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THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2015

Racing Headlines

Sherman: 'I call him the California rock star'

California Chrome took a tour of Meydan's track on Thursday (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)

California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit), the international favorite for Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), returned to the Meydan main track for a gallop and visited the starting gate Thursday morning.

"Everything went great," assistant trainer Alan Sherman said. "We're just waiting for race day."

For 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman and the connections of California Chrome, the dream that they still live in began on April 26, 2013, when a raw, chestnut racehorse with a big white blaze and marginal pedigree made his first career start at the now defunct Hollywood Park.

"As a two-year-old he was awful green and all over the racetrack," Sherman recalled.

Sherman -- exercise rider for 1955 Kentucky Derby winner Swaps and a winner of more than 2,000 races as both a jockey and trainer -- knows a good horse when he sees one, but he admits that California Chrome's progress and eventual stardom took him by complete surprise.

"He started growing and developing and all of a sudden he kept getting better after each race," the horseman explained. "He won six races in a row and in the San Felipe (G2) he won by (nearly) eight (lengths) just being eased and it gave me goose pimples. I was like 'Wow, I hope he runs this good in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).'

"That he did. He beat a field of top horses (in the Santa Anita Derby) and won easily. Then I felt I had a real chance in the (Kentucky) Derby (G1) and he didn't prove me wrong."

A win in the Preakness S. (G1) followed the Kentucky Derby triumph, but an attempt to become the first American Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 failed. California Chrome finished a dead-heat fourth, with less than two lengths separating the chestnut from racing immortality.

Despite the deflating defeat, in the eyes of his adoring "Chromies," California Chrome lost no luster and likeable great-grandfather Sherman remained racing's darling.

"I call him the California rock star," Sherman said of his prized racehorse. "He's got such a following all over the world. I thought nobody would know me in Dubai but from the moment I stepped off the plane, people said 'There's California Chrome's trainer.'

"Everybody wants you," he added. "Royal Ascot and Hong Kong want me there. He's kind of like a drawing magnet for racing right now."

First things first. California Chrome will enter the starting gate on Saturday attempting to become the third Kentucky Derby winner to succeed in the World Cup, joining Silver Charm (1998) and Animal Kingdom (2013).

"He's kind of push button," Sherman said of California Chrome. "He's not a one-dimensional horse and that's important. Just keep him in the clear and have a place to go. That's all I ask."

Another chapter to California Chrome's unlikely story will be written on Saturday, but win, lose or draw, Sherman is well aware of the impact his horse has already made on a variety of levels.

"By a $2,500 stud out of a maiden $8,000 claiming mare, to come by and win all these races, it gives an incentive to the little guy," Sherman said. "This is a game where you can buy your way into a lot of things, but we are proof that a dream can happen. You don't have to be a millionaire or a billionaire to win these kinds of races.

"In the end, I'd like to leave some sort of legacy with him that says 'Wow, I remember California Chrome, he was a great horse and we had a lot of fun watching him run.'"

As for Lea (First Samurai), the other U.S. runner in the World Cup, the chestnut jogged over the training track Thursday morning to "keep him fresh," according to assistant trainer Riley Mott.

The Kentucky-bred six-year-old remains on schedule to blow out 400 meters on Friday.

"I thought about it (Dubai World Cup) a little bit after he won the Hal's Hope (G3) and then after he ran second in the Donn (G1) it was on my mind," trainer Bill Mott said.

"After looking around and trying to compare him with the rest of the horses in the U.S., I thought we were sitting in a pretty good position. Top five in the country, if you can be rated that well, I think you deserve a chance in the World Cup. Hopefully the best is yet to come."

Joel Rosario, who rode Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2013 Dubai World Cup, will be aboard Lea on Saturday.

"He is an easy horse to ride," Rosario said. "He'll do anything you want him to do. I have a lot of confidence."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Sherman: 'I call him the California rock star'

California Chrome took a tour of Meydan's track on Thursday (Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club)

California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit), the international favorite for Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), returned to the Meydan main track for a gallop and visited the starting gate Thursday morning.

"Everything went great," assistant trainer Alan Sherman said. "We're just waiting for race day."

For 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman and the connections of California Chrome, the dream that they still live in began on April 26, 2013, when a raw, chestnut racehorse with a big white blaze and marginal pedigree made his first career start at the now defunct Hollywood Park.

"As a two-year-old he was awful green and all over the racetrack," Sherman recalled.

Sherman -- exercise rider for 1955 Kentucky Derby winner Swaps and a winner of more than 2,000 races as both a jockey and trainer -- knows a good horse when he sees one, but he admits that California Chrome's progress and eventual stardom took him by complete surprise.

"He started growing and developing and all of a sudden he kept getting better after each race," the horseman explained. "He won six races in a row and in the San Felipe (G2) he won by (nearly) eight (lengths) just being eased and it gave me goose pimples. I was like 'Wow, I hope he runs this good in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).'

"That he did. He beat a field of top horses (in the Santa Anita Derby) and won easily. Then I felt I had a real chance in the (Kentucky) Derby (G1) and he didn't prove me wrong."

A win in the Preakness S. (G1) followed the Kentucky Derby triumph, but an attempt to become the first American Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 failed. California Chrome finished a dead-heat fourth, with less than two lengths separating the chestnut from racing immortality.

Despite the deflating defeat, in the eyes of his adoring "Chromies," California Chrome lost no luster and likeable great-grandfather Sherman remained racing's darling.

"I call him the California rock star," Sherman said of his prized racehorse. "He's got such a following all over the world. I thought nobody would know me in Dubai but from the moment I stepped off the plane, people said 'There's California Chrome's trainer.'

"Everybody wants you," he added. "Royal Ascot and Hong Kong want me there. He's kind of like a drawing magnet for racing right now."

First things first. California Chrome will enter the starting gate on Saturday attempting to become the third Kentucky Derby winner to succeed in the World Cup, joining Silver Charm (1998) and Animal Kingdom (2013).

"He's kind of push button," Sherman said of California Chrome. "He's not a one-dimensional horse and that's important. Just keep him in the clear and have a place to go. That's all I ask."

Another chapter to California Chrome's unlikely story will be written on Saturday, but win, lose or draw, Sherman is well aware of the impact his horse has already made on a variety of levels.

"By a $2,500 stud out of a maiden $8,000 claiming mare, to come by and win all these races, it gives an incentive to the little guy," Sherman said. "This is a game where you can buy your way into a lot of things, but we are proof that a dream can happen. You don't have to be a millionaire or a billionaire to win these kinds of races.

"In the end, I'd like to leave some sort of legacy with him that says 'Wow, I remember California Chrome, he was a great horse and we had a lot of fun watching him run.'"

As for Lea (First Samurai), the other U.S. runner in the World Cup, the chestnut jogged over the training track Thursday morning to "keep him fresh," according to assistant trainer Riley Mott.

The Kentucky-bred six-year-old remains on schedule to blow out 400 meters on Friday.

"I thought about it (Dubai World Cup) a little bit after he won the Hal's Hope (G3) and then after he ran second in the Donn (G1) it was on my mind," trainer Bill Mott said.

"After looking around and trying to compare him with the rest of the horses in the U.S., I thought we were sitting in a pretty good position. Top five in the country, if you can be rated that well, I think you deserve a chance in the World Cup. Hopefully the best is yet to come."

Joel Rosario, who rode Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2013 Dubai World Cup, will be aboard Lea on Saturday.

"He is an easy horse to ride," Rosario said. "He'll do anything you want him to do. I have a lot of confidence."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

African Story could make Dubai World Cup history

African Story is seeking a repeat in the Dubai World Cup (Neville Hopwood/Dubai Racing Club)

Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), the 20th running of the world's richest horse race, is already guaranteed a place in the history books as the first renewal to be contested on dirt at Meydan.

However, more historic value could be added with last year's hero, Godolphin's African Story (Pivotal), bidding to become the first dual winner of the race and a seventh for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

To clarify, bin Suroor's charge is actually only the second horse to seek a second victory in the 2000-meter contest after Silver Charm landed the prize in 1998 but was well beaten the following year.

Three of bin Suroor's previous Dubai World Cup winners landed the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on their way to victory in the crowning glory of the UAE season, as did African Story this year -- on Super Saturday three weeks ago.

He was chased home on that occasion by stablemate Prince Bishop (Dubawi) and bin Suroor is clearly looking forward to Saturday's big race.

"African Story won this last year on the all-weather and proved he can win on dirt on Super Saturday," the trainer said. "With good horses like him, the surface really makes less difference as the best horses will handle any surface.

"He has a nice draw in 3, while Prince Bishop, from stall 1, will hopefully break better than he has the last twice."

"I think he's in very good form," added African Story's jockey, James Doyle. "When I rode him the first time, I was very tender with him, but I rode more aggressively the second time firstly to take up a position and then to hold it in the race. That's the way I think you have to ride him."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

African Story could make Dubai World Cup history

African Story is seeking a repeat in the Dubai World Cup (Neville Hopwood/Dubai Racing Club)

Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), the 20th running of the world's richest horse race, is already guaranteed a place in the history books as the first renewal to be contested on dirt at Meydan.

However, more historic value could be added with last year's hero, Godolphin's African Story (Pivotal), bidding to become the first dual winner of the race and a seventh for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

To clarify, bin Suroor's charge is actually only the second horse to seek a second victory in the 2000-meter contest after Silver Charm landed the prize in 1998 but was well beaten the following year.

Three of bin Suroor's previous Dubai World Cup winners landed the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on their way to victory in the crowning glory of the UAE season, as did African Story this year -- on Super Saturday three weeks ago.

He was chased home on that occasion by stablemate Prince Bishop (Dubawi) and bin Suroor is clearly looking forward to Saturday's big race.

"African Story won this last year on the all-weather and proved he can win on dirt on Super Saturday," the trainer said. "With good horses like him, the surface really makes less difference as the best horses will handle any surface.

"He has a nice draw in 3, while Prince Bishop, from stall 1, will hopefully break better than he has the last twice."

"I think he's in very good form," added African Story's jockey, James Doyle. "When I rode him the first time, I was very tender with him, but I rode more aggressively the second time firstly to take up a position and then to hold it in the race. That's the way I think you have to ride him."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

One and Only is trainer's last chance at Meydan

Trainer Kojiro Hashiguchi has high hopes for One and Only in the Sheema (Neville Hopwood/Dubai Racing Club)

One of the seven-strong Japanese contingent for this year's Dubai World Cup meeting, One and Only (Heart's Cry) is Kojiro Hashiguchi's last chance to have a runner at Meydan.

The trainer will retire next February and his contender in Saturday's $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1) has already helped him realize a long-awaited dream when taking last year's Japanese Derby (Jpn-G1). Hashiguchi was making his 18th challenge for that race, including four runner-ups from 20 starters.

The conditioner has already struck twice in two starts in Dubai -- Utopia winning the Godolphin Mile (UAE-G2) and Heart's Cry the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1) -- both in 2006 as he became the first Japanese trainer to have double victories in Dubai on the same day.

Hashiguchi is no stranger to the big races wins, with Grade 1 trophies such as the Japan Cup, Arima Kinen, Kikuka Sho and the Yasuda Kinen, and in 2006 he also sent Heart's Cry to the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S. (Eng-G1), where he finished third.

Winning the Japanese Derby was Hashiguchi's long-coveted title, but One and Only allows him a final big hope to triumph on the world-class stage.

After winning the Japanese Derby, One and Only notched the Kobe Shimbun Hai (Jpn-G2) in his first race after a summer vacation. He failed to win in his three subsequent outings in the latter half of the season.

Hashiguchi has not given up his dream yet, though. There was a big concern about the long flight from Japan to Dubai, but because the Japanese team took the same flight and is staying at the same stable at Meydan, he traveled well and lost no weight, which was a good sign to satisfy the connections as a first step.

"When Heart's Cry came back to the paddock after finishing third in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S., many racegoers sent him applause for his impressive performance," Hashiguchi said. "Since then, I wanted to come back to the world stage with the Heart's Cry offspring again and now it's time to accomplish the feat before my retirement.

"One and Only could follow into his father's footsteps and was able to bring me back to Dubai. I really hope One and Only can show his best performance as a Japanese Derby winner this coming Saturday, and then grab another big title at Ascot in July."

Among those standing in One and Only's way is fellow Japanese hopeful Harp Star (Deep Impact), who drew widest of all in the nine-horse field going 2410 meters.

Harp Star is part of a seven-strong Japanese contingent to Saturday's Dubai World Cup Day (Neville Hopwood/Dubai Racing Club)

A dual classic winner in her homeland last year, the bay filly will be best remembered by Europeans for her sixth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) when she was finishing rapidly having been set an impossible task.

She has the assistance of Ryan Moore on Saturday, the jockey who landed this race last year for Japan on Gentildonna. The Japanese are actually seeking a fourth win in this contest.

Moore partnered Harp Star in her work on Thursday morning and pleased trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda.

"She has been going nicely all week and we are very happy with her and to secure the services of Ryan Moore."

Another contender in the race is Hong Kong superstar Designs On Rome (Holy Roman Emperor), trained by John Moore and the mount of Joao Moreira.

The Hong Kong Derby (HK-G1) and Hong Kong Cup (HK-G1) were among his big race wins last year and he has won both his starts so far this season.

"The horse just seems to love it here," Moore said. "Joao Moreira worked him on Thursday and was very pleased. He worked on the turf. Nice and easy, 1200 meters in about 1:26. He's really fit, he looks particularly well in the coat and I couldn't be happier with his preparation."

France is launching a two-pronged attack in the race with Dolniya (Azamour) and Flintshire (Dansili), who clashed in a 1900-meter Polytrack conditions race earlier this month. The Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Dolyniya just came out on top on that occasion.

"She is lovely filly who has strengthened up over the winter," de Royer-Dupre said. "All has gone to plan thus far."

Andre Fabre trains Flintshire for Prince Khaled Abdullah, the combination who won the 2004 Sheema Classic with Polish Summer (Polish Precendent). Racing Manager Teddy Grimthorpe was at the track on Thursday morning to watch Flintshire canter.

Ridden by Annelie Ackermann, Flintshire jogged once up to the stands before cantering around the track. He slightly quickened in front of the stands.

"I hadn't seen him since he ran in Chantilly and he certainly has trimmed down a bit more and seems very relaxed," Grimthorpe said. "He has traveled really well out here and everything has been very straightforward with him, which has been one of the prerequisites of having a successful campaign anywhere. We have to say we are very pleased."

Speaking further about his preparation, Grimthorpe added, "The idea was after his run in Hong Kong to give him a break over Christmas and then obviously we had to start back with him in the new year.

"Coming into his race at Chantilly, he was certainly a bit short of work, I don't know exactly, but just looking at him he seemed above his normal racing weight I would say.

"But with the weather, we deliberated whether we would come straight to Dubai to race or whether we would just give him a piece of work. As it turned out this race over 1900 meters, which was obviously shorter than 2400 meters that he likes best, came at about the right time.

"It was important for him to do some really strong work. They went a relatively steady pace and then quickened up. And actually he looked a bit rusty and once he got onto his right leg, he finished really well and you would have to say you would be pretty happy with that."

U.S. hopeful Main Sequence (Aldebaran), runner-up in the 2012 Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) when trained in England by David Lanagan, has been transformed since switching to America in the care of Graham Motion.

Winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), he has yet to taste defeat in five outings for his new trainer, four at the highest level, and was duly honored with Eclipse Awards as champion male turf horse and champion older male. The six-year-old gelding scored in his sole start this year, the Mac Diarmida S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, in his prep for Saturday's test.

After being a "bit antsy" at the starting gate on the main track Wednesday, Motion took Main Sequence to the starting gate on the training track for another schooling session.

Observers said he was noticeably calmer on Thursday in the more quiet environs of the training track. After the schooling session, the chestnut went about 1800 meters at a steady canter.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

One and Only is trainer's last chance at Meydan

Trainer Kojiro Hashiguchi has high hopes for One and Only in the Sheema (Neville Hopwood/Dubai Racing Club)

One of the seven-strong Japanese contingent for this year's Dubai World Cup meeting, One and Only (Heart's Cry) is Kojiro Hashiguchi's last chance to have a runner at Meydan.

