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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2015

Racing Headlines

Shared Belief faces dozen in Santa Anita Handicap

Despite beating Horse of the Year California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) convincingly in the February 7 San Antonio (G2), the once-beaten champion Shared Belief (Candy Ride) did not scare away many rivals for Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita H. (G1). The 125-pound highweight will break from post 5 in the "Big 'Cap" field of 13 over 1 1/4 miles.

While many of the nation's other leading older horses head off to Dubai later this month for the World Cup (UAE-G1), the connections of Shared Belief have preferred sticking close to home with the four-year-old gelding. He figures to be an overwhelming favorite to give jockey Mike Smith an unprecedented third straight win in the race, but the lone setback of his career came in last fall's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) over the same track and distance when he was bumped leaving the gate in a similarly congested field.

Smith was aboard the now-retired Game On Dude in the last two editions of the Big 'Cap, including last year's stakes-record performance in a time of 1:58.17.

The most notable opponent of Shared Belief's is Moreno (Ghostzapper), who also suffered a bad break in the Breeders' Cup Classic and wound up last of 14. Some observers felt that if not for being interfered with at the startt he would have challenged eventual winner Bayern (Offlee Wild), who led wire-to-wire, in the early going and perhaps changed the outcome of the race.

Moreno has had an uneven career, but earned a signature victory last August in the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga. That performance was book-ended by second-place efforts in the Suburban H. (G2) and Woodward (G2). However, the five-year-old has never won in seven tries at Santa Anita nor has he won in six attempts over 10 furlongs.

Imperative (Bernardini), seventh in last year's Big 'Cap, shocked Game On Dude and Moreno in the Charles Town Classic (G2) last April, but has placed in only two of seven subsequent starts. He has been well beaten by Shared Belief in their past four meetings.

Hard Aces (Hard Spun) was privately purchased following a four-length romp in the $72,000 Louisiana at Fair Grounds in mid-January, but is taking a big step up in class on Saturday. Also with form to find is Sr. Quisqueyano (Exclusive Quality), an upset 20-1 winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream last time.

The Big 'Cap has attracted an unusual amount of interest from several horses better known for their turf form. Dynamic Sky (Sky Mesa) captured the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith H. (G3) at Aqueduct in November, but has been unplaced in two grass outings at Santa Anita this winter. Also in this category are Patrioticandproud (Proud Citizen), runner-up in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) and San Gabriel (G2), and Diamond Bachelor (War Front), demoted from second in the 1 1/4-mile San Marcos (G2) two back.

The field is rounded out by multiple graded stakes-placed You Know I Know (Simon Pure); South American imports Bronzo (Fusaichi Pegasus), who ran fourth in the San Antonio, and Catch a Flight (Giant's Causeway), a recent first-level allowance winner; and longshots Cool Samurai (First Samurai) and Crimson Giant (Formal Gold).

The other top-level event of Saturday's 11-race program is the $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) for older grass horses. Winning Prize (Pure Prize) was victorious by a half-length in the 2014 edition, but fared poorly in an abbreviated campaign afterwards, finishing sixth in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) and Play the King (Can-G2).

The likely favorite is Summer Front (War Front), the multiple Grade 3-winning six-year-old who was runner-up in the Shoemaker Mile and Eddie Read (G1), and then fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), in his last three trips west.

Silentio (Silent Name), second by a nose in the 2013 Kilroe and fifth last year, was a sub-par last of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last time after being squeezed at the start. A mile is more his game as he's won or placed in many of the circuit's leading races at mile or thereabouts.

Looking to make amends for a disappointing sixth in the Twilight Derby (G2) in October is Ring Weekend (Tapit), who previously scored in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on dirt and the Saranac (G3) and Hill Prince (G3) on grass.

Another intriguing prospect is multiple Grade 3 scorer Za Approval (Ghostzapper), whose several Grade 1-placings include a second to Wise Dan (Wiseman's Ferry) in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Mile over the course and distance. He was most recently second in the Arcadia (G2), finishing ahead of returning rival Home Run Kitten (Kitten's Joy). The latter captured the Eddie D (G3) in September and is four-for-nine on the Santa Anita lawn.

Others of note are the turf sprint specialist in the Dimension (Medicean) and the veteran Mr. Commons (Artie Schiller), the runner-up in the 2012 Kilroe Mile.

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Shared Belief faces dozen in Santa Anita Handicap

Despite beating Horse of the Year California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) convincingly in the February 7 San Antonio (G2), the once-beaten champion Shared Belief (Candy Ride) did not scare away many rivals for Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita H. (G1). The 125-pound highweight will break from post 5 in the "Big 'Cap" field of 13 over 1 1/4 miles.

While many of the nation's other leading older horses head off to Dubai later this month for the World Cup (UAE-G1), the connections of Shared Belief have preferred sticking close to home with the four-year-old gelding. He figures to be an overwhelming favorite to give jockey Mike Smith an unprecedented third straight win in the race, but the lone setback of his career came in last fall's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) over the same track and distance when he was bumped leaving the gate in a similarly congested field.

Smith was aboard the now-retired Game On Dude in the last two editions of the Big 'Cap, including last year's stakes-record performance in a time of 1:58.17.

The most notable opponent of Shared Belief's is Moreno (Ghostzapper), who also suffered a bad break in the Breeders' Cup Classic and wound up last of 14. Some observers felt that if not for being interfered with at the startt he would have challenged eventual winner Bayern (Offlee Wild), who led wire-to-wire, in the early going and perhaps changed the outcome of the race.

Moreno has had an uneven career, but earned a signature victory last August in the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga. That performance was book-ended by second-place efforts in the Suburban H. (G2) and Woodward (G2). However, the five-year-old has never won in seven tries at Santa Anita nor has he won in six attempts over 10 furlongs.

Imperative (Bernardini), seventh in last year's Big 'Cap, shocked Game On Dude and Moreno in the Charles Town Classic (G2) last April, but has placed in only two of seven subsequent starts. He has been well beaten by Shared Belief in their past four meetings.

Hard Aces (Hard Spun) was privately purchased following a four-length romp in the $72,000 Louisiana at Fair Grounds in mid-January, but is taking a big step up in class on Saturday. Also with form to find is Sr. Quisqueyano (Exclusive Quality), an upset 20-1 winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream last time.

The Big 'Cap has attracted an unusual amount of interest from several horses better known for their turf form. Dynamic Sky (Sky Mesa) captured the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith H. (G3) at Aqueduct in November, but has been unplaced in two grass outings at Santa Anita this winter. Also in this category are Patrioticandproud (Proud Citizen), runner-up in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) and San Gabriel (G2), and Diamond Bachelor (War Front), demoted from second in the 1 1/4-mile San Marcos (G2) two back.

The field is rounded out by multiple graded stakes-placed You Know I Know (Simon Pure); South American imports Bronzo (Fusaichi Pegasus), who ran fourth in the San Antonio, and Catch a Flight (Giant's Causeway), a recent first-level allowance winner; and longshots Cool Samurai (First Samurai) and Crimson Giant (Formal Gold).

The other top-level event of Saturday's 11-race program is the $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) for older grass horses. Winning Prize (Pure Prize) was victorious by a half-length in the 2014 edition, but fared poorly in an abbreviated campaign afterwards, finishing sixth in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) and Play the King (Can-G2).

The likely favorite is Summer Front (War Front), the multiple Grade 3-winning six-year-old who was runner-up in the Shoemaker Mile and Eddie Read (G1), and then fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), in his last three trips west.

Silentio (Silent Name), second by a nose in the 2013 Kilroe and fifth last year, was a sub-par last of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last time after being squeezed at the start. A mile is more his game as he's won or placed in many of the circuit's leading races at mile or thereabouts.

Looking to make amends for a disappointing sixth in the Twilight Derby (G2) in October is Ring Weekend (Tapit), who previously scored in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on dirt and the Saranac (G3) and Hill Prince (G3) on grass.

Another intriguing prospect is multiple Grade 3 scorer Za Approval (Ghostzapper), whose several Grade 1-placings include a second to Wise Dan (Wiseman's Ferry) in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Mile over the course and distance. He was most recently second in the Arcadia (G2), finishing ahead of returning rival Home Run Kitten (Kitten's Joy). The latter captured the Eddie D (G3) in September and is four-for-nine on the Santa Anita lawn.

Others of note are the turf sprint specialist in the Dimension (Medicean) and the veteran Mr. Commons (Artie Schiller), the runner-up in the 2012 Kilroe Mile.

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Carpe Diem returns in salty nine-horse Tampa Bay Derby

Carpe Diem was a runaway winner of the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall  (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) figures to face a stiff challenge as he makes his highly-anticipated 2015 bow in Saturday's $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). A 6 1/4-length winner of the Breeders' Futurity (G1) in his second start, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt established himself as one of the winter-book Kentucky Derby favorites when concluding his juvenile season with a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

A $1.6 million purchase for Stonestreet Stables and WinStar Farm, Carpe Diem registered a field-best 100 BRIS Speed rating when annexing the Breeders' Futurity. He shows three bullet works for his return and John Velazquez will be back aboard.

The Tampa Bay Derby serves as a Kentucky Derby qualifier, offering points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers, and Ocean Knight (Curlin) will be looking to earn his first points toward a berth at Churchill Downs on May 2.

The bay colt made his career debut in mid-December on Aqueduct's inner track, easily capturing a six-furlong maiden special weight, and followed with a commendable victory in the January 31 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, overcoming a wide trip to score by a neck. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin immediately committed Ocean Knight to the Tampa Bay Derby afterward, but was forced to consider Saturday's Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct when Pletcher announced Carpe Diem's participation due to common ownership.

The close proximity to his South Florida base at Palm Meadows, coupled with the weather uncertainty in New York, led McLaughlin to recommit the Stonestreet Stables colorbearer to the Tampa Bay Derby earlier this week and Ocean Knight drew much better in post 2 Saturday after breaking from gate 12 last time. Irad Ortiz Jr. will stick with the promising Kentucky Derby hopeful.

