Triple Crown News & Notes
Churchill offers special training period for American Pharoah, fellow Belmont hopefuls
Churchill Downs' concessionaire Levy Restaurants will have coffee, juice, soda, water and doughnuts available for purchase near the Aristides Garden. Also, video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens.
Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises at kentuckyderby.com/workouts/live from 8:30-8:45 a.m. through Tuesday, June 2. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel. A graphic with each horse's name will appear on the screen with the corresponding horse, although a majority of the focus will be on American Pharaoh.
The possible 11-horse Belmont Stakes lineup (with jockey and trainer) currently stands at American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza, Baffert); Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) (TBA, Todd Pletcher); Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan, Casse); Frammento (Midshipman) (Mike Smith, Nick Zito); Frosted (Tapit) (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin); Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Romans); Madefromlucky (Lookin at Lucky) (TBA, Pletcher); Materiality (Afleet Alex) (TBA, Pletcher); Mubtaahij (Dubawi) (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock); Tale of Verve (Tale of Ekati) (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart); War Story (Colby Hernandez, Amoss).
Baffert maintaining his cool ahead of fourth Triple Crown bid
"I go day-to-day," Baffert said. "American Pharoah tells you what he can handle. I'm monitoring him very closely. His energy and weight are very important. There are certain things I like to see in a horse.
"I get into Kentucky Monday and I'll watch him train Tuesday, then come back. So far, (assistant) Jimmy (Barnes) is happy with him and we know what we expect. He sees him every day and sends me videos of him and it looks like he's holding his form."
Meanwhile, the clock ticks inevitably onward until the gates open for the 147th Belmont S. (G1). Baffert and his team will do their best by the horse until that defining moment. Thus far, waiting to pounce on American Pharoah will be some 10 equine rivals out to extend the Triple Crown losing streak to 37 years.
"I know everybody right now is sharpening their knives getting ready," Baffert stated after the Preakness win.
That said, he maintains a tried and true regimen and hopes for the best.
"You can get them ready but you really don't know until you run them," the horseman noted. "When they hit the backside, then you know if they're running well or not. After the first quarter, (jockey) Victor (Espinoza) will know if it's the same horse he's been riding."
American Pharoah continues Belmont preparations under Twin Spires
"He hasn't decided whether he will have one or two workouts," Barnes stated. "He should be letting me know soon. He'll fly in Monday evening and will be in on Tuesday morning and I'm sure that's when he will start deciding."
Barnes said that the horse will likely ship to Belmont Park on Tuesday, June 2.
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Frammento works on cold Saratoga morning
Looking to pull off another upset of a Triple Crown bid, Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito had Belmont S. (G1) hopeful Frammento (Midshipman) put in another workout over the Oklahoma Training Track in Saratoga Springs, New York, Saturday morning with a trackside temperature of 38 degrees at 7:30 a.m. (EDT).
With exercise rider Maxine Correa aboard, Frammento opened the first eighth of a mile in :12 1/5 and the first quarter :24 1/5. He completed the four-furlong workout in :49 1/5 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 4/5. That workout followed a three-furlong breeze in :36 4/5 over the same surface on May 14.
"He worked great," Zito said. "We're happy with it. He galloped out nicely. Everything went good. He has been developing nicely. I'm excited about going to the Belmont; it's nice to have another chance."
Frammento is expected to be Zito's 25th starter for the Belmont. Both of Zito's Belmont wins spoiled Triple Crown bids. In 2004 Birdstone beat Smarty Jones, and in 2008 Da'Tara defeated an eased Big Brown.
Since his first Belmont starter in 1984 when Morning Bob finished third, Zito finished second seven times in the third jewel of the Triple Crown: Thirty Six Red (1990), Strike the Gold (1991), Go for Gin (1994), Star Standard (1995), A P Valentine (2001), Andromeda's Hero (2005), and Fly Down (2010). He has also been third with Royal Assault (2004) and Anak Nakal (2008).
"We always have a good Belmont," Zito said. "Our horses always run good in the Belmont. That's what you hope happens. Hopefully, we'll be OK."
Frammento, who was third in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and fourth in the Blue Grass (G1), is coming off a rough 11th-place finish to American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
"He didn't get the best of trips," Zito said. "He got bumped around at the start. He was doing OK in the race until another horse knocked him off stride, although, my horse still kept running."
Zito suggested that Frammento is scheduled for one more workout -- likely next Saturday -- over the Oklahoma Training Track. From there, Frammento should arrive at Belmont Park on June 3.
Espinoza 'taking it one day at a time'
Told American Pharoah looked like he was floating over Pimlico's inundated sloppy track en route to his seven-length romp in the Preakness last Saturday, Espinoza was quick to respond. "Me too," he laughed. "I was floating, too. My boots were full of water.
"It's amazing how life is. I never thought I would win three Kentucky Derbies. After I won the first (on War Emblem in 2002), four or five years went by and I never dreamed I'd go back again, and then last year here comes California Chrome, the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, who won by daylight and came very close to winning the Triple Crown.
"Now we're in position to do it again in a back-to-back situation with an amazing horse like American Pharoah. But let me tell you about the Preakness. I never rode a horse in my life in so much rain. That was my first time.
"But it was fun. Pharoah handled it very well. I was more concerned about the horse but he ran an unbelievable race and I'm here again. You never know what lies ahead or what the future holds.
"But I never get too caught up in the moment. I just keep working on my career, doing things normally, taking it one day at a time."
As to the Belmont, Espinoza understandably feels "confident" about American Pharoah.
"I can't look back and worry about the two times I lost the Belmont," he said. "When I rode War Emblem, he stumbled really bad at the start and that was it. My chance was gone right away.
"California Chrome was tired going into the race and his energy wasn't quite what it was. Also, another horse stepped on his foot and that happens when a horse doesn't have the energy it should. They do things in slow motion, and that's what happened.
"So again my chances went when the gates opened. Twice my chances were eliminated like that. But it's different this time with American Pharoah. I know each horse is different and every time I'm there, I think differently, too.
"It's all going to depend on Baffert and if he has the horse ready. Baffert knows how to train a horse to be ready for the Belmont, so that gives me a lot of confidence, as it does with other horses I ride in big races like this.
"If the trainer has his horse ready, then my job is easy. After that, I have all the confidence in the world."
Espinoza was born 43 years ago on Saturday, May 23, but would patiently wait two weeks to receive a gift for the man who has everything.
"The Triple Crown," he nodded. "That's the present I need."
