Works, entries, and results for the Midlantic-breds nominated to the Triple Crown.  The latest:

The final push to the Kentucky Derby begins this weekend with a trio of points races: the G1 Florida Derby, G2 Louisiana Derby, and the Group 2 UAE Derby.

Defondo, a Virginia-bred, will carry the mid-Atlantic banner in the big races.  He is 12-1 on the morning in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds.

The Dallas Stewart trainee, an El Corredor gelding out of the Cure the Blues mare Blue Hills, is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds.  He was bred by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone.

Defondo broke his maiden with an easy score going six furlongs at the end of January.  In his first try against winners, in a Fair Grounds allowance, he took command inside the quarter pole but could not hold the lead and had to settle for second.  That was also his first effort around two turns.  Brian Hernandez will ride, as he has in each of Defondo’s last three starts.

Most of the public’s attention will likely gravitate towards another horse with regional connections.  Though a New York-bred, International Star was bred by prominent Maryland breeders Robert Manfuso and Katy Voss.  International Star, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus who ran ninth in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, has taken both of the track’s  Louisiana Derby prep races, the G3 LeComte and the G2 Risen Star.  He’s 3-1 on the morning line.  He’s trained by Mike Maker and will be ridden by Miguel Mena.

War Story, a Northern Afleet gelding trained by Tom Amoss, ran second to International Star in both of those races and will try his rival for a third time.  He’s 4-1.  Indeed, with the presence of Keen Ice (third) and St. Joe Bay (fourth), all of the Risen Star’s top four finishers are expected to be in attendance.

Two other runners that figure to get plenty of attention are Mr. Z (4-1), who has finished second or third seven times in 10 starts, most recently third, by less than a length, in the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park; and Gulfstream refugee Stanford (5-1), who was second but disqualified to sixth in the Islamorada at that track.

Two other Triple Crown-nominated Midlantic-breds are scheduled to be in action this weekend:

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  • Maryland-bred Ghost Bay is 3-1 in an allowance race at Laurel Park on Saturday.  It will be the Larry Murray trainee’s first start since a win in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity, back in December.  His connections reportedly are considering the Federico Tesio Stakes and the G3 Illinois Derby as potential next steps.
  • River Date, a Virginia-bred, is 6-1 in a Gulfstream Park maiden special weight test on Saturday.  The David Cannizzo trainee has a second and a third from three starts.

And don’t forget to check out our Mid-Atlantic Triple Crown Trail page, featuring a sortable (and searchable) table of all of this year’s Midlantic-bred Triple Crown nominees.