Three-time stakes winner Souper Colossal (War Front) has been re-directed to the Tampa Bay Derby following last weekend's washout of the Swale (G2) at Gulfstream Park. After sustaining his first setback with a seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the Eddie Plesa Jr. trainee opened his sophomore campaign on turf, winning the five-furlong Texas Glitters going away on February 7. Joel Rosario, who picked up the mount last time, retains the assignment.

Divining Rod (Tapit) just missed on the front end when making his stakes debut in the Sam Davis, finishing five lengths clear of third, and the speedy colt figures to show the way again from his rail post with Luis Garcia. Sam Davis third-placer My Johnny Be Good (Colonel John) is also back along with fourth-placer Ami's Flatter (Flatter), who adds first-time Lasix and blinkers for conditioner Josie Carroll.

Danzig Moon (Malibu Moon) will make his first stakes attempt for Mark Casse following a visually-impressive maiden win at Gulfstream Park on February 7. Julien Leparoux will accompany the well-bred colt from the far outside post position.

The $200,000 Florida Oaks (G3) is one of three supporting stakes on the Tampa Bay Derby undercard and a full field of 14 sophomore fillies, highlighted by the Chad Brown-trained Consumer Credit (More Than Ready), is set for the 1 1/16-mile turf affair.

Consumer Credit has won three straight, including the January 24 Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream, and tops the field in BRIS Prime Power (148.9). Edgard Zayas has the call. Her main rivals include Sweetest Chant runner-up Quality Rocks (Rock Hard Ten); recent Gulfstream allowance winner Lismore (Tiznow), who finished second to Consumer Credit two starts back in the Wait a While; and Don't Leave Me (Lemon Drop Kid), who makes her first appearance since recording a troubled sixth at short odds in the Natalma (G2) last fall.

Multiple Grade 1 queen Stephanie's Kitten (Kitten's Joy) is the one to beat in the $150,000 Hillsborough (G3), a 1 1/8-mile turf event that has drawn 12 fillies and mares. Last seen finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), the Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned mare will make her first appearance at Tampa and keeps Velazquez in the saddle.

Filimbi (Mizzen Mast) will make her first appearance since capturing the November 2 Goldikova (G2) at Santa Anita and Sparkling Review (Lemon Drop Kid) has a three-race win streak in tow, easily capturing the Mrs. Revere (G2) and Valley View (G3) last fall.

The stakes action kicks off with a 13-horse field, including an also-eligible, in the $60,000 Challenger at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Old Time Hockey (Smarty Jones) goes turf to dirt for Tom Proctor following a head second in the January 24 Tampa Bay (G3) and Grade 1-placed General a Rod (Roman Ruler), a Triple Crown veteran last year, will make his first start for Pletcher.

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Carpe Diem returns in salty nine-horse Tampa Bay Derby

Carpe Diem was a runaway winner of the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall  (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) figures to face a stiff challenge as he makes his highly-anticipated 2015 bow in Saturday's $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). A 6 1/4-length winner of the Breeders' Futurity (G1) in his second start, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt established himself as one of the winter-book Kentucky Derby favorites when concluding his juvenile season with a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

A $1.6 million purchase for Stonestreet Stables and WinStar Farm, Carpe Diem registered a field-best 100 BRIS Speed rating when annexing the Breeders' Futurity. He shows three bullet works for his return and John Velazquez will be back aboard.

The Tampa Bay Derby serves as a Kentucky Derby qualifier, offering points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers, and Ocean Knight (Curlin) will be looking to earn his first points toward a berth at Churchill Downs on May 2.

The bay colt made his career debut in mid-December on Aqueduct's inner track, easily capturing a six-furlong maiden special weight, and followed with a commendable victory in the January 31 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, overcoming a wide trip to score by a neck. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin immediately committed Ocean Knight to the Tampa Bay Derby afterward, but was forced to consider Saturday's Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct when Pletcher announced Carpe Diem's participation due to common ownership.

The close proximity to his South Florida base at Palm Meadows, coupled with the weather uncertainty in New York, led McLaughlin to recommit the Stonestreet Stables colorbearer to the Tampa Bay Derby earlier this week and Ocean Knight drew much better in post 2 Saturday after breaking from gate 12 last time. Irad Ortiz Jr. will stick with the promising Kentucky Derby hopeful.

Three-time stakes winner Souper Colossal (War Front) has been re-directed to the Tampa Bay Derby following last weekend's washout of the Swale (G2) at Gulfstream Park. After sustaining his first setback with a seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the Eddie Plesa Jr. trainee opened his sophomore campaign on turf, winning the five-furlong Texas Glitters going away on February 7. Joel Rosario, who picked up the mount last time, retains the assignment.

Divining Rod (Tapit) just missed on the front end when making his stakes debut in the Sam Davis, finishing five lengths clear of third, and the speedy colt figures to show the way again from his rail post with Luis Garcia. Sam Davis third-placer My Johnny Be Good (Colonel John) is also back along with fourth-placer Ami's Flatter (Flatter), who adds first-time Lasix and blinkers for conditioner Josie Carroll.

Danzig Moon (Malibu Moon) will make his first stakes attempt for Mark Casse following a visually-impressive maiden win at Gulfstream Park on February 7. Julien Leparoux will accompany the well-bred colt from the far outside post position.

The $200,000 Florida Oaks (G3) is one of three supporting stakes on the Tampa Bay Derby undercard and a full field of 14 sophomore fillies, highlighted by the Chad Brown-trained Consumer Credit (More Than Ready), is set for the 1 1/16-mile turf affair.

Consumer Credit has won three straight, including the January 24 Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream, and tops the field in BRIS Prime Power (148.9). Edgard Zayas has the call. Her main rivals include Sweetest Chant runner-up Quality Rocks (Rock Hard Ten); recent Gulfstream allowance winner Lismore (Tiznow), who finished second to Consumer Credit two starts back in the Wait a While; and Don't Leave Me (Lemon Drop Kid), who makes her first appearance since recording a troubled sixth at short odds in the Natalma (G2) last fall.

Multiple Grade 1 queen Stephanie's Kitten (Kitten's Joy) is the one to beat in the $150,000 Hillsborough (G3), a 1 1/8-mile turf event that has drawn 12 fillies and mares. Last seen finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), the Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned mare will make her first appearance at Tampa and keeps Velazquez in the saddle.

Filimbi (Mizzen Mast) will make her first appearance since capturing the November 2 Goldikova (G2) at Santa Anita and Sparkling Review (Lemon Drop Kid) has a three-race win streak in tow, easily capturing the Mrs. Revere (G2) and Valley View (G3) last fall.

The stakes action kicks off with a 13-horse field, including an also-eligible, in the $60,000 Challenger at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Old Time Hockey (Smarty Jones) goes turf to dirt for Tom Proctor following a head second in the January 24 Tampa Bay (G3) and Grade 1-placed General a Rod (Roman Ruler), a Triple Crown veteran last year, will make his first start for Pletcher.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

El Kabeir tops Gotham; Salutos Amigos rematches with Dads Caps in Tom Fool

El Kabeir took the Jerome in a driving rain storm (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Aqueduct has carded three stakes for its Saturday program, but taking center stage on the day will be the $400,000 Gotham S. (G3) as 10 sophomores try to earn points toward a starting berth in the May 2 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.

The Gotham is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series of races and awards points on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the top four. All but one entered in the 1 1/16-mile affair is Triple Crown nominated and would like to ensure a starting berth in the Run for the Roses.

Trainer John Terranova II is utilizing the Aqueduct path to the Derby for El Kabeir (Scat Daddy) as the gray colt makes his third straight start at the track this season.

Closing out his juvenile season with a runner-up effort in the Nashua S. (G2) on Aqueduct's main track and a head triumph in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs last fall, El Kabeir kicked off 2015 with a romping 4 3/4-length score in the January 3 Jerome S. (G3) over the inner dirt at Aqueduct. Last month the Florida-bred dueled throughout the Withers S. (G3) over the inner to finish second behind Far From Over (Blame).

A good enough run in the Gotham will likely see El Kabeir and Far From Over rematch in the $1 million Wood Memorial S. (G1) on April 4, as the Withers winner is training up to that nine-furlong contest. In the meantime, El Kabeir won't have to contend with him in the Gotham while taking on some new rivals.

Two familiar faces he will see on Saturday are Classy Class (Discreetly Mine) and Tencendur (Warrior's Reward). The former was fourth in the Remsen S. (G2) in his 2014 finale prior to running third in the Withers last out. The Kiaran McLaughlin charge could improve in this spot while making his second start after the layoff and gets a jockey switch to Junior Alvarado. The George Weaver-trained Tencendur tried stakes rivals for the first time in the Withers and was a one-paced fourth on the line. He'll need to move forward with Cornelio Velazquez returning to the irons.

Only two other runners in Saturday's Gotham have prior stakes experience. Combat Diver (Line of David) enters the race off a nose second in Laurel Park's Miracle Wood S. in his sophomore bow on February 16 while Toasting Master (Congrats) was well beaten when sixth in the Spectacular Bid S. and fourth in the OBS Champion S.

That leaves four maiden winners and one who has yet to score a victory to line up in the Gotham. Dontbetwithbruno (Tiz Wonderful) eked out a close score over track and distance in his third try for trainer Todd Pletcher while stablemate Blame Jim (Sharp Humor) finished second in an allowance/optional claimer on February 8 after taking his maiden debut last July at Saratoga by three lengths.

Salutos Amigos is seeking his fourth straight stakes victory in the Tom Fool (NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Lieutenant Colonel also recorded a close one, albeit in his initial try, for Chad Brown on February 7 at Gulfstream Park, and Tiz Shea D (Tiznow), the one not nominated to the Triple Crown, will be saddled by Bill Mott in the Gotham after capturing his maiden bow by four lengths under the tutelage of Jason Servis at Parx Racing on the same day.