The trainer will retire next February and his contender in Saturday's $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1) has already helped him realize a long-awaited dream when taking last year's Japanese Derby (Jpn-G1). Hashiguchi was making his 18th challenge for that race, including four runner-ups from 20 starters.

The conditioner has already struck twice in two starts in Dubai -- Utopia winning the Godolphin Mile (UAE-G2) and Heart's Cry the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1) -- both in 2006 as he became the first Japanese trainer to have double victories in Dubai on the same day.

Hashiguchi is no stranger to the big races wins, with Grade 1 trophies such as the Japan Cup, Arima Kinen, Kikuka Sho and the Yasuda Kinen, and in 2006 he also sent Heart's Cry to the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S. (Eng-G1), where he finished third.

Winning the Japanese Derby was Hashiguchi's long-coveted title, but One and Only allows him a final big hope to triumph on the world-class stage.

After winning the Japanese Derby, One and Only notched the Kobe Shimbun Hai (Jpn-G2) in his first race after a summer vacation. He failed to win in his three subsequent outings in the latter half of the season.

Hashiguchi has not given up his dream yet, though. There was a big concern about the long flight from Japan to Dubai, but because the Japanese team took the same flight and is staying at the same stable at Meydan, he traveled well and lost no weight, which was a good sign to satisfy the connections as a first step.

"When Heart's Cry came back to the paddock after finishing third in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S., many racegoers sent him applause for his impressive performance," Hashiguchi said. "Since then, I wanted to come back to the world stage with the Heart's Cry offspring again and now it's time to accomplish the feat before my retirement.

"One and Only could follow into his father's footsteps and was able to bring me back to Dubai. I really hope One and Only can show his best performance as a Japanese Derby winner this coming Saturday, and then grab another big title at Ascot in July."

Among those standing in One and Only's way is fellow Japanese hopeful Harp Star (Deep Impact), who drew widest of all in the nine-horse field going 2410 meters.

Harp Star is part of a seven-strong Japanese contingent to Saturday's Dubai World Cup Day (Neville Hopwood/Dubai Racing Club)

A dual classic winner in her homeland last year, the bay filly will be best remembered by Europeans for her sixth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) when she was finishing rapidly having been set an impossible task.

She has the assistance of Ryan Moore on Saturday, the jockey who landed this race last year for Japan on Gentildonna. The Japanese are actually seeking a fourth win in this contest.

Moore partnered Harp Star in her work on Thursday morning and pleased trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda.

"She has been going nicely all week and we are very happy with her and to secure the services of Ryan Moore."

Another contender in the race is Hong Kong superstar Designs On Rome (Holy Roman Emperor), trained by John Moore and the mount of Joao Moreira.

The Hong Kong Derby (HK-G1) and Hong Kong Cup (HK-G1) were among his big race wins last year and he has won both his starts so far this season.

"The horse just seems to love it here," Moore said. "Joao Moreira worked him on Thursday and was very pleased. He worked on the turf. Nice and easy, 1200 meters in about 1:26. He's really fit, he looks particularly well in the coat and I couldn't be happier with his preparation."

France is launching a two-pronged attack in the race with Dolniya (Azamour) and Flintshire (Dansili), who clashed in a 1900-meter Polytrack conditions race earlier this month. The Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Dolyniya just came out on top on that occasion.

"She is lovely filly who has strengthened up over the winter," de Royer-Dupre said. "All has gone to plan thus far."

Andre Fabre trains Flintshire for Prince Khaled Abdullah, the combination who won the 2004 Sheema Classic with Polish Summer (Polish Precendent). Racing Manager Teddy Grimthorpe was at the track on Thursday morning to watch Flintshire canter.

Ridden by Annelie Ackermann, Flintshire jogged once up to the stands before cantering around the track. He slightly quickened in front of the stands.

"I hadn't seen him since he ran in Chantilly and he certainly has trimmed down a bit more and seems very relaxed," Grimthorpe said. "He has traveled really well out here and everything has been very straightforward with him, which has been one of the prerequisites of having a successful campaign anywhere. We have to say we are very pleased."

Speaking further about his preparation, Grimthorpe added, "The idea was after his run in Hong Kong to give him a break over Christmas and then obviously we had to start back with him in the new year.

"Coming into his race at Chantilly, he was certainly a bit short of work, I don't know exactly, but just looking at him he seemed above his normal racing weight I would say.

"But with the weather, we deliberated whether we would come straight to Dubai to race or whether we would just give him a piece of work. As it turned out this race over 1900 meters, which was obviously shorter than 2400 meters that he likes best, came at about the right time.

"It was important for him to do some really strong work. They went a relatively steady pace and then quickened up. And actually he looked a bit rusty and once he got onto his right leg, he finished really well and you would have to say you would be pretty happy with that."

U.S. hopeful Main Sequence (Aldebaran), runner-up in the 2012 Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) when trained in England by David Lanagan, has been transformed since switching to America in the care of Graham Motion.

Winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), he has yet to taste defeat in five outings for his new trainer, four at the highest level, and was duly honored with Eclipse Awards as champion male turf horse and champion older male. The six-year-old gelding scored in his sole start this year, the Mac Diarmida S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, in his prep for Saturday's test.

After being a "bit antsy" at the starting gate on the main track Wednesday, Motion took Main Sequence to the starting gate on the training track for another schooling session.

Observers said he was noticeably calmer on Thursday in the more quiet environs of the training track. After the schooling session, the chestnut went about 1800 meters at a steady canter.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Smart Strike euthanized due to laminitis

Leading sire Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector) was euthanized on Wednesday due to a case of laminitis. The 23-year-old stallion had been doing well for his age but recently took a turn for the worse.

"We are very saddened by the loss of Smart Strike," said William S. Farish, owner of Lane's End Farm where the stallion stood near Versailles, Kentucky.

"He has been one of our flagship stallions for many years. He was an exceptional sire and his influence on the breed will be felt for a long time. I want to thank Sam Son Farm for entrusting us with his stallion career as well as the other shareholders and breeders that have supported him."

The Sam-Son Farm homebred was a Grade 1 winner while racking up nearly $340,000 on track. Smart Strike captured Philip H. Iselin H. (G1) as a four-year-old to cap off a six-race win streak that began when he broke his maiden 16 months earlier. During that period the Ontario-bred bay also added the Salvator Mile H. (G3) to his resume, and wrapped up his racing career with a fourth-placing behind Hall of Famer Cigar in the Woodward S. (G1).

Out of Canadian Hall of Famer Classy 'n Smart (Smarten), Smart Strike retired to stud in 1997 and had a magnificent career in the breeding shed, siring 112 stakes winners, 12 champions, four Breeders' Cup winners and two classic winners.

His progeny, who have earned more than $118 million, includes two-time Horse of the Year and leading sire Curlin; champion turf horse English Channel; dual champion and Preakness S. (G1) victor Lookin at Lucky; and champion My Miss Aurelia.

Smart Strike will be buried at Lane's End Farm.

Smart Strike euthanized due to laminitis

Leading sire Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector) was euthanized on Wednesday due to a case of laminitis. The 23-year-old stallion had been doing well for his age but recently took a turn for the worse.

"We are very saddened by the loss of Smart Strike," said William S. Farish, owner of Lane's End Farm where the stallion stood near Versailles, Kentucky.

"He has been one of our flagship stallions for many years. He was an exceptional sire and his influence on the breed will be felt for a long time. I want to thank Sam Son Farm for entrusting us with his stallion career as well as the other shareholders and breeders that have supported him."

The Sam-Son Farm homebred was a Grade 1 winner while racking up nearly $340,000 on track. Smart Strike captured Philip H. Iselin H. (G1) as a four-year-old to cap off a six-race win streak that began when he broke his maiden 16 months earlier. During that period the Ontario-bred bay also added the Salvator Mile H. (G3) to his resume, and wrapped up his racing career with a fourth-placing behind Hall of Famer Cigar in the Woodward S. (G1).

Out of Canadian Hall of Famer Classy 'n Smart (Smarten), Smart Strike retired to stud in 1997 and had a magnificent career in the breeding shed, siring 112 stakes winners, 12 champions, four Breeders' Cup winners and two classic winners.

His progeny, who have earned more than $118 million, includes two-time Horse of the Year and leading sire Curlin; champion turf horse English Channel; dual champion and Preakness S. (G1) victor Lookin at Lucky; and champion My Miss Aurelia.

Smart Strike will be buried at Lane's End Farm.

International Star tops nine-horse Louisiana Derby

International Star has thrived since arriving at Fair Grounds this winter (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

Risen Star (G2) and Lecomte (G3) winner International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus) will seek a sweep of the three-year-old graded stakes at Fair Grounds when he heads postward in Saturday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2). Installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite, the Mike Maker-trained colt will break from the far outside post among nine rivals with regular rider Miguel Mena.

The 1 1/8-mile races serves as one of the final major prep races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, awarding points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

International Star finished second in the grassy With Anticipation (G2) at Saratoga before capturing the Grey (G3) at Woodbine in early October, but entered his three-year-old season with little fanfare after concluding his juvenile season with unplaced efforts in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).

Overlooked at 9-1 in the January 17 Lecomte, International Star produced a 2 1/4-length upset. But bettors were still a little hesitant to jump aboard in the February 21 Risen Star, allowing the bay colt to leave the starting gate as the 7-2 third choice. International Star rallied boldly up the rail leaving the far turn and won going away by a length under the wire, registering a career-best 97 BRIS Speed rating.

"We have a good enough horse; we'll be fine," Maker said of the outside post.

Campaigned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the reigning back-to-back Eclipse Award-winning owners, International Star would be the first sophomore to sweep all three races since Friesan Fire in 2009.

War Story (Northern Afleet) will be looking to turn the tables on his rival after finishing second in the Lecomte and Risen Star. Installed as the 4-1 co-second choice, the Tom Amoss-trained gelding has never finished worse than second in four career outings, capturing his first two outings at Churchill Downs (maiden special weight) and Fair Grounds (entry-level allowance). Joe Talamo will pick up the mount on the stalker.

Risen Star third-placer Keen Ice (Curlin) and fourth-placer St. Joe Bay (Saint Anddan) will also be back for the Louisiana Derby. The late-running Keen Ice is listed as 5-1 co-fourth choice for Dale Romans and retains the services of James Graham. Risen Star pacesetter St. Joe Bay is expected to show speed once again for Peter Miller and the 10-1 outside adds a new pilot in Robby Albarado.

Mr. Z (Malibu Moon), who is 4-1 on the morning line, invades from Oaklawn Park for Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas. Third in both the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) this season, the chestnut colt has placed in a total of seven stakes since capturing his debut last June. Mr. Z will shed blinkers after wearing the headgear in his last five starts and Kent Desormeaux will take over the reins.

Stanford (Malibu Moon) will represent leading trainer Todd Pletcher in the Louisiana Derby. An allowance/optional claiming scorer in 2015 bow at Gulfstream, the bay colt finished second most recently in the 1 1/8-mile Islamorada on March 6 but was disqualified and placed sixth by the stewards. He receives a new jockey in Florent Geroux and is an early 5-1.

Rounding out the field are a trio of expected longshots: A Day in Paradise (Yes It's True), Defondo (El Corredor) and Fusaichi Flame (Fusaichi Pegasus).

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International Star tops nine-horse Louisiana Derby

International Star has thrived since arriving at Fair Grounds this winter (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

Risen Star (G2) and Lecomte (G3) winner International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus) will seek a sweep of the three-year-old graded stakes at Fair Grounds when he heads postward in Saturday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2). Installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite, the Mike Maker-trained colt will break from the far outside post among nine rivals with regular rider Miguel Mena.

The 1 1/8-mile races serves as one of the final major prep races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, awarding points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

International Star finished second in the grassy With Anticipation (G2) at Saratoga before capturing the Grey (G3) at Woodbine in early October, but entered his three-year-old season with little fanfare after concluding his juvenile season with unplaced efforts in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).

Overlooked at 9-1 in the January 17 Lecomte, International Star produced a 2 1/4-length upset. But bettors were still a little hesitant to jump aboard in the February 21 Risen Star, allowing the bay colt to leave the starting gate as the 7-2 third choice. International Star rallied boldly up the rail leaving the far turn and won going away by a length under the wire, registering a career-best 97 BRIS Speed rating.

"We have a good enough horse; we'll be fine," Maker said of the outside post.

Campaigned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the reigning back-to-back Eclipse Award-winning owners, International Star would be the first sophomore to sweep all three races since Friesan Fire in 2009.

War Story (Northern Afleet) will be looking to turn the tables on his rival after finishing second in the Lecomte and Risen Star. Installed as the 4-1 co-second choice, the Tom Amoss-trained gelding has never finished worse than second in four career outings, capturing his first two outings at Churchill Downs (maiden special weight) and Fair Grounds (entry-level allowance). Joe Talamo will pick up the mount on the stalker.

Risen Star third-placer Keen Ice (Curlin) and fourth-placer St. Joe Bay (Saint Anddan) will also be back for the Louisiana Derby. The late-running Keen Ice is listed as 5-1 co-fourth choice for Dale Romans and retains the services of James Graham. Risen Star pacesetter St. Joe Bay is expected to show speed once again for Peter Miller and the 10-1 outside adds a new pilot in Robby Albarado.

Mr. Z (Malibu Moon), who is 4-1 on the morning line, invades from Oaklawn Park for Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas. Third in both the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) this season, the chestnut colt has placed in a total of seven stakes since capturing his debut last June. Mr. Z will shed blinkers after wearing the headgear in his last five starts and Kent Desormeaux will take over the reins.

Stanford (Malibu Moon) will represent leading trainer Todd Pletcher in the Louisiana Derby. An allowance/optional claiming scorer in 2015 bow at Gulfstream, the bay colt finished second most recently in the 1 1/8-mile Islamorada on March 6 but was disqualified and placed sixth by the stewards. He receives a new jockey in Florent Geroux and is an early 5-1.

Rounding out the field are a trio of expected longshots: A Day in Paradise (Yes It's True), Defondo (El Corredor) and Fusaichi Flame (Fusaichi Pegasus).

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I'm a Chatterbox seeks Fair Grounds sweep in Oaks

I'm a Chatterbox is the top draw in the FG Oaks (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

I'm a Chatterbox (Munnings) was a decent performer at two, but has blossomed into a top Kentucky Oaks (G1) prospect this season for trainer Larry Jones with romping wins in two of Fair Grounds' three-year-old filly preps. On Saturday, the chestnut miss will go for a sweep of those races when starting in the $$400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) going 1 1/16 miles.

I'm a Chatterbox broke her maiden at first asking last October at Keeneland, ran third in a Churchill Downs allowance/optional claimer, then closed out her juvenile campaign with a fourth-placing in the Golden Rod S. (G2) back under the Twin Spires. All those races took place under the tutelage of Kenny McPeek, but the filly was transferred to Jones' barn and sent to winter in New Orleans.

It proved a smart move as I'm a Chatterbox romped by eight lengths in the Silverbulletday S. for her new trainer while making her sophomore bow on January 17, and she followed up a month later with a 2 1/2-length score in the Rachel Alexandra S. (G3). The Kentucky homebred showed versatility in those two wins, wiring the Silverbulletday and rallying from last to take the Rachel Alexandra. The hot-riding Florent Geroux was aboard for both stakes and retains the mount on Saturday.

I'm a Chatterbox will face seven rivals in the Fair Grounds Oaks, which will award points on a 100-40-20-10 basis to the respective top four toward a starting berth in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks.

Forever Unbridled (Unbridled's Song) has thus far picked up 14 points, good for 16th place on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard, thanks to running second in the Silverbulletday and third in the Rachel Alexandra. The Dallas Stewart will jump all the way to first with a win in the Fair Grounds Oaks, a race her older full sister Unbridled Forever finished third in last year. Unbridled Forever would go on to fill that same spot in the Kentucky Oaks, a race the duo's dam, Lemons Forever (Lemon Drop Kid), actually captured in 2006.

