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El Kabeir polishes off Wood preparations

El Kabeir will have danced every dance in Aqueduct's series of Derby preps (NYRA/Coglianese/Susie Raisher)
El Kabeir (Scat Daddy), winner of the Gotham (G3) and Jerome (G3) at Aqueduct, had his final tune-up for Saturday's $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) Monday morning, breezing five furlongs over Belmont Park's training track in 1:01.12. His time ranked as the second fastest of 28 works at the distance.

With exercise rider Simon Harris aboard, El Kabeir went out shortly after the second renovation break at 9:30 a.m. (EDT). Trainer John Terranova caught the gray going the first quarter in :25 and change, and coming home in :35 3/5.

"The clockers got him galloping out in 1:13 3/5, just as easy as can be," added Terranova, who trains El Kabeir for Zayat Stables. "He went great, great. We were really happy. It went perfect, just as we were hoping. He came out great and is cooling out really well."

Among those expected to face El Kabeir in the 1 1/8-mile Wood, New York's final major prep for the Kentucky Derby, are the fourth- and fifth-place finishers from the Gotham, West Point Thoroughbreds' Toasting Master (Congrats) and Phil Birsch's Tendencur (Warrior's Reward), along with Godolphin Racing's Frosted (Tapit), most recently fourth in the Fountain of Youth (G2).

Also running will be the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Far From Over (Blame), who bested El Kabeir in the Withers (G3) and then returned to Palm Beach Downs, and last year's Champagne (G1) victor, Daredevil (More Than Ready), who went a half in :48 4/5 on Saturday at Belmont.

Far From Over and the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Frosted will be flown from Florida to New York on Thursday.

McLaughlin said Monday morning that Ocean Knight (Curlin), who had been under consideration for the Wood, would not make the trip after working 1:00 4/5 at Palm Meadows.

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Keeneland opens 15-day spring meet with Transylvania featured

Palm Beach victor Eh Cumpari will go for two stakes wins in a row in the Transylvania on Keeneland's opening day (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Keeneland begins its 2015 Spring Meet on Friday with an exciting two days of racing headlined by the $1 million Blue Grass (G1), which moves up a week as part of a richer, re-ordered Spring Meet stakes calendar. The card for Saturday features five graded stakes races worth $2.275 million, including the Blue Grass and $500,000 Ashland (G1).

The Blue Grass is a prestigious 1 1/8-mile prep race for top three-year-olds aiming to run in the Kentucky Derby (G1). For 2015, Keeneland increased the purse of the spring's signature race by $250,000 to make the stakes worth $1 million and one of North American's richest Kentucky Derby preps. The Blue Grass was previously worth $750,000. The race also was moved to the first Saturday of the Spring Meet, which is four weeks before the Kentucky Derby, and will be run the same day as the Ashland, a fixture on the opening Saturday card and a significant Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep.

NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of the Blue Grass and a replay of the Ashland on Saturday from 5-7 p.m.

In all, Keeneland's 15-day Spring Meet features 16 stakes races worth $4.35 million.

The Spring Meet runs through April 24, with live racing Wednesday through Sunday. Gates open at 11 a.m. (EDT); post time for the first race is 1:05 p.m. except on April 4 and April 11, when first post is 12:35 p.m. Keeneland is closed this Sunday due to the Easter holiday.

The shift of the Blue Grass to the first Saturday of the Spring Meet makes opening weekend one of the most impressive slates in racing. Three other graded stakes traditionally featured on the Blue Grass undercard will join the opening Saturday lineup and each has earned a purse enhancement: the $350,000 Madison (G1) for older fillies and mares going seven furlongs, up $50,000 from last year; the $300,000 Commonwealth (G3), for older horses at seven furlongs, up $125,000; and the $125,000 Shakertown (G3) for older horses at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, up $25,000.

Other prominent stakes this spring are the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile (G1) on the turf for older horses on April 10, and the $250,000 Lexington (G3), a 1 1/16-mile race on April 11 for three-year-olds with Triple Crown hopes.