Uninfluended is the only non-winner in the field, finishing fourth in his debut and second by a neck on February 22 for Pletcher.

The stakes action kicks off Saturday at Aqueduct in the $100,000 Cat Cay S. sending six distaffers 1 1/16 miles on the inner dirt, and is followed one race later by the $200,000 Tom Fool H. (G3) at six furlongs. That latter event will feature a rematch between Salutos Amigos (Salute the Sarge) and Dads Caps (Discreet Cat), the respective one-two in the February 7 Toboggan S. (G3).

Salutos Amigos ran down his pacesetting rival to be 1 3/4 lengths clear on the wire as the 3-5 choice and is likely to go off favored again in the Tom Fool with Velasquez taking the reins from Irad Ortiz.

Unlike his brother, who travels south to ride unbeaten Ocean Knight (Curlin) in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Jose Ortiz is sticking with Dads Caps, who is seeking his first victory since a 1 1/2-length triumph in the Carter H. (G1) last April. The bay has been second or third in all but two of his starts since then, including last September's Vosburgh S. (G1), and is looking to go one better than his runner-up effort in the Tom Fool 12 months ago.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

El Kabeir tops Gotham; Salutos Amigos rematches with Dads Caps in Tom Fool

El Kabeir took the Jerome in a driving rain storm (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Aqueduct has carded three stakes for its Saturday program, but taking center stage on the day will be the $400,000 Gotham S. (G3) as 10 sophomores try to earn points toward a starting berth in the May 2 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.

The Gotham is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series of races and awards points on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the top four. All but one entered in the 1 1/16-mile affair is Triple Crown nominated and would like to ensure a starting berth in the Run for the Roses.

Trainer John Terranova II is utilizing the Aqueduct path to the Derby for El Kabeir (Scat Daddy) as the gray colt makes his third straight start at the track this season.

Closing out his juvenile season with a runner-up effort in the Nashua S. (G2) on Aqueduct's main track and a head triumph in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs last fall, El Kabeir kicked off 2015 with a romping 4 3/4-length score in the January 3 Jerome S. (G3) over the inner dirt at Aqueduct. Last month the Florida-bred dueled throughout the Withers S. (G3) over the inner to finish second behind Far From Over (Blame).

A good enough run in the Gotham will likely see El Kabeir and Far From Over rematch in the $1 million Wood Memorial S. (G1) on April 4, as the Withers winner is training up to that nine-furlong contest. In the meantime, El Kabeir won't have to contend with him in the Gotham while taking on some new rivals.

Two familiar faces he will see on Saturday are Classy Class (Discreetly Mine) and Tencendur (Warrior's Reward). The former was fourth in the Remsen S. (G2) in his 2014 finale prior to running third in the Withers last out. The Kiaran McLaughlin charge could improve in this spot while making his second start after the layoff and gets a jockey switch to Junior Alvarado. The George Weaver-trained Tencendur tried stakes rivals for the first time in the Withers and was a one-paced fourth on the line. He'll need to move forward with Cornelio Velazquez returning to the irons.

Only two other runners in Saturday's Gotham have prior stakes experience. Combat Diver (Line of David) enters the race off a nose second in Laurel Park's Miracle Wood S. in his sophomore bow on February 16 while Toasting Master (Congrats) was well beaten when sixth in the Spectacular Bid S. and fourth in the OBS Champion S.

That leaves four maiden winners and one who has yet to score a victory to line up in the Gotham. Dontbetwithbruno (Tiz Wonderful) eked out a close score over track and distance in his third try for trainer Todd Pletcher while stablemate Blame Jim (Sharp Humor) finished second in an allowance/optional claimer on February 8 after taking his maiden debut last July at Saratoga by three lengths.

Salutos Amigos is seeking his fourth straight stakes victory in the Tom Fool (NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Lieutenant Colonel also recorded a close one, albeit in his initial try, for Chad Brown on February 7 at Gulfstream Park, and Tiz Shea D (Tiznow), the one not nominated to the Triple Crown, will be saddled by Bill Mott in the Gotham after capturing his maiden bow by four lengths under the tutelage of Jason Servis at Parx Racing on the same day.

Uninfluended is the only non-winner in the field, finishing fourth in his debut and second by a neck on February 22 for Pletcher.

The stakes action kicks off Saturday at Aqueduct in the $100,000 Cat Cay S. sending six distaffers 1 1/16 miles on the inner dirt, and is followed one race later by the $200,000 Tom Fool H. (G3) at six furlongs. That latter event will feature a rematch between Salutos Amigos (Salute the Sarge) and Dads Caps (Discreet Cat), the respective one-two in the February 7 Toboggan S. (G3).

Salutos Amigos ran down his pacesetting rival to be 1 3/4 lengths clear on the wire as the 3-5 choice and is likely to go off favored again in the Tom Fool with Velasquez taking the reins from Irad Ortiz.

Unlike his brother, who travels south to ride unbeaten Ocean Knight (Curlin) in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Jose Ortiz is sticking with Dads Caps, who is seeking his first victory since a 1 1/2-length triumph in the Carter H. (G1) last April. The bay has been second or third in all but two of his starts since then, including last September's Vosburgh S. (G1), and is looking to go one better than his runner-up effort in the Tom Fool 12 months ago.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Daredevil stars in rescheduled Swale; tough trio return in GP 'Cap

Daredevil makes his belated three-year-old bow in the Swale (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Saturday's $200,000 Swale S. (G2) lost one and attracted two new entrants when the seven-furlong contest was redrawn by Gulfstream Park officials. The Swale and the $150,000 Palm Beach S. (G3) were both postponed from last Saturday, February 28, when the race program was called off after the 5TH race due to torrential rainstorms and thunderstorms.

Now joining the $300,000 Gulfstream Park H. (G2) on Saturday, the races were redrawn, leaving the Swale with eight and the Palm Beach attracting all but two of its original runners.

Despite the date change the Swale will still see its top draw compete on Saturday as Daredevil (More Than Ready) lines up for trainer Todd Pletcher for his three-year-old bow. The chestnut broke his maiden and took the Champagne S. (G1) at Belmont Park before closing out 2014 with a well-beaten last of 11 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on November 1.

"It rarely happens here but we deal with similar situations in New York, particularly this winter a lot," Pletcher said. "It's not ideal, but everyone's in the same boat. He's a very cool customer and nothing fazes him so far.

"I'm not really sure what happened," he added in regards to the Breeders' Cup, where Daredevil raced wide and never found himself in contention. "He got a wide trip on a track that probably wasn't playing that way, and he had had three races in a short period of time. He's a very talented horse. He showed that in his first two starts last year and he's come back and trained very well. He's a very efficient mover and just has a terrific action to him."

Regular rider Javier Castellano will be aboard Daredevil as the 123-pound highweight breaks from the rail.

X Y Jet (Kantharos) owns a track advantage over his rivals having run a close second in the Hutcheson S. (G2) over track and distance on January 24. The gray gelding was also a neck second in the Pasco S. at Tampa Bay Downs in his juvenile finale and in his first start for trainer Jorge Navarro after being conditioned by Antonio Sano.

"He's doing amazing," Navarro said. "The way he trained (last Sunday), I was like, 'Wow.' Even the exercise rider jumped off and said 'He would have won the race.' He was great and happy so we'll be set for Saturday."

Ready for Rye (City Zip) was a seven-length maiden winner in his final two-year-old start in October, and returned January 3 to add a runner-up effort to his resume while making his stakes debut in the Spectacular Bid S. for trainer Tom Albertrani. The Swale being rescheduled gave the bay gelding time to get in one more work as he clocked a half-mile in :49 on Monday at Palm Meadows.

"Our schedule didn't really get all that interrupted," Albertrani shrugged. "At least we had some time to come back and breeze him and he should be on pretty much the same kind of schedule, just a week later. The way he broke his maiden I was hoping for a little rain, just not so much."

Souper Colossal is cross-entered in the Swale and the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), also on Saturday. The Ed Plesa Jr. trainee is 4-0-0 from five starts, with his only loss coming in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He made his three-year-old, and turf bow, a 1 1/2-length score in the Texas Glitter last out on February 7 and gets Paco Lopez back in the irons.

Stakes winner Twotwentyfive A (Awescome of Course) and Senor Grits (Elusive Quality) return from last week's field while Holy Bull S. (G2) third Bluegrass Singer (Bluegrass Cat) and Social Request (Lookin at Lucky) are new shooters.

Wicked Strong and Rajiv Maragh reunite for the Gulfsream Park Handicap (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

While the Swale features up-and-coming sophomores, two three-year-old runners of 2014 are making their four-year-old bows later on the program in the Gulfstream Park 'Cap. The one-mile races features just six runners, but among that group are Grade 1 scorer Wicked Strong (Hard Spun) and Grade 2 victor Honor Code (A.P. Indy).

Wicked Strong is set to make his first start since clipping heels and falling in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont on September 27. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee, who captured last year's Wood Memorial (G1) and Jim Dandy S. (G2) with fourths in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont S. (G1) sandwiched between, will be reunited with jockey Rajiv Maragh, who sustained a broken arm that put him on the shelf for four months in the Jockey Club Gold Cup spill.

"I'm so excited to get back on him, because since the comeback to Palm Meadows, he looks like a much more mature horse," Maragh said. "He gained a lot of weight; he's filled out, looks stronger. He's developing and it seems like he's moving forward off the great form he had last year. I think the best is yet to come.

"Going down the backstretch of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I felt like he was going to run the best race of his life. He was really in-tuned and moving with a lot of power," Maragh added. "Unfortunately, he didn't get to show his best that day. He deserves a shot to get to show what he's really made of and for everyone to see him run and get to see the best of Wicked Strong, because he's a special horse. I hope everyone gets to see the best of him."

Honor Code had an abbreviated sophomore season, boasting just two starts, after making his juvenile finale a nose score in the Remsen S. (G2). Sustaining an injury in his right hind leg after finishing a well-beaten second last March, the Shug McGaughey runner wasn't seen again until taking a six-furlong allowance/optional claimer at Aqueduct on November 22 with a brilliant stretch run.