Brian Hernandez Jr. has the call on Forever Unbridled for the Fair Grounds Oaks.

The rest of Saturday's field would need some improvement to beat I'm a Chatterbox, with the most likely candidate being maiden Danette (Curlin). The Keith Desormeaux pupil has yet to post a win, but she has finished third in the Chandelier S. (G1) and ran fifth by just 1 1/2 lengths in last season's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Shook Up (Tapit), a 13-length maiden victress, is also in with a chance after a wide-trip fifth in the Rachel Alexandra most recently.

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I'm a Chatterbox seeks Fair Grounds sweep in Oaks

I'm a Chatterbox is the top draw in the FG Oaks (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

I'm a Chatterbox (Munnings) was a decent performer at two, but has blossomed into a top Kentucky Oaks (G1) prospect this season for trainer Larry Jones with romping wins in two of Fair Grounds' three-year-old filly preps. On Saturday, the chestnut miss will go for a sweep of those races when starting in the $$400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) going 1 1/16 miles.

I'm a Chatterbox broke her maiden at first asking last October at Keeneland, ran third in a Churchill Downs allowance/optional claimer, then closed out her juvenile campaign with a fourth-placing in the Golden Rod S. (G2) back under the Twin Spires. All those races took place under the tutelage of Kenny McPeek, but the filly was transferred to Jones' barn and sent to winter in New Orleans.

It proved a smart move as I'm a Chatterbox romped by eight lengths in the Silverbulletday S. for her new trainer while making her sophomore bow on January 17, and she followed up a month later with a 2 1/2-length score in the Rachel Alexandra S. (G3). The Kentucky homebred showed versatility in those two wins, wiring the Silverbulletday and rallying from last to take the Rachel Alexandra. The hot-riding Florent Geroux was aboard for both stakes and retains the mount on Saturday.

I'm a Chatterbox will face seven rivals in the Fair Grounds Oaks, which will award points on a 100-40-20-10 basis to the respective top four toward a starting berth in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks.

Forever Unbridled (Unbridled's Song) has thus far picked up 14 points, good for 16th place on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard, thanks to running second in the Silverbulletday and third in the Rachel Alexandra. The Dallas Stewart will jump all the way to first with a win in the Fair Grounds Oaks, a race her older full sister Unbridled Forever finished third in last year. Unbridled Forever would go on to fill that same spot in the Kentucky Oaks, a race the duo's dam, Lemons Forever (Lemon Drop Kid), actually captured in 2006.

Brian Hernandez Jr. has the call on Forever Unbridled for the Fair Grounds Oaks.

The rest of Saturday's field would need some improvement to beat I'm a Chatterbox, with the most likely candidate being maiden Danette (Curlin). The Keith Desormeaux pupil has yet to post a win, but she has finished third in the Chandelier S. (G1) and ran fifth by just 1 1/2 lengths in last season's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Shook Up (Tapit), a 13-length maiden victress, is also in with a chance after a wide-trip fifth in the Rachel Alexandra most recently.

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Ekati's Phaeton faces familiar foes in Gulfstream Park Oaks

Ekati's Phaeton will try two turns for the first time in the GP Oaks (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Ekati's Phaeton was beat by, and then defeated, Birdatthewire (Summer Bird) in their past two meetings, so Saturday's $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) has turned into a sort of showdown between the talented pair.

The 1 1/16-mile contest drew a field of eight, four of whom will go home with points (100-40-20-10) toward a starting berth in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.

But before that event takes place, Ekati's Phaeton will get the opportunity to assert her dominance over Birdatthewire at Gulfstream Park. The Bill Kaplan pupil actually hasn't raced outside of Florida, breaking her maiden and taking an allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream by a nose and 10 lengths, respectively, before suffering her first loss when sixth next out in her stakes bow, the Our Dear Peggy S.

Ekati's Phaeton finished second in her juvenile finale, the House Party S. at Gulfstream Park West, and opened her three-year-old season with a half-length score in the Old Hat S. (G3) back at Gulfstream proper. Next up the dark bay lass took on Birdatthewire and found herself crossing under the Forward Gal S. (G2) finish line in fourth, but gained a measure of revenge when holding that rival by a neck in the Davona Dale S. (G2) to record a wire victory.

Luis Saez has been aboard for all three of Ekati's Phaeton's starts this year and retains the mount Saturday as the filly tries two turns for the first time.

"She's doing outstanding. She has a tremendous amount of speed, and we are seeing if we can lengthen it out," Kaplan said. "It's all a progression, and this is a test of two turns. Training-wise, she's doing well going into this race and she's learned how to relax a little bit, and I'm hoping we get the two turns without a problem.

"Speed and talent and heart, she's got all that. Now we've got to make sure we've got the ability to not use the speed early and that's what the two turns is all about."

Birdatthewire romped in the Forward Gal in late January (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Birdatthewire hit pay dirt in her first stakes try after breaking her maiden in her fourth career start. Despite being bumped at the start and forced to circle the turn five wide, the Dale Romans trainee got up for a 3 1/4-length triumph in the Forward Gal. The bay miss once again endured a bumpy start in the Davona Dale, but was unable to close the deal as Ekati's Phaeton proved too tenacious on that day. The close finish saw both fillies earn the same stellar 104 BRIS Speed rating for their effort in the Davona Dale.

Birdatthewire will be reunited with Forward Gal jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Gulfstream Park Oaks.

The race has actually come up pretty competitive as it also includes Eskenformoney (Eskendereya), who was just a neck behind Birdatthewire to be third in the Davona Dale in her stakes debut, and the versatile Devine Aida (Unbridled's Song), who is riding a four-race win streak that includes the grassy Ginger Brew S. and Herecomesthebride S., which was moved to the sloppy, sealed main track.

"She ran super last time. She just couldn't quite get by the winner and lost a bob for second," trainer Todd Pletcher said in regards to Eskenformoney. "It seemed like it was hard to make up some ground in the one-turn races that day, so I thought she ran well all things considered."

The Oaks will be the season opener for a pair of fillies in Cristina's Journey (Any Given Saturday) and Danessa Deluxe (Summer Bird). The former captured the Pocahontas S. (G2) at Churchill last September before being unplaced in her next two, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Golden Rod S. (G2), while Danessa Deluxe took a Gulfstream Park West allowance/optional claimer by 5 1/4 lengths before running fourth while making her stakes bow in the Delta Downs Princess S. (G3).

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Ekati's Phaeton faces familiar foes in Gulfstream Park Oaks

Ekati's Phaeton will try two turns for the first time in the GP Oaks (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Ekati's Phaeton was beat by, and then defeated, Birdatthewire (Summer Bird) in their past two meetings, so Saturday's $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) has turned into a sort of showdown between the talented pair.

The 1 1/16-mile contest drew a field of eight, four of whom will go home with points (100-40-20-10) toward a starting berth in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.

But before that event takes place, Ekati's Phaeton will get the opportunity to assert her dominance over Birdatthewire at Gulfstream Park. The Bill Kaplan pupil actually hasn't raced outside of Florida, breaking her maiden and taking an allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream by a nose and 10 lengths, respectively, before suffering her first loss when sixth next out in her stakes bow, the Our Dear Peggy S.

Ekati's Phaeton finished second in her juvenile finale, the House Party S. at Gulfstream Park West, and opened her three-year-old season with a half-length score in the Old Hat S. (G3) back at Gulfstream proper. Next up the dark bay lass took on Birdatthewire and found herself crossing under the Forward Gal S. (G2) finish line in fourth, but gained a measure of revenge when holding that rival by a neck in the Davona Dale S. (G2) to record a wire victory.

Luis Saez has been aboard for all three of Ekati's Phaeton's starts this year and retains the mount Saturday as the filly tries two turns for the first time.

"She's doing outstanding. She has a tremendous amount of speed, and we are seeing if we can lengthen it out," Kaplan said. "It's all a progression, and this is a test of two turns. Training-wise, she's doing well going into this race and she's learned how to relax a little bit, and I'm hoping we get the two turns without a problem.

"Speed and talent and heart, she's got all that. Now we've got to make sure we've got the ability to not use the speed early and that's what the two turns is all about."

Birdatthewire romped in the Forward Gal in late January (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Birdatthewire hit pay dirt in her first stakes try after breaking her maiden in her fourth career start. Despite being bumped at the start and forced to circle the turn five wide, the Dale Romans trainee got up for a 3 1/4-length triumph in the Forward Gal. The bay miss once again endured a bumpy start in the Davona Dale, but was unable to close the deal as Ekati's Phaeton proved too tenacious on that day. The close finish saw both fillies earn the same stellar 104 BRIS Speed rating for their effort in the Davona Dale.

Birdatthewire will be reunited with Forward Gal jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Gulfstream Park Oaks.

The race has actually come up pretty competitive as it also includes Eskenformoney (Eskendereya), who was just a neck behind Birdatthewire to be third in the Davona Dale in her stakes debut, and the versatile Devine Aida (Unbridled's Song), who is riding a four-race win streak that includes the grassy Ginger Brew S. and Herecomesthebride S., which was moved to the sloppy, sealed main track.

"She ran super last time. She just couldn't quite get by the winner and lost a bob for second," trainer Todd Pletcher said in regards to Eskenformoney. "It seemed like it was hard to make up some ground in the one-turn races that day, so I thought she ran well all things considered."

The Oaks will be the season opener for a pair of fillies in Cristina's Journey (Any Given Saturday) and Danessa Deluxe (Summer Bird). The former captured the Pocahontas S. (G2) at Churchill last September before being unplaced in her next two, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Golden Rod S. (G2), while Danessa Deluxe took a Gulfstream Park West allowance/optional claimer by 5 1/4 lengths before running fourth while making her stakes bow in the Delta Downs Princess S. (G3).

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Twilight Eclipse gets time to shine in Pan American

It's been close but no cigar for Twilight Eclipse since last summer (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Twilight Eclipse (Purim) escapes the long shadow of grass champion Main Sequence (Purim) on Saturday when he heads a field of nine for the $150,000 Pan American at Gulfstream Park.

Second or third to Main Sequence in five consecutive stakes dating back to last July, Twilight Eclipse has been left a prime opportunity to snare a top prize with Main Sequence away in Dubai on Saturday. Second to that rival by three parts of a length in the Mac Diarmida (G2) on February 21, Twilight Eclipse will be looking for his first win of any kind since the 2014 edition of the Mac Diarmida.

"We were in a good position early on, and we actually got first run on Main Sequence this time, and I thought when we opened up a length for so turning for home that we had enough momentum, but Main Sequence is just such an awesome horse," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "He's got such a quick turn of foot. He just was able to get us again at the wire.

"In our previous races, I thought we were a little bit unlucky. When we faced him in the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth, we were unfortunately pinned inside a little bit, and Main Sequence got the jump on us, and also in the next race at Belmont (Turf Classic [G1]), something similar happened where he got first jump on us, but I had no excuses last time. We got the first jump and we still got caught, but our horse is doing really good, and I feel really good about our chances this weekend."

Imagining (Giant's Causeway), last year's Man o' War (G1) winner, is looking to rebound in the 1 1/2-mile turf event after sub-par performances in the Gulfstream Park H. (G1) and Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) in his last two. The seven-year-old chestnut finished in close attendance to Twilight Eclipse multiple times last season.

Trainer Graham Motion, who conditions Main Sequence, has a serious contender in Glenard (Arch), a sharp second in the Fair Grounds H. (G3) in his U.S. debut. Also exiting that race is third-place finisher Pyrite Mountain (Silent Name), who narrowly missed winning a Grade 3 at Kentucky Downs last fall.

The likely pacesetter is Change of Command (Gators N Bears), who held on for third in the Mac Diarmida at odds of 30-1.

Riposte (Dansili), a Group 2 winner in England and the U.S., is the one to beat in the $150,000 Orchid (G3) for fillies and mares, also at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. The Juddmonte Farms homebred captured the Ribblesdale (Eng-G2) at Royal Ascot at three, the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and New York (G2) at Belmont last year, and enters off a second in the February 21 The Very One (G3) in her first start in nearly eight months.

Primary challengers include Tabreed (Sakhee), third in The Very One last time and making her final start before retiring to WinStar Farm for broodmare duty; Photo Call (Gallileo) third in the December 27 La Prevoyante H. (G3) in her stakes debut for Graham Motion; and French stakes-winning import Beauty Parlor (Elusive Quality), who makes her U.S. debut for Christophe Clement.

Coffee Clique is using the Honey Fox as a stepping stone toward a title defense in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Jim Tyrrell/Horsephotos.com)

The most lucrative of Saturday's Florida Derby undercard stakes is the $300,000 Honey Fox (G2), a one-mile turf test for fillies and mares which features the return of Coffee Clique (Medaglia d'Oro). The five-year-old won all three of her starts in an abbreviated 2014 campaign, including the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) and Just a Game (G1). She has not started since the latter contest on June 7.

"She had some bone bruising after that race, so we gave her the best part of the late summer off," trainer Brian Lynch said. "She's been fantastic. We've had a hiccup free preparation. She hasn't missed a beat, hasn't missed a work, so she's really trained up to this race very nicely. Fingers crossed.

"We're getting her ready for the (Churchill) Distaff Turf Mile (on May 2), so this will be an ideal prep race for her We sort of mapped out a schedule to get her back to Churchill on Derby Day for the Distaff and then back to the Just a Game at Belmont (June 6). This is sort of the routine we went with last year, except we ran her in an allowance last year. This year we're lucky enough to have the Honey Fox fall into play at the right time."

Among those set to oppose is multiple Grade 3 winner Sandiva (Footstepsinthesand), most recently the heroine of the Suwannee River (G3); Grade 2-winning speedster Istanford (Istan); Lady Lara (Excellent Art), first in the Pebbles and second in the Mrs. Revere (G2) in her two U.S. outings last fall; Marbre Rose (Smart Strike), who took the South Beach when last seen in December; and the multiple stakes-placed Party Now (Tiznow).

The male counterpart to the Honey Fox, the $150,000 Appleton (G3), features local Grade 1 scorer Lochte (Medaglia d'Oro) and the promising War Correspondent (War Front), third by a length in the Gulfstream Park Turf last time. Other contenders include Mr. Online (Silent Name), second by a neck in this event last season; Grand Tito (Candy Ride) and Aripeka (Bernstein), second and third, respectively, in the Canadian Turf (G3) last out; and gate-to-wire threat Excaper (Exchange Rate).

Encryption (Exchange Rate) could parlay an impressive second-level allowance win on February 22 into victory over 1 3/16 miles in the $150,000 Skip Away (G3). Grade 3-placed last season, the Kelly Breen trainee won the aforementioned allowance by eight lengths going 1 1/16 miles.

Among the hard-knocking opponents are Commissioner (A.P. Indy), last year's Belmont (G1) runner-up who is still seeking his first career stakes win, and East Hall (Graeme Hall), who landed the Indiana Derby (G2) and Millions Classic Preview before a second-place effort to returning rival Sr. Quisqueyano (Exclusive Quality) in the January 17 Sunshine Millions Classic.

The leading contenders in the $100,000 Sir Shackleton, a seven-furlong dash for older horses, are Fred W. Hooper (G3) winner Valid (Medaglia d'Oro), third last out in the Gulfstream Park H. (G2); multiple Grade 2 veteran Pants On Fire (Jump Start), unraced since mid-December; and the multiple Grade 3-placed Confrontation (War Pass).

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Twilight Eclipse gets time to shine in Pan American

It's been close but no cigar for Twilight Eclipse since last summer (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Twilight Eclipse (Purim) escapes the long shadow of grass champion Main Sequence (Purim) on Saturday when he heads a field of nine for the $150,000 Pan American at Gulfstream Park.