Main Sequence on course for UN title defense
Main Sequence started off 2015 with a win in the Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream Park in February. In the Sheema Classic at Meydan, he was three wide the entire race and uncharacteristically close to the pace, considering his come from behind style, and finished seventh.
"We thought about running him on Belmont S. (G1) Day, but we're just going to stick with what worked for us last year," Motion added.
The United Nations is one of two Grade 1 races run at Monmouth, along with the $1 million Haskell Invitational on August 2.
Pleascach eyes Irish Derby after taking Curragh's 1000 Guineas
Sent to Sunday's Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) just 11 days after winning the Blue Wind S. (Ire-G3) over a quarter-mile further at Naas, Pleascach (Teofilo) justified the boldness of her breeder, owner and trainer Jim Bolger to provide Coolcullen with another Curragh classic.
With a perfect pace scenario tracking a pair of her stable's lesser lights, the 11-2 second favorite was in front from the quarter-pole and saw off the 5-4 crowd's choice, Found (Galileo), to prevail by a half-length. There was a brief period of anxiety for Bolger, as the winner had to survive an inquiry into possible interference to the runner-up in the finale.
"She spotted something and shifted left in the last 75 yards, but I wasn't worried as the runner-up was a long way away from me," rider Kevin Manning commented. "The pacemakers did a great job and I was able to do my own thing with no one bothering me. It was a fast-run race at Naas and she had them all stone- cold dead at the two pole there on ground she didn't like. I felt she would come on for that and doesn't lack pace, as she's a very versatile filly. She's won that well and I'd have no question about a mile and a half."
Fourth on a testing debut in the six-furlong Grangecon S. (Ire-G3) here last June, Pleascach built on the obvious promise of that effort four days later when readily besting the listed performer Simply a Star (Giant's Causeway) over an extra furlong at Leopardstown. Splitting Bocca Baciata (Big Bad Bob) and the subsequent Cheshire Oaks winner Diamondsandrubies (Fastnet Rock) when second in the 10-furlong Salsabil S. at Navan April 18, the homebred stayed at that trip for the Blue Wind and annihilated the smart Zannda (Azamour), who had previously been a close second in Newmarket's Pretty Polly S.
While most would have pointed at the middle-distance classics after that Oaks (Eng-G1) prep, Bolger has always thought outside the box and diverted her here with the Irish forecast mainly dry for once. Although the ground came right for Pleascach, the draw of 15 was unfavorable, and it a short took time for Manning to organize her from that wide posting. Soon perfectly positioned in third, she was provided with a genuine tempo set by the predetermined stable rabbit Mainicin (Teofilo) and even enjoyed the unexpected additional help of fellow barnmate Steip Amach (Vocalised) just ahead.
Left in front and there to be shot at from the quarter-pole, she saw off the smooth-traveling Bocca Baciata first before having to battle harder as Ryan Moore delivered Found inside the final furlong. Despite veering into that rival's space late on, there was every chance for the hot favorite to claw her back if she was able.
"It's very satisfying and a great day," Bolger said after the announcement came from the officials that the result would stand. "It's hard to win any big race in Ireland, but to win a classic with one of our own is the stuff that you dream about and it doesn't happen very often. The ground was a big factor here and the good ground was a requirement, even though she coped well when it was on the soft side at Naas. We had a half-length to spare at the line and even with drifting left, I don't think the runner-up had any chance of beating her."
Bolger is now eyeing an audacious tilt at the Irish Derby (Ire-G1) back at this venue June 27.
"She's very likely to go straight there and then to the Irish Oaks ([Ire-G1] July 18) after that," he said. "I've never run a filly in the Derby before, but it has been won by a few fillies and she's probably the best one over a mile and a half that I've had. She's better than most I've had.
"Entering her in the (Irish) Derby wasn't so much what I thought about her, it was really what I thought about the colts, with all due respect to our neighbors. We think she's very good -- she's right on that level with the colts. She's explosive, just like her name."
Aidan O'Brien said of Found, "She got beaten, but ran a good race and it was a big step up on the last day. It's now a case of whether she goes up to an Oaks trip, but the lads will decide on that over the next few days. Jim's filly is very good and she just got away from us and was gone."
Pleascach becomes the sixth Group 1 winner for the Bolger homebred Teofilo. Bolger purchased Pleascach's dam, Toirneach (Toirneach), for $110,000 at Keeneland September in 2006 through BBA Ireland and trained her to pair of wins. Toirneach's third dam produced the dam of Spain (Thunder Gulch), and Toirneach is therefore similarly bred to that dual Grade 1 winner. Pleascach is Toirneach's third foal, and she has a two-year-old colt by Bolger sire Vocalised named Brontide.
Also at the Curragh, O'Brien's hotpot Giovanni Canaletto (Galileo) was overturned by the filly Curvy (Galileo) in the Gallinule S. (Ire-G3), likely putting him out of the mix for Epsom.
Bred to be a classic contender, Curvy kept smart company at two but three maiden starts yielded no better than a debut fourth placing, and it was not until the fitting of cheekpieces on her sophomore bow that the half-sister to Power began to transform. Having won a brace of 10-furlong handicaps at Navan April 18 and May 17, the dark bay from the stable of the One Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) heroine Legatissimo (Danehill Dancer) moved forward again to upstage the colts in this Derby (Eng-G1) trial.
Settled in second early tracking Prince Gagarin (Dubawi), she managed to battle ahead of that rival passing the furlong pole as Ballydoyle's Epsom hope Giovanni Canaletto was being wound up down the outer. As he bore down on her nearing the line, Curvy pulled out extra to ward off his challenge and lead home a Coolmore one-two that was not entirely expected beforehand.
"She was always a nice filly last year, but was big and weak and has been progressive this season," trainer David Wachman said. "I always thought she would be capable of this level and she is very straightforward, but pulls herself up in front. She could go for the Ribblesdale S. ([Eng-G2] at Royal Ascot June 18) and likes this ground."
O'Brien was not championing the Derby claims of Giovanni Canaletto afterwards.
"It looked like Epsom might come a bit quick for him and maybe the best thing might be to go to Royal Ascot or come back here for the Irish Derby, but there is a lot to be decided."
In addition to her half-brother, Curvy has another Guineas winner in her immediate family. Her dam is a half-sister to the dam of Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) scorer Footstepsinthesand and Phoenix S. (Ire-G1) winner Pedro the Great.
Two years on from his defeat of Camelot in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-G1), Al Kazeem (Dubawi) came full circle Sunday with a typically tenacious fourth top-level success and first since returning from a failed spell at stud.
