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SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014

Racing Headlines

Cairo Prince to miss Derby with ankle injury

Cairo Prince is headed to Rood and Riddle, while his jockey Luis Saez switches to Wildcat Red (Natalie Fawkes/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Cairo Prince has sustained an ankle injury that will rule him out of the May 3 Kentucky Derby, Daily Racing Form's David Grening reported via Twitter.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin told Grening that Cairo Prince injured his left front ankle, and the colt is bound for Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington, Kentucky, for "further evaluation."

Cairo Prince was listed 19th on the Derby list with 24 points to his credit. His defection now allows another Pioneerof the Nile colt, Vinceremos, to move up into the Derby field at number 20.

In another significant ramification, Cairo Prince's rider, Luis Saez, will now jump back on Wildcat Red. That colt's trainer, Jose Garoffalo, had been hoping to get Saez, since he had guided Wildcat Red to a hard-fought decision in the Fountain of Youth. When Saez was committed to Cairo Prince, Garoffalo lined up Rafael Bejarano for the Derby mount. But the Southern California-based rider has been replaced, now that Saez has become available.

Victorious in last fall's Nashua in his stakes debut, Cairo Prince missed by a nostril to Honor Code, who has likewise been sidelined by injury, in the November 30 Remsen. He kicked off his three-year-old campaign with a 5 3/4-length romp in the January 25 Holy Bull, prompting McLaughlin to describe him as his best-ever hope for the Kentucky Derby.

Darley subsequently purchased a majority share in the exciting prospect from his ownership group of Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey A. Clarke and W. Craig Robertson III.

Opting to skip the February 22 Fountain of Youth, Cairo Prince trained up to the March 29 Florida Derby. He made his debut in the Godolphin colors in that Gulfstream Park feature, only to wind up a flat fourth as the 6-5 favorite. His subpar effort briefly jeopardized his chances of making the Kentucky Derby field, but thanks to a few defections, his 24-point total turned out to be sufficient.

Cairo Prince worked once since the Florida Derby, breezing a half-mile at Palm Meadows in :48 3/5 last Sunday.

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California Chrome leads Derby worktab

California Chrome was on cruise control (Courtesy of Los Alamitos via Twitter)
Santa Anita Derby winner California Chrome took another step closer to the Kentucky Derby on May 3 when he worked four furlongs at his Los Alamitos headquarters Saturday morning in :47 4/5 under regular rider Victor Espinoza.

"Victor said he went great," trainer Art Sherman said after the 8 a.m. (PDT) drill, which unfolded on California Chrome's "own, private little race track," to paraphrase Trevor Denman.

In the aftermath of a traffic incident caused by other horses on the track in a recent gallop, Los Alamitos had the track free of other horses for California Chrome.

"The track was immaculate," Sherman said. "He'll have his final workout next Saturday and ship early Monday morning (April 28) for Kentucky. There were some 30 people here today to see him work. He galloped out (five furlongs) in 1:01. Everything went great."

California Chrome, the points leader and early Derby favorite, will be accompanied in transit by Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate.

The respective second and third behind California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, Hoppertunity and Candy Boy, also recorded works over Easter weekend.

The Bob Baffert-trained Hoppertunity went out Friday at Santa Anita and covered five-eighths in company in 1:00 1/5 on the fast main track. Martin Garcia was aboard for the work, but Hall of Famer Mike Smith will retain the mount in the Kentucky Derby.

On Saturday at Santa Anita, Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Candy Boy drilled five furlongs in :59 4/5 under Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. The John Sadler pupil will ship to Churchill Downs on Monday along with Hoppertunity.

Louisiana Derby winner Vicar's in Trouble posted a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 2/5 on Saturday morning at Trackside Louisville, the training facility located approximately five miles from Churchill Downs.

"He worked very well and was well in hand," trainer Mike Maker said. "He had a nice gallop-out, which is what we were looking for, and everything was perfect.

Maker (5-0-0-0 in the Derby since 2010) indicated that the Louisiana-bred colt would likely breeze again next Saturday but it would come over the Churchill Downs oval.

Florida Derby runner-up General a Rod is slated for breeze at Churchill Downs "either Tuesday or Wednesday," according to Maker.

Maker, a five-time training champion at Churchill Downs, could have a third Derby starter in Spiral Stakes runner-up Harry's Holiday if there are further defections among the current Top 20. After Cairo Prince (left front ankle) was withdrawn from Derby consideration on Saturday, Harry's Holiday now stands at No. 21 on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com" preference list with 20 points and $152,622 in non-restricted stakes earnings.

"We'll see if he gets in," Maker said. "I'll have to talk to the connections and go from there but I'm sure they'll want to run if they can get in. If that's the case then he'll work Saturday at Churchill, too."

Saturday was the first day of exclusive training for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders from 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (EDT) at Churchill. Gallopers during that window included Chitu, Danza, Medal Count and Ride on Curlin.

Trainer Todd Pletcher was particularly fond of 41-1 Arkansas Derby surprise Danza.

"I loved the way he trained this morning," Pletcher said. "He looked dynamite out there today. So hopefully the next couple of weeks go as well as the last one did.

"I think he got lost in the shuffle a little bit and most people that went back and looked at his PPs (past performances) after he won the Arkansas Derby were like 'This horse really hadn't done anything wrong.' Trying to get to that two-turn race (into him), we felt the best way was to start back in a seven-furlong allowance.

"I think it set him up well for (the Arkansas Derby), but I was still pleasantly surprised at how well he handled the mile-and-an-eighth. He finished up really strongly and had his legs up underneath him at the end and galloped out strongly. That's encouraging stuff for here."

Pletcher's other two confirmed Derby runners -- Intense Holiday and We Miss Artie -- will travel on a Tuesday flight originating from Palm Beach, Florida. Wildcat Red, from the Jose Garoffalo barn, will hop on the same plane.

A New York flight on April 28 will include Wicked Strong, Samraat and Uncle Sigh.

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Pablo Del Monte remains on Derby trail

Wesley Ward, trainer and part-owner of Blue Grass third-placer Pablo Del Monte, reports that his colt remains on the road to the 140th Kentucky Derby  for now.

With the defection of Cairo Prince Saturday, Pablo Del Monte ranks 23rd on the Kentucky Derby leader board with 20 points.

"Keep him on the list, but the way it looks now I'm training for the Preakness," Ward said.

The son of Giant's Causeway is presently behind Vinceremos (20th and final spot in the main body of the field), Harry's Holiday (21st) and Commanding Curve (22nd). All possess 20 points as well but have accumulated more non-restricted stakes earnings, which determines ties, than the $102,000 earned by Pablo Del Monte.

Ward said he plans to work Pablo Del Monte at Keeneland next weekend.

The top 20 point earners that pass through the Kentucky Derby entry box on April 30 are guaranteed a starting spot. Up to four also-eligibles, ranked by points, will also be named in case of an overflow. They could draw into the field should any horse(s) be scratched before scratch time on Friday, May 2, at 9 a.m. (EDT).

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Graded Recaps

Dynamic Impact edges Midnight Hawk in Illinois Derby

Dynamic Impact (yellow cap) turned in a gutsy performance in his stakes debut and put himself in the mix for the Preakness (Four Footed Fotos)

John C. Oxley's Dynamic Impact rallied to catch Midnight Hawk on the wire of Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Illinois Derby, prevailing by a nose in the final stride at Hawthorne. A maiden winner in his previous start at Oaklawn Park, the Mark Casse-trained colt jumped straight to stakes company with little difficulty and the May 17 Preakness Stakes is now a serious option for the improving son of Tiznow.

Dynamic Impact proved best in the head-bobbing finish with jockey Miguel Mena.

Midnight Hawk, who captured the Grade 3 Sham in January before consecutive placings in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis (third), Grade 2 San Felipe (second) and Grade 3 Sunland Derby (second), stumbled slightly at the start but quickly recovered to show the way into the first turn. The 2-5 favorite traveled a couple of paths off the rail and Dynamic Impact advanced from his innermost post position to closely track the pacesetter along the inside.

Midnight Hawk led by a half-length through an opening quarter-mile in :24 and a half-mile in :48. Dynamic Impact was still clinging to the rail entering the far turn, but he started to retreat slightly as Midnight Hawk spurted clear rounding the bend, completing six furlongs in 1:12 with a one-length advantage.

Mena swung his mount off the rail entering the stretch and Dynamic Impact responded to his urgings at a critical time as Midnight Hawk threatened to run away, up by 1 1/2 lengths with only an eighth of a mile remaining. Dynamic Impact needed every inch of the long Hawthorne stretch, surging late to take the close photo.

The tight finish could've gone either way (Jamie Newell/Horsephotos.com)

Overlooked as the 9-1 fourth choice among eight three-year-olds, Dynamic Impact returned a win mutuel of $21.20 to his backers.

He completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 on the fast track.

Midnight Hawk wound up 8 1/2 lengths clear of third-placer Irish You Well, who was followed by Class Leader, King Cyrus, A Step Ahead, Emmett Park and Global Strike.