Second or third to Main Sequence in five consecutive stakes dating back to last July, Twilight Eclipse has been left a prime opportunity to snare a top prize with Main Sequence away in Dubai on Saturday. Second to that rival by three parts of a length in the Mac Diarmida (G2) on February 21, Twilight Eclipse will be looking for his first win of any kind since the 2014 edition of the Mac Diarmida.

"We were in a good position early on, and we actually got first run on Main Sequence this time, and I thought when we opened up a length for so turning for home that we had enough momentum, but Main Sequence is just such an awesome horse," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "He's got such a quick turn of foot. He just was able to get us again at the wire.

"In our previous races, I thought we were a little bit unlucky. When we faced him in the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth, we were unfortunately pinned inside a little bit, and Main Sequence got the jump on us, and also in the next race at Belmont (Turf Classic [G1]), something similar happened where he got first jump on us, but I had no excuses last time. We got the first jump and we still got caught, but our horse is doing really good, and I feel really good about our chances this weekend."

Imagining (Giant's Causeway), last year's Man o' War (G1) winner, is looking to rebound in the 1 1/2-mile turf event after sub-par performances in the Gulfstream Park H. (G1) and Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) in his last two. The seven-year-old chestnut finished in close attendance to Twilight Eclipse multiple times last season.

Trainer Graham Motion, who conditions Main Sequence, has a serious contender in Glenard (Arch), a sharp second in the Fair Grounds H. (G3) in his U.S. debut. Also exiting that race is third-place finisher Pyrite Mountain (Silent Name), who narrowly missed winning a Grade 3 at Kentucky Downs last fall.

The likely pacesetter is Change of Command (Gators N Bears), who held on for third in the Mac Diarmida at odds of 30-1.

Riposte (Dansili), a Group 2 winner in England and the U.S., is the one to beat in the $150,000 Orchid (G3) for fillies and mares, also at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. The Juddmonte Farms homebred captured the Ribblesdale (Eng-G2) at Royal Ascot at three, the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and New York (G2) at Belmont last year, and enters off a second in the February 21 The Very One (G3) in her first start in nearly eight months.

Primary challengers include Tabreed (Sakhee), third in The Very One last time and making her final start before retiring to WinStar Farm for broodmare duty; Photo Call (Gallileo) third in the December 27 La Prevoyante H. (G3) in her stakes debut for Graham Motion; and French stakes-winning import Beauty Parlor (Elusive Quality), who makes her U.S. debut for Christophe Clement.

Coffee Clique is using the Honey Fox as a stepping stone toward a title defense in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Jim Tyrrell/Horsephotos.com)

The most lucrative of Saturday's Florida Derby undercard stakes is the $300,000 Honey Fox (G2), a one-mile turf test for fillies and mares which features the return of Coffee Clique (Medaglia d'Oro). The five-year-old won all three of her starts in an abbreviated 2014 campaign, including the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) and Just a Game (G1). She has not started since the latter contest on June 7.

"She had some bone bruising after that race, so we gave her the best part of the late summer off," trainer Brian Lynch said. "She's been fantastic. We've had a hiccup free preparation. She hasn't missed a beat, hasn't missed a work, so she's really trained up to this race very nicely. Fingers crossed.

"We're getting her ready for the (Churchill) Distaff Turf Mile (on May 2), so this will be an ideal prep race for her We sort of mapped out a schedule to get her back to Churchill on Derby Day for the Distaff and then back to the Just a Game at Belmont (June 6). This is sort of the routine we went with last year, except we ran her in an allowance last year. This year we're lucky enough to have the Honey Fox fall into play at the right time."

Among those set to oppose is multiple Grade 3 winner Sandiva (Footstepsinthesand), most recently the heroine of the Suwannee River (G3); Grade 2-winning speedster Istanford (Istan); Lady Lara (Excellent Art), first in the Pebbles and second in the Mrs. Revere (G2) in her two U.S. outings last fall; Marbre Rose (Smart Strike), who took the South Beach when last seen in December; and the multiple stakes-placed Party Now (Tiznow).

The male counterpart to the Honey Fox, the $150,000 Appleton (G3), features local Grade 1 scorer Lochte (Medaglia d'Oro) and the promising War Correspondent (War Front), third by a length in the Gulfstream Park Turf last time. Other contenders include Mr. Online (Silent Name), second by a neck in this event last season; Grand Tito (Candy Ride) and Aripeka (Bernstein), second and third, respectively, in the Canadian Turf (G3) last out; and gate-to-wire threat Excaper (Exchange Rate).

Encryption (Exchange Rate) could parlay an impressive second-level allowance win on February 22 into victory over 1 3/16 miles in the $150,000 Skip Away (G3). Grade 3-placed last season, the Kelly Breen trainee won the aforementioned allowance by eight lengths going 1 1/16 miles.

Among the hard-knocking opponents are Commissioner (A.P. Indy), last year's Belmont (G1) runner-up who is still seeking his first career stakes win, and East Hall (Graeme Hall), who landed the Indiana Derby (G2) and Millions Classic Preview before a second-place effort to returning rival Sr. Quisqueyano (Exclusive Quality) in the January 17 Sunshine Millions Classic.

The leading contenders in the $100,000 Sir Shackleton, a seven-furlong dash for older horses, are Fred W. Hooper (G3) winner Valid (Medaglia d'Oro), third last out in the Gulfstream Park H. (G2); multiple Grade 2 veteran Pants On Fire (Jump Start), unraced since mid-December; and the multiple Grade 3-placed Confrontation (War Pass).

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New Orleans 'Cap, Mervin Muniz highlight Fair Grounds undercard

Moreno's most recent win came in last August's Whitney H. at Saratoga (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

The main attraction at Fair Grounds on Saturday will be the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2), quickly followed by the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).

However, the undercard has attracted its share of stars for the other two graded events on the day, the $400,000 New Orleans H. (G2) and $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial H. (G2).

Chief among those stars is Moreno (Ghostzapper), who enters the 1 1/8-mile New Orleans 'Cap off a runner-up effort in the Santa Anita H. (G1) on March 7. The Eric Guillot trainee spent the first 10 starts of his 24-race career just trying to break his maiden, but immediately blossomed into a stakes contender upon getting that initial 6 1/4-length score in June 2013.

Moreno followed up with a seven-length victory in the Dwyer S. (G2) and would go on to be third in the Jim Dandy S. (G2), a nose second to eventual champion three-year-old male Will Take Charge in the Travers S. (G1), and second once again to the rival in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2). He closed out his sophomore campaign with a lackluster effort in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), but returned to form in his first outing as a four-year-old when third in the Charles Town Classic (G2) last April.

Since then Moreno has captured the Whitney H. (G1) and placed in the Woodward S. (G1) and Suburban H. (G2). The five-year-old bay gelding gets Joe Talamo in the saddle as he seeks his first win of 2015 on Saturday.

The New Orleans 'Cap also features the second- and third-place finishers from the February 21 local prep, the Mineshaft H. (G3). Mystery Train (Not for Sale) just missed by three parts of a length in the Mineshaft while making his fourth U.S. start. The Darrell Vienna charge is dual Group 1-placed in his native Argentina, but didn't show much in his first three U.S. starts against graded rivals until the Mineshaft. Grade 2 hero Red Rifle was making his five-year-old bow in the Mineshaft for trainer Todd Pletcher, and ran well to be third.

Florent Geroux was in the irons for Red Rifle's Hawthorne Gold Cup H. (G2) win last November and takes back the mount here while Francisco Torres stays aboard Mystery Train.

Also in with a shot is Grade 3 scorer Albano (Istan), who posted a 6 1/2-length triumph in the Maxaam Gold Cup at Sam Houston on February 28 in his final prep for this race.

Slumber (outside #7) just missed to Mshawish in the GP Turf H. in early February (Adam Coglianese Photography)

The Mervin H. Muniz drew a field of seven to go nine grassy furlongs at Fair Grounds, headed by the Chad Brown-conditioned Slumber (Cacique). The seven-year-old bay will be making his Fair Grounds debut after racing at Woodbine, Gulfstream Park and in New York since shipping stateside. In his most recent start, Slumber rallied to just miss by a nose in the Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1) on February 7, and gets a jockey switch to Alan Garcia.

Just like the Mineshaft is the local prep for the New Orleans 'Cap, the Fair Grounds H. (G3) readies hopefuls for the Muniz. Chocolate Ride (Candy Ride) was never challenged when wiring that nine-furlong affair on February 21, drawing off to a three-length advantage in the stretch before winning by a geared down 1 3/4 lengths. Talamo gets the call.

Others of note include Coalport (Kitten's Joy), a 3 1/4-length wire winner of the John B. Connally Turf Cup S. (G3) in late January, and Divine Oath (Broken Vow), who closed out 2014 by capturing the W.L. McKnight H. (G3) and opened his four-year-old season with a fifth-placing behind champion Main Sequence (Aldebaran) in the Mac Diarmida S. (G2).

In addition to the four graded contests taking place at Fair Grounds on Saturday, there are also four state-bred restricted stakes scheduled for the undercard.

The $75,000 Crescent City Oaks kicks off the day's black-type action when sending a field of 11 sophomore fillies a mile and 70 yards on the main track. Sibling War (Brother Derek) beat a number of others in this field last out in the Azalea S. including Forest Lake (Forestry), who will try to break a case of seconditis from her past three races, and Wind Chill Factor (Successful Appeal), who saw her three-race win streak against state-bred stakes rivals broken when third in the Louisiana Premier Night Starlet to the re-opposing Private Promise (Private Vow).

One race later, a full field of 14 three-year-old colts and geldings will go 1 1/16 miles in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby. The respective top three from the March 7 Pelican S. -- Cat Sup (Discreet Cat), Four Leaf Chief (Lookin at Lucky) and Charlie's Affair (My Pal Charlie) -- will once again challenge each other, while maiden winners Cajun Spirit (Bernstein) and Mobile Bay (Lone Star Special) make their stakes debuts.

The $60,000 Star Guitar S. will wrap up the state-bred stakes two races following the Crescent City Derby after attracting a field of 10 older runners going 1 1/16 miles. It's preceded by the $60,000 Costa Rising S., which drew 11 runners to go 5 1/2 furlongs on the Fair Grounds turf.

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New Orleans 'Cap, Mervin Muniz highlight Fair Grounds undercard

Moreno's most recent win came in last August's Whitney H. at Saratoga (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

The main attraction at Fair Grounds on Saturday will be the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2), quickly followed by the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).

However, the undercard has attracted its share of stars for the other two graded events on the day, the $400,000 New Orleans H. (G2) and $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial H. (G2).

Chief among those stars is Moreno (Ghostzapper), who enters the 1 1/8-mile New Orleans 'Cap off a runner-up effort in the Santa Anita H. (G1) on March 7. The Eric Guillot trainee spent the first 10 starts of his 24-race career just trying to break his maiden, but immediately blossomed into a stakes contender upon getting that initial 6 1/4-length score in June 2013.

Moreno followed up with a seven-length victory in the Dwyer S. (G2) and would go on to be third in the Jim Dandy S. (G2), a nose second to eventual champion three-year-old male Will Take Charge in the Travers S. (G1), and second once again to the rival in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2). He closed out his sophomore campaign with a lackluster effort in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), but returned to form in his first outing as a four-year-old when third in the Charles Town Classic (G2) last April.

Since then Moreno has captured the Whitney H. (G1) and placed in the Woodward S. (G1) and Suburban H. (G2). The five-year-old bay gelding gets Joe Talamo in the saddle as he seeks his first win of 2015 on Saturday.

The New Orleans 'Cap also features the second- and third-place finishers from the February 21 local prep, the Mineshaft H. (G3). Mystery Train (Not for Sale) just missed by three parts of a length in the Mineshaft while making his fourth U.S. start. The Darrell Vienna charge is dual Group 1-placed in his native Argentina, but didn't show much in his first three U.S. starts against graded rivals until the Mineshaft. Grade 2 hero Red Rifle was making his five-year-old bow in the Mineshaft for trainer Todd Pletcher, and ran well to be third.

Florent Geroux was in the irons for Red Rifle's Hawthorne Gold Cup H. (G2) win last November and takes back the mount here while Francisco Torres stays aboard Mystery Train.

Also in with a shot is Grade 3 scorer Albano (Istan), who posted a 6 1/2-length triumph in the Maxaam Gold Cup at Sam Houston on February 28 in his final prep for this race.

Slumber (outside #7) just missed to Mshawish in the GP Turf H. in early February (Adam Coglianese Photography)

The Mervin H. Muniz drew a field of seven to go nine grassy furlongs at Fair Grounds, headed by the Chad Brown-conditioned Slumber (Cacique). The seven-year-old bay will be making his Fair Grounds debut after racing at Woodbine, Gulfstream Park and in New York since shipping stateside. In his most recent start, Slumber rallied to just miss by a nose in the Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1) on February 7, and gets a jockey switch to Alan Garcia.

Just like the Mineshaft is the local prep for the New Orleans 'Cap, the Fair Grounds H. (G3) readies hopefuls for the Muniz. Chocolate Ride (Candy Ride) was never challenged when wiring that nine-furlong affair on February 21, drawing off to a three-length advantage in the stretch before winning by a geared down 1 3/4 lengths. Talamo gets the call.

Others of note include Coalport (Kitten's Joy), a 3 1/4-length wire winner of the John B. Connally Turf Cup S. (G3) in late January, and Divine Oath (Broken Vow), who closed out 2014 by capturing the W.L. McKnight H. (G3) and opened his four-year-old season with a fifth-placing behind champion Main Sequence (Aldebaran) in the Mac Diarmida S. (G2).

In addition to the four graded contests taking place at Fair Grounds on Saturday, there are also four state-bred restricted stakes scheduled for the undercard.

The $75,000 Crescent City Oaks kicks off the day's black-type action when sending a field of 11 sophomore fillies a mile and 70 yards on the main track. Sibling War (Brother Derek) beat a number of others in this field last out in the Azalea S. including Forest Lake (Forestry), who will try to break a case of seconditis from her past three races, and Wind Chill Factor (Successful Appeal), who saw her three-race win streak against state-bred stakes rivals broken when third in the Louisiana Premier Night Starlet to the re-opposing Private Promise (Private Vow).

One race later, a full field of 14 three-year-old colts and geldings will go 1 1/16 miles in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby. The respective top three from the March 7 Pelican S. -- Cat Sup (Discreet Cat), Four Leaf Chief (Lookin at Lucky) and Charlie's Affair (My Pal Charlie) -- will once again challenge each other, while maiden winners Cajun Spirit (Bernstein) and Mobile Bay (Lone Star Special) make their stakes debuts.

The $60,000 Star Guitar S. will wrap up the state-bred stakes two races following the Crescent City Derby after attracting a field of 10 older runners going 1 1/16 miles. It's preceded by the $60,000 Costa Rising S., which drew 11 runners to go 5 1/2 furlongs on the Fair Grounds turf.

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Chrome exits work in good shape, draws post 9 in Cup

According to trainer Art Sherman, Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) contender California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) came out of Tuesday's half-mile breeze at Meydan in good order.

"He ate up everything last night and walked for 45 minutes (Wednesday) morning," Sherman said. “The pressure is off today. He will go back to the track at 5 a.m. tomorrow. It's nice and cool then."

Later Wednesday, at the World Cup's post position draw, California Chrome drew post 9.

"I love it," Sherman said. "Nine is a perfect position for our horse. I've got all the speed horses to the inside of me and he loves to run from the outside. The surface is not a concern -- good horses can run on anything even tarmac.

Under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who arrived in the U.A.E. the previous evening, Lea galloped twice around the Meydan oval on Wednesday morning.

"He will have another easy day tomorrow and probably have a little blowout on Friday morning," Mott said. "Nothing serious. Just to let him stretch his legs and get over the track. The next day will be race day."

Mott's win in the inaugural Dubai World Cup with the legendary Cigar is well documented, but his champion mare Royal Delta disappointed in recent editions of the race. She was ninth in 2012 and 10th in 2013, but both of those were contested over a synthetic all-weather surface.