Runner-up to Cirrus des Aigles (Even Top) in the 10-furlong Prix Ganay (Fr-G1) at Longchamp last time May 3, the seven-year-old started just minutes after his Ganay conqueror had flopped uncharacteristically in the Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-G1), but he proved that consistency is its own reward by upstaging a trio of much younger rivals.
Settled in third by James Doyle early as Postponed (Dubawi) led, the bay was asked to join the action as the ultimately disappointing The Grey Gatsby (Mastercraftsman) tackled the longtime leader inside the last quarter-mile. As that 11-10 favorite began to lose momentum, Al Kazeem muscled his way between the pair with a furlong remaining and battled gamely as the closer, Fascinating Rock (Fastnet Rock), launched his challenge out wide.
For Doyle, the win had a rare emotional depth coming on the horse that provided his first in this category in 2013, and on whom he had captured the Prince of Wales's S. (Eng-G1) and Eclipse (Eng-G1) in the same year before upstaging him aboard Noble Mission in the Champion S. (Eng-G1) in October.
"He's done everything for me and standing here two years ago, it was a new thing for me so I can't speak highly enough of the horse," he commented. "The ground today was perfect. He doesn't need any jar in it and I just felt it was a bit holding in France the other day and he got a bit stuck. He showed his class and traveled so well and when I got a gap I knew he'd take a bit of beating. He has even perhaps quickened up a bit these days -- at the three (pole) I was cantering all over them."
Trainer Roger Charlton added, "He's amazing, looks amazing, is brave and all you need in a good racehorse. I'm lucky to have one as good as that and to have him back from stud. I'd say it's my proudest moment. As long as he's enjoying himself, he'll keep going and one day I'm sure he'll go back to stud. It's a great credit to his constitution that he never runs a bad race. He's never looked at another filly and just gets on with his work.
"He'll probably go next for either the Hardwicke S. ([Eng-G2] June 20) or the Prince of Wales's S. ([Eng-G1] June 17) and as he's won a Group 1 here, he'll probably go for the Prince of Wales's. A horse like him is good for racing. Jumpers are around for a long time and having him has to be good for racing."
Fascinating Rock's conditioner Dermot Weld said, "He ran the race of his life and I'm very proud of him. If we'd got a drop of rain last night, I think he'd have won as he just changed his legs once or twice in the last furlong and it's cost him the race. He's a Group 1 horse and has always been so consistent."
Solow, Queen's Jewel turn Group 1 double for Head, Wertheimers
With defeat in last term's Prix Vicomtesse Vigier (Fr-G2) interrupting a streak of eight consecutive wins, Solow (Singspiel) added luster to Alain and Gerard Wertheimer's Super Sunday with an authoritative score in Longchamp's Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-G1).
The homebred gray, who is rated as Europe's top performer on the Longines World Rankings, was so impressive when annexing the Dubai Turf (UAE-G1) at Meydan in March and turned this return to home soil into another victory parade. Old stager Cirrus des Aigles (Even Top) failed to shine on the ever-drying turf, and it was later revealed he had broken a shoe in the running of the race.
Steadied in third spotting Gailo Chop (Deportivo) five lengths on the front end, the 3-5 favorite quickened to the fore passing the eighth-pole and needed minimal encouragement from there to easily account for the longtime leader by 1 1/2 lengths. George Strawbridge's consistent yardstick Sparkling Beam (Nayef) at last got her Group 1 placing and was two lengths adrift at the line, while Cirrus des Aigles faded from an initial second when push came to shove and finished the same margin further back last of the four.
"This horse is a champion and is such a fluent mover with a fantastic action," beamed trainer Freddy Head. "When he moved on and quickened, it was so easy for him and the race was over."
Solow attempted to stretch out to almost two miles for the first and final time when sixth in the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier on this very card last year, and has not looked back since. He subsequently rattled off victories in the August 31 Prix Quincey (Fr-G3) at Deauville and the October 4 Prix Daniel Wildenstein (Fr-G2) to close a four-year-old season with six victories under his belt. Reintroduced with a warm-up win on the Chantilly Polytrack March 3, he trounced the opposition by daylight and more in the March 28 Dubai Turf at Meydan and was peerless in this European comeback.
"Even though he has won his last two races at nine furlongs, I shall go with my original plan and take him to the Queen Anne S. ([Eng-G1] at Royal Ascot June 16)," Head said. "Ascot's mile on the straight course is a stiff mile and you need to be able to stay to get it."
Trainer Antoine de Watrigant was delighted with the performance of runner-up Gailo Chop and said, "Hats off to my horse. He has run a fantastic race after being off for eight months and, with a previous run, may have given Solow more to do. I am very tempted to take him to Royal Ascot for the Prince of Wales's S. (Eng-G1] on June 17)."
Another Wertheimer homebred trained by Head, Queen's Jewel (Pivotal), captured the Prix Saint-Alary (Fr-G1) on the same card. Adding to the banner day for connections, she posted a course-record time of 2:00.87 for the about 10 furlongs.
Queen's Jewel, who was kept under wraps and untested as a juvenile, entered this stepping stone to the Prix de Diane (Fr-G1) unbeaten after scores in a March 10 firsters' heat at Saint-Cloud and the Prix Penelope (Fr-G3) back there last time April 14, and overcame a slow departure to lower the track record in emphatic style.
The chestnut was caught dozing at the start and played catch-up behind strong fractions from the outset. Improving two spots into fourth at the top of the straight, she was urged to the front at the quarter-mile marker and exploded three lengths clear of Wekeela (Hurricane Run) from there to punch her ticket to the June 14 Chantilly showpiece.
"I was worried during the race because it looked like she was incapable of keeping up with the pace, but they were going quick up front so it was no surprise they lowered the track record," Head commented. "She showed plenty of quality in her first two races, but still had to prove she belongs with the best. I think she did that today. She quickened beautifully and left them standing, and I think there is more improvement to come as she gets more experience.
"Of course, she now goes to the Diane, but also showed she could possibly stay further so that will open more opportunities later in the season."
Sunday's renewal of the Vicomtesse Vigier also served up a course record, as Bathyrhon (Monsun) covered about 15 1/2 furlongs in 3:20.74.
Bathyrhon, who earned a first pattern-race success in the September 14 Prix Gladiateur (Fr-G3) over this course and distance, ended last year with a second in the marathon Prix du Cadran (Fr-G1) here again October 5, but was under the weather when only seventh to Brown Panther (Shirocco) in the March 28 Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-G2) at Meydan on seasonal return last time.
Maintaining control once sent to the front passing the judge first time, he was threatened off the home turn and uncoiled in style, staying on relentlessly in the closing stages to comfortably register a career-high win.