"It's gone excellent," McGaughey said. "I couldn't have asked for it to go better. He got a little freshening-up time after he ran in November. We've trained him pretty hard since then and he's taken it well. He's ready to go.

"I think as we go along, I think he'll be better around two turns," McGaughey added. "He'll probably be in the race a little more around two turns."

Private Zone (Macho Uno) will be toting the top weight of 122 pounds in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, two more than Wicked Strong and eight more than Honor Code, after closing out 2014 with a five-length romp in the Cigar Mile H. (G1) on November 29.

"It's a chance of a lifetime," said Navarro, who will be saddling the six-year-old gelding for the first time. "He came to my barn tough to train, but all of that has gone away. He's training really good. He's a beautiful horse. The way he trains, he does everything so easily. The times he's putting up are serious, and we're not asking him for anything.

"I appreciate the chance the owners have given me."

Fred Hooper S. (G3) hero Valid (Medaglia d'Oro), Grade 2 winner East Hall (Graeme Hall) and stakes scorer Loverbil (Not for Love) complete the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

The Swale begins the stakes action and is followed three races later by Dania Beach S. (G3) scorer Night Prowler (Giant's Causeway) trying to make it two graded wins in a row in the Palm Beach against eight rivals.

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Daredevil stars in rescheduled Swale; tough trio return in GP 'Cap

Daredevil makes his belated three-year-old bow in the Swale (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Saturday's $200,000 Swale S. (G2) lost one and attracted two new entrants when the seven-furlong contest was redrawn by Gulfstream Park officials. The Swale and the $150,000 Palm Beach S. (G3) were both postponed from last Saturday, February 28, when the race program was called off after the 5TH race due to torrential rainstorms and thunderstorms.

Now joining the $300,000 Gulfstream Park H. (G2) on Saturday, the races were redrawn, leaving the Swale with eight and the Palm Beach attracting all but two of its original runners.

Despite the date change the Swale will still see its top draw compete on Saturday as Daredevil (More Than Ready) lines up for trainer Todd Pletcher for his three-year-old bow. The chestnut broke his maiden and took the Champagne S. (G1) at Belmont Park before closing out 2014 with a well-beaten last of 11 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on November 1.

"It rarely happens here but we deal with similar situations in New York, particularly this winter a lot," Pletcher said. "It's not ideal, but everyone's in the same boat. He's a very cool customer and nothing fazes him so far.

"I'm not really sure what happened," he added in regards to the Breeders' Cup, where Daredevil raced wide and never found himself in contention. "He got a wide trip on a track that probably wasn't playing that way, and he had had three races in a short period of time. He's a very talented horse. He showed that in his first two starts last year and he's come back and trained very well. He's a very efficient mover and just has a terrific action to him."

Regular rider Javier Castellano will be aboard Daredevil as the 123-pound highweight breaks from the rail.

X Y Jet (Kantharos) owns a track advantage over his rivals having run a close second in the Hutcheson S. (G2) over track and distance on January 24. The gray gelding was also a neck second in the Pasco S. at Tampa Bay Downs in his juvenile finale and in his first start for trainer Jorge Navarro after being conditioned by Antonio Sano.

"He's doing amazing," Navarro said. "The way he trained (last Sunday), I was like, 'Wow.' Even the exercise rider jumped off and said 'He would have won the race.' He was great and happy so we'll be set for Saturday."

Ready for Rye (City Zip) was a seven-length maiden winner in his final two-year-old start in October, and returned January 3 to add a runner-up effort to his resume while making his stakes debut in the Spectacular Bid S. for trainer Tom Albertrani. The Swale being rescheduled gave the bay gelding time to get in one more work as he clocked a half-mile in :49 on Monday at Palm Meadows.

"Our schedule didn't really get all that interrupted," Albertrani shrugged. "At least we had some time to come back and breeze him and he should be on pretty much the same kind of schedule, just a week later. The way he broke his maiden I was hoping for a little rain, just not so much."

Souper Colossal is cross-entered in the Swale and the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), also on Saturday. The Ed Plesa Jr. trainee is 4-0-0 from five starts, with his only loss coming in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He made his three-year-old, and turf bow, a 1 1/2-length score in the Texas Glitter last out on February 7 and gets Paco Lopez back in the irons.

Stakes winner Twotwentyfive A (Awescome of Course) and Senor Grits (Elusive Quality) return from last week's field while Holy Bull S. (G2) third Bluegrass Singer (Bluegrass Cat) and Social Request (Lookin at Lucky) are new shooters.

Wicked Strong and Rajiv Maragh reunite for the Gulfsream Park Handicap (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

While the Swale features up-and-coming sophomores, two three-year-old runners of 2014 are making their four-year-old bows later on the program in the Gulfstream Park 'Cap. The one-mile races features just six runners, but among that group are Grade 1 scorer Wicked Strong (Hard Spun) and Grade 2 victor Honor Code (A.P. Indy).

Wicked Strong is set to make his first start since clipping heels and falling in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont on September 27. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee, who captured last year's Wood Memorial (G1) and Jim Dandy S. (G2) with fourths in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont S. (G1) sandwiched between, will be reunited with jockey Rajiv Maragh, who sustained a broken arm that put him on the shelf for four months in the Jockey Club Gold Cup spill.

"I'm so excited to get back on him, because since the comeback to Palm Meadows, he looks like a much more mature horse," Maragh said. "He gained a lot of weight; he's filled out, looks stronger. He's developing and it seems like he's moving forward off the great form he had last year. I think the best is yet to come.

"Going down the backstretch of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I felt like he was going to run the best race of his life. He was really in-tuned and moving with a lot of power," Maragh added. "Unfortunately, he didn't get to show his best that day. He deserves a shot to get to show what he's really made of and for everyone to see him run and get to see the best of Wicked Strong, because he's a special horse. I hope everyone gets to see the best of him."

Honor Code had an abbreviated sophomore season, boasting just two starts, after making his juvenile finale a nose score in the Remsen S. (G2). Sustaining an injury in his right hind leg after finishing a well-beaten second last March, the Shug McGaughey runner wasn't seen again until taking a six-furlong allowance/optional claimer at Aqueduct on November 22 with a brilliant stretch run.

"It's gone excellent," McGaughey said. "I couldn't have asked for it to go better. He got a little freshening-up time after he ran in November. We've trained him pretty hard since then and he's taken it well. He's ready to go.

"I think as we go along, I think he'll be better around two turns," McGaughey added. "He'll probably be in the race a little more around two turns."

Private Zone (Macho Uno) will be toting the top weight of 122 pounds in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, two more than Wicked Strong and eight more than Honor Code, after closing out 2014 with a five-length romp in the Cigar Mile H. (G1) on November 29.

"It's a chance of a lifetime," said Navarro, who will be saddling the six-year-old gelding for the first time. "He came to my barn tough to train, but all of that has gone away. He's training really good. He's a beautiful horse. The way he trains, he does everything so easily. The times he's putting up are serious, and we're not asking him for anything.

"I appreciate the chance the owners have given me."

Fred Hooper S. (G3) hero Valid (Medaglia d'Oro), Grade 2 winner East Hall (Graeme Hall) and stakes scorer Loverbil (Not for Love) complete the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

The Swale begins the stakes action and is followed three races later by Dania Beach S. (G3) scorer Night Prowler (Giant's Causeway) trying to make it two graded wins in a row in the Palm Beach against eight rivals.

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Sarah Sis, Promise Me Silver face off in Honeybee

Promise Me Silver just got the best of Sarah Sis in the Dixie Belle (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

With champion Take Charge Brandi's (Giant's Causeway) connections opting for the $750,000 Rebel S. (G2) on March 14, the big draws in Saturday's $150,000 Honeybee S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park are Sarah Sis (Sharp Humor) and Promise Me Silver (Silver City).

A field of nine has been entered to go 1 1/16 miles in the Honeybee, which is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of races that award points toward a starting berth in the Run for the Lillies on May 1 at Churchill Downs. The Honeybee will give the winner 50 points, second-place receives 20, third earns 10 and fourth-place gets five.

Sarah Sis and Promise Me Silver have already met up once, with the latter taking the six-furlong Dixie Belle S. on January 15 by just a neck over her rival. That occurred at Oaklawn, Promise Me Silver's fifth different track in as many starts. The unbeaten Bret Calhoun pupil then shipped to Sam Houston for a 9 3/4-length victory in the February 14 Two Altazano S. last out.

Promise Me Silver will put her perfect six-for-six mark on the line in the Honeybee while breaking from the far outside 9 post. Jockey Cliff Berry has been aboard the gray miss in four of her races and takes the mount on Saturday.

Sarah Sis boasts two wins and three seconds from five lifetime starts for trainer Ingrid Mason. The dark bay lass took her maiden and an allowance but has yet to break through against stakes rivals. However, she was close in her past two against Promise Me Silver in the Dixie Belle and Take Charge Brandi in the Martha Washington S. In that latter contest the Kentucky-bred miss rallied to just miss by a head on the wire in the one-mile race, and keeps Julio Felix aboard here.

Four of the remaining seven entrants on Saturday have never competed against stakes company, with the other three placing.

Pangburn (Congrats) finished second in last fall's Pocahontas S. (G2) under the Twin Spires, and just returned off that September 6 event to take an allowance over track and distance on February 20 for trainer Kenny McPeek. Jesus Castanon has the call.

Super Saks (Sky Mesa) dropped two of her initial three starts by double-digit lengths and failed to finish in the other last year. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee obviously turned a corner over the winter because she made her sophomore bow a nice third in the Dixie Belle before breaking her maiden 15 days later by 11 lengths. Terry Thompson rides as the gray filly returns to stakes company in this spot.

Indian Annie (Indian Charlie) was making just her second start for new trainer Steve Asmussen when finishing third in the Martha Washington, and gets Ricardo Santana Jr. back in the irons for this one.