"We are certainly here (with Lea) because the race is back on dirt and our horse has done his best running on the dirt," Mott said. "Just from what I can tell from looking at the surface this morning, it looks very good. I walked across it and it looks like our horse handles it well, which is the most important thing."

Mott is very familiar with the qualifications of the likely international race favorite California Chrome, but admits there are some unknowns entering Saturday's race.

"We're going to give it our best," Mott said. (California Chrome) is a very good horse who of course was Horse of the Year, which is the biggest prize you can get I suppose. He's well thought of but we like our horse as well. I don't know a lot about the Japanese horses. We have nothing to compare them to."

Lea drew post 5 for the World Cup at Wednesday's draw.

"I think we got lucky," Mott said. "We'd have been happy with anything from the middle to outside draw. In a perfect world, we'd have liked to have been outside California Chrome, but we are still in a good spot.

"I've heard that speed is a big asset here and he has tactical speed. We'll let him place himself and see what happens."

Candy Boy will be making his first start under the care of trainer Doug Watson in the World Cup and galloped 1 1/4 miles on Wednesday.

"He hasn't raced since the Breeders' Cup (sixth behind Bayern in the Classic [G1]) but we've gotten him very fit in his work and he's thriving," Watson said.

Although Candy Boy has run from off the pace in the majority of his starts, Watson believes him capable of racing closer in the early stages on Saturday.

"I watched his American replays with (jockey) Pat (Dobbs) and he ran a little bit forward in some of his races," Watson said. "We agreed we're going to push a little forward and take our chances. We're not going to take back, that's for sure. He's a big horse and the wide sweeping turns of this course should work in his favor."

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Chrome exits work in good shape, draws post 9 in Cup

According to trainer Art Sherman, Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) contender California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) came out of Tuesday's half-mile breeze at Meydan in good order.

"He ate up everything last night and walked for 45 minutes (Wednesday) morning," Sherman said. “The pressure is off today. He will go back to the track at 5 a.m. tomorrow. It's nice and cool then."

Later Wednesday, at the World Cup's post position draw, California Chrome drew post 9.

"I love it," Sherman said. "Nine is a perfect position for our horse. I've got all the speed horses to the inside of me and he loves to run from the outside. The surface is not a concern -- good horses can run on anything even tarmac.

Under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who arrived in the U.A.E. the previous evening, Lea galloped twice around the Meydan oval on Wednesday morning.

"He will have another easy day tomorrow and probably have a little blowout on Friday morning," Mott said. "Nothing serious. Just to let him stretch his legs and get over the track. The next day will be race day."

Mott's win in the inaugural Dubai World Cup with the legendary Cigar is well documented, but his champion mare Royal Delta disappointed in recent editions of the race. She was ninth in 2012 and 10th in 2013, but both of those were contested over a synthetic all-weather surface.

"We are certainly here (with Lea) because the race is back on dirt and our horse has done his best running on the dirt," Mott said. "Just from what I can tell from looking at the surface this morning, it looks very good. I walked across it and it looks like our horse handles it well, which is the most important thing."

Mott is very familiar with the qualifications of the likely international race favorite California Chrome, but admits there are some unknowns entering Saturday's race.

"We're going to give it our best," Mott said. (California Chrome) is a very good horse who of course was Horse of the Year, which is the biggest prize you can get I suppose. He's well thought of but we like our horse as well. I don't know a lot about the Japanese horses. We have nothing to compare them to."

Lea drew post 5 for the World Cup at Wednesday's draw.

"I think we got lucky," Mott said. "We'd have been happy with anything from the middle to outside draw. In a perfect world, we'd have liked to have been outside California Chrome, but we are still in a good spot.

"I've heard that speed is a big asset here and he has tactical speed. We'll let him place himself and see what happens."

Candy Boy will be making his first start under the care of trainer Doug Watson in the World Cup and galloped 1 1/4 miles on Wednesday.

"He hasn't raced since the Breeders' Cup (sixth behind Bayern in the Classic [G1]) but we've gotten him very fit in his work and he's thriving," Watson said.

Although Candy Boy has run from off the pace in the majority of his starts, Watson believes him capable of racing closer in the early stages on Saturday.

"I watched his American replays with (jockey) Pat (Dobbs) and he ran a little bit forward in some of his races," Watson said. "We agreed we're going to push a little forward and take our chances. We're not going to take back, that's for sure. He's a big horse and the wide sweeping turns of this course should work in his favor."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

DUBAI WORLD CUP 2015

Saturday

GODOLPHIN MILE (UAE-G2), 1600M, 8:40 a.m. (all times EDT)

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   TAMARKUZ   Musabah al Muhairi   Paul Hanagan   2-1
2   FREE WHEELING   Saeed bin Suroor   James Doyle   60-1
3   QUADRIVIUM   Graham Motion   Rajiv Maragh   20-1
4   NOLOHAY   Musabah al Muhairi   Dane O'Neill   30-1
5   BRADESTER   Eddie Kenneally   Jose Lezcano   4-1
6   FRANKYFOURFINGERS   Salem bin Ghadayer   Mickael Barzalona   12-1
7   DARK EMERALD   Brendan Powell   Adam Kirby   15-1
8   PRAYER FOR RELIEF   Mike de Kock   Christophe Soumillon   20-1
9   GRAPHIC   William Haggas   Ryan Moore   20-1
10   GOLD CITY   Satish Seemar   Marc Monaghan   12-1
11   HAATHEQ   Ali Rashid al Raihe   Joel Rosario   50-1
12   PYLON   Mike de Kock   Johnny Geroudis   30-1
13   FORJATT   Dhruba Selvaratnam   Oisin Murphy   40-1
14   LAYL   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   50-1
15   SLOANE AVENUE   Jeremy Noseda   Frankie Dettori   10-1
16   SURFER   Satish Seemar   Richard Mullen   12-1

DUBAI GOLD CUP (UAE-G2), 3200MT, 9:15 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   DORMELLO   Dhruba Selvaratnam   Oisin Murphy   40-1
2   BRASS RING   Ismail Mohammed   Wayne Smith   20-1
3   COOPTADO   Doug Watson   Adrie de Vries   20-1
4   MUSHREQ   Mike de Kock   Dane O'Neill   30-1
5   DUBDAY   Jassim Ghazali   Frankie Dettori   15-1
6   STAR EMPIRE   Mike de Kock   Christophe Soumillon   15-1
7   MARZOCCO   John Gosden   William Buick   6-1
8   BATHYRHON   Pia Brandt   Maxime Guyon   6-1
9   ALMOONQITH   Mike de Kock   Paul Hanagan   8-1
10   HAVANA BEAT   Andrew Balding   Ryan Moore   8-1
11   MEANDRE   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   15-1
12   VAASA   Ahmad bin Harmash   Andrea Atzeni   40-1
13   RIO TIGRE   Salem bin Ghadayer   Mickael Barzalona   12-1
14   BROWN PANTHER   Tom Dascombe   Richard Kingscote   4-1
15   AHZEEMAH   Saeed bin Suroor   James Doyle   12-1

U.A.E. DERBY (UAE-G2), 1900M, 9:55 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   MUBTAAHIJ   Mike de Kock   Christophe Soumillon   5-2
2   MOTAA   Bader al Shaibani   Jose Lezcano   40-1
3   ALNAJEM ALFAIZ   Bader al Shaibani   Mickael Barzalona   20-1
4   SIR FEVER   Charlie Appleby   William Buick   3-1
5   FAITHFUL CREEK   Brian Meehan   Kieren Fallon   50-1
6   TAP THAT   Yasutoshi Ikee   Joao Moreira   20-1
7   GOLDEN BAROWS   Noriyuki Hori   Ryan Moore   4-1
8   MY JOHNNY BE GOOD   Eoin Harty   Victor Espinoza   15-1
9   MAFTOOL   Saeed bin Suroor   Paul Hanagan   9-2
10   DEAR DOMUS   Yutaka Takahashi   Kosei Miura   12-1

AL QUOZ SPRINT (UAE-G1), 1000MT, 10:30 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   GREEN MASK   Wesley Ward   Frankie Dettori   15-1
2   BUNDLE OF JOY   David Hall   Joao Moreira   8-1
3   HOTOTO   Fawzi Nass   Luke Morris   15-1
4   VIA AFRICA   Mike de Kock   Christophe Soumillon   10-1
5   FARMAH   Francois Rohaut   Paul Hanagan   20-1
6   SIR MAXIMILIAN   Ian Williams   Kieren Fallon   12-1
7   SOLE POWER   Eddie Lynam   Richard Hughes   12-1
8   MIRZA   Rae Guest   James Doyle   20-1
9   STEPPER POINT   Willie Muir   Martin Dwyer   20-1
10   AMBER SKY   Ricky Yiu   Ryan Moore   15-1
11   CASPAR NETSCHER   David Simcock   Andrew Mullen   12-1
12   CASPIAN PRINCE   Tony Carroll   Adam Kirby   20-1
13   AHTOUG   Charlie Appleby   William Buick   6-1
14   DISTINCTIV PASSION   Jeff Bonde   Edwin Maldonado   8-1
15   LANCELOT DU LAC   Dean Ivory   Jim Crowley   20-1
16   PENIAPHOBIA   Tony Cruz   Douglas Whyte   9-2

DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN (UAE-G1), 1200M, 11:05 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   MONTIRIDGE   Bader al Shaibani   Jose Lezcano   30-1
2   SPEED HAWK   Robert Cowell   Andrea Atzeni   30-1
3   KRYPTON FACTOR   Fawzi Nass   Kieren Fallon   20-1
4   RICH TAPESTRY   Michael Chang   Olivier Doleuze   6-1
5   SALUTOS AMIGOS   David Jacobson   Cornelio Velasquez   4-1
6   BIG MACHER   Richard Baltas   Joel Rosario   8-1
7   SECRET CIRCLE   Bob Baffert   Victor Espinoza   3-1
8   LUCKY NINE   Caspar Fownes   Brett Prebble   20-1
9   UNITED COLOR   Dhruba Selvaratnam   Oisin Murphy   15-1
10   SHAISHEE   Musabah al Muhairi   Dane O'Neill   12-1
11   EL PADRINO (ex Ip Man)   Alwin Tan   Oscar Chavez   30-1
12   SUPER JOCKEY   Tony Millard   Ryan Moore   30-1
13   COOL COWBOY   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   10-1
14   MUARRAB   Musabah al Muhairi   Paul Hanagan   20-1

DUBAI TURF (UAE-G1), 1800MT, 11:40 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   EURO CHARLINE   Marco Botti   Joao Moreira   6-1
2   UMGIYO   Mike de Kock   Johnny Geroudis   20-1
3   MSHAWISH   Todd Pletcher   Frankie Dettori   5-1
4   EARNSHAW   Salem bin Ghadayer   Mickael Barzalona   20-1
5   LIMARIO   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   40-1
6   THE GREY GATSBY   Kevin Ryan   Ryan Moore   5-2
7   TRADE STORM   David Simcock   Andrea Atzeni   10-1
8   CLADOCERA   Alain de Royer-Dupre   Christophe Soumillon   12-1
9   FARRAAJ   Dhruba Selvaratnam   Oisin Murphy   12-1
10   SOLOW   Freddy Head   Maxime Guyon   3-1

DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC (UAE-G1), 2410MT, 12:15 p.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   SHEIKHZAYEDROAD   David Simcock   Martin Lane   20-1
2   DOLNIYA   Alain de Royer-Dupre   Christophe Soumillon   12-1
3   TRUE STORY   Saeed bin Suroor   James Doyle   40-1
4   FLINTSHIRE   Andre Fabre   Maxime Guyon   7-2
5   MAIN SEQUENCE   Graham Motion   Rajiv Maragh   9-5
6   ONE AND ONLY   Kojiro Hashiguchi   Cristian Demuro   12-1
7   DESIGNS ON ROME   John Moore   Joao Moreira   4-1
8   JUST THE JUDGE   Charlie Hills   Andrea Atzeni   15-1
9   HARP STAR   Hiroyoshi Matsuda   Ryan Moore   6-1

DUBAI WORLD CUP (UAE-G1), 2000M, 1 p.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   PRINCE BISHOP   Saeed bin Suroor   William Buick   15-1
2   HOKKO TARUMAE   Katsuichi Nishiura   Hideaki Miyuki   8-1
3   AFRICAN STORY   Saeed bin Suroor   James Doyle   6-1
4   SIDE GLANCE   Andrew Balding   Andrea Atzeni   40-1
5   LEA   Bill Mott   Joel Rosario   5-2
6   CANDY BOY   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   10-1
7   LONG RIVER   Salem bin Ghadayer   Mickael Barzalona   30-1
8   EPIPHANEIA   Katsuhiko Sumii   Christophe Soumillon   12-1
9   CALIFORNIA CHROME   Art Sherman   Victor Espinoza   8-5

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DUBAI WORLD CUP 2015

Saturday

GODOLPHIN MILE (UAE-G2), 1600M, 8:40 a.m. (all times EDT)

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   TAMARKUZ   Musabah al Muhairi   Paul Hanagan   2-1
2   FREE WHEELING   Saeed bin Suroor   James Doyle   60-1
3   QUADRIVIUM   Graham Motion   Rajiv Maragh   20-1
4   NOLOHAY   Musabah al Muhairi   Dane O'Neill   30-1
5   BRADESTER   Eddie Kenneally   Jose Lezcano   4-1
6   FRANKYFOURFINGERS   Salem bin Ghadayer   Mickael Barzalona   12-1
7   DARK EMERALD   Brendan Powell   Adam Kirby   15-1
8   PRAYER FOR RELIEF   Mike de Kock   Christophe Soumillon   20-1
9   GRAPHIC   William Haggas   Ryan Moore   20-1
10   GOLD CITY   Satish Seemar   Marc Monaghan   12-1
11   HAATHEQ   Ali Rashid al Raihe   Joel Rosario   50-1
12   PYLON   Mike de Kock   Johnny Geroudis   30-1
13   FORJATT   Dhruba Selvaratnam   Oisin Murphy   40-1
14   LAYL   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   50-1
15   SLOANE AVENUE   Jeremy Noseda   Frankie Dettori   10-1
16   SURFER   Satish Seemar   Richard Mullen   12-1

DUBAI GOLD CUP (UAE-G2), 3200MT, 9:15 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   DORMELLO   Dhruba Selvaratnam   Oisin Murphy   40-1
2   BRASS RING   Ismail Mohammed   Wayne Smith   20-1
3   COOPTADO   Doug Watson   Adrie de Vries   20-1
4   MUSHREQ   Mike de Kock   Dane O'Neill   30-1
5   DUBDAY   Jassim Ghazali   Frankie Dettori   15-1
6   STAR EMPIRE   Mike de Kock   Christophe Soumillon   15-1
7   MARZOCCO   John Gosden   William Buick   6-1
8   BATHYRHON   Pia Brandt   Maxime Guyon   6-1
9   ALMOONQITH   Mike de Kock   Paul Hanagan   8-1
10   HAVANA BEAT   Andrew Balding   Ryan Moore   8-1
11   MEANDRE   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   15-1
12   VAASA   Ahmad bin Harmash   Andrea Atzeni   40-1
13   RIO TIGRE   Salem bin Ghadayer   Mickael Barzalona   12-1
14   BROWN PANTHER   Tom Dascombe   Richard Kingscote   4-1
15   AHZEEMAH   Saeed bin Suroor   James Doyle   12-1

U.A.E. DERBY (UAE-G2), 1900M, 9:55 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   MUBTAAHIJ   Mike de Kock   Christophe Soumillon   5-2
2   MOTAA   Bader al Shaibani   Jose Lezcano   40-1
3   ALNAJEM ALFAIZ   Bader al Shaibani   Mickael Barzalona   20-1
4   SIR FEVER   Charlie Appleby   William Buick   3-1
5   FAITHFUL CREEK   Brian Meehan   Kieren Fallon   50-1
6   TAP THAT   Yasutoshi Ikee   Joao Moreira   20-1
7   GOLDEN BAROWS   Noriyuki Hori   Ryan Moore   4-1
8   MY JOHNNY BE GOOD   Eoin Harty   Victor Espinoza   15-1
9   MAFTOOL   Saeed bin Suroor   Paul Hanagan   9-2
10   DEAR DOMUS   Yutaka Takahashi   Kosei Miura   12-1