The opening day feature is the $100,000 Transylvania (G3), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for three-year-olds. Luck of the Kitten (Kitten's Joy), a close second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) when last seen in November, is the likely favorite in his sophomore debut. Prior to the Breeders' Cup, Luck of the Kitten had won the Zuma Beach at Santa Anita and finished second in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile.

Other leading contenders are Eh Cumpari (Elusive Quality), recent winner of the Palm Beach at Gulfstream; Divisidero (Kitten's Joy), a close third in the Palm Beach in his stakes debut; Night Prowler (Giant's Causeway), who captured the Dania Beach (G3) at Gulfstream prior to a troubled fifth in the Palm Beach; A Lot (Tapit), a recent allowance winner after running second in the Dania Beach; Tuba (Magna Graduate), upset winner of the Black Gold at Fair Grounds; and last-out maiden winners Saham (Lemon Drop Kid) and Danish Dynaformer (Dynaformer).

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Pimlico meet commences with hi-def signal, low-takeout Pick 5

The spring meet at Old Hilltop will feature a high-definition TV signal and 12 percent takeout Pick 5 (Jeff Synder/Maryland Jockey Club)

The Maryland Jockey Club announced Monday it has invested $1.5 million to broadcast the 2015 spring meet at Pimlico, which begins Thursday, in high-definition television.

Along with the installation of approximately 150 new high-definition televisions throughout Pimlico, opening day will also feature all new graphics on its daily broadcast. The Maryland Jockey Club has partnered with International Sound Corporation on the upgrades at Pimlico.

The Maryland Jockey Club's upgrade to its daily broadcast at Pimlico comes after investing approximately $7 million in Laurel.

"We are very excited about going high-definition and anxious for the public to see the new graphics on our daily show," said Maryland Jockey Club General Manager Sal Sinatra. "Pimlico is an historic track, and it plays hosts to one of sport's most iconic events in the Preakness S. (G1). I think our fans will be pleased with the new direction we're taking for a more vibrant telecast."

There will be free admission and live programs Thursday. First race post is 1:10 p.m. (EDT). The spring meet runs through June 6 and will be highlighted by the 140th running of the Preakness on May 16 and Black-Eyed Susan Day on May 15.

The Maryland Jockey Club announced earlier this month that it would offer a Pick 5 with an industry-low 12-percent takeout during the Pimlico meet, as well as a 10-cent Rainbow 6.

The Rainbow 6 will be offered on the last six races of each race day. The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is paid out only when there is a single ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 60 percent of that day's pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 40 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

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Graham, Amoss, Moss take Fair Grounds titles

Three players who teamed up for several scores throughout the 143rd Thoroughbred racing season were named meet champions at Fair Grounds, where James Graham was named leading rider, Tom Amoss named leading trainer and Maggi Moss named leading owner. A pair of three-year-olds who swept the sophomore stakes in their respective divisions, International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus) and I'm a Chatterbox (Munnings), were named co-horses of the meet in a tied vote.

James Graham, second in the Fair Grounds rider standings on four occasions, captured his first meet title at the New Orleans oval, tallying 106 wins over the 81-day meet, earning more than $3.2 million in purses. The 106 wins gave Graham his best Fair Grounds meet, a one-win improvement upon his 105 wins in the 2013-2014 racing season and provided him a 34-win margin of victory over his closest pursuers in the standings. Graham's biggest win of the season came in the $400,000 New Orleans H. (G2) last Saturday aboard Call Me George (Point Given), a 22-1 outsider. Not only was the New Orleans 'Cap the most prestigious win of the meet for Graham, it also marked his 2,000th career win as a rider.

New Orleans native Tom Amoss captured his 11th Fair Grounds training title and second in the last three years when recording 41 victories, six more than his closest challenger while his runners collected a meet-leading $1.29 million in earnings from 152 starts. Ranked second all time in training wins at the Fair Grounds, Amoss has now recorded 1,051 victories at his hometown racecourse, second only to Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg's estimated 1,210 local wins.