Desert Valley (Desert Party), Bootsy's Girl (Summer Bird) and Purr (Bluegrass Cat) all enter the Honeybee as maiden winners, while Oceanwave (Harlan's Holiday) did one better than those when taking an allowance/optional claimer on January 22.

Two races before the Honeybee a field of seven will sprint six furlongs in the $100,000 Hot Springs S., including Gentlemen's Bet (Half Ours) and Ivan Fallunovalot (Valid Expectations). The former just returned to be third off a 15-month break that last saw him run third in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) while the latter posted a 2 3/4-length score in the King Cotton S., both over track and distance.

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Sarah Sis, Promise Me Silver face off in Honeybee

Promise Me Silver just got the best of Sarah Sis in the Dixie Belle (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

With champion Take Charge Brandi's (Giant's Causeway) connections opting for the $750,000 Rebel S. (G2) on March 14, the big draws in Saturday's $150,000 Honeybee S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park are Sarah Sis (Sharp Humor) and Promise Me Silver (Silver City).

A field of nine has been entered to go 1 1/16 miles in the Honeybee, which is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of races that award points toward a starting berth in the Run for the Lillies on May 1 at Churchill Downs. The Honeybee will give the winner 50 points, second-place receives 20, third earns 10 and fourth-place gets five.

Sarah Sis and Promise Me Silver have already met up once, with the latter taking the six-furlong Dixie Belle S. on January 15 by just a neck over her rival. That occurred at Oaklawn, Promise Me Silver's fifth different track in as many starts. The unbeaten Bret Calhoun pupil then shipped to Sam Houston for a 9 3/4-length victory in the February 14 Two Altazano S. last out.

Promise Me Silver will put her perfect six-for-six mark on the line in the Honeybee while breaking from the far outside 9 post. Jockey Cliff Berry has been aboard the gray miss in four of her races and takes the mount on Saturday.

Sarah Sis boasts two wins and three seconds from five lifetime starts for trainer Ingrid Mason. The dark bay lass took her maiden and an allowance but has yet to break through against stakes rivals. However, she was close in her past two against Promise Me Silver in the Dixie Belle and Take Charge Brandi in the Martha Washington S. In that latter contest the Kentucky-bred miss rallied to just miss by a head on the wire in the one-mile race, and keeps Julio Felix aboard here.

Four of the remaining seven entrants on Saturday have never competed against stakes company, with the other three placing.

Pangburn (Congrats) finished second in last fall's Pocahontas S. (G2) under the Twin Spires, and just returned off that September 6 event to take an allowance over track and distance on February 20 for trainer Kenny McPeek. Jesus Castanon has the call.

Super Saks (Sky Mesa) dropped two of her initial three starts by double-digit lengths and failed to finish in the other last year. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee obviously turned a corner over the winter because she made her sophomore bow a nice third in the Dixie Belle before breaking her maiden 15 days later by 11 lengths. Terry Thompson rides as the gray filly returns to stakes company in this spot.

Indian Annie (Indian Charlie) was making just her second start for new trainer Steve Asmussen when finishing third in the Martha Washington, and gets Ricardo Santana Jr. back in the irons for this one.

Desert Valley (Desert Party), Bootsy's Girl (Summer Bird) and Purr (Bluegrass Cat) all enter the Honeybee as maiden winners, while Oceanwave (Harlan's Holiday) did one better than those when taking an allowance/optional claimer on January 22.

Two races before the Honeybee a field of seven will sprint six furlongs in the $100,000 Hot Springs S., including Gentlemen's Bet (Half Ours) and Ivan Fallunovalot (Valid Expectations). The former just returned to be third off a 15-month break that last saw him run third in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) while the latter posted a 2 3/4-length score in the King Cotton S., both over track and distance.

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In brief

The Texas Racing Commission has suspended jockey Roman Chapa for five years and fined him $25,000 for carrying an illegal electrical device in a race at Sam Houston on January 17. The penalties are the maximum allowed under Texas law...

The American Graded Stakes Committee (AGSC) announced that it will not reinstate the Grade 3 status of the Herecomesthebride Stakes after it was washed off the turf at Gulfstream Park last Saturday. Graded stakes are automatically downgraded, pending a review by the AGSC, when forced to switch surfaces due to conditions...

Garrett Gleeson, who has developed and successfully executed major gift campaigns for a variety of charitable organizations, has been named director of development and major gifts for the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. He will be based in The Jockey Club's New York City office, and he began his new duties on March 2. The appointment was announced by Dell Hancock, chairman of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. "Garrett has a proven track record of motivating individuals and organizations to expand their involvement and investment in various causes, and we are thrilled he will now be doing so on behalf of our foundation," Hancock said. "He is a wonderful addition to our team and his presence helps ensure that Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation remains well prepared to meet the challenging and ever-increasing demands of equine research." For the past three years, Gleeson has served as program director, major gifts for the Children's Tumor Foundation. He joined that staff in 2007 as a communications associate and was promoted to communications director two years later. After a one-year stint as a senior development associate for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, he returned to the Children's Tumor Foundation in 2012...

Todd Pletcher entered three-year-old colts Stanford (Malibu Moon) and Materiality (Afleet Alex) for Friday's $60,000 Islamorada, an overnight handicap scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Gulfstream Park. Stanford returned from a six-month layoff to capture his sophomore debut, a six-furlong optional claiming allowance over favored stablemate Blame Jim (Sharp Humor) on February 8 at Gulfstream. Materiality was a 4 1/4-length winner in his career debut over a sloppy, sealed main track January 11 at Gulfstream. Tradesman (Street Sense), disqualified from a maiden win over eventual John Battaglia winner Royal Son (Tiznow), goes to bat for Tom Albertrani.

In brief

The Texas Racing Commission has suspended jockey Roman Chapa for five years and fined him $25,000 for carrying an illegal electrical device in a race at Sam Houston on January 17. The penalties are the maximum allowed under Texas law...

The American Graded Stakes Committee (AGSC) announced that it will not reinstate the Grade 3 status of the Herecomesthebride Stakes after it was washed off the turf at Gulfstream Park last Saturday. Graded stakes are automatically downgraded, pending a review by the AGSC, when forced to switch surfaces due to conditions...

Garrett Gleeson, who has developed and successfully executed major gift campaigns for a variety of charitable organizations, has been named director of development and major gifts for the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. He will be based in The Jockey Club's New York City office, and he began his new duties on March 2. The appointment was announced by Dell Hancock, chairman of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. "Garrett has a proven track record of motivating individuals and organizations to expand their involvement and investment in various causes, and we are thrilled he will now be doing so on behalf of our foundation," Hancock said. "He is a wonderful addition to our team and his presence helps ensure that Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation remains well prepared to meet the challenging and ever-increasing demands of equine research." For the past three years, Gleeson has served as program director, major gifts for the Children's Tumor Foundation. He joined that staff in 2007 as a communications associate and was promoted to communications director two years later. After a one-year stint as a senior development associate for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, he returned to the Children's Tumor Foundation in 2012...

Todd Pletcher entered three-year-old colts Stanford (Malibu Moon) and Materiality (Afleet Alex) for Friday's $60,000 Islamorada, an overnight handicap scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Gulfstream Park. Stanford returned from a six-month layoff to capture his sophomore debut, a six-furlong optional claiming allowance over favored stablemate Blame Jim (Sharp Humor) on February 8 at Gulfstream. Materiality was a 4 1/4-length winner in his career debut over a sloppy, sealed main track January 11 at Gulfstream. Tradesman (Street Sense), disqualified from a maiden win over eventual John Battaglia winner Royal Son (Tiznow), goes to bat for Tom Albertrani.

Results

NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS

SUN, 9TH, ALW, $40,070, 4YO/UP, F/M, 5 1/2F, 3-2.
5—MY BIKINI FELL OFF, f, 4, Elusive Jazz--Unconstitutional, by Grand Slam. O-Brian Mundell, B-Brian Mundell (NM), T-Bart G. Hone, J-Ry Eikleberry, $23,940.
9—Traders Pride, m, 7, The Trader's Echo--Rising Pride, by Desert God. O-Judge Lanier Racing, B-Joe Allen (NM), $8,778.
6—Vinton Row, m, 6, Pro Prado--Ace in the Hole, by Caracal. O-Johnny Black, B-John Black (NM), $3,990.
Winning Time: 1:02 3/5 (ft)
 
PRX, 8TH, ALW, $35,400, 4YO/UP, 7F, 3-3.
3—WHISPERING FOREST, g, 5, Forest Danger--Whisper Loudly, by Real Quiet. ($1,000 '11 KEEJAN). O-Andrew Sulley, B-Joseph Besecker (PA), T-Patricia Farro, J-Pierre Hernandez Ortega, $21,000.
1—Crossing, g, 4, Delaware Township--Franklin's Mint, by Franklin Me. O-Vince Campanella, B-PTK LLC (PA), $7,000.
6—Dean the Man, g, 5, Albert the Great--Turkogirl, by Turkoman. O-Erin McElwee, B-Par 3 Stables (PA), $3,850.
Winning Time: 1:24 4/5 (gd)
 
MVR, 5TH, ALW, $23,400, 3YO/UP, 6F, 3-3.
3—HUSTLE HARD, g, 6, Badge of Silver--Hope for Love, by Fortunate Prospect. O-Doering, Mark and David and Gardella, Jeff, B-Peter Sheppell (OH), T-Mark Doering, J-T. D. Houghton, $14,040.
2—Owensville, g, 5, Northern Afleet--Stormy Arctic, by Storm Broker. O-Born To Run Farm, B-Laurie L Hickman (OH), $4,680.
6—Unique Indygo, m, 5, Indygo Shiner--Unique Monique, by Northern Park. O-Huffman, Candance M and Kuntz, Mark D, B-Bruce Ryan (OH), $2,340.
Winning Time: 1:14 (ft)

Notebooks

AQUEDUCT NOTEBOOK

MARCH 5, 2015

by John Mucciolo

There was no graded action during the week on the inner oval at Aqueduct.