"He was not well in Dubai, but was giving us every sign at home that he was coming back to his best and looked great today so we were hopeful he would reproduce his best form," explained trainer Pia Brandt. "It was not necessarily the plan to go from the front, but he traveled well with a lovely action and quickened nicely.
"The Ascot Gold Cup ([Eng-G1] June 18) is a very prestigious race and we have always wanted to take part one day. We now have the horse so we will definitely try."
Ordak Dan hopes to regain crown in GP 25 de Mayo, secure spot in BC Turf
Ordak Dan (Hidden Truth), victor of the 2013 Gran Premio 25 de Mayo (Arg-G2), will bid to earn a second trip to the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) as the headliner among 15 horses entered for this year's edition of the race on Monday at San Isidro.
The six-year-old, who was sidelined after defeating two eventual Carlos Pellegrini (Arg-G1) winners in Soy Carambolo (Val Royal) and Going Somewhere (Sulamani) when scoring an upset win in the 2013 edition of the race, is rounding back into top form, as evidenced by his runner-up effort in the 2000-meter Gran Premio Miguel Alfredo Martinez de Hoz (Arg-G1) over the course earlier this season.
South America's winningest jockey, Brazilian Jorge Ricardo, has the assignment for new trainer Juan Carlos Etchechoury Jr.
Ordak Dan's biggest challenge may come from recent Gran Premio Republica Argentina (Arg-G1) winner Rio Vettel (True Cause), who is unbeaten in two starts on dirt this season and will try to transfer his good form on the lawn.
Other contenders include this season's Miguel Alfredo Martinez de Hoz winner Alma de Acero (Versallesco), who will be seeking his sixth straight win; Group 1 winner Ecologo (Easing Along), conditioned by four-time 25 de Mayo-winning trainer Alfredo Gaitan Dassie; and Forever Sale (Not For Sale), hero of the Gran Premio de Honor (Arg-G1) in April at Palermo.
"This is a very historic race and is wide open with no dominant figure," said John Fulton, South American representative for the Breeders' Cup.
The Gran Premio 25 de Mayo, one of the most important races on the national calendar, will anchor two other Group 1 races scheduled for the patriotic holiday card.
Xtra Luck too good in Louisville
Majestic Harbor (Rockport Harbor) advanced to take a clear lead at the start, showing the way through splits of :24 3/5, :48 3/5, 1:14 1/5 and 1:40 3/5. Xtra Luck settled nicely in second entering the first of three turns on the firm course, a couple of lengths back and clear of third, and continued to hold his positioning through the opening mile.
Despite the moderate fractions, the pacesetter gave way readily when challenged nearing the conclusion of the far turn and the Grade 1-winning Majestic Harbor remains winless on turf, weakening to last as the 4-1 second choice. Xtra Luck inherited the lead before the conclusion of the bend and responded when called up by Hernandez entering the straightaway, accelerating away to lead by a couple of lengths in midstretch.
"The race set up perfect for us," Hernandez said. "Neil and Mr. Love did a great job of figuring this horse out. We had a great trip. We just sat behind the speed and when they came to us at the head of the lane, he went on and he finished up the job for us."
"He's kind of a galloper," Howard added. "I had an idea (that he was a marathon horse) when he was second going a mile-and-three-eighths in an allowance race last fall, so we figured if the opportunity ever presented itself we'd go for it and I'm glad we did it. We'll maybe go to (Arlington Park for his next start)."
For Greater Glory (Afleet Alex) rallied well through the final furlongs to grab second at 12-1, 1 3/4 lengths better than 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Golden Soul (Perfect Soul). Off at 7-1, Golden Soul edged 5-2 favorite Patrioticandproud (Proud Citizen) by a neck for third.
Xtra Luck stopped the teletimer in 2:28 1/5.
Bred in Florida by Haras Santa Maria de Araras SA, Xtra Luck was purchased for $75,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September sale. He's out of the winning Kris S. mare Miu Miu and this is the immediate female family of 1988 champion turf male Sunshine Forever (Roberto).
Sky Treasure finds gold in Nassau
Deceptive Vision finished a head in front of 5-1 third choice Overheard (Macho Uno), who was three-quarters of a length clear of Stellar Path. Completing the order of finish were Strut the Course (Strut the Stage), Surtsey (Heartseeker), Skylander Girl (Stroll), Winning Rhythm (Giant's Causeway), Llanamon (Sky Mesa), Copper Kitten (Kitten's Joy), Resistivity, and Silent Star (Silent Name).
This was the first career stakes win for Sky Treasure, who previously placed in the 2013 Duchess S., and 2014 Royal North S. (Can-G3) and Bessarabian S. (Can-G2). She preceded this victory with a fourth in the Monrovia S. (G2) and Wishing Well S., and a close fifth in the Wilshire S. (G3), all at Santa Anita. Her record now stands at 15-4-2-2, $311,874.
Bred in Kentucky by Edward Seltzer, Sky Treasure was reared by Preemptive Attack (Smart Strike), making her a half-sister to the stakes-placed Panther Strike (Black Minnaloushe). Sky Treasure's second dam was the dual Canadian champion Bold Ruritana (Bold Ruckus).
Neveradoubt upsets Snow Chief as favorites rule Gold Rush undercard
"Puype was pretty confident before the race," Prat said. "I didn't know this horse, but the pace helped him a lot and the track was a little bit soft and that helped as well. The pace was pretty fast so that's good when you're behind. He doesn't look like he's got a turn of foot but he's got one pace."
"Flavien rode a great race and saved a lot of ground," Puype praised the rider. "It was a good ride and patient handling and he did a great job with the horse.
"(Neveradoubt) had a big abscess in his (right hind) foot a few weeks ago and it took time to get it taken care of. The shoer did a good job, he put a bar shoe on him and got him to where we could get him back to the track to train and it was wonderful."
Campaigned by SLO Racing Stable, Tom Hudson and Tony Narducci, Neveradoubt returned $85.40 for winning his first stakes. After taking his maiden debut on Del Mar's synthetic Polytrack last November, the sophomore colt was a well-beaten fifth in the January 24 California Cup Derby on Santa Anita's dirt and then a one-paced seventh when reappearing against allowance/optional claiming rivals over the track's turf two months later. He's now accumulated $151,350 in lifetime earnings to go along with a 4-2-0-0 career record.
Sheer Pleasure captured her career bow by 6 1/2 lengths on December 19 at Los Alamitos, then was fourth when trying Santa Anita's turf in the one-mile California Cup Oaks to open 2015. The dark bay miss lost her jockey next out in an allowance/optional claimer but rallied from well back to take the Evening Jewel S. last out on April 4. Now 5-3-0-0, Sheer Pleasure has banked $257,450 lifetime.