Maggi Moss once again prevailed as leading owner, with her 15 wins earning her a fifth consecutive year atop the standings. Moss' runners earned $437,695 while finishing in the exacta 52 percent of the time. Her royal blue and lime green silks could be found in the winner's circle after several stakes races, including the Thanksgiving H. and Bonapaw S. with stable star Delaunay (Smoke Glacken) and with Grand Contender (Strong Contender) after capturing the Buddy Diliberto Memorial S. -- both runners are conditioned by leading trainer Amoss.

The series of Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) preps at Fair Grounds was little more than a two-horse show this season, with both International Star and I'm a Chatterbox sweeping the trio of stakes in their respective divisions, earning them the shared title of Horse of the Meet.

International Star, owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and conditioned by Mike Maker, posted three impressive victories this year under jockey Miguel Mena, proving best in the Lecomte (G3), the Risen Star (G2) and the Louisiana Derby (G2). His counterpart in the three-year-old filly division was Fletcher and Carolyn Gray's Larry Jones-trained I'm a Chatterbox, who was successfully guided to victory in three dramatically differing styles by jockey Florent Geroux in the Silverbulletday S., the Rachel Alexandra (G3) and the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).

Voted on by 15 members of the media, the Fair Grounds racing office and the Fair Grounds publicity team, both International Star and I'm a Chatterbox received seven votes, with owner-trainer Jorge Gomez's hard-knocking Louisiana-bred Udoknowjack (Storm Day) receiving one vote after winning four races at the meet including Saturday's Star Guitar S.

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American Pharoah closes as 5-1 favorite in KDFW Pool 4

American Pharoah will race into the Derby the favorite in Pool 4 of the KDFW (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

Despite bobbling at the start and dislodging his right front shoe, champion American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) (#1) made his sophomore debut a dominating 6 1/4-length romp in the March 14 Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, and that helped propel the Bob Baffert trainee to close out the fourth and final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) as the 5-1 favorite.

Opening as the 9-2 favorite in Pool 4, American Pharoah will pay $13 for a $2 wager if he wins the May 2 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs. The bay opened and closed at the same odds in all three of the previous KDFW -- Pool 1 (12-1), Pool 2 (10-1) and Pool 3 (8-1) -- but was never favored, except as an individual interest in Pool 3, until wagering came to an end on Sunday in Pool 4.

Undefeated Grade 1 hero Dortmund (Big Brown) (#7), another Baffert trainee, is the second favorite in Pool 4 at 6-1. The chestnut most recently took the San Felipe S. (G2) at Santa Anita Park on March 7 and is five-for-five lifetime.

American Pharoah and Dortmund will make their final Kentucky Derby (G1) preps in different places, with the former heading to the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on April 11 and the latter going for a sweep of Santa Anita's major three-year-old stakes in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) next Saturday on April 4.

Mubtaahij (Dubawi) (#20), a new wagering interest in the KDFW, was the only other one to close at single-digit odds in Pool 4. The Irish-bred saw his 30-1 morning-line plummet to 8-1 by Future Wager close after romping by eight lengths in Saturday's U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) undercard at Meydan.

The mutuel field or "All Other 3YOs (#24)," a perennial favorite in the KDFW, opened at 8-1 in Pool 4 and closed at 11-1 to be the fifth choice behind Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) (#5), who was bet down to 10-1 following his five-length triumph in the March 7 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

Click for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4 final odds and $2 exacta probables.

Wagering on Pool 4 of the KDFW was offered at Churchill Downs and racetracks throughout North America; on the web via, the official online wagering site of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs Inc.; 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. offered free Ultimate Past Performances for wagering interests in Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Brisnet also has complimentary past performances for all Triple Crown nominees.