Track Stats

A total of 34 races were held over the inner strip at the Long Island, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 28 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 47 percent of the wins during the week. Five races were won in wire-to-wire fashion (15 percent).

Speed played best on this oval on Friday, with a trio of winners leading at every call. But the weekend was not very good for early leaders, with just one coming through 18 races, and we also saw a lot of big-priced winners.

Meet Totals

RACES:   375
DIRT:   375
FAVORITES:   144 (38 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   82 (22 percent)
DIRT WIRE:   88 (23 percent)

HORSES TO WATCH

Thursday (2/26)

2ND -- ZINGARELLI (Bernardini) impressed us quite a bit with a fine debut score going two turns for conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin. The four-year-old colt dueled while inside of a foe to the top of the lane, and then had another gear in early stretch and late in posting a 4 1/2-length triumph. Jockey Irad Ortiz was looking behind on a few occasions atop this well-bred colt (out of multiple Grade 1 winner Octave) and we think he has a world of potential.

4TH -- WAR HERO (War Pass) was unhurried early, moved into contention nearing the top of the lane and dominated late in posting an open-length score under Jose Ortiz. The five-year-old, who got his final quarter mile in a strong :24, could be a fine claim by David Jacobson.

7TH -- FINAL CHAPTER (Thunder Gulch) proved that his recent maiden win was no fluke after dominating a pretty good field in this allowance tilt. The Michael Hushion pupil has really responded to the addition of blinkers and could evolve into a stakes type soon with this type of improvement.

Friday (2/27)

6TH -- RIDE A CAT (Discreet Cat) showed no rust from being off since the summer in bursting out of the gate and never giving his foes a chance for trainer David Smith, eventually crossing the wire 6 1/4 lengths clear of his competition.

Saturday (2/28)

5TH -- STALLWALKIN' DUDE (City Place) tracked a clear leader while in second all the way until the final few jumps when the gelding gamely got up in a win we liked a whole lot. The five-year-old never gave up and could be a danger right back for Jacobson.

Sunday (3/1)

8TH -- LOKI'S VENGEANCE (Frost Giant) chased lone speed, got a short lead in midstretch and battled gamely to the finish in posting a fine runner-up showing for Hushion. The four-year-old colt, who was making his run first since the fall, will be imposing next time with even slight improvement.

A Look Ahead

A pair of graded stakes runs will take place at Aqueduct on Saturday. The $400,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) and $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap (G3) will lead the way.

Features

KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

MARCH 4, 2015

by James Scully

No points' races for the Kentucky Derby were offered last week but some interesting developments took place.

Dortmund to run, Far From Over to wait

Dortmund (Big Brown) became a new addition to the March 7 San Felipe (G2) field, with trainer Bob Baffert deciding not to wait for the April 4 Santa Anita Derby (G1) as originally planned following a victory in the February 7 Robert B. Lewis (G2).

Baffert's decision stands in stark contrast to Todd Pletcher's recent announcement that Far From Over (Blame) will bypass the March 7 Gotham (G3), a race previously considered likely for the late-starting colt with only two career starts. Far From Over, who earned 10 points winning the February 7 Withers (G3), will make his lone remaining prep in the April 4 Wood Memorial (G1).

Dortmund is a physically imposing sophomore who towers over most rivals. But after easily dispatching maiden and entry-level allowance foes in his first two starts last fall, the massive chestnut colt displayed signs of immaturity recording narrow wins in the December 20 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and Robert Lewis.

He did not maintain a straight path in the Los Alamitos Futurity, waiting until deep stretch to offer his best stride, and continued to run in spots during the Robert Lewis, with jockey Martin Garcia going to a full-out drive on the far turn as Firing Line (Line of David) rolled past what appeared to be a tiring Dortmund. But Dortmund had more to offer, gamely re-rallying through a tight spot along the rail to win going away in deep stretch.

The talent's clearly there but Dortmund still has something to learn from a mental standpoint. Baffert figures two more races will provide valuable seasoning, helping to toughen up his charge for the 20-horse congestion and rowdy 150,000-plus crowd that awaits him at Churchill Downs on May 2.

Pletcher employs a different approach, keeping his top horses as fresh as possible before the big event.

Case in point is how both trainers have handled talented but unraced juveniles in recent years. The Baffert-trained Bodemeister didn't make his career debut until January 16 in 2012, while the Pletcher-trained Khozan (Distorted Humor) was unveiled on January 24 this season.

Bodemeister received four starts, including a pair of stakes attempts before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher will give Khozan only three starts prior to the Kentucky Derby, with the March 28 Florida Derby (G1) serving as his only stakes outing.

Pletcher not only avoided a stakes race with Khozan following his flashy first-out score, he kept the colt at a one-turn allowance distance on February 22. It's extremely rare to see a top hopeful like Khozan wait until the end of March for his two-turn debut.

Pletcher's strategy does protect the value of very expensive stallion prospects, eliminating the chances for multiple defeats in the months leading up to the first Saturday in May. Thoroughbreds can be fragile and Pletcher has had several top contenders with enormous stud value -- Eskendreya, Uncle Mo and Constitution -- sidelined by injury in the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

But keeping lightly-raced horses safe with extra time off between starts in the months preceding the Kentucky Derby, or in the case of Khozan providing limited stakes opportunities, has never translated into success for Pletcher, who possesses a 40-1-2-3 record since sending out his first Kentucky Derby starter in 2000.

Remarkably, four of the last five horses that hit the board for Pletcher, including 2010 winner Super Saver and 2014 third-placer Danza, raced only three weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Those results run counter to Pletcher's preference for giving horses more time between starts.

Derby pursuit begins for Brandi

D. Wayne Lukas will tell you there is nothing more important than winning the Kentucky Derby. He leads all modern-day trainers with four wins, including the front-running filly Winning Colors in 1988, and never lacks in confidence.

That's why it should be no surprise to see champion two-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway) committed to the March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park. Lukas knows he can beat males in the Kentucky Derby with a filly and if Take Charge Brandi can't earn enough points to qualify, she will run in the Kentucky Oaks the day before.

The 79-year-old Hall of Famer finished only a neck back of Dortmund with Mr. Z (Malibu Moon) in the Los Alamitos Futurity and probably isn't worried about the male sophomore division this year.

It's been easy so far to call the Kentucky Oaks the goal since it serves as the ultimate back-up plan. But if Take Charge Brandi qualifies against males in either the Rebel or a following points' race, the Kentucky Derby becomes a no-brainer for her connections.

Royal Son wins, The Great War departs

Royal Son (Tiznow) recorded his first stakes win in the February 28 John Battaglia Memorial, leading all the way over the Polytrack at Turfway Park. The 1 1/16-mile race didn't offer any points, but the Pletcher runner will get the opportunity next time, with the March 21 Spiral (G3) at Turfway representing a logical option.

By two-time Breeders' Cup Classic hero Tiznow, Royal Son receives more stamina from his dam side being out of a mare by A.P. Indy. The WinStar Farm homebred counts champion two-year-old filly Countess Diana as his second maternal dam.

The bay colt registered a career-best 103 BRIS Speed rating for a widening 5 1/4-length decision.

The Great War's (War Front) Kentucky Derby hopes came to an end in the Battaglia. Favored at 1-5, the Wesley Ward-trained colt bled despite being on Lasix, fading to last in the 10-horse field. Ward said afterward The Great War will be given some time off to recuperate.

Louisiana Derby bound

A Day in Paradise (Yes It's True) made his stakes bow a winning one in the February 28 Texas Heritage at Sam Houston and trainer Larry Jones said the March 28 Louisiana Derby will be next for the New York-bred gelding.

A maiden winner at Keeneland last fall, A Day in Paradise was making his first start since finishing second to War Story (Northern Afleet) in a Fair Grounds' allowance on December 28. War Story went on to finish second in the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2) in his next two outings, but A Day in Paradise will need to improve significantly from a BRIS Speed figure perspective to be competitive at that level, registering only an 85 in the Texas Heritage.

Upcoming

A blockbuster weekend is up ahead.

The California contingent is extremely deep at this stage and Dortmund will be squaring off against a quartet of well-regarded rivals in Saturday's San Felipe that consists of unbeaten Grade 3 winner Ocho Ocho Ocho (Street Sense), who will be making his 2015 return; Lord Nelson (Pulpit), who exits a nice win over Texas Red (Afleet Alex) in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) for Baffert and will be looking to establish his prowess at a two-turn distance; Bolo (Temple City), a spectacular winner of the grassy Eddie Logan (G3) who many believe can carry his outstanding form to the main track; and Prospect Park (Tapit), a convincing allowance winner who will make his anticipated stakes debut.

Other runners based in California include champion American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), who is headed to the Rebel; Texas Red, who is being pointed toward the Santa Anita Derby; and Firing Line, who appears to have the March 22 Sunland Derby (G3) on his agenda.

Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby (G2) marks the return of Grade 1 winner Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway), who was last seen taking runner-up honors in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). He'll be favored against a nice group of challengers that includes Ocean Knight (Curlin) and Divining Rod (Tapit), the top two finishers from the January 31 Sam F. Davis (G3); and Danzig Moon (Malibu Moon), an impressive maiden winner at Gulfstream Park who is making his first stakes attempt for Mark Casse.

The Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct took a significant hit with the defections of Far From Over and Ocean Knight in recent days, leaving El Kabeir (Scat Daddy) as the horse to beat. The John Terranova-trained colt already has 25 points to his credit, posting wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Jerome (G3) as well as placings in the Withers and Champagne (G1), and the speedy gray figures to add to his total against an unaccomplished cast on Saturday.

