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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2015

Racing Headlines

Dortmund enters San Felipe picture

Dortmund, who worked seven furlongs Thursday in 1:25 3/5, might not wait for the Santa Anita Derby (Benoit Photo)
Dortmund (Big Brown), unbeaten in four starts and a major player on the Triple Crown trail, worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track Thursday morning in 1:25 3/5 under regular rider Martin Garcia. The Bob Baffert trainee galloped out a mile in 1:38.

Asked if the son of 2008 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness 9G1) winner Big Brown was possible to start in the March 7 San Felipe S. (G2) at 1 1/16 miles instead of waiting for the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 4, Baffert said, "anything's possible."

Promising maiden winner Prospect Park (Tapit), definite at this point for the San Felipe, is scheduled to work shortly for the $400,000 race that offers 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner.

"I brought him up from San Luis Rey the day before yesterday," trainer Cliff Sise Jr. said. "He galloped great here Wednesday, and now we've got to determine whether we work tomorrow or Saturday," depending on the weather. "I'd rather work Saturday, because that's a week out (from the race), but, you can't work if the track's closed."

Also probable for the San Felipe are unbeaten Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) winner Ocho Ocho Ocho (Street Sense) and Baffert trainee Lord Nelson (Pulpit), who upset Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red (Afleet Alex) in the San Vicente S. (G2) on February 1.

Ocho Ocho Ocho worked six furlongs for Jim Cassidy Thursday in a bullet 1:12, while El Camino Real Derby (G3) winner Metaboss (Street Boss), scheduled to run in the Spiral (G3) at Turfway Park on March 21 for trainer Jeff Bonde, worked five furlongs in 1:02 4/5.

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Local Time doubles up in U.A.E. Oaks; Safety Check finds no problem in Zabeel

Local Time became Saeed bin Suroor's 10th U.A.E. Oaks winner (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)
Two horses who have gone unbeaten through the Carnival for Godolphin, Local Time (Invincible Spirit) and Safety Check (Dubawi), continued their winning sprees in Thursday's features at Meydan. U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas heroine Local Time completed the fillies' classic double when hacking up in the $250,000 U.A.E. Oaks (UAE-G3), handing trainer Saeed bin Suroor his 10th win in the race. And the Charlie Appleby-trained Safety Check prevailed in course-record time in the $250,000 Zabeel Mile (UAE-G2).

Local Time brought a five-race winning streak into the Oaks. Concluding her juvenile campaign with a victory in the Oh So Sharp (Eng-G3) at Newmarket, she transitioned to Meydan's new dirt track with a last-gasp score in a January 15 conditions race, the Guineas trial. Local Time moved forward second time over the surface to dominate the February 5 One Thousand Guineas at a metric mile, and once again appeared in a league of her own on the stretch-out in trip here.

Under regular rider James Doyle, the British-bred sophomore readily stalked Australian-bred Shahrasal (Shamardal) before clearing away to a 4 3/4-length decision. Shahrasal outdueled Runner Runner (Dark Angel) to save second, and bin Suroor's other runner, Good Place (Street Cry), was well back in fourth of five. Yodelling (Medaglia d'Oro) was scratched after spiking a temperature.

Although Local Time's final time for about 1 3/16 miles was a rather slow 2:00 4/5, it was more than sufficient to collect her sixth consecutive win.

"I was always confident," Doyle said. "She has thrived this year in Dubai and that is her third win of the season and second classic.

"She is uncomplicated and a joy to ride. She makes my job easy."

Bin Suroor told godolphin.com that plans were yet to be determined, with her options being a tilt versus males in the March 28 U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) or heading to Newmarket's One Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) May 3.

Local Time, who hasn't lost since her debut, more than doubled her career earnings to $294,618 from her 7-6-0-0 line. A Darley homebred, the bay is the first registered foal from Group 3-placed stakes victress Marie de Medici (Medicean). Local Time's second dam, Group 3 scorer Mare Nostrum (Caerleon), is a half-sister to Grade 1 queen Aube Indienne (Bluebird).

Safety Check will now head back to England after winning his second straight Group 2 in course-record time (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)
Later, Safety Check also made it a Carnival hat trick in the Zabeel Mile. A smashing winner of his last pair at about seven grassy furlongs in a January 8 handicap and the January 22 Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-G2), where he set a course record of 1:23.09, the improving four-year-old successfully handled the extra furlong as well as the top weight of 129 pounds.

Jockey William Buick settled him just about midpack early, and delivered him at the right time in the stretch to prevail by a length. Safety Check established another course mark in 1:35.53 to crown his Dubai venture.

"This horse has just really thrived since arriving in Dubai," Appleby said. "I still feel he is better over 1400 meters, but he has certainly seen out the trip well tonight. William gave him a perfect ride and that will see him finished for the Carnival.

"He deserves a break so we will get him back to England and probably aim him at Glorious Goodwood where the (July 29) Lennox S. (Eng-G2) looks a suitable target."

Red-hot handicapper Dark Emerald (Dark Angel) rallied for second, capping a brilliant Carnival which saw him win two straight handicaps, miss narrowly in his first, and now earn a Group 2 placing. Earnshaw (Medaglia d'Oro) held third in his Dubai bow.

Darwin (Big Brown) dead-heated for fourth with a stablemate from the Mike de Kock yard, Johann Strauss (High Chaparral). Unfortunately, the Emirates Racing Authority reported that Darwin came up lame in his left front.

Safety Check's resume now reads 20-8-5-0, $573,250. Prior to this breakout season, the chestnut's only stakes credit was a second in the 2013 Silver Tankard as a juvenile.

Bred by Malih al Basti in Ireland, Safety Check was sold for $202,689 as a Tattersalls December weanling. He was produced by the unraced Doors to Manual (Royal Academy), an unraced half-sister to Group 1-winning sire Marchand de Sable (Theatrical).

Volatile turned the tables on Mastermind in the Meydan Classic (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)
Buick was scoring a double on the card, having engineered a form reversal aboard Volatile (Strategic Prince) in the $125,000 Meydan Classic. Runner-up to the front-running Mastermind (Var) in the local trial February 5, Volatile overhauled that same rival here, and scored a coup for his Swedish connections -- owner Stall Let's Fly - Easy and trainer Jessica Long. He pulled away by 1 1/4 lengths and covered about seven furlongs on turf in 1:23.

"I am absolutely delighted," said Long, who also bred Volatile in Sweden. "We were hopeful of a big run as he ran really well behind Mastermind in the 1400-meter trial for this race.

"William has given him a great ride and this is a massive result for our yard and Sweden."

Mastermind crossed the wire with 2 1/4 lengths to spare over Wychwood Warrior (Lope de Vega) in third. Quarterback (American Post) took fourth, and Australian shipper Tashbeeh (Commands) wound up a one-paced fifth in a dead-heat with Good Contact (Teofilo).

