Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ three-year-old colt Danza will run in the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on Saturday at Oaklawn Park. This son of Street Boss strives to earn a spot in the starting gate for the feature race at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The Kentucky Derby is restricted to a field of 20. Points are earned in various stakes races for three-year-olds. The Arkansas Derby provides 100 to the winner, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth. Ten points were needed to earn a spot in the starting gate in 2013.
Danza was purchased by Eclipse in September of 2012 at the Keeneland Yearling Sale for $105,000. He spent the winter learning his lessons under the direction of J.J. Pletcher at Payton Training Center in Ocala, FL. He joined Todd Pletcher’s barn in New York in the late spring of 2013. Danza made his racing debut at Belmont Park on July 12, 2013. While stalking the leader the first half-mile, Danza then engaged in a vigorous stretch duel and won by three-quarters of a length. He came back a month later in the $200,000 Grade 2 Saratoga Special at the very prestigious Saratoga Racecourse. While having six lengths to make up with one-eighth of a mile to go, Danza put in a furious rally to get up to finish third beaten a quickly diminishing one-half length.
Danza was given time off in the fall and winter to properly prepare for his all important three-year-old campaign. He reappeared in the entries at Gulfstream Park March 1 finishing third in an Allowance race. He has trained forwardly since then. Of course, everyone’s dream is to have a horse run in the Kentucky Derby but only if he or she has properly earned the right to be there. That is the goal for Danza this Saturday. The field for the Arkansas Derby is a formidable group of horses led by Tapiture and Bayern. Joe Bravo, a renowned big race rider, will accompany Danza from Florida and be in the saddle. The one-mile and one-eighth race goes off at 6:07 CDT.