Tuesday 21 May 2019

'Michigan' out to book Kentucky Derby ticket

U S S Michigan and Antilles are O’Brien’s first runners at the track but the former is his leading chance after finishing strongly to land a Dundalk maiden over six furlongs last month. Stock photo
U S S Michigan and Antilles are O’Brien’s first runners at the track but the former is his leading chance after finishing strongly to land a Dundalk maiden over six furlongs last month. Stock photo
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Chelmsford isn't the most exotic location to start a Kentucky Derby bid but Aidan O'Brien will venture there today with U S S Michigan out to book his place in the Race for the Roses.

Today's Conditions Stakes (3.35) is the final leg of the 'European Road To The Kentucky Derby' and offers the winner - provided they are nominated - 30 qualification points for the opening leg of the US Triple Crown at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 4.

U S S Michigan and Antilles are O'Brien's first runners at the track but the former is his leading chance after finishing strongly to land a Dundalk maiden over six furlongs last month and the son of War Front should relish the step-up to a mile. Having had a nightmare experience with Mendelssohn last of 20 runners in last year's Kentucky Derby, the Ballydoyle maestro nominated U S S Michigan as his sole possibility for this year's renewal.

"If we were to have a horse for the Kentucky Derby, U S S Michigan would be the only one. He is a big, long-striding cruiser - and we always thought he would get a mile and further," O'Brien said earlier this week.

He won't have it all his own way in the €70,000 contest, however, with Mark Johnston's Dark Vision the highest rated runner having landed a Goodwood Group Two last July.

Meanwhile, Seán Doyle's Crosshue Boy will be the sole Irish representative in Saturday's Scottish Grand National as the Wexford raider bids to bridge a 150-year gap since the last Irish success, the Larry Hyland-trained and ridden Huntsman.

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