Volatile boosted his bankroll to $110,722 while improving his record to 5-2-1-1. The bay gelding has gone on his travels since trouncing a maiden field in his homeland on the Jagersro dirt last September. He next appeared on the turf at Newmarket in the October 17 Cornwallis (Eng-G3), finishing a solid third. Volatile tried the Meydan dirt in the January 15 trial for the U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas, but never factored in fifth, and has reverted to turf.

Out of the Souvenir Copy mare Look That Chick, Volatile hails from the extended family of French highweight mare Ana Marie (Anabaa) and Group 1 victor Morandi (Holy Roman Emperor).

De Kock snared a win in the nightcap, an about 10-furlong turf handicap, when Flying the Flag (Galileo) just got up over Godolphin's Tha'Ir (New Approach) in a blanket finish. Under Johnny Geroudis, the five-year-old forced his neck in front in 2:01 4/5.

Flying the Flag, formerly with Aidan O'Brien, scored his first win for Mike de Kock (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)
Flying the Flag was formerly with Aidan O'Brien, for whom he captured the 2013 International S. (Ire-G3) and placed in that year's Glencairn S. as well as the 2012 Futurity S. (Ire-G2). Subsequently acquired by Wilgebosdrift Stud et al, he was unplaced in a pair of English outings for de Kock last summer, and sixth in his Dubai premiere in a February 5 handicap. With this first win for his new connections, he has compiled a mark of 12-3-1-1, $184,454.

Other than the glaring exception of Local Time, the Meydan dirt was so fast Thursday that handicappers set track records in the other three races on the surface. The about six-furlong mark was lowered to 1:10.86 by Price Is Truth (Distorted Humor), who helped himself by getting off to a good start.

"He broke well today," apprentice rider Marc Monaghan said, alluding to his past two tardy starts. "He was always traveling strongly and quickened nicely when I asked him. He can improve on his."

Trained by Satish Seemar, Price Is Truth claims a record of 17-3-1-1, $118,239.

Mashaaref (Cape Cross) spearheaded a trifecta for Sheikh Hamdan in the about seven-furlong handicap, going wire to wire in a record time of 1:23.54.

"He broke very well and I was able to get straight to the front," winning rider Silvestre de Sousa recapped. "He enjoyed himself and quickened nicely to settle matters in style."

The Musabah al Muhairi charge, who won on a non-Carnival card two starts back February 14, upped his line to 26-5-5-2, $168,681.

The metric mile record on dirt likewise fell, courtesy of longshot Pit Stop (Iffraaj), who snapped a losing streak dating back to last summer in Ireland. Making his third start for Salem bin Ghadayer, the four-year-old mowed down Not a Given (Any Given Saturday) in the final strides and clocked 1:36.59.

"They went a really good gallop," jockey Mickael Barzalona said of the non-Carnival race. "That fast pace has really helped him, and he was running on well in the final 300 meters, and we hit the front where it mattered."

Pit Stop's scorecard stands at 10-3-0-0, $67,441.

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Fontiton looks to stay perfect in Blue Diamond

Fontiton (Turffontein) has yet to put a foot wrong in her short career, and she faces her stiffest test yet in Saturday's A$1 million Blue Diamond S. (Aus-G1) at Caulfield, Australia's second-richest juvenile contest. Fontiton cost Matchem Racing A$110,000 at last year's Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, and that figure looks like a bargain now that the dark bay has bankrolled almost A$400,000 in just four months of competition.

The Robert Smerdon charge aired by six lengths going 1000 meters first out at Moonee Valley October 25, after which she was immediately put on the shelf. She resumed with a score in the fillies' division of the Blue Diamond Preview (Aus-G3) at Sandown January 26, and was nearly two lengths the best in her most recent test, the fillies' division of the Blue Diamond Prelude (Aus-G2) over 1100 meters of this course two weeks ago. In a race where the draw is key, Fontiton has landed on the rail, a spot connections would surely prefer to a wide gate, but she will need to be on her toes to break fast and find a good early position. 

Smerdon vocalized after the February 14 Blue Diamond Preludes that he considered Sampeah (Exceed and Excel) and Pride of Dubai (Street Cry) the biggest threats to his favorite. A win by Sampeah would make it back-to-back Blue Diamonds for Sheikh Mohammed and three overall, and the bay -- who scored first-out at Rosehill November 29 -- certainly boosted his credentials with a fast-finishing third in Blue Diamond Prelude (Aus-G3) for colts. He is one of two -- the other being Bantam (Exceed and Excel) -- to be saddled by Godolphin trainer John O'Shea in his first year on the job, and a victory would be a fitting next chapter in what has been a remarkable juvenile season for that team.

Sampeah adds blinkers, and jockey Chad Schofield told RacingNetwork.com.au he thought that could move his mount forward.

"I think with the blinkers it will really switch him on early and he'll be able to hold a spot," the rider said. "I think he's a very good horse and the blinkers will really improve him. I think he'll be a lot closer to the speed. If he can do that and finish the way he did in the Prelude he's going to be a key runner."

A win by Pride of Dubai would also mark a Blue Diamond repeat, in this instance for trainer Peter Snowden, who saddled Godolphin's Earthquake (Exceed and Excel) to victory last year just months before going public in a new training establishment with his son Paul. Pride of Dubai was third behind "TDN Rising Star" Ottoman (Exceed and Excel) on debut at Rosehill December 20, and came running late to split Of the Brave (Starspangledbanner) and Sampeah when second in the Prelude.

Of the Brave has been the subject of great controversy this week with his trainer, Mark Riley, successfully having a three-year ban from racing for a TC02 positive postponed in order to saddle him. While Of the Brave's trainer has turned heads for the wrong reason, there is no denying the natural ability of his stable star; Of the Brave was a cozy debut winner in the listed Inglis Debutant S. over this course October 11, and won the Prelude off the layoff in his only other start two weeks ago.

Thurlow (Sebring) has been an early success story for Qatar Racing in Australia. Purchased for A$150,000 by David Redvers at last year's Inglis Easter sale, the chestnut checked in third on debut in the Emirates Airline Plate (Aus-G3) at Flemington November 4 and has since won two straight: the listed Santa's Magical Kingdom S. 11 days later, and the February 7 Chairman's S. (Aus-G3), both going 1000 meters at Sandown.

A rather unknown but interesting proposition here is the Coolmore partners' Lake Geneva (Fastnet Rock). The bay filly put in a huge effort when second after traveling wide throughout in her lone start in the Widden S. (Aus-G3) at Rosehill January 31.

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Protectionist, Dissident, Earthquake in action at Caulfield

Last year's Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1) winner Protectionist (Monsun) makes his first start since that victory and his first for local trainer Kris Lees in Saturday's Peter Young S. (Aus-G2) at Caulfield.