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In brief

Horse of the Year California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) will get a two-week break in the Rae Guest yard before he heads to the Newmarket gallops. The big chestnut, who has been under the care of trainer Art Sherman for his entire career, will transfer to the Guest barn for a tilt at Royal Ascot. "It's a great honor to have him and we're very lucky to be that close to a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner," Guest told Racing UK. "We're going to give him two weeks off, then get him back up and see how he is." The Lockinge S. (Eng-G1) at Newbury May 16 could be a possible first European start for California Chrome, while the Prince of Wales's S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot June 17 remains the ultimate target. "Art's son Alan is going to come over and see him in about a month's time and make a decision which way they go with him," Guest continued. "Because they are used to training on their own in America, we will probably just send him out with another horse to start with. We will try and train him quite normally, but not with the string, just with another gelding to lead him. It takes some getting used to Newmarket to start with. Whether he goes for the Lockinge will be found out in the next month because it will be different for him. For a couple of weeks he will be getting used to Newmarket and English ways." Guest said the connection with Sherman was established through Chris Mills, who has horses with Guest. "His son Robbie worked for Art Sherman in California a couple of years ago and he was out there riding before Saturday's racing in Dubai," Guest said. "We had a chat and they asked if the horse came to England could he stay with me and liaise with Robbie, who they knew."...

Champion filly Untapable (Tapit) blitzed six furlongs in 1:10 4/5 over Oaklawn Park's fast main track on Monday, turning in by far the fastest of four moves at the distance. The others -- all fellow Steve Asmussen trainees -- didn't crack 1:12. Sophomore maiden Hottap (Tapit) clocked 1:12, while multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Tapiture (Tapit) and Arkansas Derby (G1) candidate Bold Conquest (Curlin) each went in 1:12 1/5. Untapable was upset as the 1-10 favorite in her reappearance in the March 14 Azeri (G2), but the Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred appears poised to rebound. "Reset the smoke detectors at OP," Winchell's Manager David Fiske tweeted after Monday's work...

Laurel closed its 2015 winter meet Sunday with total average handle up 14.6 percent overall and 15.8 percent on its live product. Laurel's average daily handle was $1.764 million compared to $1.540 in 2014. Daily export handle increased 20.2 percent from $1.179 million in 2014 to $1.417 million this winter. Laurel's increases on average handle came despite a mid-Atlantic dispute and the loss of 10 live days of racing -- 12 total days -- due to wintry weather and track conditions. Despite the lost days, total wagering was down only 5.4 percent, from $79.8 million to $75.5 million. "Despite losing 12 days this winter and with the mid-Atlantic dispute, the numbers are quite respectable overall," said Maryland Jockey Club General Manager Sal Sinatra. "There's no doubt we would have beaten our 2014 numbers for total handle if we had raced just a few more days. We want to thank our fans, many coming to Laurel in less than ideal weather conditions, as well as our horsemen, who put on a great show each day. We will continue working hard each day to improve Maryland racing and our facilities. We believe there is tremendous potential for growing Maryland Thoroughbred racing."...

Conditioner Jeremy Noseda apologized for comments he made after trainee Sloan Avenue (Candy Ride) was narrowly defeated in Saturday's Goldophin Mile (UAE-G2). After the race, Noseda aired his frustration, believing that the 15 post position cost his charge the race. "I knew my horse was ready to run the race of his life, but after the draw I realized the odds were heavily stacked against us," he wrote on "My passion, competitive desire to win the race and the frustration of going so close just came to the surface when I was interviewed moments afterwards. I apologize to the owner and connections of a very brave winner, if I upset them. Likewise, I want to apologize to the Dubai Racing Club. My comments were made in the heat of the moment."...