AL QUOZ SPRINT (UAE-G1), 1000MT, 10:30 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   GREEN MASK   Wesley Ward   Frankie Dettori   15-1
2   BUNDLE OF JOY   David Hall   Joao Moreira   8-1
3   HOTOTO   Fawzi Nass   Luke Morris   15-1
4   VIA AFRICA   Mike de Kock   Christophe Soumillon   10-1
5   FARMAH   Francois Rohaut   Paul Hanagan   20-1
6   SIR MAXIMILIAN   Ian Williams   Kieren Fallon   12-1
7   SOLE POWER   Eddie Lynam   Richard Hughes   12-1
8   MIRZA   Rae Guest   James Doyle   20-1
9   STEPPER POINT   Willie Muir   Martin Dwyer   20-1
10   AMBER SKY   Ricky Yiu   Ryan Moore   15-1
11   CASPAR NETSCHER   David Simcock   Andrew Mullen   12-1
12   CASPIAN PRINCE   Tony Carroll   Adam Kirby   20-1
13   AHTOUG   Charlie Appleby   William Buick   6-1
14   DISTINCTIV PASSION   Jeff Bonde   Edwin Maldonado   8-1
15   LANCELOT DU LAC   Dean Ivory   Jim Crowley   20-1
16   PENIAPHOBIA   Tony Cruz   Douglas Whyte   9-2

DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN (UAE-G1), 1200M, 11:05 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   MONTIRIDGE   Bader al Shaibani   Jose Lezcano   30-1
2   SPEED HAWK   Robert Cowell   Andrea Atzeni   30-1
3   KRYPTON FACTOR   Fawzi Nass   Kieren Fallon   20-1
4   RICH TAPESTRY   Michael Chang   Olivier Doleuze   6-1
5   SALUTOS AMIGOS   David Jacobson   Cornelio Velasquez   4-1
6   BIG MACHER   Richard Baltas   Joel Rosario   8-1
7   SECRET CIRCLE   Bob Baffert   Victor Espinoza   3-1
8   LUCKY NINE   Caspar Fownes   Brett Prebble   20-1
9   UNITED COLOR   Dhruba Selvaratnam   Oisin Murphy   15-1
10   SHAISHEE   Musabah al Muhairi   Dane O'Neill   12-1
11   EL PADRINO (ex Ip Man)   Alwin Tan   Oscar Chavez   30-1
12   SUPER JOCKEY   Tony Millard   Ryan Moore   30-1
13   COOL COWBOY   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   10-1
14   MUARRAB   Musabah al Muhairi   Paul Hanagan   20-1

DUBAI TURF (UAE-G1), 1800MT, 11:40 a.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   EURO CHARLINE   Marco Botti   Joao Moreira   6-1
2   UMGIYO   Mike de Kock   Johnny Geroudis   20-1
3   MSHAWISH   Todd Pletcher   Frankie Dettori   5-1
4   EARNSHAW   Salem bin Ghadayer   Mickael Barzalona   20-1
5   LIMARIO   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   40-1
6   THE GREY GATSBY   Kevin Ryan   Ryan Moore   5-2
7   TRADE STORM   David Simcock   Andrea Atzeni   10-1
8   CLADOCERA   Alain de Royer-Dupre   Christophe Soumillon   12-1
9   FARRAAJ   Dhruba Selvaratnam   Oisin Murphy   12-1
10   SOLOW   Freddy Head   Maxime Guyon   3-1

DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC (UAE-G1), 2410MT, 12:15 p.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   SHEIKHZAYEDROAD   David Simcock   Martin Lane   20-1
2   DOLNIYA   Alain de Royer-Dupre   Christophe Soumillon   12-1
3   TRUE STORY   Saeed bin Suroor   James Doyle   40-1
4   FLINTSHIRE   Andre Fabre   Maxime Guyon   7-2
5   MAIN SEQUENCE   Graham Motion   Rajiv Maragh   9-5
6   ONE AND ONLY   Kojiro Hashiguchi   Cristian Demuro   12-1
7   DESIGNS ON ROME   John Moore   Joao Moreira   4-1
8   JUST THE JUDGE   Charlie Hills   Andrea Atzeni   15-1
9   HARP STAR   Hiroyoshi Matsuda   Ryan Moore   6-1

DUBAI WORLD CUP (UAE-G1), 2000M, 1 p.m.

PP   HORSE   TRAINER   JOCKEY   ODDS
1   PRINCE BISHOP   Saeed bin Suroor   William Buick   15-1
2   HOKKO TARUMAE   Katsuichi Nishiura   Hideaki Miyuki   8-1
3   AFRICAN STORY   Saeed bin Suroor   James Doyle   6-1
4   SIDE GLANCE   Andrew Balding   Andrea Atzeni   40-1
5   LEA   Bill Mott   Joel Rosario   5-2
6   CANDY BOY   Doug Watson   Pat Dobbs   10-1
7   LONG RIVER   Salem bin Ghadayer   Mickael Barzalona   30-1
8   EPIPHANEIA   Katsuhiko Sumii   Christophe Soumillon   12-1
9   CALIFORNIA CHROME   Art Sherman   Victor Espinoza   8-5

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Upstart breaks outside as favorite in Florida Derby

Upstart crossed the wire first in both of the major Florida Derby preps (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Upstart (Flatter), the 8-5 morning line favorite for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), has drawn post 9 in the 1 1/8-mile feature that anchors a blockbuster program at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Twice Grade 1-placed at two, Upstart was a dominating 5 1/2-length winner of the Holy Bull (G2) in his season debut, and then crossed the wire 2 3/4 lengths ahead in the Fountain of Youth (G2) last time before stewards disqualified the colt after ruling he interfered with runner-up Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid) in the stretch.

"He ran a huge race first time out. He figured to bounce, regress, after that, but we thought he could do that and still win -- which he did," trainer Rick Violette said.

Itsaknockout, who was elevated to first in the Fountain of Youth, remains undefeated from three starts, all at Gulfstream. He preceded that victory with maiden and allowance scores, both around one turn, but looked more than capable at a distance in his first two-turn attempt.

Pletcher trains Itsaknockout and Materiality (Afleet Alex), who enters the Florida Derby off two wins in as many starts. After a 4 1/4-length maiden romp going six furlongs, Materiality came back to win the nine-furlong Islamorada H. by 5 3/4 lengths earlier this month. Pletcher has experience getting lightly-raced colts into the Florida Derby winner's circle, having saddled Constitution (Tapit) last year in just his third lifetime start.

"To be running in the Florida Derby off three starts and two starts is fairly uncommon," Pletcher said. "We were able to do it with Constitution last year but it takes exceptional horses to do it, and so far these two have handled every step up that we’ve given them."

Ami's Flatter (Flatter) has placed in two of three stakes appearances this season, finishing second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) most recently. Trainer Josie Carroll found the timing of the Florida Derby worked out better than waiting a week for the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland.

"The time-frame between this race and the (Kentucky) Derby is better," said Carroll, who saddled Ami’s Flatter for a second-place finish in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream in January. "He seems to like this surface very much."

The remainder of the Florida Derby field are longshots Jack Tripp (Flatter), Indianaughty (Indian Charlie), Quimet (Birdstone), My Point Exactly (Concord Point), and Dekabrist (Street Boss). My Point Exactly, who broke his maiden by more than 10 lengths at Gulfstream last summer, will be making his first start since September 6 when he captured the Sunday Silence on grass at Louisiana Downs.

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Upstart breaks outside as favorite in Florida Derby

Upstart crossed the wire first in both of the major Florida Derby preps (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Upstart (Flatter), the 8-5 morning line favorite for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), has drawn post 9 in the 1 1/8-mile feature that anchors a blockbuster program at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Twice Grade 1-placed at two, Upstart was a dominating 5 1/2-length winner of the Holy Bull (G2) in his season debut, and then crossed the wire 2 3/4 lengths ahead in the Fountain of Youth (G2) last time before stewards disqualified the colt after ruling he interfered with runner-up Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid) in the stretch.

"He ran a huge race first time out. He figured to bounce, regress, after that, but we thought he could do that and still win -- which he did," trainer Rick Violette said.

Itsaknockout, who was elevated to first in the Fountain of Youth, remains undefeated from three starts, all at Gulfstream. He preceded that victory with maiden and allowance scores, both around one turn, but looked more than capable at a distance in his first two-turn attempt.

Pletcher trains Itsaknockout and Materiality (Afleet Alex), who enters the Florida Derby off two wins in as many starts. After a 4 1/4-length maiden romp going six furlongs, Materiality came back to win the nine-furlong Islamorada H. by 5 3/4 lengths earlier this month. Pletcher has experience getting lightly-raced colts into the Florida Derby winner's circle, having saddled Constitution (Tapit) last year in just his third lifetime start.

"To be running in the Florida Derby off three starts and two starts is fairly uncommon," Pletcher said. "We were able to do it with Constitution last year but it takes exceptional horses to do it, and so far these two have handled every step up that we’ve given them."

Ami's Flatter (Flatter) has placed in two of three stakes appearances this season, finishing second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) most recently. Trainer Josie Carroll found the timing of the Florida Derby worked out better than waiting a week for the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland.

"The time-frame between this race and the (Kentucky) Derby is better," said Carroll, who saddled Ami’s Flatter for a second-place finish in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream in January. "He seems to like this surface very much."

The remainder of the Florida Derby field are longshots Jack Tripp (Flatter), Indianaughty (Indian Charlie), Quimet (Birdstone), My Point Exactly (Concord Point), and Dekabrist (Street Boss). My Point Exactly, who broke his maiden by more than 10 lengths at Gulfstream last summer, will be making his first start since September 6 when he captured the Sunday Silence on grass at Louisiana Downs.

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Work All Week returns to worktab at Oaklawn

Reigning male sprint champion Work All Week (City Zip) had his first published workout since winning last fall's Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) Wednesday morning at Oaklawn. Breezing over a fast-rated surface, and after the renovation break, Work All Week covered a half-mile in :48 1/5.

Work All Week, who breezed by himself, galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 2/5. The six-year-old City Zip gelding recorded even internal splits of :12 1/5, :24 1/5 and :36 for three furlongs. Work All Week arrived March 17 after training this winter in Florida.

Following the work, trainer Roger Brueggemann reiterated that "it's going to be a stretch" for Work All Week to make his 2015 debut in the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) April 9.

"He came from the farm in excellent shape, so that's going to help some," Brueggemann said. "He looks good."

Brueggemann had hoped to have Work All Week at Oaklawn at the end of February, but weather concerns delayed his arrival and makes an appearance in the Count Fleet "doubtful," he said. The trainer mentioned last week that maybe Work All Week could run in an allowance race before the meeting ends April 11.

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Work All Week returns to worktab at Oaklawn

Reigning male sprint champion Work All Week (City Zip) had his first published workout since winning last fall's Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) Wednesday morning at Oaklawn. Breezing over a fast-rated surface, and after the renovation break, Work All Week covered a half-mile in :48 1/5.

Work All Week, who breezed by himself, galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 2/5. The six-year-old City Zip gelding recorded even internal splits of :12 1/5, :24 1/5 and :36 for three furlongs. Work All Week arrived March 17 after training this winter in Florida.

Following the work, trainer Roger Brueggemann reiterated that "it's going to be a stretch" for Work All Week to make his 2015 debut in the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) April 9.

"He came from the farm in excellent shape, so that's going to help some," Brueggemann said. "He looks good."

Brueggemann had hoped to have Work All Week at Oaklawn at the end of February, but weather concerns delayed his arrival and makes an appearance in the Count Fleet "doubtful," he said. The trainer mentioned last week that maybe Work All Week could run in an allowance race before the meeting ends April 11.

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Keeneland announces Blue Grass security protocols

Keeneland has announced security measures for horses participating in the $1 million Blue Grass (G1), a nationally prominent prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1), to be held April 4.

Horses competing in the Blue Grass are required to be on the Keeneland grounds 54 hours in advance of the race, no later than noon (EDT) on April 2. Twenty-four-hour security for each entrant will begin at noon on April 2 and end at 6 p.m., post time for the Blue Grass.

Keeneland requires horses participating in all other stakes during the Spring Meet, including the Ashland (G1) and Madison (G1), also held on April 4, to be on the grounds four hours prior to post time for their stakes. Each stakes entrant will be placed under security watch at that time.

"These enhanced protocols ensure the integrity of the Blue Grass and our entire racing program, and serve to protect the public and our fans," said Keeneland Vice President of Racing W.B. Rogers Beasley.

Keeneland has mandated other protocols and steps for horses participating in the Blue Grass:

  • The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) will take out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the Blue Grass and send them to LGC Science Inc. in Lexington, Kentucky, for immediate testing. The KHRC will coordinate with other jurisdictions to obtain out-of-competition samples from horses that are not stabled in Kentucky.
  • Horses competing in the Blue Grass are required to be on the Keeneland grounds 54 hours in advance of the race, no later than noon on April 2, and remain on the grounds until after the running of the race. Exceptions will only be granted in the case of an unforeseeable emergency, as determined by Keeneland security in consultation with the Stewards.
  • Horses shall stay in their trainers' current barns and stalls on the grounds, which shall be monitored at all times by additional security personnel.
  • Trainers shall submit a list of treating veterinarians to the Stewards no later than noon on April 2.
  • The stalls for all horses entered in the Blue Grass shall have an identifying marker on them.
  • Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians. All containers for medications administered will be retained by the KHRC for possible testing.
  • A full daily veterinarian's record of all medications and treatments given to horses from noon on April 2 until after the running of the race shall be provided to the KHRC Chief Veterinarian located in the detention barn.
  • Entry-exit logs will be maintained by security personnel. All persons -- including grooms, veterinarians, trainers, assistant trainers, farriers, owners or other connections -- on entering the stall, or engaging in contact with the horse or performing any service for the horse, must possess a valid KHRC license. Each person will be logged in by security personnel with the reason for their visit.
  • All equipment, feed, hay bales, etc., are subject to search and seizure, as provided by law, by both Keeneland and the KHRC.
  • As is current policy, Lasix administration will take place in the horse's own stall by a KHRC veterinarian. Syringes will be preserved by the KHRC for possible testing.
  • The KHRC, in conjunction with Keeneland, will appoint a single 24-hour point person each day for trainers and connections to contact in case of an emergency.
  • On April 4, no treatment will be permitted (beyond Lasix for specifically designated horses) unless it is for an emergency or as approved by the Stewards.
  • On April 4, horses participating in the Blue Grass will be required to be in the Assembly Barn between 45 minutes to 1 hour before post time for TC02 testing. They will then be escorted with security personnel to the Paddock.
  • Blue Grass participants will receive priority for Paddock schooling with security personnel present.
  • Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Keeneland announces Blue Grass security protocols

    Keeneland has announced security measures for horses participating in the $1 million Blue Grass (G1), a nationally prominent prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1), to be held April 4.

    Horses competing in the Blue Grass are required to be on the Keeneland grounds 54 hours in advance of the race, no later than noon (EDT) on April 2. Twenty-four-hour security for each entrant will begin at noon on April 2 and end at 6 p.m., post time for the Blue Grass.

    Keeneland requires horses participating in all other stakes during the Spring Meet, including the Ashland (G1) and Madison (G1), also held on April 4, to be on the grounds four hours prior to post time for their stakes. Each stakes entrant will be placed under security watch at that time.

    "These enhanced protocols ensure the integrity of the Blue Grass and our entire racing program, and serve to protect the public and our fans," said Keeneland Vice President of Racing W.B. Rogers Beasley.