The 1800-meter event will serve as a gauge as to whether the five-year-old import will contest the Australian Cup (Aus-G1) over 2000 meters in two weeks' time; Lees noted Protectionist will advance to that prestigious contest if he displays enough speed to be competitive over shorter distances.

"He's in unfamiliar ground in an 1800-meter race," Lees told Racing and Sports. "I just want to see him hit the line to give us a bit of a guide as to where we're going this preparation."

Protectionist will face a competitive field that includes Group 1 winners Happy Trails (Good Journey) and Sonntag (Teofilo).

Elsewhere on the banner card at Caulfield, star sprinter-miler Dissident (Sebring) is the clear standout in the Futurity S. (Aus-G1) going 1400 meters, and the four-year-old looks to record his second straight -- and fifth overall -- win at the highest level after taking the C.F. Orr S. (Aus-G1) over this track and trip two weeks ago.

Dissident won another Group 1 over this course and distance in the Memsie S. (Aus-G1) in August, after which he added the Makybe Diva S. (Aus-G1) over a furlong further at Flemington. Dissident was second in the Sir Rupert Clarke (Aus-G1) back over this track and trip Sept. 28, and after finishing sixth in the Caulfield S. (Aus-G1) over 2000 meters October 11, was put away for the season. Now owned by a syndicate including Newgate Farm and the China Horse Club, Dissident was third first-up in the Australia S. (Aus-G2) prior to his Orr score.

Entirely Platinum (Pentire) finished second in the Orr first-up and should be fitter for this run. He is three-for-four at second asking. Bull Point (Fastnet Rock) has been a quirky performer, but at his best can hit the board against these. He searches for his first win since taking the Manfred S. (Aus-G3) over this course last February, and was an encouraging fifth first-up in the Southern Cross S. (Aus-G3) at Randwick two weeks ago. The five-year-old mare Driefontein (Fastnet Rock) rarely puts in a poor performance. After finishing fourth in the Magic Millions Cup January 10, she has been second in the Expressway S. (Aus-G2) January 31 and the Southern Cross two weeks ago.

Godolphin's Earthquake (Exceed and Excel) enjoyed her finest moment on this card a year ago when taking the Blue Diamond S. (Aus-G1), and she will look to extend her unbeaten record at Caulfield in the Oakleigh Plate (Aus-G1).

Earthquake went unbeaten through her first four starts last year, including the Blue Diamond Prelude (Aus-G3) for fillies here, the Blue Diamond and Rosehill's Reisling S. (Aus-G2), and she was second in the Golden Slipper (Aus-G1). She notched a pair of thirds in Group 2 company in Sydney to kick off her three-year-old campaign, and won the Thoroughbred Club S. (Aus-G3) when returning to Caulfield October 11. She was eighth in the Coolmore Stud S. (Aus-G1) against males to wrap up her spring campaign, and has won a pair of Canterbury trials in the lead-up to this, and also enjoys a light impost.

Vain Queen (Artie Schiller) was a smart winner of the Mumm S. (Aus-G3) at Flemington when last seen November 6. Her connections considered a first-up run in the Lightning S. (Aus-G1) last weekend, meaning she must be in good form, and she races well fresh.

Flamberge (Exceed and Excel) pushed Chautauqua (Encosta de Lago), one of the top-rated sprinters in the country, to a short neck when second in the Rubiton S. (Aus-G2) first-up here two weeks ago. He will need a little luck, however, to overcome a wide barrier and one of the heavier weight assignments. Fast N' Rocking (Fastnet Rock) has been consistent since being gelded after his three-year-old campaign, finishing out of the top three just once in five starts during the spring, including a win in the Kevin Heffernan S. (Aus-G3) November 15. The four-year-old warmed up with a third to It Is Written (Written Tycoon) in the listed Abell S. February 6. Shamal Wind (Dubawi) is another who rarely puts in a bad run, and she won the listed W.J. Adams S. January 26.

At Warwick Farm on Saturday, trainer Chris Waller saddles eight runners -- more than half the field -- in the Chipping Norton S. (Aus-G1), and as is always the case with Sydney's champion trainer, he has more than a few live chances.

He's Your Man (Cape Cross) hit his best stride in October, taking the Epsom H. (Aus-G1) over this mile distance before finishing a narrow second in the Mackinnon S. (Aus-G1) at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. He resumed with a strong first-up sixth in the too-short 1400 meter Apollo S. (Aus-G2) at Randwick February 14, which has produced eight of the runners here.

Another live Waller shot is Weary (Astronomer Royal), who made an immediate impact upon arriving from Europe a year ago. He won the Doncaster Prelude (Aus-G3) back in the Australian autumn and was placed in both the Doncaster Mile (Aus-G1) and All Aged S. (Aus-G1). Weary proved rather disappointing in three starts during the spring, but seems to have bounced back, with a win to his credit in the Expressway S. (Aus-G2) January 31 and a third in the Apollo.

Likely to be favored here is the Apollo winner Contributer (High Chaparral), a Godolphin import who has made a favorable impression in his three Australian outings. The five-year-old won the David Jones Cup (Aus-G3) first-up at Caulfield October 18, and was a non-disgraced eighth, beaten four lengths, in the Emirates S. (Aus-G1) three weeks later. The Apollo, which he won by 1 1/2 lengths, was his first run of the season. Splitting Contributer and Weary in the Apollo was the Team Hawkes-trained Ninth Legion (Fastnet Rock), a consistent performer who won the listed Carrington S. first-up January 24. 

This event also features a pair of smart mares. The dual Group 1 winner Lucia Valentina (Savabeel) will go postward as one of the favorites off her encouraging fourth in the Apollo which, as is the case with most of these runners, was far too short a distance for her. Three-time Group 1 winner Silent Achiever (O'Reilly) was fifth in the Apollo and searches for her first win since taking last autumn's Ranvet S. (Aus-G1) and The BMW (Aus-G1).

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Williamstown euthanized at age 25

Williamstown enjoyed his retirement years at Old Friends Farm (Rick Capone)

Grade 2 victor Williamstown (Seattle Slew) was euthanized on February 25 at the age of 25 due to complications caused by the neurological disease EPM, Old Friends reported Thursday.

Williamstown had been pensioned at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky, since 2007. Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, made the announcement of his passing Thursday morning.

As a racehorse, Williamstown scored his biggest win in the 1993 Withers S. (G2) at Belmont Park in track-record time of 1:32.79 for owner Peter W. Willmott. It was considered one of the fastest miles in racing history.

Williamstown's three-year career included wins in two other stakes and placings in seven black-type events, including runner-up efforts in the Jerome H. (G1) and King's Bishop S. (G2). In all, the Kentucky-bred dark bay racked up a 5-5-5 mark from 24 starts and earned $360,884.

He was also successful as a stallion, siring 15 stakes winners, including Grade 3 scorer Vinemeister.