Dynamic Impact made three starts last fall, the best result coming as a neck second in a Keeneland maiden special weight in October. He opened 2014 with a runner-up in a January 30 maiden tilt at Oaklawn Park and came back to earn his first win on March 1, scoring by a neck in a one-mile event.

With Saturday's $300,000 payday, the bay colt increased his bankroll to $360,716 from a 6-2-2-0 ledger.

Bred in Kentucky by Blue Heaven Farm LLC, Dynamic Impact was purchased for $125,000 as a yearling at the 2012 Keeneland September sale. He is the first foal to race from the stakes-winning Featherbed, a daughter of Smart Strike who finished second in the 2006 edition of the Grade 1 Matron.

Dynamic Impact's third maternal dam, multiple stakes heroine In My Cap, is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Trumpet's Blare and multiple Grade 3 queen Passing Vice. This is also the female family of Grade 1 winner Albert the Great, an earner of more than $3 million.

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Mr Speaker brings gavel down in Lexington

Mr Speaker put on an authoritative display (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey thought about running Mr Speaker in the April 12 Blue Grass at Keeneland, but decided to pass the hurly-burly of a big field in that major Kentucky Derby prep, and instead opted for Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington Stakes over the same track. Judging by how the Phipps Stable homebred stormed four lengths clear in his first attempt on synthetic, it's worth wondering how he might have fared one week ago.

With the Lexington being the final points race on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" scoring system, Mr Speaker earned 10 points toward the Run for the Roses. But McGaughey was quick to dismiss any thoughts of hoping to make the Derby field with Mr Speaker, who was seventh in the January 25 Holy Bull in his only try on dirt.

"I think one of these days we'll try him again (on dirt)," McGaughey said, "but it ain't gonna be in two weeks!"

Mr Speaker was a poignant winner on Saturday, a week after his "aunt," millionaire My Flag, died at Claiborne Farm. The 21-year-old mare succumbed after delivering a Bernardini colt. My Flag was a half-sister to Mr Speaker's dam, Grade 2-placed Salute.

Best known as a turf performer so far, Mr Speaker was dispatched as the 2-1 favorite. The royally-bred son of Pulpit sat a perfect, ground-saving trip from the rail. Regular rider Jose Lezcano tucked him just behind the vying pacesetters, Solitary Ranger and Supermonic, through fractions of :24, :48 and 1:13 on the Polytrack. Tipped out at the top of the stretch, Mr Speaker exercised his authority and drew off to complete 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.

"I thought Jose (Lezcano) rode a great race on him," McGaughey said. "He had him in the slot the whole way there and was just kind of waiting. I saw him reach up and grab him again around the 4 1/2 (furlong) pole, and I thought, 'Well, he's got a lot of horse. We'll just see what happens when the running starts.'"

Divine Oath, who didn't draw into the Blue Grass from the also-eligible list, was rerouted to the Lexington as Plan B. Slowly away after brushing the gate, he got up for second, denying Supermonic by a head.

"We were hoping to get a crack at the Blue Grass Stakes, but this was always the back-up plan," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "I think he would have made a good showing of himself like he did today. He ran well today."

"Unfortunately, I kind of missed the break out of the gate," jockey Javier Castellano said of Divine Oath. "I think that could have cost me my position in the race. I expected to be closer to the pace but unfortunately, the way (the race) unfolded, I had to come from behind. But that's the way the race developed."

Ami's Holiday, who raced in tandem with Mr Speaker early, wound up fourth in this seasonal reappearance. Ami's Holiday was the only entrant who could have leapfrogged into the Derby field with a victory on Saturday. Owner Ivan Dalos had already dismissed the idea of wheeling back in two weeks at Churchill, however.

Next came Solitary Ranger, Poker Player, Z Lucky and Ride Away. Dynamic Impact and Global Strike were scratched in favor of Saturday's Grade 3 Illinois Derby, while Morning Calm was likewise withdrawn.

Mr Speaker is closely related to Parading, another turf performer who transferred his game to Keeneland's Polytrack (Keeneland/Coady Photography)
Mr Speaker paid $6.20 to win and increased his earnings to $269,880 from a record of 7-3-1-1. The dark bay made his debut on the Saratoga turf last August, checking in sixth behind Bobby's Kitten, and improved to finish third over the Widener course at Belmont the following month. Mr Speaker broke his maiden on Belmont's inner turf in October, and promptly captured his first stakes in the December 21 Dania Beach at Gulfstream. That earned him a crack at the Holy Bull on the main track, where he faded to seventh.

"We ran him on the dirt one time, and I don't think that was a true indication of his dirt form," McGaughey said. "I think he probably will handle the dirt.  He laid up maybe a bit closer than we wanted him to (in that race), maybe (was) a little eager, and I don't think Jose wanted him eating the dirt."

After failing to do himself justice on the Gulfstream dirt, Mr Speaker reverted to turf and finished a rallying second in the March 1 Palm Beach.

"This horse we've been high on," the trainer noted. "I brought him here with the idea of running in the Blue Grass, but when it came up a big field I decided not to. Racing Secretary (Ben Huffman) told me last week they were going to have six (in this race) so I decided to go, and it ended up with 11 (before scratches whittled the field down to eight)."

The Kentucky-bred is the second winner produced by Salute, who was runner-up in the Demoiselle and third in the Tempted as a juvenile in 2004. Salute is a daughter of Unbridled and unbeaten Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, making her a half-sister to Grade 1-winning sires Miner's Mark and Traditionally, multiple Grade 1-placed sire Our Emblem and to the aforementioned My Flag.

A four-time Grade 1 star, My Flag landed the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and 1996 Coaching Club American Oaks, Ashland and Gazelle, and she also placed third versus males in the Belmont Stakes. The Easy Goer mare became a successful producer as well, responsible for 2002 champion two-year-old filly Storm Flag Flying, stakes scorer With Flying Colors, stakes-placed sire Leading the Parade and Grade 3-placed On Parade, the dam of Grade 2 hero Parading.

Like Mr Speaker, Parading is himself a son of Pulpit, and primarily a turf horse, who took his game to synthetic at Keeneland and ran away with the 2009 Ben Ali. He ended his career with a second in the Fayette over the same track that fall.

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La Verdad will not be denied in Distaff 'Cap

La Verdad loped home an easy winner of the Distaff (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Lady Sheila Stable's La Verdad used her inside post to good advantage in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct, taking command right out of the gate and never relinquishing her advantage to score by 3 3/4 lengths on the wire.

"I love that horse, and New York loves that horse. She's a New York horse," owner Sheila Rosenblum asserted. "There were great horses (in the race), but she was the best one today.

"This is the first (graded win of my life), hopefully not my last. She'll always be special. This is a really special moment, right after my daughter and son were born. She's right up there."

La Verdad and jockey Jose Ortiz led the way in the six-furlong contest, posting swift fractions of :22 1/5 and :44 3/5 while pressed by Munnings Sister and Bridgehampton. The former tried to challenge La Verdad around the turn but the Yes It's True filly easily shook loose and drew off in the lane, crossing under the finish line in a final time of 1:09 on the fast dirt.

"She broke really well," Ortiz stated. "The other filly put a little pressure on but she handled it OK. She was very relaxed. I know we went in :44, but she did it very easily. When I asked her to go at the quarter-pole, she just took off. I knew I had a lot of horse. (Trainer) Linda (Rice) has done a great job with her."

La Verdad was worth $6 as the 2-1 favorite over 2-1 second pick Kauai Katie, who was returning in this spot off a more than eight-month vacation. The Malibu Moon miss lost her footing at the start and raced near the rear on the backstretch before picking it up in the lane under jockey John Velazquez and taking second by 1 1/4 lengths over My Pal Chrisy.

La Verdad left her rivals well behind to earn her first graded score (NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

"I thought she ran very well coming off a long layoff and against a tough field," assistant trainer Byron Hughes praised Kauai Katie. "If she had broken a little more sharply she could have been a little more forwardly placed. But it was definitely a good effort coming off the long layoff."

"I thought she would probably lay a little bit closer than she was today," Velazquez stated. "Coming off a long layoff, maybe she just needed to realize that she's running now, but she ran a good race. For a horse that's always 1-2 in the first part of the race, she was pretty far back today and put in a good effort."

La Verdad finished fourth in her career debut in March 2013, then romped by a total of 23 1/4 lengths in her remaining four races as a sophomore. She captured her four-year-old opener at Aqueduct on January 17, and finished second while making her stakes bow in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park a month later.

La Verdad returned to Aqueduct to post an easy first stakes victory last out in the March 29 Broadway, and the bay filly is now 9-7-1-0, $426,700, for her career.

Bred in New York by Eklektikos Stable LLC, La Verdad is the first registered stakes winner out of the stakes-placed Hook and Ladder mare Noble Fire. Her second dam is dual stakes vixen Noble Affair.