A case of strangles was confirmed at Newmarket in the barn of trainer Marco Botti. The horse, recently returned from the Dubai World Cup Carnival, has been moved into isolation and two stablemates who shared a flight from Dubai are being monitored at Botti's yard at the Warren Hills training grounds. This is the first strangles outbreak in Newmarket since 2009. "All three horses came back on the same flight," Botti told Racing Post. "We took one straight to a pre-training yard after he tested positive for strangles, and he has since been moved to an isolation yard out of town. We didn't want to take any chances with him and are monitoring the other two at our second yard, the White Stable. Their first tests have both proved negative and we are taking precautions by only exercising them in the afternoons as it's not fair on the other trainers if they go out normally. At the moment our main yard at Prestige Place is not affected and we are able to run horses and operate as normal." Mark Tompkins, chairman of the Newmarket Trainers Federation, stated, "I've only just heard about it and hopefully the vets have caught it in time as it's a horrible disease which is so easily spread. Trainers should be very aware about this outbreak of a disease which can shut racing down. It's all very well having all this international racing, but with no quarantine for some places, this is what can happen. I would hope all the horses in Marco's yard are being tested."

Trainer Stats


Trainer   Starts   Wins   Win %
Mark Hubley   15   8   53
Jose Antonio Moreno   19   8   42
John T. Toscano, Jr.   26   10   38
John C. Servis   32   12   38
Jeffrey L. Greenhill   30   11   37
George R. Bryant   22   8   36
Gerald Russel Aschinger   17   6   35
Joel Berndt   20   7   35
Wesley A. Ward   66   22   33
Gary W. Cross   27   9   33
Paula Loescher   24   8   33
Larry R. Reed   24   8   33
David Wolochuk   15   5   33
Jamie Ness   121   39   32
J. Jay Kruljac   28   9   32
John F. Martin   47   15   32
Lloyd C. Mason   19   6   32
Wade Rarick   19   6   32
Ernesto Alcoverde   16   5   31
Maria Bowersock   16   5   31
Benny R. Feliciano   16   5   31
Mario L. Garcia   16   5   31
Erin C. Groff   16   5   31
Gary Morris, Sr.   16   5   31
Joseph M. Poole   29   9   31
Ray Spencer   29   9   31

Trainer/Jockey Stats


Trainer/Jockey Combo   Starts   Wins   Win %
Gary P. Gullo/Angel Cruz   18   9   50%
Jamie Ness/Antonio A. Gallardo   48   22   46%
Thomas M. Amoss/Gerard Melancon   29   13   45%
Chad C. Brown/Javier Castellano   24   10   42%
Brad H. Cox/Florent Geroux   15   6   40%
Jeffrey A. Radosevich/Luis Raul Rivera   29   11   38%
Scott Becker/Santo Sanjur   16   6   38%
Ramon Preciado/Roberto Alvarado, Jr.   16   6   38%
Rudy R. Rodriguez/Irad Ortiz, Jr.   22   8   36%
Monica Ortega/Jesus Osuna   31   11   35%
Jeff Bonde/Dennis Carr   17   6   35%
Lynn Chleborad/Alex Birzer   17   6   35%
Jose Luna Silva/Jorge Martin Bourdieu   17   6   35%
Bernard S. Flint/Francisco C. Torres   20   7   35%
Joe Woodard/Christian P. Pilares   33   11   33%
Steve Hobby/Joseph Rocco, Jr.   24   8   33%
Samuel Breaux/Gerard Melancon   18   6   33%
John Haran/Vicente Gudiel   18   6   33%
Jerry Hollendorfer/Rafael Bejarano   18   6   33%
Douglas W. Danner/Dean A. Sarvis   15   5   33%
David Jacobson/Angel Cruz   15   5   33%
Jamie Ness/Luis Saez   15   5   33%
Danny Pish/Deshawn L. Parker   15   5   33%
Steven M. Asmussen/Gerardo Mora   49   16   33%
Bob Baffert/Martin Garcia   37   12   32%
Henry Dominguez/Enrique Portillo Gomez   37   12   32%

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather


For Tuesday

Mahoning Valley   (2nd) Stackedndelivered, 5-1
    (4th) Air Baca, 9-2
Mountaineer   (3rd) Bear O, 3-1
    (9th) Kudzu Dance, 4-1
Parx Racing   (1st) Hi Ho Bambino, 3-1
    (9th) Simone Templar, 7-2
Turf Paradise   (4th) Bella Luz, 3-1
    (8th) Delta Bravo, 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.


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