Williamstown was pensioned from stud duty in 2007 after proving infertile. The Central Kentucky insurance firm Aubrey Insurance took possession of the horse and tried to place him in an equine program at University of Minnesota, but he did not fit their needs. Plans to euthanize Williamstown were underway when an employee at Aubrey decided to contact Blowen at Old Friends.

"I'll never forget the day, nearly eight years ago, when a woman named Lisa called from Frank Aubrey Insurance and asked us if we had room for a horse named Williamstown," Blowen recalled. "I was thrilled. I had visited Williamstown years earlier at Saratoga when Peter Vestal trained him. Over the years, his kind owner, Peter Willmott, visited Williamstown many times and was a generous supporter.

"Like his sire, Seattle Slew, Williamstown knew he could be very imperious," Blowen added. "But he earned it, and he'll be missed."

Daredevil returns in Swale

Daredevil captured his first two starts on the front end and will likely show speed from the innermost post (Adam Coglianese Photo)

Champagne (G1) winner Daredevil (More Than Ready) will cut back to seven furlongs and open his three-year-old campaign against six rivals in Saturday's $200,000 Swale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Daredevil has recorded three consecutive bullet works in advance of the Swale and will break from the rail post with Javier Castellano.

Daredevil opened his racing career with a pair of smashing wins, including a 2 1/2-length score over Upstart (Flatter) in the October 4 Champagne that netted a field-best 104 BRIS Speed, but the chestnut colt will be attempting to rebound after trailing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). He figures to be a strong betting favorite in his seasonal bow.

Souper Colossal (War Front) is Daredevil's main rival. An easy winner of his first three starts, including the Sapling Stakes and Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park last summer, the Eddie Plesa-Jr. trainee returned from a two-month layoff with a seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The bay colt came back this year with an easy win in the grassy Texas Glitter, scoring by a 1 1/2-length margin at a five-furlong trip, and Souper Colossal is eligible to move forward the second-time out with a returning Joel Rosario.

Hutcheson (G3) and Pasco runner-up X Y Jet (Kantharos) is also entered and Ready for Rye (City Zip) will make his first appearance since finishing second as the even-money choice in the January 3 Spectacular Bid.

The South Florida track will also offer a pair of Grade 3 turf stakes for sophomores, the $150,000 Palm Beach and $150,000 Herecomesthebride. Both races will be contested at 1 1/16 miles.

The Palm Beach drew 11 runners and features a match-up between Dubai Sky (Candy Ride) and Night Prowler (Giant's Causeway), who exit stakes victories over the course in the January 24 Kitten's Joy and January 3 Dania Beach (G3), respectively. John Velazquez will be back aboard Dubai Sky, who will be seeking his fourth consecutive win for Bill Mott, and Castellano has the assignment on Night Prowler for Chad Brown.

Sweetest Chant (G3) heroine Consumer Credit (More Than Ready) is the one to beat among nine fillies in the Herecomesthebride. She's won three straight for Brown and Edgard Zayas will be up for the third straight time. Sweetest Chant second Quality Rocks (Rock Hard Ten), a two-time Grade 3 runner-up for Mott, has leading rider Castellano and Ginger Brew winner Devine Aida (Unbridled's Song) is another runner of interest.

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Well-matched group of nine entered for Santa Ysabel

Light the City (left) just missed to Callback in the Las Virgenes last out (Benoit Photos)

Santa Anita Park will host just one stakes race on Saturday, but that contest offers up a total of 85 points toward a starting berth in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.

The $100,000 Santa Ysabel S. (G3) will award the winner 50 points, second-place 20, third-place 10 and fourth-place five on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. Nine fillies will take their chances in the 1 1/16-mile affair, including stakes victress Light the City (Street Sense).

The bay lass, one of three Jerry Hollendorfer-trained runners in the race, captured her initial two starts last year and closed out her juvenile campaign with a third-place effort in the Desi Arnaz S. in mid-November. She was unable to factor in the Santa Ynez S. (G2) in her sophomore bow on January 3, but returned last out to just miss by a half-length in the Las Virgenes S. (G1) while stretching out to a mile for the first time.

Light the City was piloted by Kent Desormeaux for the first time in the Las Virgenes, and he retains the mount on Saturday.

There are any number in the Santa Ysabel with a chance on Saturday, Danette (Curlin) being one of them. Desormeaux got off the filly trained by his brother Keith Desormeaux to ride Light the City, leaving the way clear for Fernando Perez to take the mount on the maiden.

Despite boasting eight career races thus far, Danette has yet to visit the winner's circle. The bay miss finished third in last year's Chandelier S. (G1) and was fifth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) in her penultimate start of the season. She returned to the maiden ranks last out, running second, and will break from the rail in the Santa Ysabel.

Achiever's Legacy (City Zip) is another Hollendorfer runner and actually beat Light the City as winner of the Desi Arnaz last November. The chestnut filly found herself finishing behind her stablemate recently when third in the Las Virgenes, and gets a major jockey switch to Gary Stevens for this one.

There are three last-out maiden winners entered on Saturday, with Enchanting Lady (Tale of the Cat) the most impressive having gotten past that initial hurdle in a stakes. The Bob Baffert trainee crossed under the wire second in her debut last May but returned a month later to take the Landaluce S. by 6 1/4 lengths. Though unraced since then, the dark bay filly has been working up a storm at Santa Anita in anticipation of her return to competition, including a six-furlong bullet move two weeks ago.

Stellar Wind (Curlin) also missed in her first attempt, running third at Laurel Park in late November, then romped by 8 3/4 lengths a month later while stretching out to a mile. The Virginia-bred chestnut made those two starts for trainer Donald Barr but will be saddled for the first time by John Sadler in this spot.

Curlin's Fox (Curlin), the other maiden winner, scored in her debut on February 1 going about 6 1/2 furlongs on Santa Anita's downhill turf course. She'll be stretching out while trying the main track here for Carla Gaines, as will the Graham Motion-trained Rainha Da Bateria (Broken Vow). That filly has only ever competed on grass, including a victory in the Jessamine S. (G3) last October at Keeneland.

Rattataptap (Tapit), a 4 3/4-length allowance/optional claiming winner on January 29, and Hollendorfer's California Oaks runner-up Glory (Tapit) complete the Santa Ysabel field.

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Breeders' Cup announces 2015 ticket information

The Breeders' Cup has released detailed ticketing information for the 2015 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Keeneland on October 30-31. Bringing the world-class racing event to one of the most prestigious tracks in the country, Breeders' Cup's 2015 event will mark the first time that the World Championships will be held at Keeneland, the iconic track located in the heart of the Bluegrass region in Lexington, Kentucky.

To meet the strong demand from fans who want to be a part of this historic event, tickets will go on sale to the general public on, March 4, which is an unprecedented three months earlier than the normal release date for tickets. Ticket offerings will include a wide range of seating options located across the Keeneland campus.