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Frac Daddy stars in Ben Ali

Frac Daddy rolled home a convincing winner (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Majestic City Thoroughbred Partners' Frac Daddy tracked the pace to the far turn and drew off in the stretch drive of Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Ben Ali at Keeneland, registering his first stakes victory with 4 3/4-length decision. Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Alan Garcia, the four-year-old son of Scat Daddy completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 3/5 on the Polytrack.

Red Rifle sprinted forward at the break, sprinting clear entering the first turn as he established an opening quarter-mile in :25. Frac Daddy advanced to prompt the pace rounding the first turn and was only a head back in second after a half-mile in :49 3/5.

The pacesetter continued to show the way into the far turn but Frac Daddy was to his immediate outside waiting for his cue. The gray colt took the lead with about three furlongs remaining, passing the six-furlong point in 1:13 2/5, and shook free entering the stretch drive.

Frac Daddy led by 4 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining and cruised to the finish line much the best.

"Trip was very easy," Garcia said. He broke good, real sharp, right beside the speed. He was in control all the way to the top of the stretch. 

"When I asked a couple of times, he took off. He was so easy to rate. He's an impressive horse. Kenny did an excellent job with this one."

Off as the 5-1 fourth choice among 10 rivals, Frac Daddy paid $13.20 to win.

Stealcase came on late to take second at 14-1, three parts of a length better than the late-running Nikki's Sandcastle. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 7-2 favorite Newsdad, who trailed most of the way before rallying belatedly for fourth.

Farhaan, Joha, Winning Cause, Norumbega, Red Rifle and Hattaash completed the order of finish.

With the $90,000 payday, Frac Daddy has now earned $515,280 from a 14-4-5-0 record.

A 9 3/4-length maiden winner in his second career start, Frac Daddy jumped straight to stakes company with a runner-up finish in the 2012 Kentucky Jockey Club. That marked his juvenile finale and the colt entered his sophomore season full of promise, but Frac Daddy opened last year with a disappointing sixth in the Holy Bull before a well-beaten seventh in the Florida Derby.

He turned things around with a runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby and proceeded to the Kentucky Derby, but Frac Daddy never threatened after breaking from post 17 on the sloppy track, checking in 16th. He wound up trailing in the Belmont Stakes before earning a freshening.

Frac Daddy came back in late August to capture a turf allowance at Saratoga but followed it with a listless seventh in the Saranac. He came back to win an allowance over Keeneland's Polytrack last October, scoring by 3 1/2 lengths, and concluded 2013 with a close second in the Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs.

Runner-up when making his 2014 bow in the March 1 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston, Frac Daddy delivered a career-best performance on Saturday.

"He's been training freaky good lately," McPeek said. "From the beginning, he's been an extremely talented horse but mentally he was a horse that was a little fragile. I think the Derby was a little tough on him because of the big field and it came up muddy, but the older he's getting, the better he's getting obviously."

Bred in Kentucky by Nancy M. Leonard Living Trust, Frac Daddy sold for $20,000 as a weanling at the 2010 Keeneland November sale before being purchased for $50,000 at the Keeneland September sale the following year. He's out of the stakes-placed Skip Away mare Skipper's Mate, a daughter of 1997 Delaware Handicap winner Power Play. The broodmare counts stakes winner Vegas Play as a half-brother.

McPeek alluded to Frac Daddy's affinity for Polytrack when asked whether he had any plans to run him back on the dirt at Churchill Downs.

"I don't know about that. Actually may shift him back to the grass if there aren't any Polytrack races available, and they're going to be slim. So I don't know what I'm going to do with him this fall -- we'll worry about that later."

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Flashy American has wind to her back in Sixty Sails

Flashy American proved to have more staying power over nine furlongs than Sonja's Angel when rallying inside that rival to take the Grade 3, $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne on Saturday.

Tracking a couple of lengths behind Sonja's Angel, who set an uncontested pace of :24, :48 3/5 and 1:13 1/5 while racing well off the rail, Flashy American took advantage of that rival's wide drift into the stretch by surging up inside of her and pulling away in the final furlong to win by three-quarters of a length under Chris Emigh.

Owned by Preston Stables and trained by Kenny McPeek, Flashy American paid $7.80 as the 5-2 second choice after completing the distance in 1:50 1/5 over a fast track.

Sonja's Angel, the slight favorite at 5-2, finished 3 3/4 lengths clear of Gamay Noir, who was followed across the finish line by Ana Luisa, Dixie Strike, Imposing Grace, and Dress the Part. Distinctive Review was scratched.

A five-year-old gray daughter of Flashy Bull, Flashy American ran for claiming tags in two of her first four wins, but graduated to stakes company last summer. A romping 5 1/2-length scorer in the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows in her stakes debut, she later added wins in the restricted Alada at Saratoga and the Locust Grove at Churchill Downs.

Flashy American also fared well against graded-quality foes last year, finishing second in the Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga, fourth in the Zenyatta at Santa Anita, and third in the Falls City Handicap back at Churchill. She was a sub-par sixth in the Azeri over a wet Oaklawn track on March 15 in her seasonal bow. With the Sixty Sails triumph, her record improved to 26-8-3-3, $515,163.

Produced by the multiple stakes-placed Inn Between, a daughter of Quiet American, Flashy American was bred in Kentucky by H & W Thoroughbreds.

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Racing Headlines

Rosalind, other top Oaks contenders, work for big race

Rosalind took a spin around Keeneland on Saturday... (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Several fillies pointing toward the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 2 at Churchill Downs put in works on Friday and Saturday across the country.

Rosalind, a dead-heat seven-length winner with Room Service of the April 5 Ashland, clocked five furlongs in :58 4/5 in company with War Dancer after the Saturday morning renovation break at Keeneland for trainer Ken McPeek. Click here for a video of the Polytrack move.

With Danny Ramsey up, Rosalind posted fractions of :11 3/5, :22 3/5 and :34 while galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5. She started a little behind War Dancer, the winner of the 2013 Virginia Derby who was working toward Friday's Grade 2, $250,000 Elkhorn at Keeneland.

"I thought it was a little quick," McPeek said about the move. "I wanted a maintenance work of a minute, but I thought War Dancer worked really well."

Rosalind entered the Ashland owning just one win but finished third by only a half-length in last season's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies while also placing in the Alcibiades and Pocahontas during her juvenile season.

McPeek said Rosalind would ship to Churchill Downs on Monday and have her final work for the Oaks "Friday, Saturday or Sunday depending on weather. I want to work on a dry track."

Todd Pletcher's duo of My Miss Sophia and Got Lucky, one-two last out in the Aqueduct's April 5 Gazelle, worked in tandem during the special 8:30-8:45 a.m. (EDT) training period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Oaks workers over Churchill Downs's fast dirt on Saturday.

My Miss Sophia, on the inside, finished a neck in front of Got Lucky during their half-mile breeze in :48. They recorded splits of :12, :24 and :35 4/5 while galloping out five-eighths in 1:01 3/5.

"I thought they both breezed very well," Pletcher said. "They seemed to handle the racetrack fine. I'm very happy. They both seemed to have settled in well since their races in New York. I like the way they're training.

...while Got Lucky (outside) and My Miss Sophia toured Churchill Downs ahead of the Kentucky Oaks (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

"They're different kind of fillies," the trainer added. "As you can see from their running styles, My Miss Sophia has a little more early pace and should be involved early. Got Lucky is the kind of filly that wants to settle back and make one run. The one thing for her in this particular Oaks is there should be an honest pace for her to kind of run the way that she wants to."

My Miss Sophia got the best of her stablemate by 7 1/4 front-running lengths in the Gazelle following an 11-length romp to break her maiden on March 9. The lightly raced Unbridled's Song filly owns just one loss from her three starts thus far, finishing second in her 5 1/2-furlong maiden debut at Gulfstream in February.

Got Lucky currently boasts five career starts, including a 5 1/4-length maiden win at Gulfstream on January 29. Last year, the A.P. Indy miss was second in both her debut at Belmont Park and the Demoiselle at Aqueduct. In addition to her maiden win and the Gazelle, the well-traveled Got Lucky was also runner-up on February 22 in the Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds.

At Trackside Louisville on Saturday, Thank You Marylou breezed four furlongs in :49 4/5 over the fast track. Currently on the outside looking in for the Oaks, the Birdstone lass is scheduled to be vanned to Churchill for an April 26 breeze. Thank You Marylou was placed in both the Ashland and Adirondack at Keeneland's past two meets with wins in the Tippett and Any Limit also on her resume.

On Friday, trainer Bob Baffert sent Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Ria Antonia five furlongs over the fast dirt at Santa Anita Park. The Rockport Harbor miss, who was second as the favorite in the Santa Anita Oaks last out on April 5, had Martin Garcia in the pilot's seat as she recorded a bullet :59 2/5, fastest of 62 drills at the distance.

Fashion Plate, winner of the Las Virgenes and Santa Anita Oaks in her last two starts, turned a half-mile in company with fellow Simon Callaghan pupil Bajan, who ran third in the Santa Anita Oaks.

