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Post Time: It's Derby Week!

By Gene Kershner

Happy Derby week, Buffalo! The Sabres are finished playing hockey, the NFL draft is in the books, so we're ready to rev up the Triple Crown coverage here at The News. I'll be heading to Louisville on Wednesday to be on the backside Thursday morning. Our Derby week coverage will include the following:  

Post Position draw and quotes from key connections (Sports, Ink)

Preview of the Kentucky Oaks (Sports, Ink)

Kentucky Oaks post-race wrap-up (Sports, Ink)

Derby advance and selections (Print and online)

Live blog from Churchill Downs (Sports, Ink)

Post-race commentary (Print and online) 

Be sure to bookmark the Sports, Ink horse racing link so you can follow our Derby coverage throughout the week up to the 139th Run for the Roses.  

Derby Notes

There were some interesting twists and turns under the Twin Spires on Monday morning as three horses dropped off the Derby trail and two new entrants have emerged. Bob Baffert announced that Govenor Charlie and Code West would not be running, leaving him without a Derby starter for the first time since 2008.

Todd Pletcher announced that the owners of Winning Cause decided to pass on the race and look to other potential spots including the Preakness, the Peter Pan and the Marine Stakes at Woodbine. Pletcher has also yet to announcewho will be riding Charming Kitten which should be announced on Tuesday, likely to be Edgar Prado. 

The Baffert and Pletcher defections opened two gates for potential starters. Golden Soul, who started  last weekend as the No. 23 horse on the Derby leaderboard, found himself in the race. Golden Soul, the fourth place finisher in the Louisiana Derby, is owned by Charles Fipke, who will also have Blue Grass winner Java's War in the Derby.  

Finally, it appears that the last entrant will be Fear the Kitten, with only 6 points, entered by trainer Mike Maker. Alan Garcia will have the mount on Fear the Kitten, who has finished fifth in his last two races.  [UPDATE: Late entry by New York-bred Giant Finish, trained by Anthony Dutrow, who will ship from Fair Hill on Wednesday and arrive at Churchill on Thursday to claim the 20th and final gate. Thus, Fear the Kitten is now on the outside looking in. - GK]

The big buzz of the Monday morning workouts was the four furlong breeze put in by Phipps' Stables' Orb who went :47.8 at the distance. Working in company with his stablemate Overwhelming, Orb broke off just behind him before pulling even on the turn before drawing away several lengths clear through the stretch.  The Florida Derby winner galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80.  

Lines of Battle will arrive on Wednesday from overseas and will hit the track on Thursday after clearing quarantine. Jockey Ryan Moore will have the mount for one of Europe's best trainers, Aidan O'Brien on the UAE Derby champion.

There will be plenty of television coverage of the Derby as NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) plan over 14 hours of coverage. The Derby post position draw will be televised on NBCSN at 5 p.m. to kick things off.  

If you missed it last Friday, be sure to check out my Degrees of Separation blog and our Derby spreadsheet with facts, figures and the latest information has been updated through Monday's additions and defections.  

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association and tweets @EquiSpace.

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