Beginning March 4 at noon (EST), fans will be able to purchase tickets online at BreedersCup.com or by calling the ticketing office at 877-TIX-4CUP. The general public will have access to purchase approximately 50 percent of the available tickets for this year's event. Detailed information on all available seating options can be viewed now on BreedersCup.com.

Breeders' Cup and Keeneland are investing $5 million to create more premium seating options that will enhance the on-site experience for fans and participants. The new hospitality offerings are highlighted by '84 Club, a 50,000 square foot, glassed-in and climate-controlled lounge that offers incredible views of the Championships along with lounge seating, private concessions, a cash bar, restrooms and mutuel tellers. More information on available seating options can be found at BreedersCup.com.

"While this is the first time that Keeneland has hosted the Breeders' Cup World Championships, many of our Thoroughbred champions have raced at Keeneland or passed through its renowned sales pavilion so it feels like a homecoming for us," said Craig Fravel, Breeders' Cup President and CEO. "Combining our enhanced programming for this year's World Championships with the rich history and classic elegance of Keeneland and the Bluegrass region presents an incredible opportunity for us to showcase the best our sport has to offer."

Over the past 70 years, Keeneland has established itself as one of the most storied and illustrious thoroughbred sales and racing venues. Its partnership with the Breeders' Cup for this annual international event is both a milestone for the brand and a historic moment for fans.

"Being able to host the 2015 Breeders' Cup World Championships is an incredible honor," said Bill Thomason, President and CEO of Keeneland. "The Breeders' Cup has established itself as one of the most competitive and impressive racing events in the world. Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup share a goal to provide our guests with extraordinary customer service, which, coupled with Keeneland's iconic setting and rich racing tradition will make for a truly unique patron experience."

Single-day ticket prices range from $35 to $375 on Friday, and $50 to $475 on Saturday. Two-day packages ranges from $295- $1,225. All tickets will be sold in advance of the event -- there will be no walk up sales available for either day of the Breeders' Cup.

In order to provide the best possible transportation experience at Keeneland, the Breeders' Cup will offer shuttle service for a nominal fee to the track from two local park-n-ride destinations -- the Kentucky Horse Park and Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Parking on-site at Keeneland will be limited and only available to those with official parking credentials. More information on transportation to and from Keeneland for the 2015 Breeders' Cup World Championships will be announced at a later date.

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Mutuel field 3-1 favorite in third Kentucky Derby Future Wager

With just over nine weeks remaining until the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby (G1), uncertainty surrounds some of the Derby's major contenders and it is reflected in the morning line odds for this week's third of four pools of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW), which launches its three-day run on Friday and concludes on Sunday.

The Mutuel Field, or "All Others," which includes all three-year-olds other than the 23 individual horses among Pool 3's 24 wagering interests, is the 3-1 favorite in Churchill Downs' handicapper Mike Battaglia's morning line. That's a customary, though not exclusive spot for that wagering interest in the next-to-last pool of the wager that was introduced in 1999. Battaglia's 3-1 odds reflect increased interest in individual horses in the pool, but given, late starts on pre-Derby racing campaigns by some of the pool's individual stars, "All Others" should emerge as a clear fan's choice in Pool 3.

Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert appears to be in an enviable spot with nine weeks remaining before Kentucky Derby 141 as he conditions both of the 8-1 co-second choices in KDFW Pool 3: reigning champion juvenile American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) and unbeaten Dortmund (Big Brown).

While the latter has run off four wins since his November 2 racing debut that include the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and the recent Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita, American Pharoah is one of the wagering interests with some questions to answer. He has not raced since September 27, when he rolled to victory in the FrontRunner (G1) at Santa Anita. American Pharoah missed a planned start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita because of injury, and is now training toward a planned return to competition in the $750,000 Rebel (G2) on March 14 at Oaklawn Park.

The other major player in KDFW Pool 3 that is surrounded by a bit of mystery is Texas Red (Afleet Alex), who romped to an easy victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was the 9-1 favored individual horse in early February's second Derby Futures pool. He made his three-year-old debut in a strong runner-up finish to Lord Nelson (Pulpit) in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) on February 1 at Santa Anita, but Texas Red suffered a foot abscess following that race. Trainer and co-owner Keith Desormeaux still has the May 2 Kentucky Derby as the colt's target, but Texas Red has not worked since the ailment was discovered. Battaglia placed his Pool 3 odds at 12-1.

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager enables fans to wager on the Kentucky Derby well in advance of the race at odds that could be much more attractive than those offered on the day of the race. Winning payouts in all KDFW pools are determined by the odds that are in place at the end of each respective betting pool. Those winning mutuel payouts for the $2 minimum win and exacta wagers placed in each Kentucky Derby Future pool will be made following the running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2.

Pool 3 of the Derby Future Wager will run concurrent to the only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool of 2015. Wagering on both pools is set to open at noon (EST) on Friday. Betting on the Kentucky Derby pool will close at 6 p.m. on Sunday, while the Kentucky Oaks pool will remain open for an addition 30 minutes before closing at 6:30 p.m.

Wagering on Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager will be offered at Churchill Downs and racetracks throughout North America; on the web via TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering site of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs Inc., and other advance deposit wagering sites; and at other simulcast centers and off-track wagering sites. No scratches or betting refunds are permitted in the Kentucky Derby Future wager, but betting will be suspended immediately on a wagering interest in any KDFW pool if Churchill Downs determines that injury, illness or other circumstance revealed during a pool would prevent a horse from competing in the race.

Wagering was brisk in the second KDFW pool that ran from February 6-8. A total of $448,598 in win and exacta wagers was placed during the three days of betting, which was an 18 percent increase in betting from the same pool in 2014. The "All Others" interest was the odds-on 3-5 favorite in November 28-30 opening KDFW pool, which attracted total wagering of $234,574.

Dortmund (right) is the co-second choice in the third KDFW along with stablemate American Pharoah (Benoit Photos)

Total wagering in the earlier two pools of this year stands at $683,172. Total betting in the 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, the first to feature four wagering pools, was $1,324,466.

Todd Pletcher, who saddled Super Saver to a Kentucky Derby win in 2010, is the trainer of five of the 23 individual horses on the Pool 3 betting roster. The Pletcher group includes Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway), the winner of Keeneland's Breeders' Futurity (G1) and runner-up to Texas Red in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Carpe Diem is another colt who has yet to make his racing debut in 2015, but is scheduled to compete in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on March 7.

Pletcher, who trained six of the 23 individual horses in KDFW Pool 2, also trains the unbeaten Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid), who won last week's Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park via disqualification; Champagne (G1) winner Daredevil (More Than Ready); unbeaten Withers (G3) winner Far From Over (Blame); and unbeaten Khozan (Distorted Humor), who won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.