Each filly was timed in :49 3/5. Fashion Plate is headed to the Kentucky Oaks while Bajan is ticketed for the Grade 3, $175,000 Eight Belles at Churchill, also on May 2.

"It was a perfect work, just an easy half," Callaghan said of Fashion Plate's move. "Her main work will be here next Saturday."

Fashion Plate brings a three-race win streak into the Kentucky Oaks while Bajan will be cutting back in the Eight Belles to the seven-furlong distance over which she captured the Moccasin last November at Hollywood Park.

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Grand Tito captures off-the-turf Miami Mile

Grand Tito earned just his second stakes victory in the main-track Miami Mile (Calder/Coady Photography)

With Saturday's $100,000 Miami Mile Handicap at Calder moved from the turf to the good main track, and subsequently losing it's Grade 3 status pending review by the American Graded Stakes Committee, it was only logical that the original 12-horse field would suffer some withdrawals. However, with three additions added in from the main-track only list, 11 still ended up heading to post in the eight-furlong affair.

In the end, Grupo 7C Racing Stable's Grand Tito proved best under jockey Santiago Gonzalez, leading home a bunch of longshots after 8-5 favorite Hey Leroy was steadied at the start, raced wide through the second turn and faded to 10th on the wire.

Grand Tito, on the other hand, stayed in close contact with early pacesetter Decisive Moment through splits of :23 2/5 and :47. The Candy Ride colt drafted just off the leader's flank on the backstretch and easily slid on past nearing the final turn to take command. Grand Tito drifted out quite a bit in the lane and crossed under the wire in the center of the track, but was three parts of a length best while stopping the clock in 1:38 3/5.

Grand Tito was sent off the 14-1 sixth pick in the field, and began the 10 cent superfecta that paid a nice $1,854.53. Midnight Cello came next, holding 4-1 second favorite Csaba to third by three-quarters of a length at 16-1.

Decisive Moment filled out the fourth spot as the 53-1 second longest shot on the board and was followed under the wire by Flatter, Padilla, Alley Oop Oop, Tale of the Heart, Travelin Man, Hey Leroy and Buffalo. Dad'z Laugh, Dangerous Lad, Monument Hill and Summer Front were all withdrawn.

Grand Tito earned just his second stakes win in this spot, adding the Miami Mile to a victory in the Showing Up at Gulfstream last July. The dark bay four-year-old also missed by only a quarter-length when third in the Tropical Park Derby in October for trainer Antonio Sano. He improved his scorecard on Saturday to 15-5-2-1 and has now accumulated $167,685 in career earnings.

Bred in Kentucky by Hargus & Sandra Sexton and Ben P. Walden Jr., Grand Tito sold for $225,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. He is the first registered stakes winner out of the Common Grounds mare Golden Arches, who captured a pair of Grade 2 contests stateside and a Group 3 in her native France.

Grand Tito's second dam is the *Cougar II mare Echoes of Eternity, who is a full sister to the 1982 Kentucky Derby-winning sire Gato del Sol and a half-sibling to Group 1 heroine Tersa. The latter mare is herself the dam of multiple Grade 1-scoring millionaire and classic-placed Rock Hard Ten. This female family also includes 1959 champion three-year-old filly Silver Spoon, ancestress of multiple graded winners.

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Kid Cruz overcomes slow pace in Federico Tesio

Kid Cruz might head to the Preakness after a convincing score in the Federico Tesio (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

Kid Cruz powered home to a second straight stakes win in taking the $100,000 Federico Tesio at Pimlico, the highlight of a four-stakes program at Old Hilltop on Saturday.

The 6-5 favorite against five rival three-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile heat, Kid Cruz rated in fifth behind a dawdling pace of :24 3/5, :50 2/5 and 1:16 1/5, but was able to accelerate in the final three-sixteenths and open up a 3 1/2-length margin at the wire under Julian Pimentel. He paid $4.40 after completing the trip in 1:47 1/5 over a fast track.

"He was running very easy and very comfortable," Pimentel said. "He asked me to run a little early on the backstretch, so I had to hold him a little bit. He got up really well, really strong. I think I could have won by more but I just bided my time. Once I asked him he was ready."

Matuszak, an 11-1 chance, rallied to finish second by a head over Joint Custody. Sassicaia, Mr. Rover, and Oliver Zip rounded out the order of finish after the withdrawals of Elevated, Ground Control, and Undertaker.

Kid Cruz races for Vina Del Mar Throughbreds and Black Swan Stable and is trained by Linda Rice. Black Swan Stable was the sole owner of the Kentucky-bred until he was claimed for $50,000 out of a six-length maiden win at Aqueduct in November. Second against allowance foes in his sophomore debut, Kid Cruz came from 18 lengths down to take the $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel by four lengths on March 8.

"This horse really ran a terrific race even though we had to miss a work," said assistant trainer Marsha Barrs. "We got knocked off the Derby trail after the Private Terms but after some time off he's back to his old self and our long range options include the Preakness (on May 17), pending how he comes out of this race today."

Bred by Machmer Hall, Kid Cruz will enter his next start with a record of 5-3-1-0, $161,375.

Winning Image is keeping 62-year-old jockey Tony Black young (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

The ageless duo of seven-year-old Winning Image and 62-year-old reinsman Tony Black teamed up to to win the $100,000 Primonetta, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.

Sent immediately to the front, Winning Image carved out fractions of :23 2/5 and :46 4/5 while pressured by She's Ordained. After turning back that rival in deep stretch, the veteran mare held off belated rallies from Do Somethin and Red's Round Table to win by three-quarters of a length. Completing the distance in 1:12, Winning Image returned $9.40.

"I watched some earlier races and it didn't look like the rail was going to be good spot to be in," said Black, who ranks 23rd on the all-time North America win list with 5,206 career victories. "She broke so well I just committed her to the lead while remaining three or four off the rail. The eight (She's Ordained) was pressing us pretty good but my filly is the kind that doesn't get aggressive and try running out with you. She was very comfortable.

"I turned for home, I stayed right where I wanted to be off the rail. If I gave them a passing lane they would have to come down the rail where it is a little deeper. Once she kicked clear I felt very confident. She's a very talented horse. A fun ride for a 62-year-old."

Do Somethin beat Red's Round Table for second by a head. She's Ordained, 2-1 favorite I'm Mom's Favorite, Malibu Holiday, and Bobby Jo rounded out the order of finish. Frivolity was scratched.

The Primonetta was the ninth career stakes win for Winning Image, whose most lucrative score came in the $150,000 My Juliet at Parx Racing. That race honors the 1976 champion sprinter, who Black rode frequently during the latter part of her career.

Now two-for-two on the year, having also registered a win in the $100,000 What a Summer at Laurel on January 25, Winning Image boosted her career record to 27-13-4-4, $650,137.

"I was a little concerned about the layoff but she ran great again," said Michael Aro, who trains the Southern Image mare for Martin Scafidi. "I was hoping she would because we've had to go through two quarantines (at Parx Racing) and with all that bad weather she still did a great job today. When Tony Black says this is one of the best horses he has ridden since the 80s, that's really telling you something. He just keeps going."

Winning Image was bred in Kentucky by Dreamfields Inc. and Don Brady.

Hamp registered his first career stakes win in the Henry S. Clark (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

Hamp, racing for nearby Sagamore Farm, rallied from more than eight lengths down to win the $100,000 Henry S. Clark by a head over Roadhog. The 8-1 fifth choice in a field of eight, the four-year-old Sky Mesa gelding returned $18.80.

Reserved near the back as Smash and Grab and Wry Me dueled through splits of :23 2/5, :48 and 1:14 2/5, Hamp made a six-wide bid into the stretch and was up in time to complete one mile on the firm turf in 1:39 3/5.

"The trainer (Ignacio Correas IV) told me to stay behind and wait for my time," jockey Javier Santiago said. "I did not have any trouble but I did have to go a little wide because I saw the four (fourth place finisher Under Control) in front of me getting blocked on the inside. When I asked I got what I needed."

Roadhog finished second, a half-length ahead of Nutello, who was followed under the wire by Under Control, Change of Command, Smash and Grab, Wry Me, and Indian Jones. Powder Mountain, Super Chunky, and Tiz Gianni were scratched.

Bred in Maryland by Sagamore, Hamp was recording his first stakes win, with his best finish in five previous added-money attempts a third in the 2012 Marylander at Laurel. Hamp was exiting a third-place effort against $62,500 optional claiming company at Gulfstream, and his record now stands at 16-4-0-4, $150,237.

Knit One Purr Too has taken to the grass in the last two weeks at Pimlico (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

In the $100,000 Stormy Blues, a five-furlong turf dash for three-year-old fillies, Knit One Purr Too wore down long-time leader Hot Squeeze in the final yards to register a mild 5-1 upset.