North American Maiden Winners
Early Flyer--Hillbilly Jazz by Kentucky Jazz; HOOKED ON TRACK, c, 3, HOU, Msw, 3-3, 6f, 1:14 . B-Brad Douglas (TX.).
Bernardini--Officer Cherrie (G3$259,555), by Officer; LADY BUGATTI, f, 4, HOU, Msw, 3-3, 1m 70y, 1:48 . B-Blazing Colours Farm (ON.). $110,000 '11 KEENOV.
Elusive Quality--Bare Necessities (MG3$1,062,251), by Silver Deputy; ECONOMIC DATA, g, 4, PRX, Msw, 3-3, 7f, 1:24 1/5. B-Iron County Farms Inc. (KY.). $85,000 '12 KEESEP.
K J's Beaux--Flyers Legacy by Fast Cure; K J'S FLYER, f, 4, HOU, Msw, 3-3, 5fT, :59 2/5. B-Jim T. Evans & Marty Evans (TX.).
Dance With Ravens--Bobbi's Girls by Dixie Brass; RAVEN GYPSY, m, 5, PRX, Mcl 10000, 3-3, 6f, 1:13 1/5. B-Regina Brennan (PA.).
Doc Gus--Shanes Queen by Shanekite; WARREN'S MY QUEEN, m, 7, HOU, Mcl 10000, 3-3, 1m 70y, 1:50 2/5. B-Benjamin C Warren (CA.).

Notebooks

AQUEDUCT NOTEBOOK

MARCH 5, 2015

by John Mucciolo

There was no graded action during the week on the inner oval at Aqueduct.

Track Stats

A total of 34 races were held over the inner strip at the Long Island, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 28 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 47 percent of the wins during the week. Five races were won in wire-to-wire fashion (15 percent).

Speed played best on this oval on Friday, with a trio of winners leading at every call. But the weekend was not very good for early leaders, with just one coming through 18 races, and we also saw a lot of big-priced winners.

Meet Totals

RACES:   375
DIRT:   375
FAVORITES:   144 (38 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   82 (22 percent)
DIRT WIRE:   88 (23 percent)

HORSES TO WATCH

Thursday (2/26)

2ND -- ZINGARELLI (Bernardini) impressed us quite a bit with a fine debut score going two turns for conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin. The four-year-old colt dueled while inside of a foe to the top of the lane, and then had another gear in early stretch and late in posting a 4 1/2-length triumph. Jockey Irad Ortiz was looking behind on a few occasions atop this well-bred colt (out of multiple Grade 1 winner Octave) and we think he has a world of potential.

4TH -- WAR HERO (War Pass) was unhurried early, moved into contention nearing the top of the lane and dominated late in posting an open-length score under Jose Ortiz. The five-year-old, who got his final quarter mile in a strong :24, could be a fine claim by David Jacobson.

7TH -- FINAL CHAPTER (Thunder Gulch) proved that his recent maiden win was no fluke after dominating a pretty good field in this allowance tilt. The Michael Hushion pupil has really responded to the addition of blinkers and could evolve into a stakes type soon with this type of improvement.

Friday (2/27)

6TH -- RIDE A CAT (Discreet Cat) showed no rust from being off since the summer in bursting out of the gate and never giving his foes a chance for trainer David Smith, eventually crossing the wire 6 1/4 lengths clear of his competition.

Saturday (2/28)

5TH -- STALLWALKIN' DUDE (City Place) tracked a clear leader while in second all the way until the final few jumps when the gelding gamely got up in a win we liked a whole lot. The five-year-old never gave up and could be a danger right back for Jacobson.

Sunday (3/1)

8TH -- LOKI'S VENGEANCE (Frost Giant) chased lone speed, got a short lead in midstretch and battled gamely to the finish in posting a fine runner-up showing for Hushion. The four-year-old colt, who was making his run first since the fall, will be imposing next time with even slight improvement.

A Look Ahead

A pair of graded stakes runs will take place at Aqueduct on Saturday. The $400,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) and $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap (G3) will lead the way.

Features

UPCOMING STAKES

Click here for the monthly March Calendar

Friday, March 6
 
Azalea S. (r), Delta Downs, $100,000, 3yo, f, 7 1/2f.
Downthedustyroad Breeders' S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3&up, f&m, 6f.
 
Saturday, March 7
 
SANTA ANITA H. (G1), Santa Anita Park, $1,000,000, 4&up, 1 1/4m.
FRANK E. KILROE MILE S. (G1), Santa Anita Park, $400,000, 4&up, 1mT.
SAN FELIPE S. (G2), Santa Anita Park, $400,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
GOTHAM S. (G3), Aqueduct, $400,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
TAMPA BAY DERBY (G2), Tampa Bay Downs, $350,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
GULFSTREAM PARK H. (G2), Gulfstream Park, $300,000, 4&up, 1m.
SAN CARLOS S. (G2), Santa Anita Park, $250,000, 4&up, 7f.
SWALE S. (G2), Gulfstream Park, $200,000, 3yo, 7f.
TOM FOOL H. (G3), Aqueduct, $200,000, 4&up, 6f.
FLORIDA OAKS (G3), Tampa Bay Downs, $200,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16mT.
PALM BEACH S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 3yo, 1 1/16mT.
HONEYBEE S. (G3), Oaklawn Park, $150,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m.
HILLSBOROUGH S. (G3), Tampa Bay Downs, $150,000, 4&up, f&m, abt 1 1/8mT.
Cat Cay S., Aqueduct, $100,000, 4&up, f&m, 1 1/16m.
Pelican S. (r), Delta Downs, $100,000, 3yo, 7 1/2f.
Hot Springs S., Oaklawn Park, $100,000, 4&up, 6f.
Mt. Cristo Rey H. (r), Sunland Park, $85,000, 3&up, 4 1/2f.
China Doll S., Santa Anita Park, $75,000, 3yo, f, 1mT.
Allen Lacombe Memorial H., Fair Grounds, $60,000, 3yo, f, abt 7 1/2fT.
Challenger S., Tampa Bay Downs, $60,000, 4&up, 1 1/16m.
 
Sunday, March 8
 
LAS FLORES S. (G3), Santa Anita Park, $100,000, 4&up, f&m, 6f.
Nodouble Breeders' S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3&up, c&g, 6f.

RACING DATES

Current Meetings
     
AQUEDUCT:   Jan. 1 - March 28
CHARLES TOWN:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 30
DELTA DOWNS:   Oct. 15 - March 14
FAIR GROUNDS:   Nov. 21 - March 29
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS:   Dec. 26 - June 14
GULFSTREAM PARK:   Dec. 6 - March 29
HAWTHORNE:   Feb. 20 - April 26
LAUREL PARK:   Jan. 1 - March 28
MAHONING VALLEY:   Jan. 5 - April 25
MOUNTAINEER:   March 1 - Dec. 21
OAKLAWN PARK:   Jan. 15 - April 11
PARX RACING:   Jan. 3 - Dec. 29
PENN NATIONAL:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 27
SAM HOUSTON:   Jan. 16 - March 10
SANTA ANITA PARK:   Dec. 26 - June 28
SUNLAND PARK:   Dec. 5 - April 13
TAMPA BAY DOWNS:   Nov. 29 - May 3
TURF PARADISE:   Oct. 18 - May 5
TURFWAY PARK:   Jan. 1 - March 29
     
Upcoming Meetings
     
AQUEDUCT:   April 1 - 26
BELMONT PARK:   April 29 - July 19
CHURCHILL DOWNS:   April 25 - June 27
EMERALD DOWNS:   April 18 - Sept. 27
EVANGELINE DOWNS:   April 8 - Aug. 29
HASTINGS PARK:   April 25 - Oct. 12
INDIANA GRAND:   April 21 - Oct. 31
KEENELAND:   April 3 - 24
LONE STAR PARK:   April 9 - July 19
PIMLICO:   April 2 - June 6
PRAIRIE MEADOWS:   April 18 - Aug. 8
THISTLEDOWN:   April 27 - Oct. 24
WOODBINE:   April 11 - Dec. 6

KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

MARCH 4, 2015

by James Scully

No points' races for the Kentucky Derby were offered last week but some interesting developments took place.

Dortmund to run, Far From Over to wait

Dortmund (Big Brown) became a new addition to the March 7 San Felipe (G2) field, with trainer Bob Baffert deciding not to wait for the April 4 Santa Anita Derby (G1) as originally planned following a victory in the February 7 Robert B. Lewis (G2).

Baffert's decision stands in stark contrast to Todd Pletcher's recent announcement that Far From Over (Blame) will bypass the March 7 Gotham (G3), a race previously considered likely for the late-starting colt with only two career starts. Far From Over, who earned 10 points winning the February 7 Withers (G3), will make his lone remaining prep in the April 4 Wood Memorial (G1).

Dortmund is a physically imposing sophomore who towers over most rivals. But after easily dispatching maiden and entry-level allowance foes in his first two starts last fall, the massive chestnut colt displayed signs of immaturity recording narrow wins in the December 20 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and Robert Lewis.

He did not maintain a straight path in the Los Alamitos Futurity, waiting until deep stretch to offer his best stride, and continued to run in spots during the Robert Lewis, with jockey Martin Garcia going to a full-out drive on the far turn as Firing Line (Line of David) rolled past what appeared to be a tiring Dortmund. But Dortmund had more to offer, gamely re-rallying through a tight spot along the rail to win going away in deep stretch.

The talent's clearly there but Dortmund still has something to learn from a mental standpoint. Baffert figures two more races will provide valuable seasoning, helping to toughen up his charge for the 20-horse congestion and rowdy 150,000-plus crowd that awaits him at Churchill Downs on May 2.

Pletcher employs a different approach, keeping his top horses as fresh as possible before the big event.

Case in point is how both trainers have handled talented but unraced juveniles in recent years. The Baffert-trained Bodemeister didn't make his career debut until January 16 in 2012, while the Pletcher-trained Khozan (Distorted Humor) was unveiled on January 24 this season.

Bodemeister received four starts, including a pair of stakes attempts before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher will give Khozan only three starts prior to the Kentucky Derby, with the March 28 Florida Derby (G1) serving as his only stakes outing.

Pletcher not only avoided a stakes race with Khozan following his flashy first-out score, he kept the colt at a one-turn allowance distance on February 22. It's extremely rare to see a top hopeful like Khozan wait until the end of March for his two-turn debut.