Another horse expected to attract strong support in the upcoming pool is Ralph M. Evans' Upstart (Flatter), the winner of Gulfstream Park's Holy Bull (G2) who was disqualified from first to second in last week's Fountain of Youth. Trainer Rick Violette's New York-bred has a record of 3-2-1 in six career races. Another New York-bred star likely to garner increased support in the pool is International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus), who won last week's Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds after winning the Lecomte (G3) over the New Orleans track in his previous outing.

Other prominent players heading into Pool 3 include Ocean Knight (Curlin), the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained winner of Tampa Bay Downs' Sam F. Davis (G3) and a 15-1 risk in Battaglia's morning line odds; Ocho Ocho Ocho (Street Sense), winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) and listed at 20-1 as the James Cassidy trainee prepares for his 2015 debut; and Far Right (Notional), winner of the Southwest (G3) and Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park for trainer Ron Moquett.

KDFW Pool 3 wagering interests that were not a part of Pool 2 include Bolo (Temple City), winner of the Eddie Logan on turf at Santa Anita; recent maiden winner Danzig Moon (Malibu Moon), Far From Over, Keen Ice (Curlin), third in the Risen Star; and War Story (War Front), runner-up to Far Right in both the Southwest and Smarty Jones.

Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager were chosen by Churchill Downs committee that included Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications and Media Services Darren Rogers, Director of Programming and Senior Racing Analyst Jill Byrne, Player Services Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President, Racing Communications John Asher.

After the closing of KDFW Pool 3, one Derby Futures pool will remain on the schedule prior to Kentucky Derby 141. The fourth and final KDFW pool is set for five weeks before the Derby and will run from March 27-29.

Real-time odds during the three-day run of KDFW Pool 3 and other information the wager and the Kentucky Derby are available at the official event Web site at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/racing-wagering/future-wager/pool-3-final-odds.

Free Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances for wagering interests in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are available at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/KDFW2.pdf. Brisnet also has complimentary past performances for all Triple Crown nominees at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/TC15noms.pdf.

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Take Charge Brandi the early individual choice in Oaks Future Wager

Streaking juvenile filly champion filly Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway) is a narrow choice as the favored individual horse, but the ever-popular Mutuel Field (#24), or "All Other Three-Year-Old Fillies," will again be a solid favorite in the morning line odds for Churchill Downs Racetrack's Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (KOFW), which opens a three-day run on Friday and concludes on Sunday.

Bettors were on target in 2014 when they tabbed Winchell Thoroughbreds' Untapable as the 5-1 KOFW favorite to win the Kentucky Oaks (G1), America's premier race for three-year-old fillies. The Steve Asmussen-trained star rolled to a dominant Oaks win and became just the third Oaks winner to also take the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) during a campaign in which she was unbeaten against her gender and suffered her only loss in a fourth-place finish against males in the Haskell Invitational (GI) at Monmouth Park. Untapable earned the 2014 Eclipse Award for America's outstanding three-year-old filly.

The pre-race picture is murkier heading into this year's 141st running of the Kentucky Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs, and handicapper Mike Battaglia has installed the Mutuel Field, or "All Others," as the 5-2 favorite in the Oaks Future pool. "All Others" includes all three-year-old fillies other than the 23 individual horses listed among the KOFW's 24 wagering interests.

Willis D. Horton's Take Charge Brandi, riding a streak of four consecutive stakes triumphs that began with her 61-1 upset in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita, is the 6-1 favored individual in lone Kentucky Oaks Future Wager Pool of 2015. The string of stakes wins by the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Take Charge Brandi also includes the Starlet (G1) at Los Alamitos, Delta Downs' Delta Princess (G3) and the Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park. Her career record stands at 5-1-0 in nine races with earnings of $1,680,125.

Despite her successful run, Take Charge Brandi is far from an overwhelming choice among the individual Oaks contenders in the pool. Close behind are 8-1 co-third choices Condo Commando (Tiz Wonderful), a romping winner of Saratoga's Spinaway (G1) and Aqueduct's Demoiselle (G2) at two; and I'm A Chatterbox (Munnings), who earned back-to-back wins in the Rachel Alexandra (G3) and Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds since she joined the stable of two-time Kentucky Oaks-winning trainer Larry Jones.

The Kentucky Oaks Future Wager enables racing fans to wager on contenders for the Kentucky Oaks weeks in advance of the 2015 renewal of the 1 1/8-mile race for three-year-old fillies at odds that could be more attractive than those available on Oaks Day.

The wager permits $2 minimum win bets and $2 exactas, which are available in $1 minimum increments in boxes and other multiple number configurations. The KOFW pool runs concurrent to the third of four pools of the 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Wagering in both the Oaks and Derby pools is scheduled to open at noon (ET) on Friday. Betting in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool will conclude at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 1 and Kentucky Oaks Future betting will continue for 30 minutes before the pool closes at 6:30 p.m.

No scratches or betting refunds are permitted in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. Betting on any individual filly in the pool will be suspended immediately should Churchill Downs determine during the pool that injury, illness or some other circumstance would prevent that horse from competing in the Oaks.

Total wagering on the 2014 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (including win and exacta betting) was $81,234. The betting total for the three-day pool in 2013 totaled $126,039.

Other fillies expected to attract solid support in the KOFW pool include Callback (Street Sense), who is listed at 12-1 following a win in the Las Virgenes (G1) at Santa Anita; Davona Dale (G2) heroine Ekati's Phaeton (Tale of Ekati); Forward Gal (G2) winner and Davona Dale runner-up Birdathewire (Summer Bird); Davona Dale third-placer Eskenformoney (Eskendreya); Starlet runner-up Feathered (Indian Charlie); and Puca (Big Brown), who exits a late-running fourth in the Davona Dale.

Two-time Kentucky Oaks winners Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher each train three of the Oaks Future Wager betting interests. Baffert conditions Callback, Fantastic Style (Harlan's Holiday) and Luminance (Tale of the Cat), while Pletcher trains Angela Renee (Bernardini), Eskenformoney and Feathered.

The wagering interests for the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager are selected by a committee that consists of Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications and Media Services Darren Rogers, Director of Programming and Senior Racing Analyst Jill Byrne, Player Services Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President of Communications John Asher.

Real time odds and other information on the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager is available at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/racing-wagering/future-wager/pool-3-oaks-odds.

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The Great War looms as heavy favorite in Battaglia

The Great War ran away from overmatched rivals last month in the 96Rock (Turfway Park/Coady Photography)

The battle for Kentucky Derby (G1) eligibility is still several weeks away for The Great War (War Front), but the Wesley Ward-trained colt will participate in a preparatory skirmish on Saturday in the $125,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.

The Battaglia, at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack, is not part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and thus does not offer qualifying points for entry to the Run for the Roses. However, it has long-served as the leading prep for Turfway's Spiral S. (G3), which will be run March 21 at nine furlongs and offers 50 qualifying points to its winner.