Pressing Hot Squeeze through splits of :22 4/5 and :47 2/5, Knit One Purr Too got up late under Grant Whitacre to win by a neck in :59 3/5 over firm ground. It was three lengths farther back to Miss Behaviour, who was followed by Turf Craze, Offlee Golden, 4-5 favorite Sweet Emma Rose, and Inspired Say Eye. Tizgale was scratched.

Knit One Purr Too, a daughter of Tale of the Cat, races for PTK LLC and is trained by Dane Kobiskie.

A debut winner at Pimlico going 4 1/2 furlongs on the main track last April 18, Knit One Purr Too did not reappear until February 28 when she finished second against allowance company at Laurel. A two-length winner over that track at the same level the following month, she entered the Stormy Blues off a close second-place finish against second-level allowance company over the course and distance April 11.

"I wouldn't have come back this quick normally but when I saw her show all that speed last week against those good older fillies and mares I thought this was a great spot for straight three-year olds," Kobiskie said. "She's bred for nothing but turf and you're so limited with straight three-year old filly sprint turf stakes that I really couldn't let this opportunity get by. This filly's very talented. I knew at the top of the lane she was going to give me 110 percent. This was a very impressive race today."

Knit One Purr Too was bred in Ontario by Dr. B. Van Arem and now possesses a mark of 5-3-2-0, $125,010.

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Grandeur, Guineas prospect Ertijaal highlight the All-Weather Championships

Racing was conducted for the first time on Good Friday in Britain when Lingfield hosted the inaugural £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, and the most thrilling finish of the day was saved until last when Yvonne Jacques' Grandeur got the better of an epic tussle with Dick Doughtywylie in the £200,000 All-Weather Middle Distance Championship in front of a 8,777 sell-out crowd.

The five-year-old gray son of Verglas is trained in Newmarket by Jeremy Noseda, and entered the race off a 2014 debut win in the February 22 Winter Derby Trial and eighth-place effort in the Group 3 Winter Derby itself on March 22.

"Everything went wrong last time (in the Winter Derby), but to be honest I don't think too much went right today," Noseda. "There was no real pace for him -- I'm thrilled that he's won but it's just a shame that he's made such hard work of it.

"It sounds strange. I'm thrilled that he's won but he's a much better horse than those he's taken on today. They didn't go quickly enough for him and he was quite handy, whereas I think he's a better horse if he can sit further back in a strongly-run race.

"He's never a horse who is going to win by a long way but I thought he'd have at least a length on them. He's won though, that's the main thing."

Ryan Moore produced Grandeur with a well-timed run to land a bumper prize in the Middle Distance Championships.

"Last time out he had a bad draw and I thought he'd get in behind the leaders and settle in fifth or sixth. But Dick Doughtywylie got out of the stalls quickly and I got caught out and it became a messy race," Moore said. "Today the second had everything go his way and then we got a good run through.

"He's a tricky horse to place because he doesn't want the ground too quick but at the same time he can't go if it's too soft," Moore said. "So Jeremy has done a very good job placing him as he's won a lot of prize money. He's a Grade 2 winner in the States as well.

Noseda indicated that Grandeur is likely to head back to America, where he has raced successfully in the past to record victories in a pair of Grade 2 contests in California.

"I'm delighted -- this was the plan to win," Noseda added. "I was very disappointed on Winter Derby day so I said before the race that this was redemption day and we've had redemption. He's shown that he likes racing in America, so we'll probably head to Belmont Park in May and June to race on the turf there."

The second Dick Doughtywylie's trainer John Gosden and his wife, Rachel Hood, who owns and bred the six-year-old, were thrilled with the performance of their horse in finishing a head second to Grandeur.

"I thought that he was going to win 25 yards out. It is the best performance of his career and we are thrilled with him," Gosden said. "It made an exciting finish. He got headed, came back and got headed on the line. I think the best horse has won but we are over the moon with our fellow."

Cam Hardie, the 17-year-old apprentice to Richard Hannon, had extra reason to celebrate on Good Friday. Not only did he win the £50,000 All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap for the Heffer Syndicate aboard Viewpoint, but he made history by becoming the first jockey to ride a winner on Good Friday in Britain by getting the All-Weather Championships card underway.

Beating Grendisar by a neck, it was Hardie's first winner for his boss but sixth in total since the beginnning of 2014.

"It's the best day of my career so far and I'd like to thank everyone who has helped to get me here," said Hardie, whose father, William, is head lad to Tim Easterby in Yorkshire. "Tim Easterby got me the job with Mr Hannon and I'm very grateful.

"This is really special. It's a big meeting and there was a really good reception. I'm over the moon, it's my first winner for the boss. Viewpoint was feeling great, he's really fresh. Winning this was something different to the normal handicaps."

With Hannon still in Newmarket following the Craven Breeze-up Sale, his traveling head lad David Bourton added, "Cam has been with us for a year and a bit and that was his first win for the boss. Cam rode to orders and gave the horse a great ride, let's hope it's the first of many he rides for us.

Next up, Living the Life could hardly have been better named after delivering big-race success in the £150,000 All-Weather Championship Fillies' and Mares' Conditions Stakes for her Californian owner Henry 'Hank' Nothhaft, who had flown in specially for the race.

"In the past we've bought horses in England and shipped them to the States but I decided to get my license this year and race a few horses in England as I love coming here," said Nothhaft, who owns 40 horses spread around California, Kentucky and Philadelphia.

"We're so excited and very proud of the filly. Phil (McEntee) has done a great job for me and his brother Carl lives in Kentucky and is my bloodstock agent, so we're keeping it all in the family."

The four-year-old daughter of Footstepsinthesand will be transferred to trainer Gary Mandella in California after netting the first prize of £72,840 for her owner.

"Living the Life has paid for herself three times over since we bought her," Nothhaft added. "It was certainly worth leaving her here to run in this race. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be here.

"This is phenomenal (the day) -- it is what racing should be about. It should be a good time, it should be fun, it should be a family event and a lot of socializing. This is the best advertisement the sport can have."

Winning jockey Adam Kirby rode an enterprising race, making all to land the spoils by 3 1/2 lengths.

"I had an easy time in front and she ran into the turn really well," Kirby said. "We thought she was coming here with a chance but she was pretty impressive."

Newmarket trainer Phil McEntee celebrated the biggest victory of his career when Living the Life crossed under the wire first.

"It's truly amazing to win a race like this," McEntee remarked. "Adam is a big asset and he dictated it from the front perfectly. He got the fractions just right. My brother is Hank's racing manager in America and Hank had come over especially for this. It's great for him and hopefully it's the start of a long-term relationship.

Last month's listed Spring Cup winner Ertijaal confirmed his love of Lingfield Park with a tough follow-up win in the £150,000 All-Weather 3 Year Old Championships Conditions Stakes under Paul Hanagan, in which the Oasis Dream colt claimed £72,840 for his owner/breeder Sheikh Hamdan.

"I didn't want to be in the stalls too early and he nearly blew it there and so I had to ride him up a bit and force him so that he got settled," Hanagan explained his ride. "Once we were out he did it good, he pricked his ears and I was quite impressed with him. Once he got his position I was always confident."

Ertijaal is now two-for-two on the year at Lingfield, having captured the Spring Cup in his seasonal opener on March 22.

"Once he got out he traveled really well. It was a really rough race but he held his position well and did a good job," said Maureen Haggas, wife of the colt's trainer, William. "We had to come for this race -- it was the obvious race to go for, there's lots of prize money and it was the right race to run in -- but I think he'll be an even better horse on the grass."

Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum's assistant racing manager Richard Hills reported that Ertijaal could head to the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket in 15 days' time.

"Paul gave the horse a really good ride and we'll look forward to stepping him up to a mile now," Hills remarked. "I hope he goes (to the Guineas) but we will talk to Sheikh Hamdan and see what he would like to do. The horse is still learning, he got injured last year and had had a long time off before his comeback here last month."

With regard to Ertijaal's entry in the Two Thousand Guineas on the first Saturday of May, Haggas said, "He might be a horse to take a bit more time with. He never had a proper break in the winter because he had a few problems and that's when they get a chance to develop. I don't think he's still properly developed -- he looks better now than he did six weeks ago but he still looks a bit of a baby. He hasn't really filled out yet."

Commenting on the atmosphere at Lingfield for the All-Weather Championships, she added, "It's fantastic. I can't believe how many people are here, it's amazing really. It's great that it's been supported and anything that brings money into racing is a good thing."

George Baker is widely regarded as one of the best jockeys when it comes to riding Lingfield and his track experience paid off for trainer Seamus Durack, who had the 2-1 favourite Litigant spot on to claim glory in the £150,000 All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes for owner Tony Byrne.

"That was great," Baker said. "Jim Crowley (on runner-up Arch Villain) stole a bit of a march on me on the turn but my fellow was resolute and he did it really well in the end.

"I ride here a lot in the winter on everyday horses so it's nice to win a really big race. All the lads in the weighing-room are perfectly happy to be riding on Good Friday as long as the prize money is good and this day just shows that if you put on good prize money, you'll get decent horses and a decent crowd.

"You don't normally have to fight for a parking space at Lingfield but we did today. It's a great day."