"Sunday Rules couldn't be doing any better right now," D'Amato praised. "I just think it's a combination of getting over her little baby issues, and now, hopefully, I'll be able to map out a nice campaign for the future. She'll definitely stay sprinting."
With the Spring Fever added to her resume, Sunday Rules has banked $314,880 to go along with her unbeaten five-for-five line.
Go West Marie entered the Fran's Valentine off a nice second in her graded bow, the April 11 Las Cienegas S. (G3), which snapped a three-race win streak for the chestnut filly. She adds Saturday's contest to three prior stakes triumphs, including the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf S. and Irish O'Brien S. from this year, and boasts a 20-7-2-5, $557,520 career mark.
Campaigned by Gulliver Racing LLC, Motown Men is now 29-6-6-5, $384,459 in his career. The six-year-old bay gelding earned his first stakes victory in this spot, adding it to a second in the 2011 California Cup Juvenile and a third last out in the Precisionist S. (G3) on May 2.
Bravo reaches 5,000 wins
In 1991 Bravo became the first rider in New Jersey history to win titles at Garden State Park, The Meadowlands and Monmouth Park in a single season. He followed that up with a record 12 more championships at Monmouth Park. On four occasions he rode a then-record six winners on a single card.
"New Jersey is home," Bravo said. "I am so grateful that so many of my friends were here today for this. And a special thank you to the fans. So many people have supported me through the years and I will always be grateful for their kindness, support and most importantly their friendship."
The 5,000 club now features 14 current active riders, among them eight Hall of Fame members, including all-time leader Russell Baze.
For win 5,000, Bravo sat patiently aboard Boss Man before finding clear run near the eighth pole and kicking away to a decisive three-length score.
Gleneagles prevails in Irish Guineas on testing ground
It was harder work than expected, but Gleneagles (Galileo) still managed to justify favoritism and become the eighth to complete the Newmarket-Curragh double in Saturday's Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1).
After a few anxious moments for takers of the 2-5 on offer, the bay got to the long-time leader Ivawood (Zebedee) and Endless Drama (Lope de Vega) just before the 100-yard pole and stayed on to best the latter by three-quarters of a length to provide Aidan O'Brien with a 10th renewal. For Ryan Moore, the triumph represented a third mile vlassic so far in 2015 and he was quick to excuse the winner's less-than-flashy performance.
"That ground is just slow enough for him and it just blunted his pace a little bit, so I'd be very happy with him," his rider commented. "He had the gears and class to go through the gaps, as he didn't have a lot of room. I felt I was on the best horse and he put his head down and fought at the end."
Gleneagles had been so authoritative in the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) three weeks ago that few expected a reversal in this Irish equivalent, but the panache that had characterized his performance at Newmarket was missing on this ground which had dried from yielding to good by the off-time. Some of his juvenile displays had also lacked flashiness, but the handsome bay only seems to know how to win and it is no coincidence that he has been readily compared to Giant's Causeway by those closest to him.
This may have been the slowest surface that he had encountered so far in his career, having glided over the slick turf when capturing the National S. (Ire-G1) here and Longchamp's Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Fr-G1) that he later lost in the stewards' room.
Anchored behind Convergence (Cape Cross) early with the outsider Mohaayed (Intikhab) keeping him in a pocket on the fence, Gleneagles was over two lengths adrift of Ivawood as the gap opened by Covergence drifting left passing the quarter pole. Without the push-button acceleration that was on offer in the Two Thousand Guineas, Ryan Moore had to become animated but he waited with the whip until a furlong later as his mount arrived between Ivawood and Endless Drama. In front shortly after, he was pushed out to the line as he appeared to idle in customary fashion.
"He's got a real flowing action and the quicker the ground, the better it is for him," Moore said. "He really impressed me at Newmarket, but I felt I got there a little too soon and he switches off so it was really a matter of getting a run at some stage. They went a good gallop and it sorted it out for the better horses to come to the fore. He took a while to get into gear on that ground and he only does what he has to do."
Aidan O'Brien and the Coolmore team's quandary now is whether to stick to the plan of bypassing Epsom in favor of the "Iron Horse" route which takes in the June 16 St James's Palace S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot.
"He was trained hard for Newmarket and did three half-speeds since, so he was ready for today but it was borderline whether we would run on this ground," the Ballydoyle conditioner explained. "He showed today that he is courageous as well as good and Giant's Causeway was like that. To win a Guineas on this ground at The Curragh, you usually have to get a mile and a quarter but I always thought he was a miler -- Giant's Causeway with more speed. He sailed through 11-second furlongs at Newmarket, so the bottom line is he's fast and is a very good horse and it's up to the lads to decide where he goes.
"He's the best miler we've had, I know that, but he wants fast ground to be at his best and I'd be surprised if he ever wins by very far. He goes to the front and then waits and that's good for him long-term as he'll preserve as much as he can."
John Magnier also revealed that the decision to leave him in the June 6 Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) had been made after dinner with Lester Piggott.
"The next thing is probably to think about the St James's Palace and the Derby is unlikely, but we left him in after I had dinner with Lester and we reminded each other that when he rode The Minstrel in this he got off and said he'd ride him in the Derby," he said. "You probably saw the real Gleneagles at Newmarket and ground conditions weren't in his favor today, so let's see at Royal Ascot."
Endless Drama's trainer Ger Lyons said of the runner-up, "It's all systems go for the St James's Palace, subject to everything being okay. He showed he gets a mile well and it took what Aidan says is the best he's had for a while to beat him. He needs to be dropped in and ridden like that. In a good race you can do that. He should improve again."
Able to lay up easily with the early pace in fifth, Mustajeeb (Nayef) was sent past Majestic Queen (Kheleyf) and to the front with 150 yards remaining and the result of Saturday's Greenland S. (Ire-G2) was decided there with his excess stamina kicking in as Maarek (Pivotal) closed for second.
Second to War Command in the Futurity S. (Ire-G2) over seven furlongs at two, Mustajeeb returned at three to annex the Amethyst S. (Ire-G3) at a mile at Leopardstown prior to finishing third behind Kingman in testing ground in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas in May. Dropping back to seven to win the Jersey S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot the next month, he re-appeared to be second in the Solonoway S. (Ire-G2) back at Leopardstown in September prior to finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1).
"I feel vindicated, as I've been saying for a long time that he is a six-furlong horse," winning jockey Pat Smullen commented. "He has so much pace and could be a very good sprinter this year. I made too much use of him in the Breeders' Cup from my inside draw and he showed so much speed there he could never have got home doing that."
