04/14/2009 8:08PM

The Repeaters


A year ago, there were 25 graded stakes races for 3-year-old males at a mile or more before the Kentucky Derby, and they were won by 23 different horses. Only two colts -- Colonel John (Sham, SA Derby) and Pyro (Risen Star, Louisiana Derby) -- won two of them.

The results have been radically different this year. With 22 of those 25 races in the books, there have been seven -- rather than two -- multiple winners:

Put another way, last year only 4 of 25 races -- 16 percent -- were won by multiple winners. This year, 16 of 22 races -- 72 percent -- have been won by such horses.

The seven multiple winners include five with two such triumphs and a pair with three:

--Friesan Fire (LeComte, Risen Star, Louisiana Derby)

--Pioneerof the Nile (RB Lewis, San Felipe, SA Derby)

--General Quarters (Sam F Davis, Blue Grass)

--I Want Revenge (Gotham, Wood)

--Musket Man (Tampa Bay Derby, Illinois Derby)

--Quality Road (Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby)

--The Pamplemousse (San Rafael, Sham, but sidelined until 2010)

This is an astounding and perhaps unprecedented group of multiple major-prep winners, and speaks well for the appeal and quality of this year's Derby class. Four such horses who dominated their regions are the four Derby favorites: I Want Revenge (New York), Quality Road (Florida), Pioneerofthenile (California) and Friesan Fire (Louisiana). The only venue with three such races that produced three different winners was Oaklawn, where Old Fashioned (Southwest), Win Willy (Rebel) and Papa Clem (Arkansas Derby) carved things up. Kentucky will have done the same by Saturday, since neither Hold Me Back (Lane's End) nor General Quarters (Blue Grass) will be running in the Lexington.