    Keeneland has mandated other protocols and steps for horses participating in the Blue Grass:

  • The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) will take out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the Blue Grass and send them to LGC Science Inc. in Lexington, Kentucky, for immediate testing. The KHRC will coordinate with other jurisdictions to obtain out-of-competition samples from horses that are not stabled in Kentucky.
  • Horses competing in the Blue Grass are required to be on the Keeneland grounds 54 hours in advance of the race, no later than noon on April 2, and remain on the grounds until after the running of the race. Exceptions will only be granted in the case of an unforeseeable emergency, as determined by Keeneland security in consultation with the Stewards.
  • Horses shall stay in their trainers' current barns and stalls on the grounds, which shall be monitored at all times by additional security personnel.
  • Trainers shall submit a list of treating veterinarians to the Stewards no later than noon on April 2.
  • The stalls for all horses entered in the Blue Grass shall have an identifying marker on them.
  • Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians. All containers for medications administered will be retained by the KHRC for possible testing.
  • A full daily veterinarian's record of all medications and treatments given to horses from noon on April 2 until after the running of the race shall be provided to the KHRC Chief Veterinarian located in the detention barn.
  • Entry-exit logs will be maintained by security personnel. All persons -- including grooms, veterinarians, trainers, assistant trainers, farriers, owners or other connections -- on entering the stall, or engaging in contact with the horse or performing any service for the horse, must possess a valid KHRC license. Each person will be logged in by security personnel with the reason for their visit.
  • All equipment, feed, hay bales, etc., are subject to search and seizure, as provided by law, by both Keeneland and the KHRC.
  • As is current policy, Lasix administration will take place in the horse's own stall by a KHRC veterinarian. Syringes will be preserved by the KHRC for possible testing.
  • The KHRC, in conjunction with Keeneland, will appoint a single 24-hour point person each day for trainers and connections to contact in case of an emergency.
  • On April 4, no treatment will be permitted (beyond Lasix for specifically designated horses) unless it is for an emergency or as approved by the Stewards.
  • On April 4, horses participating in the Blue Grass will be required to be in the Assembly Barn between 45 minutes to 1 hour before post time for TC02 testing. They will then be escorted with security personnel to the Paddock.
  • Blue Grass participants will receive priority for Paddock schooling with security personnel present.
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    American Pharoah early favorite in final KDFW

    American Pharoah and stablemate Dortmund are the top two wagering interests in the fourth KDFW (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

    The powerful hand held by Hall of Fame Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert heading into this year's 141st running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) is evident in the fact the two young stars from his stable -- reigning 2014 two-year-old champion American Pharoah (#1) and unbeaten Dortmund (#7) -- are the expected to be the top betting choices heading into this weekend's fourth and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW).

    American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), a dazzling winner over a sloppy track in his 2015 debut in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, has been installed as the 9-2 morning line favorite by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia in the last of four three-day KDFW pools. But unbeaten Dortmund (Big Brown), who scored his fifth consecutive victory in a front-running romp in Santa Anita's San Felipe (G2), is very close behind his stablemate at 5-1. Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway), the Todd Pletcher-trained winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in his 2015 debut, is next in Battaglia's morning line odds at 6-1 and just ahead of the always-popular Mutuel Field (#24), which includes all three-year-olds other than the 23 individual betting interests. The "All Others" interest will open the pool as its 8-1 fourth choice.

    Wagering in the three-day Kentucky Derby Future Wager finale opens at noon (EDT) on Friday and is set to conclude on Sunday at 6 p.m. (EDT). Betting will be available at Churchill Downs and other racetracks and off-track betting and satellite wagering facilities across North America. Wagering also is available at TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering platform of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, and other online wagering outlets.

    Interest has been strong in this season's three previous KDFW pools. The betting total of $422,331 in Pool 3 pushed combined betting on earlier pools in November, February and March to $1,105,503. This is the second year that the Kentucky Derby Future Wager has been offered in a four-pool format that opens with three days of betting in late November.

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

    No scratches or refunds are permitted during a KDFW pool. If Churchill Downs officials confirm that an individual horse will not participate in the Derby because of injury or other circumstance, wagering on that interest will be suspended immediately.

    Other horses expected to draw strong support in Pool 4 include Sunland Park Derby (G3) winner Firing Line (Line of David) (#12, 12-1), unbeaten Withers (G3) winner Far From Over (Blame) (#10, 15-1), Holy Bull (G2) winner Upstart (Flatter) (#22, 15-1) and San Felipe runner-up Prospect Park (Tapit) (#21, 15-1).

    The upcoming fourth pool features seven horses that were not a part of Pool 3, with six of them appearing in a Derby Future pool for the first time. Holy Bull runner-up Frosted (Tapit) (#13, 30-1) returns after appearing in Pools 1 and 2, and is joined by newcomers Ami's Flatter (Flatter) (#2, 50-1), Bold Conquest (#3, 50-1), Spiral (G3) winner Dubai Sky (Candy Ride) (#8, 30-1), Rebel runner-up Madefromlucky (Lookin at Lucky) (#17, 30-1), unbeaten Materiality (Afleet Alex) (#18, 20-1) and U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) contender Mubtaahij (Dubawi) (#20, 30-1).

    Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools are selected by a committee that includes Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications Darren Rogers, Director of On-Air Racing Communications Jill Byrne, Pari-Mutuel Marking Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President of Communications John Asher.

    Real-time odds for each KDFW pool and other information on the wager and the Kentucky Derby are available at the official event web site at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/racing-wagering/future-wager/pool-4-final-odds.

    Free Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances for wagering interests in Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are available at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/KDFW4.pdf. Brisnet also has complimentary past performances for all Triple Crown nominees at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/TC15noms.pdf.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    American Pharoah early favorite in final KDFW

    American Pharoah and stablemate Dortmund are the top two wagering interests in the fourth KDFW (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

    The powerful hand held by Hall of Fame Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert heading into this year's 141st running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) is evident in the fact the two young stars from his stable -- reigning 2014 two-year-old champion American Pharoah (#1) and unbeaten Dortmund (#7) -- are the expected to be the top betting choices heading into this weekend's fourth and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW).

    American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), a dazzling winner over a sloppy track in his 2015 debut in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, has been installed as the 9-2 morning line favorite by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia in the last of four three-day KDFW pools. But unbeaten Dortmund (Big Brown), who scored his fifth consecutive victory in a front-running romp in Santa Anita's San Felipe (G2), is very close behind his stablemate at 5-1. Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway), the Todd Pletcher-trained winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in his 2015 debut, is next in Battaglia's morning line odds at 6-1 and just ahead of the always-popular Mutuel Field (#24), which includes all three-year-olds other than the 23 individual betting interests. The "All Others" interest will open the pool as its 8-1 fourth choice.

    Wagering in the three-day Kentucky Derby Future Wager finale opens at noon (EDT) on Friday and is set to conclude on Sunday at 6 p.m. (EDT). Betting will be available at Churchill Downs and other racetracks and off-track betting and satellite wagering facilities across North America. Wagering also is available at TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering platform of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, and other online wagering outlets.

    Interest has been strong in this season's three previous KDFW pools. The betting total of $422,331 in Pool 3 pushed combined betting on earlier pools in November, February and March to $1,105,503. This is the second year that the Kentucky Derby Future Wager has been offered in a four-pool format that opens with three days of betting in late November.

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

    No scratches or refunds are permitted during a KDFW pool. If Churchill Downs officials confirm that an individual horse will not participate in the Derby because of injury or other circumstance, wagering on that interest will be suspended immediately.

    Other horses expected to draw strong support in Pool 4 include Sunland Park Derby (G3) winner Firing Line (Line of David) (#12, 12-1), unbeaten Withers (G3) winner Far From Over (Blame) (#10, 15-1), Holy Bull (G2) winner Upstart (Flatter) (#22, 15-1) and San Felipe runner-up Prospect Park (Tapit) (#21, 15-1).

    The upcoming fourth pool features seven horses that were not a part of Pool 3, with six of them appearing in a Derby Future pool for the first time. Holy Bull runner-up Frosted (Tapit) (#13, 30-1) returns after appearing in Pools 1 and 2, and is joined by newcomers Ami's Flatter (Flatter) (#2, 50-1), Bold Conquest (#3, 50-1), Spiral (G3) winner Dubai Sky (Candy Ride) (#8, 30-1), Rebel runner-up Madefromlucky (Lookin at Lucky) (#17, 30-1), unbeaten Materiality (Afleet Alex) (#18, 20-1) and U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) contender Mubtaahij (Dubawi) (#20, 30-1).

    Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools are selected by a committee that includes Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications Darren Rogers, Director of On-Air Racing Communications Jill Byrne, Pari-Mutuel Marking Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President of Communications John Asher.

    Real-time odds for each KDFW pool and other information on the wager and the Kentucky Derby are available at the official event web site at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/racing-wagering/future-wager/pool-4-final-odds.

    Free Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances for wagering interests in Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are available at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/KDFW4.pdf. Brisnet also has complimentary past performances for all Triple Crown nominees at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/TC15noms.pdf.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    In brief

    Bronzo (Fusaichi Pegasus) should appreciate the class relief in Saturday's $100,000 Tokyo City (G3) at Santa Anita. The six-year-old exits a pair of efforts behind the mighty Shared Belief (Candy Ride), finishing fourth in the San Antonio (G2) and fifth in the Santa Anita H. (G1), and is a likely favorite while dropping down to face seven rivals here at the 1 1/2-mile trip. Gary Stevens will ride the Neil Drysdale-trained gelding. Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) captured the 2013 Tokyo City and returns to the fold after missing last year's edition. The Bob Baffert trainee will make his first start since a fourth in the Marathon S. (G2) on the Breeders' Cup Friday undercard. Multiple stakes winner Rousing Sermon (Lucky Pulpit) snapped an eight-race losing skein when capturing a February 20 allowance/optional claimer over the track and will attempt to carry his form forward for Jerry Hollendorfer...

    Oaklawn Park purses will be raised between $1,000 and $2,000 each race for the remaining 10 days of the 2015 meet. This increase, which starts Saturday, marks the third time that purses have been raised since the beginning of the meet January 15. "Mother Nature has definitely made this a challenging meet for all of us, but the support for our racing program, from both horsemen and fans, has never wavered," said Oaklawn Director of Racing David Longinotti. "We had an outstanding Rebel Stakes Day that featured two returning champions and our expectations are high heading into the Racing Festival of the South. We appreciate the cooperation the horsemen have shown all season and are excited to reward them with higher purses the last 10 days." Oaklawn, which began the meet with a record $23 million, will end the live racing season with allowance races as high as $72,000 and maiden special weights at $66,000. The bottom purse will be $21,000...

    Gulfstream Park will offer bettors a daily double wager Saturday on the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) and the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1). The Dubai World Cup goes off at approximately 1 p.m. (EDT), while the Florida Derby will go off at approximately 6:48 p.m. The World Cup-Florida Derby double will have a $1 minimum. The double will be taken in North America, Australia, South Africa and Germany.

    In brief

    Bronzo (Fusaichi Pegasus) should appreciate the class relief in Saturday's $100,000 Tokyo City (G3) at Santa Anita. The six-year-old exits a pair of efforts behind the mighty Shared Belief (Candy Ride), finishing fourth in the San Antonio (G2) and fifth in the Santa Anita H. (G1), and is a likely favorite while dropping down to face seven rivals here at the 1 1/2-mile trip. Gary Stevens will ride the Neil Drysdale-trained gelding. Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) captured the 2013 Tokyo City and returns to the fold after missing last year's edition. The Bob Baffert trainee will make his first start since a fourth in the Marathon S. (G2) on the Breeders' Cup Friday undercard. Multiple stakes winner Rousing Sermon (Lucky Pulpit) snapped an eight-race losing skein when capturing a February 20 allowance/optional claimer over the track and will attempt to carry his form forward for Jerry Hollendorfer...

    Oaklawn Park purses will be raised between $1,000 and $2,000 each race for the remaining 10 days of the 2015 meet. This increase, which starts Saturday, marks the third time that purses have been raised since the beginning of the meet January 15. "Mother Nature has definitely made this a challenging meet for all of us, but the support for our racing program, from both horsemen and fans, has never wavered," said Oaklawn Director of Racing David Longinotti. "We had an outstanding Rebel Stakes Day that featured two returning champions and our expectations are high heading into the Racing Festival of the South. We appreciate the cooperation the horsemen have shown all season and are excited to reward them with higher purses the last 10 days." Oaklawn, which began the meet with a record $23 million, will end the live racing season with allowance races as high as $72,000 and maiden special weights at $66,000. The bottom purse will be $21,000...

    Gulfstream Park will offer bettors a daily double wager Saturday on the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) and the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1). The Dubai World Cup goes off at approximately 1 p.m. (EDT), while the Florida Derby will go off at approximately 6:48 p.m. The World Cup-Florida Derby double will have a $1 minimum. The double will be taken in North America, Australia, South Africa and Germany.

    Features

    HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

    MARCH 27, 2015

    by Dick Powell

    The $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) will be run for the 20th time at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates and for the first time since Meydan opened up six years ago, it will be run on dirt.

    As I have pointed out in the past, when Meydan was opened with the main track being surfaced by Tapeta Footings, the races had full fields every year. On the dirt at the old Nad al Sheba track, there were times when the World Cup only had seven starters. At Meydan, a full gate of 14 to 16 starters was the norm.

    With all the attention that the switch to dirt has garnered, and the appearance of 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) because of it, this year's Dubai World Cup has only attracted nine starters and one of them was quickly added when there was a defection last weekend due to injury.

    Before the Dubai Carnival begins, a condition sheet is released with all the races laid out months ahead of time. On Tapeta, there was not a single main track race that did not fill.

    This year, on the dirt, there were numerous instances of scheduled races not filling and being replaced by cheaper, $60K handicap races for horses rated 60 to 80. This is quite the comedown for a track that always had horses rated at least 95. Trainers like Mike de Kock came out at the start of the Carnival and said that he would not race over the dirt, but he quickly changed his mind as he trains for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's Shadwell Stables and it was Sheikh Hamdan who was the primary proponent to move the main track races back to dirt.

    So we have dirt at Meydan and we have California Chrome as a premier American presence on a card that is very strong. The Dubai World Cup will be decided by either the Americans (California Chrome, Lea [First Samurai] and the imported Candy Boy [Candy Ride]), the locals (last year's winner African Story [Pivotal] and Prince Bishop [Dubawi]) or the Japanese (Hokko Tamurae [King Kamehameha] and Epiphaneia [Symboli Kris S]).

    The Americans will be very tough to beat. California Chrome can handle the distance but could lose a lot of ground from post 9. Because of the severe kickback on the dirt surface, horses that race in behind others usually hate it so their riders move outside to avoid it. Victor Espinoza, it says here, will have to send him to gain better position as the connections of the other horses have all publicly stated they need to race forwardly.

    If the race turns into a slugfest and falls apart in the stretch, Japan Cup (Jpn-G1) winner Epiphaneia might pick up the pieces. Most of his races have been going longer and all came on the turf. He handled shipping when he went to Hong Kong and was beaten four lengths by Designs on Rome (Holy Roman Emperor) in the QE II Cup (HK-G1) and after winning the Japan Cup by four lengths, he finished out last season with a close finish in the Arima Kinen (Jpn-G1) behind Gentildonna, who made mince meat of her competition in last year's Sheema Classic (UAE-G1).

    Epiphaneia is a mystery on dirt and the kickback could be a big problem, but he will be the strong horse in the stretch. His countrymate, Hokko Tamurae, is not a mystery on dirt as he is a Grade 1 winner over it in Japan and like 2011 World Cup winner Victoire Pisa, he does his best racing at 10 furlongs.

    All reports coming out of Meydan this week indicate that Lea has thrived since arriving. He just missed in the Donn Handicap (G1) last out at Gulfstream Park and that race should set him up well for this. Nine furlongs is the farthest he has ever raced, but he certainly has the right running style and Joel Rosario should break him running from the gate.