Baker brought Litigant with a late and decisive run to capture the Marathon by a half-length to the delight of Durack.

"George said it took a while to get into top gear but the horse has a real turn of foot when he does reach top gear," Durack explained, before adding, "This day is a brilliant initiative and it's great for our little yard, we only have 20 horses including jumpers. It's like having five or six heritage handicaps in one day in terms of prize money. We set our stall out to try and win this race a while ago and had been looking forward to seeing him run.

"He is a really nice horse and is still improving -- I'm not sure how good he is. He saw two miles out really well today and I think he might be even better on the turf than the All-Weather. He might be a viable candidate for some of the Cup races.

"He was with Andre Fabre, then went to Godolphin, where he had a few issues with sore shins and never ran. He went to the sales at Doncaster in January last year when we got him. He had a couple of issues which we have sorted out."

Trainer Richard Fahey made the long journey from North Yorkshire worthwhile when Alben Star got up late to win the £150,000 All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes for owners Ken Shannon and Mike Scaife.

"It's been a while since I've been to Lingfield, I think the last time was when I was riding in a two-mile chase!" Fahey noted. "But this is a fantastic day and my only problem was getting in as it's so busy -- I missed the first race.

"This horse worked brilliantly last week and I told (jockey) Paul (Hanagan) he had a big chance. Paul moved on to bigger things (as retained rider for Hamdan Al Maktoum) but we were together for 17 years and we'll always be part of each other.

"They went a full flat-out gallop and it was a good honest-run race today which suited us.

"Today was our Derby and this was a huge day for the horse. I hope the handicapper doesn't kill him and he'll be entered in all the big sprint handicaps. I'd be surprised if he could step up much more on this.

"The horse is the walking wounded, he's had chips three time but we had a new vet -- John McVeigh -- who greased his joints and gave him a bit of a service. I think he's found 10 pound for that."

"They went a really good gallop and when he gets that strong pace he loves it," Hanagan said. "I'm delighted for the owners. I was confident I had it on the line and I gave him a pat down the neck.

"It's fantastic to have two winners on a day like this and well done to everyone who made it happen."

Captain Cat missed out on his early Flat turf season target of the Lincoln but waiting for All-Weather Championships Finals Day paid dividends for his connections when the statuesque five-year-old scooped the pot in the £150,000 All-Weather Mile Championships. The Roger Charlton-trained gelding was chased home by Highland Knight, with Alfred Hutchinson taking third, and set a new course record of 1:34.51, beating the existing record of 1:34.77.

"That was fantastic. It was a really fast-run race, which is what we thought we'd get today," stated Barry Hurley of owner Seasons Holidays. "He's only a lightly-raced horse and he doesn't like the ground moving underneath him, which is why we didn't run him on soft ground in the Lincoln."

James Doyle, who partnered Captain Cat to glory, added, "He's won nicely in the end. He's quite a character who has got his traits but he has a lot of ability. He's starting to get his act together.

"They went a hell of a pace early on and it was always the plan to wait and ride him like a nice horse. He quickened up well when he needed to. Everyone jumped out too well and they were pushing me into the rail, which I didn't want to be sucked into doing. I could afford to be patient. He wants good or slightly better ground as he is such a good mover and has always been a nice horse.

"This is a fantastic day. I've been in Dubai for a lot of the winter so missed the racing here but it's great to have a day like this with good prize money and super horses."

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Beholder 'looks the same' as in BC Distaff

When last seen, Beholder was storming her way to a 4 1/4-length triumph in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, leaving in her wake champion Royal Delta and Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar.

That was last November 1 at Santa Anita. Beholder has been resting on her considerable laurels, so to speak, ever since, but on Sunday, the daughter of Henny Hughes owned by B. Waynes Hughes and trained by Richard Mandella returns to work in earnest in the $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes.

"We're just happy to be back," Mandella said on an overcast Friday morning at Santa Anita. "She trains as good as ever and we hope she runs as good as ever."

Asked if there were any noticeable changes in Beholder, physically or emotionally, from three to four, Mandella quipped: "I'm emotional. I'm pretty nervous about it."

That might be understandable anytime a trainer sends out a prohibitive favorite, which Mandella has done many times in a Hall of Fame career that lists Phone Chatter (1993) and Halfbridled (2003) among his previous two-year-old filly champions. Beholder has surpassed both of them, winning an Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old filly of 2012 and champion three-year-old filly of 2013.

"Beholder looks the same (as she did at the end of her three-year-old season)," Mandella said. "She grew up fast, as is obvious by her record. She matured very quickly. She's the same filly we sent out (after winning the Distaff); we hope she runs the same."

After finishing second by a half-length at 9-1 to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks early last May, Beholder ripped off three straight daylight victories: the ungraded Torry Pines at Del Mar on September 1; the Grade 1 Zenyatta on September 28; and the Grade 1 Distaff, cementing the title in the three-year-old filly division.

"She got so much better as she got older," Mandella said when asked the differences, if any, from Beholder to Phone Chatter and Halfbridled. "The other fillies came up with problems, and that compromised them. Beholder didn't."

Beholder's regular rider, Gary Stevens, is keeping strategy simple.

"I just want to get away from there clean and let her do her thing," the Hall of Famer said.

Among Beholder's rivals in the Santa Lucia is City at Dawn, who will be making her stakes debut. Trainer Leonard Powell is nothing if not realistic when it comes to his chances of defeating Beholder in the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares.

"My filly has a nice pedigree, but mostly we're running for second or third," Powell said, speaking of the City Zip half-sister to Grade 2 winner Al Khali.

"The thinking was, with Beholder running, it would be a small field and give us an opportunity to get some black type," Powell said. "She's got nowhere else to run, anyway."

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Mitchell passes the baton to longtime assistant D'Amato

After a memorable career that began four decades ago, Mike Mitchell is taking time to smell the roses. The 65-year-old trainer will pass full-time training duties on to assistant Phil D'Amato Sunday and lend considerable knowledge to his former aide of 10 years in a supporting role.

"We're still a team," said Mitchell, the son of the late trainer, Earl Mitchell, and a fixture in Southern California since 1974. "For me, it's not about most wins and records. I've done it all. Now, it's time to enjoy being part of the team.

"I'll still lend my support and give my advice and counseling, and be out at the track most mornings, but I want to travel and take care of my health. Phil's been like a son to me, and he's getting new clients in his own right. It's been a beautiful relationship but the time is right for this move."

A two-time leading trainer at Santa Anita's winter/spring meetings in 1992-93 and 2007-08, Mitchell is currently fifth on the all-time Santa Anita trainer's leaderboard with 659 wins, behind only Bobby Frankel, Charlie Whittingham, Ron McAnally and Bob Baffert. Mitchell was also leading trainer three times at Santa Anita's Oak Tree Meetings, taking titles in 1995, 1996 and 2004.

A perennial contender for leading trainer honors at all major meets in Southern California dating back to the late 70's, Mitchell was always known as a great claiming trainer and a keen judge of talent whose ability to analyze the way races would be run paid his clients and backers consistent dividends throughout his remarkable career.

Mitchell, a native of Bakersfield, has won 18 meet titles and 2,668 races, including a record 476 at Del Mar. In 2012, he had surgery to remove a brain tumor. D'Amato, 37, directed the stable operation during Mitchell's long recovery.

Among Mitchell's rejuvenated former claiming horses that he developed into stakes winners were Big Booster, Church Service, Ever a Friend, On the Acorn and Star Over the Bay, whom he claimed for $80,000 en route to a Grade 1 win in the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship in 2004. His most recent Grade 1 winner is the recently retired Egg Drop, who captured the Matriarch on December 1 at Hollywood Park.

His final stats for the meet are 29-6-7-5, good for a win percentage of 21. His horses finished in the money at a 62 percent clip this meet.

Mitchell and his wife, Denise, have two adult daughters, McCall and Shea.

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Game On Dude towers over six rivals in Charles Town Classic

Game On Dude defeated Clubhouse Ride (outside) and Ron the Greek in last year's Charles Town Classic (Charles Town/Coady Photography)

After recording his third career win in the Santa Anita H., Game On Dude will invade West Virginia for a title defense in Saturday's Grade 2, $1.5 million Charles Town Classic. The seven-year-old gelding will receive significant class relief in the 1 1/8-mile event, defeating the likes of Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge while posting an outstanding 1 3/4-length victory last time out, and figures to be an overwhelming odds-on favorite in the seven-horse field.

Game On Dude registered a 106 BRIS Speed rating for his half-length score in last year's Charles Town Classic and received an imposing 108 for the March 8 Big 'Cap. Conditioned by Bob Baffert, the classy son of Awesome Again owns a total of 14 stakes victories and has earned more than $6.1 million during his illustrious career. Game On Dude shows a recent six-furlong bullet work (1:11) in preparation and regular rider Mike Smith will be in for the mount.

"He's doing really well," Baffert said. "He worked great the other day, and he's happy."

