2020 Kentucky Derby Action Heats Up After Preps

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By Emily Shields

Three prep races for the 2020 Kentucky Derby took place on February 1, the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, and the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

Odds on favorite Tiz the Law ($4.60) won the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), a $250,000 race over 1 1/16 miles. He rallied to the top of the stretch and pulled away well under jockey Manuel Franco, scoring by three lengths over Ete Indien and Toledo. The son of Constitution is out of the Tiznow mare Tizfiz, and is trained by Barclay Tagg. They stopped the clock in 1:42.04.

Bob Baffert’s Thousand Words ($3.20) continues to be a leading 2020 Kentucky Derby candidate after the son of Pioneerof the Nile won the $100,500 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) to remain undefeated in three starts. His 1 1/16-mile trip under jockey Flavien Prat went in 1:43.64,  and he defeated a tough group including the Peter Eurton-trained Royal Act, stablemate High Velocity, and popular Richard Mandella-trainee Tizamagician, as well as turf stakes winner Encoder. Thousand Words won by three-quarters of a length in a race where the top four horses were less than two lengths apart at the wire. The win also gave Baffert his 3,000th victory lifetime.

Max Player (12.80) was the winner of the $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct. The 1 1/8-mile race is the longest of the Kentucky Derby preps to date, and the son of Honor Code relished the distance as he wore down pacesetter and race favorite Shotski to win by 3 ¼ lengths in 1:53.87. Jockey Dylan Davis was up for trainer Linda Rice. Max Player is now two for three lifetime.

Although not in a traditional Kentucky Derby prep race, Taraz still turned heads with her thrilling score in the $142,500 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The unbeaten filly is now a two-time stakes winner for trainer Brad Cox, and although she will continue to face fillies in her next start, there has been talk that she will eventually run against males for a shot at the Kentucky Derby. The daughter of Into Mischief is a homebred for Juddmonte Farms.

The next Kentucky Derby prep race is the Sam F. Davis Stakes on February 8, which can be wagered on with TVG.

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