75-1 Win Puts Spotlight on One-Eyed Un Ojo, Courville

Longshot Rebel winner runs in Arkansas Derby with Kentucky Derby spot assured.


For the last few weeks, Ricky Courville’s family and friends have been peppering him with suggestions for the first week in May. They have been urging the Louisiana-based trainer to buy airline tickets or make hotel and restaurant reservations. Some have recommended buying a new suit. But at the moment, Courville would prefer to wait until next week before handling all those details.

“It’s been an exciting time,” Courville said, “but I know anything can happen in this game so I just keep on working like normal and think about what’s going on. I’ve got family talking about making reservations in Kentucky but I tell them, ‘Whoa, we have one more race to go. Let’s not jinx anything now.”‘

For Courville, who has a string of about 30 horses based in Louisiana and spent the first 13 years of his training career without experiencing the thrill of a graded stakes win, his life finally shifted into the fast lane Feb. 26 through the heroics of Un Ojo , a one-eyed gelding by the late stallion Laoban owned by Cypress Creek Equine and Whispering Oaks Farm.


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Horse Racing Viewership on Fox Networks Rises 300%

Network will show the Runhappy Travers (G1) and two other stakes Aug. 8.




Finding something positive amid the COVID-19 pandemic is surely as difficult as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Yet for Thoroughbred racing and, in particular, the New York Racing Association, the loss of numerous racing dates and on-track wagering at many venues has also created a situation in which the sport has gained far more television exposure with professional and collegiate sports shuttered than it would have in a traditional and less turbulent year.

“Looking across the whole portfolios of sports properties we have across sports television, the two properties that have managed the circumstances (during the pandemic) the best are NASCAR and horse racing. They are the two that have risen to meet this moment and have put themselves in a better position for the future,” said Michael Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ executive vice president of research, league operations, and strategy. “I think horse racing and our NYRA programming has really stepped up to fill the void, and it’s been beneficial to horse racing and to us.”

Mulvihill’s Aug. 6 comments came two days before the $1 million Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course will be presented on a 90-minute, 5-6:30 p.m. (ET) show on the main Fox broadcast channel, providing an added half-hour of coverage this year.

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Arkansas Derby Attracts 99 Nominations

Large number of candidates could lead to split divisions of grade 1 stakes.


Based on nominations alone, the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) figures to have an overflow field.

The reality of the situation, with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) moved to Sept. 5 and the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) unlikely to be run in their traditional spots, also paints an equally compelling picture of a large field—and possibly two divisions—when the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds is contested May 2 at Oaklawn Park.

A long list of 99 nominations for the race, pending late mail, was released April 18, and while the vast majority of them have no intention of running, the connections of a core group of about 20 candidates have expressed an interest in a stakes that stands at the moment as the final points race for the Kentucky Derby. It is also five weeks removed from the last grade 1 stakes for 3-year-olds at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty about when the next major race for the division will be run.

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By Bob Ehalt

If the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) is any indication of what awaits racing fans on the 2020 Triple Crown trail, then get some popcorn and buckle your seat belt. There’s a wild, unpredictable trip ahead of us.

On paper, anyway, the 36th edition of the Juvenile looked like a rather formful way to decide the 2-year-old championship. The three betting favorites—Dennis’ Moment (4-5), Eight Rings (3-2), and Scabbard (5-1)—seemed to tower over theother five starters, none of whom were lessthan 23-1 on the toteboard at Santa Anita Park.


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