Multiple stakes victor Long River brings improving form into the race for Kiaran McLaughlin. A nice winner of the January 18 Evening Attire at Aqueduct, the four-year-old son of A.P. Indy exits a neck second to well-regarded stablemate Romansh in the Grade 3 Excelsior on March 22. Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the assignment.

"Maybe we can sit third, fourth or fifth and make a run," said McLaughlin, who is anticipating a hot early pace. "Game on Dude is obviously the horse to beat and a nice horse. He's coming off a big effort in California but has to fly (to West Virginia_. We're coming off a big effort at Aqueduct. There are a million and five reasons to come. He deserves a chance, and it's a Grade 2, and we're trying to win a graded stakes with our horse. There's no reason not to run."

Imperative finished ahead of Game On Dude when second at 26-1 odds in the Grade 2 San Antonio two back and will attempt to rebound from a seventh in the Big 'Cap. Kent Desormeaux sticks with the George Papaprodromou-trained gelding.

Clubhouse Ride finished second to Game On Dude three times last season, including the Charles Town Classic, and returns for another shot at the favorite. However, the Craig Lewis charge will need to turn things around, dropping seven starts in a row, including all three efforts this year. The six-year-old exits a non-threatening third in the March 30 Santana Mile at Santa Anita. The Candy Ride horse keeps Typer Baze in the irons.

"Chasing (Game On Dude) around the country is like trying to catch the wind," Lewis said. "He's coming up to this as well as I could hope. He's feeling good, acting good."

Moreno, a nose second in the Travers, will make his first appearance of the year. Scratched from last Saturday's Oaklawn H., the four-year-old gelding has not started since a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Eric Guillot trainee captured the Grade 2 Dwyer last season and the speedster also placed in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and Grade 2 Jim Dandy. Moreno picks up the services of Joel Rosario and figures to break running from post position 2.

"His pedigree indicates he should be better at four," Guillot said. "He's been working lights out at Santa Anita."

Multiple Grade 2 runner-up Ruler of Love, fourth when opening 2014 in the March 22 Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs; and local star Lucy's Bob Boy, an eight-time Charles Town stakes winner, round out the field.

"He kind of accelerates on the turns here while everyone else slows down a little bit," trainer Sandra Dono said of the West Virginia-bred Lucy's Bob Boy. "He might have a little bit of a hometown advantage, but just to run with this class of horses -- like Game on Dude -- is a privilege."

Two races prior to the Classic, Grade 3 winner Rise Up heads a a field of nine three-year-olds in the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial at seven furlongs. The Tom Amoss-trained colt entered the year on the Kentucky Derby trail but missed the start and never threatened in both outings this year, finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Risen Star and 10th in the Louisiana Derby. The Rockport Harbor colt picks up a new rider in Leandro Goncalves.

An overflow of 11 fillies and mares, including one also-eligible, were entered to the $200,000 Sugar Maple. Multiple stakes winner My Pal Chrisy, who is cross-entered to Saturday's Grade 2 Distaff H. at Aqueduct, will be the one to beat in the seven-furlong test following a runner-up in the Grade 2 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park.

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Beholder returns in Santa Lucia

Beholder will use Sunday's Santa Lucia as her tightener in advance of the Ogden Phipps (Breeders' Cup Ltd.)
Two-time Eclipse Award champion filly Beholder towers over six older fillies and mares in next Sunday's $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on November 1.

Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm, Beholder is in search of her fourth consecutive win as she preps for the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps at 1 1/16 miles on June 7 at Belmont Park.

"We were looking for a race to get her started and we felt this would be a good prep for the million dollar race on Belmont Day," Mandella said. "Adding it up, we just didn't want to ship out of town for her first race back. I don't feel she's wound up as tight as she might be, but it should be good enough for now."

A supplemental entrant at a cost of $1,500, the four-year-old filly by Henny Hughes is in search of her ninth overall win from 13 career starts. A winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in 2012, she was America's Eclipse Award winning two-year-old filly and she was voted Eclipse Champion three-year-old filly for 2013. She has career earnings of $3,075,000 and will be ridden for the fourth time in a row by Gary Stevens.

A filly blessed with tremendous speed, Beholder has eight works on her Santa Anita tab, dating back to February 26. Her last two moves have come at seven furlongs, more recently clocking 1:27 3/5 on Saturday.

Lightly-raced Eblouissante, the much-heralded half sister to legendary Zenyatta, has been idle since running second as the 3-5 favorite in a second condition allowance going 1 1/16 miles and will try stakes competition for the second time in her fifth overall start. A fve-year-old mare by Bernardini, she won her first two races -- a maiden special weight on November 16, 2012, at Hollywood Park and a first condition allowance at Santa Anita on January 17, 2013, both at 1 1/16 miles.

Like Zenyatta, she is trained by John Shirreffs and will be ridden for the second time in a row by Mike Smith. Owned by St. George Farm Racing, LLC, she is 4-2-1-0 with earnings of $77,800.

The complete field for the Santa Lucia Stakes, to be run as the 8TH race on a nine-race card Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Legacy, Drayden Van Dyke, 117; Moulin de Mougin, Martin Garcia, 117; Beholder, Gary Stevens, 123; Magic Union, Victor Espinoza, 117; Eblouissante, Mike Smith, 117; City At Dawn, Julien Couton, 117, and Irish Presence, Tyler Baze, 117.

First post time on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. (PDT). Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.

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In brief

FrontRunner (G1) winner Bond Holder (Mineshaft) has succumbed to laminitis, trainer Doug O'Neill posted on Facebook Saturday. The statement read, "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Bond Holder to laminitis. Bond Holder through each setback fought valiantly and never gave up. However the severity of the laminitis was ultimately too much to overcome. Our condolences to Mr. (J. Paul) Reddam and the caregivers that did everything they could to save him. Our collective hearts are heavy." Bond Holder, who ran creditably in several maidens last summer, broke through with a 2 1/4-length decision in the September 28 FrontRunner at Santa Anita, beating eventual Blue Grass (G1) winner Dance With Fate (Two Step Salsa). He ended the season by finishing fourth in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and CashCall Futurity (G1). Expected to start his road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) in the February 22 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, he endured a rough flight, got banged up, and had to miss the race. Plans called for him to fly back home to Southern California, but he got upset on that flight and was rerouted to Florida, where connections hoped to run him in the March 8 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). But foot trouble ensued, and he had to be transported to a clinic, where he developed the laminitis that proved fatal...

Finger Lakes, which just opened on Friday, has already been forced to cancel one of its cards. Officials at the Farmington, New York, track have called off live racing on Monday due to a shortage in horses ready to start. Extended and severe cold weather this winter caused delays in training over the past month that has ultimately resulted in fewer horses being ready for the start of the meet. Officials decided to eliminate Monday from the schedule in an effort to stabilize the remaining days early in the season while other horses round into shape and additional ones arrive from warmer locales. "After a great start to the season (on Friday and Saturday), it is difficult to make this decision," said Chris Riegle, Finger Lakes president and general manager. "However, it ultimately should lead to better racing for everyone involved as we move further into the 2014 meet." No other changes have been made at this time to the Finger Lake's racing calendar. Live racing is expected to resume on Tuesday with a 1:10 p.m. (EDT) first post...

Ageless came running late to take the Giant's Causeway (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Lael Stables' Ageless (Successful Appeal) pulled off a mild 8-1 upset in Saturday's $100,000 Giant's Causeway at Keeneland when flying down the center of the track to score a three-quarter length victory with jockey Julien Leparoux aboard. Third last out in the Lightning City at Tampa Bay Downs following a two-race win streak, the Arnauld Delacour-trained Ageless raced near the back of the 10-strong field early as Saturday Nthe Park (Any Given Saturday) led the way through opening splits of :22 and :45 3/5. Sweet Cassiopeia (Five Star Day) tracked the pacesetter on the backstretch before putting in her bid to take command in the lane, but could not withstand the late runs of Ageless and second-place finisher Free as a Bird (Hard Spun). Ageless ran 5 1/2 furlongs on Keeneland's firm turf in 1:03 to earn her first stakes victory. "It's been a while since we had a winner here," Lael Stable' Roy Jackson said. "It's always great to win a race here because it is so competitive. We're thrilled. We know (Ageless) has a good kick and she just doesn't want to go out in front. She wants to kick on from the back. It was a nice ride from Julien." Delacour added, "She's a closer so we thought the 5 1/2-furlong distance would help her. The last time she went five furlongs (in the Lightning City), and that is not a perfect (distance) for her because she is a closer. She ran a beautiful race that day but got in trouble and finished late. We thought we would give her a chance here and we are glad we did. I knew she would have a strong finish but I did not know if she was going to get there in time." In addition to the Lightning City, the Kentucky-bred five-year-old also boasts placings in the 2012 Miss Preakness and Go for Wand. The lightly raced Ageless improved her career mark to 6-2-2 from just 12 starts and has banked $204,940 lifetime...