Trainer Dermot Weld added, "The Diamond Jubilee S. ([Eng-G1] at Royal Ascot June 20) is the race for him. We wanted to see how he did over this trip and he's answered the call."
Introduced at her trainer's favorite Galway festival in late July, Brooch (Empire Maker) captured a weak-looking maiden by 9 1/2 lengths and managed the quick step up into black-type company with aplomb when following up in the Vincent O'Brien Ruby S. over an extended mile at Killarney three weeks later. Left alone until the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies S. (Ire-G3) at Gowran Park a month later, the Juddmonte homebred improved again to register a third straight win over another furlong before being allowed a winter's rest.
Picking up where she left here, Brooch showed her inherent talent to rescue the reputation of Saturday's Ridgewood Pearl S. (Ire-G2), a race with a possibly over-inflated status. Positioned in third early under Pat Smullen, she looked to be temporarily in trouble as Ramone (Marju) cruised to the lead approaching the quarter pole but soon built a head of steam to reel in that rival and dominate the last 1 1/2 furlongs.
"She was a big, unfurnished filly last year and the boss was very patient with her," her rider commented. "She's filled the frame over the winter and ideally she could go further than this, as she was on her head a bit early on."
The owner-breeder's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe added, "She's done it well and we have to try and find out how good she is in the top races now. I would think Dermot (Weld) will want to head to the Pretty Polly S. ([Ire-G1] at The Curragh June 28)."
Beset by niggles and rarely getting the ground with his preferred cut, the relatively unexposed Pearl Secret (Compton Place) at last delivered on his immense promise to claim a career high in the Temple S. (Eng-G2) at Haydock.
The powerful chestnut, who hit the board in the 2013 King's Stand S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot, had registered almost as many missed engagements as he'd had runs, and lined up for this straight dash coming off an eighth in the May 10 Prix de Saint-Georges (Fr-G3) at Longchamp on seasonal return.
Runner-up in this last year, he made little impact in his second stab at the King's Stand, finishing 10th, but gained a confidence-boosting win in the August 30 Beverley Bullet Sprint. Pearl Secret then ran fifth, to the re-opposing G Force (Tamayuz), in the September 6 Sprint Cup (Eng-G1) over this course and distance, and closed out last term with a 14th, albeit just three lengths off the winner, in the October 5 Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp (Fr-G1).
Jockey George Baker took an immediate pull to anchor the eventual winner at the back of the field. Easing into contention from halfway, the six-year-old swooped for control just inside the eighth pole and was driven out to hold on gamely from Jack Dexter.
"We went a good, strong gallop, which was ideal as he's a big, strong horse," Baker said. "He relaxed into a lovely rhythm and probably got there a little too soon. He idled a bit when he got to the front, but boy he's a smart horse on his day. If there's some rain about for the top five-furlong races then I think he's got a really big one in him."
Trainer David Barron added, "He'll be in all the big sprints, but the ground wouldn't want to be any quicker for him than it was today."
Promise Me Silver has 'earned' the right to face Grade 1 rivals
Promise Me Silver (Silver City) breezed five furlongs over the fast main track at her Churchill Downs home base on Friday ahead of an expected bid in the $750,000 Acorn S. (G1) during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival on June 6.
The Texas homebred covered the distance in 1:01 1/5 for trainer Bret Calhoun, ranking as the 10th-fastest of 20 works on the day.
"She worked five-eighths (of a mile) very well and she galloped out really nice," Calhoun said by phone Saturday morning. "It was pretty much what we wanted."
Undefeated in her eight career starts, Promise Me Silver has faced rivals at six different tracks; culminating with a 1 1/4-length score in the Eight Belles S. (G3) in her most recent start on the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1) undercard.
"I hope we fit really well. We're not really sure who all is going but she's earned it," Calhoun stated. "She's done really well. This will be the toughest company she's faced so far, but she's raced at six different tracks and we hope that'll benefit her at Belmont. I know the track will be a little different, it's a little deeper, a little sandy, but we think she should handle it.
"She'll work again Friday or Saturday and fly to New York on Wednesday," he added.
Promise Me Silver is expected to meet a handful of talented sophomore fillies in the Acorn, including Grade 1 victress Condo Commando (Tiz Wonderful), Grade 2 heroine Birdatthewire (Summer Bird), promising allowance winner Curalina (Curlin) and undefeated local runner Bar of Gold (Medaglia d'Oro).
Condo Commando and Birdatthewire -- who finished ninth and fifth, respectively, in the Kentucky Oaks last out -- both worked five furlongs on Saturday. The former, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, was caught in 1:01 4/5 on Aqueduct's fast dirt, while Birdatthewire covered the distance in 1:01 under the Twin Spires for trainer Dale Romans.
Curalina logged a half-mile over Belmont Park's fast training track on Friday in :48 2/5 for trainer Todd Pletcher while Bar of Gold went out on the same day in 1:00 for five furlongs on Belmont's fast main track.
Fanticola the one to catch in Gamely
Also racing for the first time on this circuit are Danza Cavallo (Sunday Break), runner-up in the Long Island H. (G3) and first in a Keeneland allowance last month in two U.S. outings for Chad Brown, and Generosidade (Nedawi), a Group 1 winner in Brazil, who placed in one of three outings in France last year.
Also expected to garner support are Blingismything (Arch) and Smoove It (Square Eddie), who were separated by a nose at the finish of the one-mile Wilshire (G3) on April 26, and Three Hearts (Hat Trick), the Red Carpet H. (G3) heroine who subsequently placed in the Robert J. Frankel (G3), Santa Ana, and Santa Barbara.
Moulin de Mougin (Curlin), who captured the John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar last summer, fell when near the back of the field in the Rodeo Drive (G1) in September, and then was no factor against males in the $82,000 Thunder Road over a mile April 4. Also lining up is Elektrum (High Chaparral), who prevailed by a half-length against second-level allowance company April 5 after narrow defeats against similar in her first two U.S. appearances.
The supporting feature on the Memorial Day program is the $100,000 Los Angeles, a six-furlong dash for older horses. Leading contenders include San Carlos (G2) winner Wild Dude (Wildcat Heir), Kona Gold (G2) runner-up San Onofre (Surf Cat), Midnight Lute (G3) and Joe Hernandez victor Distinctiv Passion (With Distinction), and the Bob Baffert-trained Five Palms (Unbridled's Song), who has won three of four starts.