A $1 million yearling purchase by Coolmore, The Great War was trained at two by Aidan O'Brien. Winner in three of seven starts in Ireland, including the Blenheim Stakes at The Curragh, the bay was a commendable fourth in his U.S. and dirt debut, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita.

Staying stateside with Ward, The Great War was dazzling in Turfway's $69,000 96Rock on January 31. Pressing the early pace, the bay seized control turning for home and drew off to win by 7 1/4-lengths as the prohibitive 1-10 favorite.

The Great War will be heavily favored to repeat in the Battaglia, but has not yet won beyond the 96Rock distance of 6 1/2 furlongs. Among those who have shown aptitude around two turns over the Turfway oval are maiden scorer Milwaukee Mist (Milwaukee Brew) and allowance winner Candy Charger (Candy Ride), fifth and sixth in the 96Rock when cutting back in distance. Another local who might do well is Pepper Roani (Broken Vow), an impressive 3 1/2-length maiden winner last time for trainer Mike Maker.

Maker will also saddle Firespike (Flower Alley), a stakes winner on turf and synthetic, and Task Force Glory (Badge of Silver), a maiden winner on turf at Churchill Downs in November and second against allowance foes at Gulfstream last out.

Also expected to garner some wagering support are the Todd Pletcher-trained Royal Son (Tiznow), who adds blinkers following a nondescript stakes debut at Tampa Bay Downs last time. Graham Motion, who landed the Spiral four years ago with eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, is represented by Midnight Trace (Scat Daddy), who won his debut over the turf at Tampa Bay Downs and was most recently third in allowance company over the same course.

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In brief

Trainer Kenny McPeek said The Truth Or Else (Yes It's True) exited his runner-up effort in last Sunday's Southwest (G3) in good shape and will be pointed to the $750,000 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park on March 14. Making his 2015 debut and first start with Lasix, The Truth Or Else was bothered entering the first turn of the Southwest, dropping back to last among 11 runners on the sloppy track, before offering an eye-catching move on the far turn into contention. A maiden winner at Belmont Park last September, the chestnut colt finished third in the Champagne (G1) and Nashua (G2) before concluding his juvenile season with a sixth in the Remsen (G2). "Looks like out timing is pretty good for the Rebel," McPeek said. "Between the bad trip, and I think he needed the race just a tad, I think he's going to be extremely difficult to beat. We're excited." McPeek added that recent entry-level allowance winner Magic of Believing (Badge of Silver) has been nominated to the $2 million U.A.E. Derby (UAe-G2) in Dubai on March 28 along with the Spiral Stakes (G2) at Turfway Park and Sunland Derby (G2) the same afternoon...

Grade 2 winner I Spent It (Super Saver), who worked a bullet half-mile at Oaklawn Park on Sunday, galloped 1 1/2 miles Thursday for trainer Tony Dutrow. Runner-up in the Hopeful (G1) two starts back, I Spent It underwent knee surgery after trailing in the Champagne (G1) in early October. Dutrow said I Spent It could make his three-year-old debut in the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes at six furlongs on March 21...

Once-beaten male two-year-old champion of 2013 Shared Belief (Candy Ride) worked five furlongs Tuesday in 1:00 2/5 at Golden Gate Fields and will have one more major drill over the Tapeta surface at his home base next Tuesday before vanning Wednesday morning to Santa Anita for final preparations for the $1 million Santa Anita H. (G1) March 7. "He'll be checked out after that last work and if everything's OK, ship early Wednesday and arrive at Santa Anita around noon," said Dan Ward, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's assistant. San Pasqual (G2) winner Hoppertunity (Any Given Saturday) worked five furlongs Thursday in 1:00, after which Bob Baffert said he would wait for the Big 'Cap weights, to be released late this Saturday, before making a final decision on Hoppertunity's Big 'Cap status. Hoppertunity was a well-beaten third behind Shared Belief and California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) in the February 7 San Antonio (G2)...

Winning Prize (Pure Prize), scratched from Sunday's Joe Hernandez S. when the race was moved from turf to dirt, worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita's turf Thursday in 1:30. The Neil Drysdale trainee will mount a title defense in the March 7 Kilroe Mile (G1)...

Trainer Darrell Vienna reports that Mystery Train (Not for Sale) is likely to return to Fair Grounds for the March 28 New Orleans H. (G2) -- the centerpiece for the Fair Grounds handicap division. Second last Saturday in the local prep for the New Orleans, the Mineshaft H. (G3), after a game front-running performance, the multiple Group 1 winner in his home country of Argentina exited his last start well. "He came out in good shape," Vienna confirmed. "He's doing really well and it was a relief to see him run well. The (Fair Grounds main) track is closer to what he ran on in Argentina. The plan right now is to come back for the New Orleans Handicap. My preference would be to have (Francisco Torres) ride him again."...

Forever Unbridled (Unbridled's Song) continued her steady improvement last Saturday in the Rachel Alexandra (G3) when third behind I'm a Chatterbox (Munnings) and Lovely Maria (Majesticperfection). Out of Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lemons Forever, the regally-bred Dallas Stewart trainee will try to get one step closer to emulating her dam when she completes the triad of Fair Grounds' sophomore filly stakes in the March 28 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). "She came out very well and I was very pleased with her race," Stewart said. "She finished strong and she's getting better. This time she only got beat 2 1/2 lengths (by I'm a Chatterbox) and last time it was eight. She's really starting to come into herself."...

Multiple Grade 3-winning veteran and multi-millionaire Ben's Cat (Parker's Storm Cat) has been honored with a fourth Maryland-bred Horse of the Year title -- as well as divisional titles for champion older male, sprinter and turf runner -- the Maryland Breeders Association announced. Bred, owned and trained by King T. Leatherbury, the nine-year-old gelding is by far the most decorated state-bred in awards history, with a total of 13 divisional titles in addition to those for Horse of the Year. He has been named champion turf runner five straight years, older male since 2011, and top sprinter four of the past five years. Other divisional champions are Ghost Bay (Ghostzapper) (champion two-year-old male), Miss Bullistic (Bullsbay) (champion two-year-old filly), The Big Beast (Yes It's True) (champion three-year-old male), Daring Dancer (Empire Maker) (champion three-year-old filly), Awesome Flower (Flower Alley) (champion older female) and Top Striker (Van Nistelrooy) (champion steeplechaser). For more information, please visit http://marylandthoroughbred.com...

A 29-race stakes schedule featuring the 80th renewal of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3), three stakes double-headers and Washington Cup XIII has been announced for the 2015 season at Emerald Downs. Beginning with the $50,000 Hastings Handicap for older fillies and mares Sunday, May 10, and ending with a stakes double-header for two-year-olds on closing day, Sunday, September 27, a total of $1.62 million will be offered in stakes money this season. Twenty-five stakes are scheduled on Sundays including the Longacres Mile on Sunday, August 16. The Mile -- among the Northwest's most enduring and iconic sporting events -- anchors a stakes double-header featuring the $65,000 Emerald Distaff for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles. The 70-day season, the 20th at Emerald Downs, begins Saturday, April 18. Live racing is offered every Saturday and Sunday through April, with Fridays added to the schedule beginning May 1. Post time is 6:45 p.m. (PT) Fridays and 2 p.m. weekends. Exceptions are 1 p.m., Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 2; and 4:30 p.m. for the Fireworks Spectacular, Friday, July 3. Holiday racing is offered Monday, May 25; Saturday, July 4; and Monday, September 7...