Bienstock & Winner's Flamboyant (Peer Gynt) made his U.S., and stakes, debut a winning one on Saturday at Santa Anita, rallying late in the $79,750 La Puente to nip Home Run Kitten (Kitten's Joy) on the wire by a neck. The Paddy Gallagher-trained sophomore entered the nine-furlong, firm-turf test off a runner-up effort in his native France, and prevailed in a final time of 1:47 2/5 despite weaving back and forth in the lane under jockey Corey Nakatani. Flamboyant is now 3-2-2 from seven lifetime starts and doubled his career earnings to $92,775...

Zensational Bunny hopped to victory in the Star Shoot (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)

Gary Barber's Zensational Bunny (Zensational) lived up to her name on Saturday at Woodbine when taking the Star Shoot by 1 3/4 lengths under jockey Patrick Husbands, appropriately enough one day before Easter Sunday. The Mark Casse pupil tracked in second before taking over in the lane and pulling away to stop the clock in 1:10 1/5 for six furlongs on the Polytrack. "She's a very aggressive filly," Husbands said. "She's the type of filly that you have to keep her quiet. Any little thing will set her off. She left (the gate) running but I had more speed on the inside of me so I just played it by ear. She handled it good down the backside, she was relaxed, and when I called on her she gave me 100 percent." Zensational Bunny opened her career at Woodbine for trainer Pat Parente, taking a maiden by three lengths last September, then was transferred to Casse in time for a 3 3/4-length victory in the November 23 Glorious Song. The bay miss made her sophomore debut in the Old Hat (G3) at Gulfstream Park, running a well-beaten fourth, and could only manage seventh in the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) last month at Turfway Park. Saturday's win improved Zensational Bunny's record to 5-3-0-0, $178,138...

Sisterly Love (Bellamy Road) became the first two-time winner of the Keeneland meet Friday when she upset heavily favored Emollient (Empire Maker) in the Doubledogdare (G3). With the La Troienne (G1) scheduled May 2 at Churchill Downs, trainer Mark Casse is not inclined to strike while the iron is hot. "No, she is going to get a little break," Casse said about the Gary Barber-owned six-year-old mare, who gave him his meet-leading seventh winner. Sisterly Love dueled with Emollient through most of the 1 1/16-mile race and then held off Moment in Dixie (Dixieland Band). "I expected her to run well," Casse said. "She trained well here and runs well on the Polytrack. What did surprise me was she showed so much gameness. She is not an easy horse to ride. As long as she gets settled, she runs well but sometimes she gets flustered. I thought (jockey) Stewart (Elliott) did a good job and didn't get in a speed duel when Emollient came at her early." Moment in Dixie, who finished a neck behind Sisterly Love, came out of the race well, according to her trainer, James Toner. "She ran really huge and really stepped up," Toner said. "She can run on anything and I knew she could handle the Polytrack, but it was a question of whether she would be competitive with those horses and we found out she is." Toner said the five-year-old mare would go to Belmont Park with possibly a trip to Baltimore on Preakness day for the Gallorette (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Emollient also was fine Saturday morning, said Garrett O'Rourke, manager of U.S. operations for owner/breeder Juddmonte Farms. "When I went back and looked at (the race) last night, I didn't think she ran that badly," he said. "She gave away five pounds. She gave away an awful lot of ground, especially on the first turn. She had to stay on the engine all the time; got around the bend and hung on there and just ran out of gas. It was not what we hoped for but not a disaster." O'Rourke said the immediate racing future for Emollient would have to be determined. "Long term, if she's good enough and she's still on top of her game, I'd love to have her back in the (Breeders' Cup) Filly and Mare Turf in the fall," he said...

Nine distaffers have been entered to go five furlongs on Gulfstream Park's turf Sunday in the $75,000 Safari Queen. Madame Giry (Castledale) headlines the field as she tries to get back to the winner's circle following a pair of close runner-up efforts and a fourth in the Lightning City last out. A four-time stakes winner thus far, the Cam Gambolati trainee was making her five-year-old debut in the Lightning City and rallied from the back of that five-furlong contest to be 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner in fourth. Madame Giry was a half-length second in the Franklin County at Keeneland and a neck runner-up in a Gulfstream allowance to close out 2013, and gets Eddie Castro in the irons for this one. "She tries every single time, every effort. If you look at her past performances, when she loses, there's usually an excuse -- whether she loses ground or is forced to go too wide or gets a poor ride," said Gambolati, who saddled Horse of the Year Spend a Buck to victory in the 1985 Kentucky Derby. "She tries every time, that's the bottom line." Also in with a chance is Angel's South (Tale of the Cat), who will be shortening up after a neck third in the Ten Palms and a half-length second against optional claiming company, both going a mile at Gulfstream...

Recently crowned Sovereign Award winner Go Greeley (Horse Greeley) will make his sophomore bow on Sunday in the C$125,000 Woodstock at Woodbine. The John Ross-trained dark bay was honored as Canada's champion two-year-old male after taking the Simco, Vandal and Colin in 2013 while placing in the Grey (G3) and Clarendon. Go Greeley was last seen in the October 6 Grey and gets jockey Patrick Husbands in the irons for the first time. His rivals in Sunday's six-furlong Polytrack affair include Jose Sea View (Badge of Silver), whose only loss last season came in the Nashua over Aqueduct's dirt race sandwiched between victories in the Display and Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile, and Puntrooskie (In Summation), a 6 3/4-length maiden winner at Gulfstream on March 14...

Multiple Grade 2 winner Silentio (Silent Name), prepping for the June 14 Shoemaker Mile (G1), worked six furlongs in 1:13 2/5 over Santa Anita's fast main track Saturday. The Gary Mandella trainee comes off a fifth in the March 8 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1)...

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux will return to ride full time in Southern California next month, his new agent, Mike Ciani, said Saturday morning. "He could start riding at Santa Anita on Kentucky Oaks Day (May 2) if business doesn't call for him to be at Churchill Downs that weekend," Ciani said. "If that's the case, he could end up at Santa Anita. Either way, he would start full time at Santa Anita the following week. He's planning on riding through Santa Anita (June 29) and then continue on at Del Mar." Desormeaux, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, has seven wins from 35 mounts riding intermittently this meet under former agent Danny Thomas, who now represents Joe Steiner...

In other Santa Anita jockey news, agent Sarah Wolfe reports that leading apprentice rider Drayden Van Dyke won seven races (including a dead-heat) at Turf Paradise on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Agent Dudley Osborne now represents jockey Eswan Flores, while apprentice Jimmy Guzman has moved his tack to Golden Gate Fields...

On Easter Sunday, families are invited to Santa Anita for the largest Easter egg hunt in the San Gabriel Valley. The family Fun Zone in the Infield offers inflatable jumpers, face painting, pony rides and more. Visit santaanita.com for details. Also, Tom Quigley's handicapping seminar guest on Sunday will be Joe Talamo, the meet's second-leading rider. The seminar begins at 11:10 a.m. (PDT)...

Santa Anita ends its winter meet Easter Sunday. First post time is 12:30 p.m.; gates open at 10:30 a.m. There will be no live racing at Santa Anita Monday through Thursday, but Santa Anita will be open April 24 for simulcast wagering in Sironas and the Paddock Room. Gates open at 10:15 a.m. Live racing resumes Friday, with twilight racing starting at 3 p.m. First post time on Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, will be 1 p.m., with gates opening at 11 a.m.

Keeneland will be closed on Easter Sunday. Racing resumes Wednesday with the first race at 1:05 p.m. (EDT). The final two days of the spring meet are next Thursday and Friday.

Carryover Watch

For Sunday or Next Raceday

GULFSTREAM:   Pick 6 -- $5,367,792
    High 5 -- $13,715
HAWTHORNE:   High 5 -- $54,692
PIMLICO:   Pick 5 -- $48,023
KEENELAND:   High 5 -- $15,918
WOODBINE:   High 5 -- $14,526

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Sunday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Calder   (2nd) Sarava Star, 3-1
    (8th) Missedherblues, 3-1
Emerald Downs   (5th) Brock Says, 7-2
    (8th) Rocky's Quest, 9-2
Golden Gate Fields   (4th) Jumanah, 4-1
    (5th) Silver Champ, 10-1
Gulfstream Park   (2nd) You Never Learn, 4-1
    (5th) Sea Zar Run, 8-1
Prairie Meadows   (5th) Startingold, 3-1
    (9th) My Bella Notte, 5-1
Santa Anita   (4th) Faith Hope Love, 7-2
    (9th) Husband's Folly, 4-1
Woodbine   (3rd) Air Blade, 6-1
    (9th) Best Country, 3-1

HIGHLIGHTS

For Sunday

GULFSTREAM PARK (1:25): $75,000 Safari Queen S., 3&up, f/m, 5fT (8TH).
SANTA ANITA (3:30): $75,000 Santa Lucia S., 4&up, f/m, 1 1/16m (8TH).
WOODBINE (1:00): C$125,000 Woodstock S., 3yo, 6f (8TH).

*all times Eastern

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

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