Pletcher's strategy does protect the value of very expensive stallion prospects, eliminating the chances for multiple defeats in the months leading up to the first Saturday in May. Thoroughbreds can be fragile and Pletcher has had several top contenders with enormous stud value -- Eskendreya, Uncle Mo and Constitution -- sidelined by injury in the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

But keeping lightly-raced horses safe with extra time off between starts in the months preceding the Kentucky Derby, or in the case of Khozan providing limited stakes opportunities, has never translated into success for Pletcher, who possesses a 40-1-2-3 record since sending out his first Kentucky Derby starter in 2000.

Remarkably, four of the last five horses that hit the board for Pletcher, including 2010 winner Super Saver and 2014 third-placer Danza, raced only three weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Those results run counter to Pletcher's preference for giving horses more time between starts.

Derby pursuit begins for Brandi

D. Wayne Lukas will tell you there is nothing more important than winning the Kentucky Derby. He leads all modern-day trainers with four wins, including the front-running filly Winning Colors in 1988, and never lacks in confidence.

That's why it should be no surprise to see champion two-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway) committed to the March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park. Lukas knows he can beat males in the Kentucky Derby with a filly and if Take Charge Brandi can't earn enough points to qualify, she will run in the Kentucky Oaks the day before.

The 79-year-old Hall of Famer finished only a neck back of Dortmund with Mr. Z (Malibu Moon) in the Los Alamitos Futurity and probably isn't worried about the male sophomore division this year.

It's been easy so far to call the Kentucky Oaks the goal since it serves as the ultimate back-up plan. But if Take Charge Brandi qualifies against males in either the Rebel or a following points' race, the Kentucky Derby becomes a no-brainer for her connections.

Royal Son wins, The Great War departs

Royal Son (Tiznow) recorded his first stakes win in the February 28 John Battaglia Memorial, leading all the way over the Polytrack at Turfway Park. The 1 1/16-mile race didn't offer any points, but the Pletcher runner will get the opportunity next time, with the March 21 Spiral (G3) at Turfway representing a logical option.

By two-time Breeders' Cup Classic hero Tiznow, Royal Son receives more stamina from his dam side being out of a mare by A.P. Indy. The WinStar Farm homebred counts champion two-year-old filly Countess Diana as his second maternal dam.

The bay colt registered a career-best 103 BRIS Speed rating for a widening 5 1/4-length decision.

The Great War's (War Front) Kentucky Derby hopes came to an end in the Battaglia. Favored at 1-5, the Wesley Ward-trained colt bled despite being on Lasix, fading to last in the 10-horse field. Ward said afterward The Great War will be given some time off to recuperate.

Louisiana Derby bound

A Day in Paradise (Yes It's True) made his stakes bow a winning one in the February 28 Texas Heritage at Sam Houston and trainer Larry Jones said the March 28 Louisiana Derby will be next for the New York-bred gelding.

A maiden winner at Keeneland last fall, A Day in Paradise was making his first start since finishing second to War Story (Northern Afleet) in a Fair Grounds' allowance on December 28. War Story went on to finish second in the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2) in his next two outings, but A Day in Paradise will need to improve significantly from a BRIS Speed figure perspective to be competitive at that level, registering only an 85 in the Texas Heritage.

Upcoming

A blockbuster weekend is up ahead.

The California contingent is extremely deep at this stage and Dortmund will be squaring off against a quartet of well-regarded rivals in Saturday's San Felipe that consists of unbeaten Grade 3 winner Ocho Ocho Ocho (Street Sense), who will be making his 2015 return; Lord Nelson (Pulpit), who exits a nice win over Texas Red (Afleet Alex) in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) for Baffert and will be looking to establish his prowess at a two-turn distance; Bolo (Temple City), a spectacular winner of the grassy Eddie Logan (G3) who many believe can carry his outstanding form to the main track; and Prospect Park (Tapit), a convincing allowance winner who will make his anticipated stakes debut.

Other runners based in California include champion American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), who is headed to the Rebel; Texas Red, who is being pointed toward the Santa Anita Derby; and Firing Line, who appears to have the March 22 Sunland Derby (G3) on his agenda.

Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby (G2) marks the return of Grade 1 winner Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway), who was last seen taking runner-up honors in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). He'll be favored against a nice group of challengers that includes Ocean Knight (Curlin) and Divining Rod (Tapit), the top two finishers from the January 31 Sam F. Davis (G3); and Danzig Moon (Malibu Moon), an impressive maiden winner at Gulfstream Park who is making his first stakes attempt for Mark Casse.

The Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct took a significant hit with the defections of Far From Over and Ocean Knight in recent days, leaving El Kabeir (Scat Daddy) as the horse to beat. The John Terranova-trained colt already has 25 points to his credit, posting wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Jerome (G3) as well as placings in the Withers and Champagne (G1), and the speedy gray figures to add to his total against an unaccomplished cast on Saturday.

UPCOMING STAKES

Click here for the monthly March Calendar

Friday, March 6
 
Azalea S. (r), Delta Downs, $100,000, 3yo, f, 7 1/2f.
Downthedustyroad Breeders' S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3&up, f&m, 6f.
 
Saturday, March 7
 
SANTA ANITA H. (G1), Santa Anita Park, $1,000,000, 4&up, 1 1/4m.
FRANK E. KILROE MILE S. (G1), Santa Anita Park, $400,000, 4&up, 1mT.
SAN FELIPE S. (G2), Santa Anita Park, $400,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
GOTHAM S. (G3), Aqueduct, $400,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
TAMPA BAY DERBY (G2), Tampa Bay Downs, $350,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
GULFSTREAM PARK H. (G2), Gulfstream Park, $300,000, 4&up, 1m.
SAN CARLOS S. (G2), Santa Anita Park, $250,000, 4&up, 7f.
SWALE S. (G2), Gulfstream Park, $200,000, 3yo, 7f.
TOM FOOL H. (G3), Aqueduct, $200,000, 4&up, 6f.
FLORIDA OAKS (G3), Tampa Bay Downs, $200,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16mT.
PALM BEACH S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 3yo, 1 1/16mT.
HONEYBEE S. (G3), Oaklawn Park, $150,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m.
HILLSBOROUGH S. (G3), Tampa Bay Downs, $150,000, 4&up, f&m, abt 1 1/8mT.
Cat Cay S., Aqueduct, $100,000, 4&up, f&m, 1 1/16m.
Pelican S. (r), Delta Downs, $100,000, 3yo, 7 1/2f.
Hot Springs S., Oaklawn Park, $100,000, 4&up, 6f.
Mt. Cristo Rey H. (r), Sunland Park, $85,000, 3&up, 4 1/2f.
China Doll S., Santa Anita Park, $75,000, 3yo, f, 1mT.
Allen Lacombe Memorial H., Fair Grounds, $60,000, 3yo, f, abt 7 1/2fT.
Challenger S., Tampa Bay Downs, $60,000, 4&up, 1 1/16m.
 
Sunday, March 8
 
LAS FLORES S. (G3), Santa Anita Park, $100,000, 4&up, f&m, 6f.
Nodouble Breeders' S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3&up, c&g, 6f.

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Thursday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Aqueduct   (4th) Daddy's Lil Saint, 3-1
    (7th) Pretension, 4-1
Delta Downs   (3rd) Imlotlikemybrother, 3-1
    (11th) Ide Declaire, 6-1
Fair Grounds   (1st) State Line, 3-1
    (5th) Lil Nicholas, 6-1
Golden Gate Fields   (1st) Bella Angelina, 7-2
    (3rd) Silent Reward, 8-1
Gulfstream Park   (1st) Fantastic Voyage, 4-1
    (5th) Giant's Jewel, 10-1
Laurel Park   (6th) Cat McGinley, 8-1
    (7th) Anybodyreallyknow, 4-1
Oaklawn Park   (5th) One Voice, 4-1
    (8th) Ghost Locket, 9-2
Penn National   (6th) Bright Monba, 5-1
    (8th) Illuminatus, 6-1
Santa Anita   (1st) Village Kitten, 9-2
    (2nd) Public Policy, 3-1

Features

RACING DATES

Current Meetings
     
AQUEDUCT:   Jan. 1 - March 28
CHARLES TOWN:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 30
DELTA DOWNS:   Oct. 15 - March 14
FAIR GROUNDS:   Nov. 21 - March 29
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS:   Dec. 26 - June 14
GULFSTREAM PARK:   Dec. 6 - March 29
HAWTHORNE:   Feb. 20 - April 26
LAUREL PARK:   Jan. 1 - March 28
MAHONING VALLEY:   Jan. 5 - April 25
MOUNTAINEER:   March 1 - Dec. 21
OAKLAWN PARK:   Jan. 15 - April 11
PARX RACING:   Jan. 3 - Dec. 29
PENN NATIONAL:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 27
SAM HOUSTON:   Jan. 16 - March 10
SANTA ANITA PARK:   Dec. 26 - June 28
SUNLAND PARK:   Dec. 5 - April 13
TAMPA BAY DOWNS:   Nov. 29 - May 3
TURF PARADISE:   Oct. 18 - May 5
TURFWAY PARK:   Jan. 1 - March 29
     
Upcoming Meetings
     
AQUEDUCT:   April 1 - 26
BELMONT PARK:   April 29 - July 19
CHURCHILL DOWNS:   April 25 - June 27
EMERALD DOWNS:   April 18 - Sept. 27
EVANGELINE DOWNS:   April 8 - Aug. 29
HASTINGS PARK:   April 25 - Oct. 12
INDIANA GRAND:   April 21 - Oct. 31
KEENELAND:   April 3 - 24
LONE STAR PARK:   April 9 - July 19
PIMLICO:   April 2 - June 6
PRAIRIE MEADOWS:   April 18 - Aug. 8
THISTLEDOWN:   April 27 - Oct. 24
WOODBINE:   April 11 - Dec. 6

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.

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.