Tapiture, Carve head Lone Star Park Handicap field
Texas Air (Texas City), a seven-year-old gelding, will attempt a sweep of Lone Star Park's two graded stakes after posting a 24-1 upset of the May 1 Texas Mile (G3). Unplaced in both events last season, Texas Air enters Monday's race on a two-race win streak.
Majestic City (City Zip), formerly based in California with Ron Ellis, makes his debut for trainer Richard Baltas here. Unplaced in two starts this term, the six-year-old was a Grade 3 winner at two and has placed in five other graded stakes during his career.
The field is completed by Endurance (Indy Wind), a distant second in the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston in his last dirt attempt, and Cy Seven (Tiznow), a recent first-level allowance winner on the turf.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red (Afleet Alex) galloped a mile on Santa Anita's main track Friday and is scheduled to breeze a half-mile Saturday as he prepares for his return to the races after missing the Triple Crown classics due abscess issues with his right front foot. "He breezed three-eighths earlier in the week just to kind of let him stretch out, but we'll let him pick it up a little bit tomorrow," trainer Keith Desormeaux said. "He's got a clean bill of health. If something else comes up, it'll be just one of those things. But he looks good now. His legs are clean." As to his impressions of American Pharoah's (Pioneerof the Nile) victories in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness S. (G1), Desormeaux added, "Like many others, I always thought American Pharoah was the best horse, but I had some question after the Derby when it looked like he had to reach the bottom of the tank to get the job done, so you wondered if that was all he had. But as the Preakness approached, I don't know why, but it became more and more apparent that he was the best horse, and it may be because he reached the bottom of the tank for the first time (in the Derby). But he refueled, and it looks like he's head and shoulders above everybody else."...
A day removed from an impressive 2 1/4-length victory by Grade 3 scorer Reload (Hard Spun), who was making his first start in over a year, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey speculated on tentative plans for that winner, as well runners on tap for the upcoming Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. "I don't have any set plans set for Reload, but he might run in the ($150,000) Forbidden Apple (S. on July 11)," McGaughey stated. "It might be a good spot for him and give him enough time to get over this. We'll run him there and if he's still in the ballgame maybe one of the races at Saratoga would be next." Honor Code (A.P. Indy), who began his year with a rousing win in the March 7 Gulfstream Park H. (G2) followed by a disappointing fifth last out in the Alysheba S. (G2), will be entered to face a talented and accomplished field in the $1.25 million Metropolitan H. (G1) on June 6, Belmont Stakes Day. The four-year-old, whose last start at Belmont came when a half-length in the Champagne S. (G1) as a juvenile, is set to work Sunday in preparation for the race. "Honor Code is doing good," McGaughey said. "I don't think he handled the track (in the Alysheba), just got himself where he was out of it and he tried to make a little run in the stretch, but it was over with by then. The Met Mile is a good field, there'll be some speed in there and there'll be some closers, but when you're running for that kind of money they're supposed to be good." McGaughey is keeping Grade 1 hero Imagining (Giant's Causeway) under consideration for the $1 million Manhattan S. (G1), but was noncommittal about plans before seeing him work over the turf course Sunday morning. "I don't know yet if I want to or not. He's going to work tomorrow morning and I'm a little on the fence there," the horseman explained. Other McGaughey runners eyeing a run in the inaugural Belmont Stakes who will workout on the Belmont turf course Sunday morning include dual Group 3 vixen J Wonder (Footstepsinthesand), who will be making her third U.S. start in the $700,000 Just a Game S. (G1), and multiple stakes-placed Reflecting (Elusive Quality) for the $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational on Friday, June 5...
American Turf (G2) winner Divisidero (Kitten's Joy) breezed a half-mile over Churchill Downs' fast main track on Saturday in :47 4/5 for trainer William "Buff" Bradley. At Churchill Downs' fast Trackside Training Center, champion sprinter Work All Week (City Zip) clocked a half-mile in :47 2/5 for trainer Roger Bruggemann. The six-year-old gelding, who has captured 12 of his 15 lifetime starts, is likely to return in next Saturday's $100,000 Aristides H. (G3) under the Twin Spires, his first race since taking last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1)...
Trainer Mike Machowsky is sitting on 499 career victories. "It's a nice little milestone," Machowsky said. "I've been training on my own for 24 years, something like that. I didn't really know I was approaching 500 until a friend of mine pointed it out a few weeks ago." As for multiple Grade 2 winner Caracortado (Cat Dreams), the venerable old stakes winner is still around. "He's still has the same old quarter crack BS (on his right front foot)," Machowsky said of the California-bred, who is now eight. "I hope to get him back to the races at some point, but I have to do right by him. No time table. You know how horses are." Caracortado last raced on August 13, 2014, finishing fifth in the Green Flash H. at Del Mar. He has nine wins in 20 career starts -- including the 2010 Robert B Lewis S. (G2) and 2011 Del Mar H. (G2) among his five stakes scores -- and has placed six times, four of which have come in Grade 1 contests...
After recording a pair of close seconds in the American Turf (G2) and Dania Beach (G3), A Lot (Tapit) notched his first stakes victory in resounding fashion, dominating Saturday's $100,000 Paradise Creek at Belmont Park. The Bill Mott-trained colt tracked pacesetter Bridget's Big Luvy (Tiz Wonderful) to the completion of the far turn and moved easily to the fore entering the stretch, finishing powerfully beneath John Velazquez to score by a widening 5 3/4-length margin. The bay sophomore turned seven furlongs in 1:21 3/5 over the firm Widener turf course, completing the last quarter-mile in a sizzling :21.96, and has now earned $200,615 from a 7-2-2-0 ledger. The Kentucky-bred is owned by Amerman Racing LLC and A Lot sold for $410,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September sale...
Monday's $100,000 All American (G3) at Golden Gate Fields features a rematch between G. G. Ryder (Chhaya Dance) and Summer Hit (Bertrando), the one-two finishers in last month's San Francisco Mile (G3) on turf. G. G. Ryder edged his fellow Jerry Hollendorfer stablemate by a half-length, but Summer Hit is the defending titlest in the one-mile All American, which is run over Golden Gate's Tapeta main track. Hollendorfer will saddle a third contender in Outside Nashville, an impressive winner of the Oakland S. and an allowance, both over six furlongs on this track, last winter. Other contenders include Pepper Crown (Peppered Cat), upset winner of the San Francisco Mile and Berkeley H. (G3) last year; Grade 2-winning mare Living the Life (Footstepsinthesand); and local allowance winners Eagle Screams (Redattore) and Hypnatique (Scat Daddy)...