Saturday's $60,000 Black Gold S. at Fair Grounds drew a field of 10 sophomores to go 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Lucky Player (Lookin at Lucky) has yet to compete on grass but is one of the top draws in the race from trainer Steve Asmussen's shedrow. The bay colt captured last year's Iroquois S. (G3) at Churchill Downs but was uanble to capitalize on that score when well beaten in his next three, including the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park on January 19. Robby Albarado has the call on Lucky Player as he faces dual stakes-placed Bourbon Cowboy (Cowboy Cal) and Another Lemon Drop (Lemon Drop Kid), who was fourth in the Lecomte S. (G3) in mid-January. Earlier on the card, 12 Louisiana-breds were entered in the $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace S. at a mile on the turf, including the top three from last year's off-the-turf running...

Albano (Istan), last year's Pegasus S. (G3) winner and Risen Star S. (G2) runner-up, makes his second start of the season Saturday in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston. The Brereton Jones homebred kicked off his four-year-old campaign January 17 in the Louisiana S. at Fair Grounds, where he ran third as the 3-5 favorite. Kerwin Clark will again ride the Larry Jones-trained colt. C J's Awesome (Awesome Again), fourth in the Indiana Derby (G2) and Pennsylvania Derby (G2) last fall, appears to be the main threat on paper for trainer Ken McPeek. Others of note in the 1 1/8-mile test are F J Uncle Vic (Uncle Abbie), a two-time stakes winner on Sam Houston's main track, and multiple Grade 3-placed Hattaash (Strong Hope).

Features

HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

FEBRUARY 27, 2015

by Dick Powell

Lots of ways to approach last Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and any conclusions one might draw going forward. In no apparent order:

The track was extremely dry and with a brisk wind blowing, it produced very slow running times. After six furlongs were contested in 1:11.65, they took 34.63 seconds to run the final five-sixteenths of a mile. The main track played slow all day and even on Sunday, when Khozan (Distorted Humor) crushed allowance foes going a mile by 12 lengths, taking 51.50 seconds to run the last half-mile.

Upstart (Flatter) is for real. He has shown that he can handle any surface and can handle the classic distances. On Saturday, he raced wide throughout and Trakus showed that he covered 20 feet more than Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid) and 54 feet more than third place finisher Frammento (Midshipman). His bearing out in the stretch was the result of Jose Ortiz's left-hand whip than any sign of unsoundness.

Rick Violette, who did a great job last year with Samraat (Noble Causeway) getting ready for the first Saturday in May, can come back in the Florida Derby (G1) on March 29, which gives him five weeks before Kentucky. Or, he could wait another week for the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct, but that would only give him four weeks. Look for Upstart to stay down in Florida and contest the Florida Derby.

Turning for home, Frosted (Distorted Humor) looked like he might be an easy winner. Irad Ortiz Jr. had a strong hold on him and hadn't even asked him to go at the top of the stretch. When the moment of truth came, Frosted came up completely empty with no apparent excuse.

To make it even worse for the Boys in Blue from Godolphin, Imperia (Medaglia d'Oro) was dreadful as the 3-to-2 favorite in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds. He was far back early, made a nominal middle move before offering nothing coming home.

Itsaknockout just keeps getting the job done for Starlight Stables, who always seems to develop a promising three-year-old this time of year. The colt raced between horses down the backstretch, moved up on the turn then looked like a winner until Ortiz steered Upstart into his path. His win in the Fountain of Youth was a backwards move off his fast win going a mile on January 4 against allowance foes, but it should set him up well down the road.

That blur in the homestretch was Frammento, trained by none other than Nick Zito who is back on the Triple Crown trail. The colt added blinkers and Johnny Velazquez for the Fountain of Youth and made up nine lengths on the leaders from the far turn to the wire. With Zito at the helm, expect more improvement.

Don't know how to compare these horses with their California counterparts. Have no idea how Dortmund (Big Brown) and American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) compare to Upstart, but these are some solid horses racing in the East.

I would have disqualified Upstart for bearing out in the stretch into Itsaknockout's path. Ortiz was making no effort to keep him straight. The final margin of 2 1/2 lengths might indicate that it did not affect the outcome but the foul occurred when Itsaknockout pulled to within a half-length and had a ton of momentum.

Elsewhere, Main Sequence's (Aldeberan) final surge in the deep stretch to win the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) was sensational. He covered his last furlong in 11.20 seconds and lengthened his enormous stride with ease.

After a modest pace, it looked like Twilight Eclipse (Purim) might pull off the mile upset when he had a length cushion at the sixteenth pole but Main Sequence devoured him; just like he had the previous four times they faced each other. Considering Main Sequence was not fully cranked up, it was an awesome finish and now he goes on to the $6 million Sheema Classic (UAE-G1) at 1 1/2 miles at Meydan in Dubai.

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Friday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Aqueduct   (4th) Miss Bellamy, 3-1
    (5th) Agawa, 4-1
Charles Town   (3rd) Devils Dinero, 3-1
    (6th) Julia's Medal, 6-1
Delta Downs   (6th) Pure Tsu Tsu, 4-1
    (8th) Valid Agenda, 6-1
Fair Grounds   (2nd) C R Knight, 9-2
    (4th) Motormech, 7-2
Golden Gate Fields   (1st) Private Joke, 3-1
    (5th) Hurricane Lake, 4-1
Gulfstream Park   (3rd) Miss Relativity, 5-1
    (8th) Street Game, 4-1
Hawthorne   (1st) Rivrav, 5-1
    (7th) Riley Rocks, 4-1
Laurel Park   (6th) Gin Fuzz, 9-2
    (7th) Lo and Behold, 3-1
Oaklawn Park   (3rd) Miss Addicate, 9-2
    (4th) Ravishingly, 7-2
Penn National   (2nd) Formal Wire, 9-2
    (5th) Spartianos, 3-1
Sam Houston   (7th) Darkness Love, 5-1
    (8th) Seneca Destiny, 4-1
Santa Anita   (2nd) Rosewhitenblue, 4-1
    (3rd) Which Market, 7-2
Tampa Bay Downs   (2nd) Tax Breaker, 4-1
    (6th) Charming Verse, 3-1
Turfway Park   (2nd) Yankee Scholar, 9-2
    (4th) Bee Bee Q, 3-1

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.

Announcements

Help Wanted

A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.