Boban (Bernardini) had solidified his status as a top-class Australian miler when recording a prestigious double in the Epsom H. (Aus-G1) and Emirates S. (Aus-G1) in the spring of 2013, and the gelding followed up in the Chipping Norton S. (Aus-G1) over that same trip last March. Things have been far from straightforward for the bay since, however, but after finishing off the board in nine straight outings since last year's Chipping Norton, Boban showed glimpses of his old brilliance when getting back on the winning track in Saturday's Doomben 10,000 (Aus-G1) dropping back in trip. Racing in the rear with one beaten as the favored Srikandi (Dubawi) and fancied Our Boy Malachi (Top Echelon) dictated proceedings, Boban and jockey Glyn Schofield were forced wide around the turn but found a seam at the top of the lane and took advantage, rallying past the 200-meter mark and holding off the tenacious placegetters to score by a narrow margin. Boban was making his first run since finishing 14th of 15 in the Chipping Norton February 28, and had entered Saturday's contest with two barrier trials under his belt. "He's a great horse; he's been very good to us," trainer Chris Waller said. "Its good to have him back at the top level. You just hope for the best, really. We thought it was the best way to attack a Group 1 race with him. He was a serious horse; it's probably hard to say its back to his best, but he's winning Group 1s." Waller said Boban is unlikely to back up in Doomben's A$2 million Stradbroke H. (Aus-G1) June 6. "He's going to be top weight and that makes it hard, so I don't know," Waller said. "He's only five so its not to say he has to run in two weeks time or that he is going to be retired. I'd think we might give him a good spell and try the same thing in the spring."...
Unraced since a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), Southern Honey (Colonel John) will make a title defense when she returns from 205-day layoff in Monday's $100,000 Winning Colors (G3) at Churchill Downs. The four-year-old filly registered a career-best 101 BRIS Speed rating when scoring by 1 1/2 lengths in last year's edition and the Rusty Arnold trainee went on to record a runner-up in the Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) and a third in the Prioress (G2). She's face nine foes in the six-furlong test with regular rider Julien Leparoux. Spring Included (Include) will enter in good form for Steve Hobby, winning the Carousel and Spring Fever at Oaklawn Park in her last two outings, and You Bought Her (Graeme Hall) posted a neck second in the Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream Park two starts back. The stakes-winning and thrice Grade 3-placed Milam (Street Sense) also merits respect in her second start off the layoff...
A field of five has been drawn for Sunday's $200,000 Charles Whittingham S. (G2) going 1 1/2 miles over Santa Anita Park's turf, but multiple Grade 3 hero Divine Oath (Broken Vow) will be facing off against last-out San Luis Rey S. (G2) victor Ashleyluvssugar (Game Plan). Trained by Todd Pletcher, Divine Oath has been unable to place in three starts thus far this season after closing out his sophomore campaign with a half-length score in the W.L. McKnight H. (G3). The bay colt ran fifth in his season opener, the Mac Diarmida S. (G2), before finishing fourth in both the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. H. (G2) and Fort Marcy S. (G3). Rafael Bejarano has the call. Ashleyluvssugar was making just his second start against stakes rivals, and first against non-restricted stakes foes, in the San Luis Rey but prevailed by 2 1/4 lengths for trainer Peter Eurton. The four-year-old gelding will attempt to duplicate that performance in the Whittingham with Gary Stevens retaining the mount. Crucero (Admiral's Cruise) just broke his maiden in his 11th attempt, which came against $20,000 maiden claimers, but has been unable to defeat winners in three races since. Kent Desormeaux will be aboard for his brother and trainer Keith Desormeaux. Ganesh (Sulamani) and Going Somewhere (Sulamani) are both Group 1-winning Brazilian-breds. The former ran second most recently in the April 25 Last Tycoon S. (G3) while Going Somewhere is making his U.S. debut after competing in France last season...
Last seen winning the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) on March 21, Don't Leave Me (Lemon Drop Kid) heads a field of nine sophomore fillies in Sunday's $150,000 Selene (G3) at Woodbine. Two for three as a juvenile, the Malcolm Pierce-trained gray lass was making her first start of 2015 in the Bourbonette. Don't Leave Me can improve to three for three on Polytrack with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Selene and will be reunited with jockey Eurico Da Silva. Mark Casse will be represented by Grade 3 heroine Ol' Fashion Gal (Sky Mesa), and restricted stakes winners Starless Night (Grand Slam) and Green Doctor (The Green Monkey) are also entered...
General admission for all active and retired members of the United States armed forces is free on Memorial Day Monday at Churchill Downs, and there's a special $28 Memorial Day dining package in Millionaires Row 4 available for military as well. Track bugler Steve Buttleman will entertain Memorial Day attendees with patriotic songs following the "Call to the Post" for each race on Monday. He's also sure to decorate the Kentucky Derby Winner's Circle with an abundance of U.S. flags...
Still a maiden after three starts, Nightflower (Dylan Thomas) will nevertheless start favorite for Sunday's Diana-Trial (Ger-G2) at Hoppegarten as her followers wait for her to come into her own. Bred to be a classic filly, being a daughter of the 2009 Oaks d'Italia (Ity-G2) winner Night of Magic (Peintre Celebre), she comes here on the back of second placings behind the subsequent Prix Cleopatre (Fr-G3) scorer Little Nightingale (Muhtathir) in a 10-furlong maiden at Maisons-Laffitte April 2 and the useful Desiree Clary (Sholokhov) in a 10 1/2-furlong conditions race at Chantilly April 27. Andreas Wohler saddles an intriguing duo in Arles (Monsun) and also Turfdonna (Doyen), who opened their accounts in similar style by open lengths in separate maidens at Hoppegarten April 26...
The Curragh, in conjunction with race sponsor Dubai Duty Free, will refund entry and forfeit fees for the winners -- and in some cases placed horses -- of key lead-up races to the 150th Irish Derby (Ire-G1) June 27. The initiative is designed to attract the best possible field for the classic. The refunds are only payable if the horse runs in the Irish Derby. The incentive applies to the first through fourth of the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1), Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-G1) and Epsom Derby (Eng-G1), as well as the winners of the Gallinule S. (Ire-G3), Listed Nijinsky S., Epsom Oaks (Eng-G1), Silver S., Prix de Diane (Fr-G1), Tercentenary S. (Eng-G3) and King Edward VII S. (Eng-G2). Paul Hensey, Curragh Racecourse General Manager, said, "We have identified the key races which should generate runners for this year's Irish Derby and we hope that this exciting one-off initiative for the 2015 renewal will maximize the potential for us to encourage owners and trainers to be part of this very historic year for Ireland's greatest horse race."...
Penn National canceled racing on Saturday due to a power outage.
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