    The local horses have competed at the Dubai Carnival for years and a pair of eight-year-olds (African Story and Prince Bishop) could be taken for granted. Big Mistake! African Story won this race last year on the Tapeta and captured the final round of the 1 1/4-mile Maktoum Challenge (UAE-G1) on the dirt last out. His final time of 2:04 4/5 seconds was especially good since the race was run much earlier in the day and the track had not firmed up like it will this Saturday night when the sun goes down. Stablemate Prince Bishop unleashed furious rallies in the stretch to just miss in the last two legs of the Maktoum Challenge. He likes to go way outside for a clear run and will be coming again.

    These veteran performers have taken to the dirt like they have raced on it all their lives.

    One horse that deserves honorable mention is world traveler Side Glance (Passing Glance). At the age of eight, the multi-millionaire's accomplishments include a Group 3 victory in England; a Group 1 score placings in the prestigious Cox Plate (Aus-G1) and Caulfield Cup (Aus-G1) in Australia; a pair of thirds in the last two runnings of the Arlington Million (G1) stateside; and a fourth in the past two runnings of the Dubai World Cup. Throw in some trips to Hong Kong and Singapore and this guy's passport has been filled up in a remarkable career.

    In an upset, I am going to go with Japanese invader Hokko Tamurae to take down the $6 million first prize. He has won his last three starts, two of them Group 1s, and had the perfect setup last month when he beat listed stakes foes as the 1-to-20 favorite. An earner of more than $8 million, Hokko Tamurae has won 15 of his 29 lifetime starts.

    Last year, Hokko Tamurae raced in the World Cup on the Tapeta, ran poorly, then suffered a severe case of colic and had to be left behind before he was well enough to return to Japan. He has recovered nicely and should take full advantage of the dirt course to pull off the upset.

    Results

    NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS

    OP, 8TH, AOC, $67,000, 3YO/UP, 6F, 3-25.
    5—GUNS LOADED, c, 4, D'wildcat--One in the Chamber, by Red Bullet. ($25,000 '12 OBSAUG; $175,000 2013 OBSAPR). O-Driver, James L and Ywachetta H, B-Equest Thoroughbreds, Inc (FL), T-Chris A. Hartman, J-Ricardo Santana, Jr., $40,200.
    8—Be a Hero, g, 5, Awesome Again--Bettarun Fast, by Kelly Kip. ($100,000 '11 KEESEP). O-West, Gary and Mary, B-Adena Springs (KY), $13,400.
    9—Repent With Me, g, 5, Repent--Distinctive Code, by Lost Code. ($7,500 '11 KEESEP). O-Gary K Tussey, B-John Taylor (KY), $6,700.
    Winning Time: 1:10 1/5 (ft)
     
    GP, 9TH, AOC, $42,000, 3YO, 1 1/16MT, 3-25.
    2—MOON OVER CUZCO, g, 3, Malibu Moon--Wonderful Town, by Bernstein. ($55,000 '12 KEENOV; $200,000 '13 KEESEP). O-Santa Rosa Racing Stables, B-Bill Dwan, John Dwan & Marion Goodbody (KY), T-Chad C. Brown, J-Javier Castellano, $25,200.
    6—All I Karabout, c, 3, Bernstein--Roadtohanna, by Not for Love. O-Sagamore Farm, B-Sagamore Farm (MD), $8,820.
    3—Made in Detroit, c, 3, Arch--Dixie Quest, by Coronado's Quest. ($70,000 '13 KEESEP). O-Mamatas, Nick, Tackett, Paul W and Byerlein, Robert, B-Paul Tackett (KY), $4,620.
    Winning Time: 1:39 3/5 (fm)
     
    MVR, 4TH, ALW, $25,800, 3YO, 5 1/2F, 3-25.
    6—TRIPLE STRIKE, c, 3, Temple City--Woodchip, by Forestry. O-Marion F Gorham, B-Sheltowee Farm (OH), T-Robert M. Gorham, J-Emanuel Ramirez, $15,480.
    5—Mound, g, 3, Mercer Mill--Scioto Bootski, by Storm Boot. O-Scioto Farm, B-Ronald D Fields (OH), $5,160.
    3—Unbridled Graduate, c, 3, Magna Graduate--Kimberlite, by Mineshaft. ($18,000 '13 KEESEP; $28,000 2015 KEEJAN). O-Mast Thoroughbreds LLC, B-Elisabeth Alexander (OH), $2,580.
    Winning Time: 1:07 2/5 (gd)
     
    MNR, 7TH, ALW, $25,100, 3YO/UP, 1M, 3-24.
    4—MAC THE MAN, g, 5, El Corredor--Marchmont, by Mountain Cat. ($23,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Sherri L Greenhill, B-St George Farm LLC (KY), T-Jeffrey L. Greenhill, J-Christian P. Pilares, $15,813.
    5—Collymore Place, g, 6, Graeme Hall--Collymore Hall, by Concerto. ($16,000 2014 FTKJU2). O-Hays, Billy, Hays, Donna and Hays, Justin, B-Eugene Melnyk (FL), $5,020.
    1—Chairman Garey, g, 5, Unbridled's Song--Possibility, by A.P. Indy. ($75,000 '11 KEESEP; $60,000 2012 OBSJUN). O-Jamen Davidovich, B-Colts Neck Stables, LLC (KY), $2,510.
    Winning Time: 1:42 2/5 (ft)
     
    WRD, 9TH, ALW, $22,800, 3YO/UP, 6F, 3-24.
    8—HE KNOWS BETTER, g, 3, Mr. Trieste--Snicker Slew, by Devious Course. ($3,500 '13 TEXAUG). O-Young Stables LLC, B-James E Helzer (OK), T-Roger F. Engel, J-Bryan McNeil, $13,012.
    11—Naturally Charming, c, 4, Bellamy Road--Maddie's Charm, by Capote. O-Dale Schenian, B-Dale Schenian (OK), $4,844.
    7—Johnmack Daddy, g, 4, Omega Code--Gigi's Skyflyer, by Skywalker. O-Sayretoga Stables, B-Robert H Zoellner (OK), $2,796.
    Winning Time: 1:11 2/5 (ft)
     
    MNR, 5TH, ALW, $18,400, 3YO/UP, 5 1/2F, 3-24.
    4—ZEPHYROUS, g, 4, Lion Hearted--Orcutt, by Afternoon Deelites. O-Shotwell Farm, B-Harold Shotwell (WV), T-Donald T. Blankenship, J-Joe Musarro, $11,408.
    6—Stephen's Fate, g, 4, Stephen Got Even--Ways of Fate, by Roy. ($16,000 '12 FTMOCT). O-Germania Farms, Inc, B-Patricia L Ramey & Maciej Szwarc (WV), $3,680.
    5—Famous Fighter, g, 6, Pride of Burkaan--Wheezer, by Signal Tap. O-Sandra J Witherow, B-Sandra Witherow (WV), $1,840.
    Winning Time: 1:08 3/5 (ft)

    North American Maiden Winners
    Any Given Saturday--Southbound by Southern Image; SATURDAYWHATADAY, c, 3, TAM, Mcl 32000, 3-25, 1mT, 1:38 2/5. B-Millennium Farms Kentucky (KY.). $5,700 '12 KEENOV.
    Birdstone--Aspen Light by Bernardini; MCMULLEN COUNTY, g, 3, OP, Mcl 50000, 3-25, 1 1/16m, 1:47 . B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY.). $60,000 '13 KEESEP.
    Discreetly Mine--Sierra Sweetie (MSW$316,400), by Old Topper; MOTOR'N MONA, f, 3, TUP, Mcl 5000, 3-24, 5 1/2f, 1:03 4/5. B-Mr. & Mrs. George Schmitt, Jeff Shields, Peter Branagh & Larry Vare (KY.).
    Jonesboro--Sugar Cure by Father Steve; SUGARSBORO, f, 3, OP, Mcl 12500, 3-25, 6f, 1:14 3/5. B-Mr. & Mrs. Robert D. Covington (AR.).
    Lemon Drop Kid--Deputy Maiden by Deputy Minister; SUZY'SPRIDEOFPARIS, f, 3, GP, Mcl 50000, 3-25, 7 1/2fT, 1:30 2/5. B-Dapple Bloodstock (KY.).
    Midnight Lute--Sea Span (MSW$272,657), by Valid Expectations; MIDNIGHT BOUNTY, f, 3, GP, Mcl 60000, 3-25, 7f, 1:26 1/5. B-Joseph Barbazon & Helen Barbazon & Midnight Lute Syndicate (FL.).
    Notional--Romance Is Fly by Flying Continental; NOTIONAL ROMANCE, g, 3, TAM, Mcl 16000, 3-25, 7f, 1:25 2/5. B-Jay Goodwin (KY.). $2,200 '12 KEENOV; $7,000 '13 KEESEP; $5,000 2014 OBSJUN.
    Pleasantly Perfect--Independent Grace by A.P. Indy; TROUBLANTE, f, 3, PEN, Mcl 25000, 3-25, 1m, 1:42 1/5. B-Wertheimer et Frere (KY.). $17,000 2015 BESJAN.
    Portobello Road--Miss Little Rock by Stonewall (ARG); ESPERA, f, 3, OP, Mcl 12500, 3-25, 6f, 1:14 . B-Tracy Karen Miranda Selby (AR.).
    Burning Roma--Twitch and Jitter by Tactical Advantage; BIG TWITCH, f, 4, TAM, Mcl 12500, 3-25, 1m 40y, 1:43 2/5. B-Harold L. Queen (FL.). *1/2 to Delaware Twitch ($256,584).
    High Cotton--Purrfect Punch by Two Punch; MIDNIGHT PATOIS, f, 4, TAM, Mcl 8000, 3-25, 6 1/2f, 1:19 . B-McLaughlin Family Limited Partnership (FL.).
    Unbridled's Song--Priceless Storm by Storm Cat; UNBRIDLEDCHARACTER, g, 4, OP, Msw, 3-25, 1 1/16m, 1:46 . B-Fred W. Hertrich III, John D. Fielding & Unbridled's Song Syndicate (KY.). $140,000 '12 KEESEP. *1/2 to Castaway (G3$342,177).
    Aragorn (IRE)--Image of Mom by Halo's Image; HAPPY'S TWINS, m, 5, GP, Mcl 20000, 3-25, 1mT, 1:36 4/5. B-Happy Alter (KY.).
    Thunder Gulch--La Cita by Nasty and Bold; TALK TOUGH, g, 6, MVR, Msw, 3-25, 6f, 1:16 . B-Steve Belford (OH.).

    Features

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

    MARCH 26, 2015

    Chrome lands outside for World Cup

    by Emma Berry

    California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) may have drawn widest of all for the world's richest race, Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), but his position in stall 9 came as welcome news for trainer Art Sherman.

    "I love it," proclaimed the trainer at the glitzy gathering in the Meydan theatre. "Nine is a perfect position for our horse. I've got all the speed horses to the inside of me and he loves to run from the outside."

    Sherman added, "(Jockey) Victor (Espinoza) knows him really well. I'm just really glad to be here. We've gotten a lot of texts. He's a rock star in California, I can tell you that."

    "This horse has got some natural speed, and he can get out, get in and keep the dirt out of his face. This is a good post for us -- we're really happy with it," stated co-owner Steve Cobourn, who stood alongside Sherman for the draw.

    "This has been an amazing journey for us, to end up here," Cobourn concluded. "The hospitality we've received here -- you know that tall building out there, the tallest building in the world? Take that times 10, that's the hospitality we've received here -- it's been fantastic."

    California Chrome will have to get rolling early to take on Godolphin's defending champion African Story (Pivotal), who has been drawn in stall 3 and fared much better in his recent start when winning from a more prominent position throughout in the Al Maktoum Challenge (UAE-G1). The runner-up in that race, his stablemate Prince Bishop (Dubawi), drew the inside gate.

    "He won this race last year. I'm happy with stall 3," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said in regards to African Story. "He won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 -- good horses go on any surface and this is a very good horse."

    Splitting the two Godolphin runners in stall 2 is Hokko Tarumae (King Kamehameha), whose compatriot Epiphaneia (Symboli Kris S) will be racing from one inside California Chrome in gate number 8.

    Epiphaneia's trainer Katsuhiko Sumii was also happy with his draw, stating of last year's Japan Cup (Jpn-G1) winner, "He jumps out of the gates really well. This is a good draw to be able to see the inside horses."

    Five was given to another of the American contenders, Lea (First Samurai), whose trainer Bill Mott lifted the first ever Dubai World Cup with Cigar. Mott attended the draw along with Walker Hancock and Bernie Sams of Claiborne Farm, where the six-year-old was bred.

    "We're proud to have been associated with Cigar who won the first Dubai World Cup and we're excited to be back with Lea," Mott said. "I've heard that speed is a big asset here and he has tactical speed. We'll let him place himself and see what happens."

    Mott added, "I think we got lucky. We'd have been happy with anything from the middle to outside draw. In a perfect world, we'd have liked to have been outside California Chrome, but we are still in a good spot."

    The Doug Watson-trained Candy Boy (Candy Ride) was last to be selected and is in stall 6. Completing the field is the Salem bin Ghadayer-trained Long River (A.P. Indy) in stall 7 and Andrew Balding's admirable globetrotter Side Glance (Passing Glance), who was fourth in the last two World Cups and is drawn in stall 4.

    Emerald shines bright for Powell

    When Dark Emerald (Dark Angel) lines up for the $1 million Godolphin Mile (UAE-G2) Saturday, it won't just be a Dubai World Cup night first for the horse but also for his trainer Brendan Powell and jockey Adam Kirby.

    Though an admirable campaigner at home in England, with five wins to his credit prior to shipping to Dubai, the hardy five-year-old has been something of a revelation since his arrival in the UAE in early January. From four starts on the turf at Meydan he has won twice and been second twice, most recently finishing runner-up to Safety Check (Dubawi) in the Zabeel Mile (UAE-G2) on February 26.

    "The first time he ran I came over for a week to see the setup," said the Irish-born Powell, whose success as a jump jockey included winning the 1988 Grand National on Rhyme n' Reason. Since setting up as a trainer in 2000, he has prepared horses under both codes and currently has 23 Flat horses alongside his "10 or 12 jumpers."

    "In Lambourn, we're so used to hill gallops and I got there and thought, 'How am I going to train him?'" he said. "We thought we'd run him twice and see how we got on. At the minute his work has improved so much I'm now wondering how I'm going to train him back in England, but a lot of it has to do with the warm weather and he's really blossomed since he's been out here."

    As well as putting the finishing touches to the biggest runner of his career, Powell is also in the process of moving his horses from his Berkshire yard to next-door to David Lanigan at Kingsdown Stables, the former home to fellow World Cup night runner Main Sequence (Alderbaran). Though frustrating, the move takes him only a mile up the road, to a new base at Frenchman's Lodge.

    While the trainer has been commuting between his horses in Lambourn and his stable star in Dubai, Dark Emerald has been looked after during his time at Meydan by Tom Cox.

    "Tom's done a wonderful job with him -- he used to be a bit of wild lad but he's stepped up and taken the responsibility for him over here while I've been to and fro. I think he and the horse have grown up together," said the trainer, who first set eyes on Dark Emerald at the Goffs breeze-up sale in 2012.

    "The horse had another two-year-old leading him and that doesn't happen very often these days," Powell recalled. "He was being pushed along past us but then I watched him go past the winning post and he half looked at the bend and his rider Rory Cleary gave him a slap on the shoulder and he just took off and galloped on halfway down the back straight.

    "So we went and saw him with Bobby O'Ryan and we bought him -- his owners Ken and Caroline Rhatigan loved him. He ran against some good horses in nice maidens at two and all his form was good. Then he came back and won first time out at three -- he's best fresh, really."

    Having been bought by the Rhatigans for £26,000, Dark Emerald now has earnings in excess of £215,000, with almost three-quarters of that tally having been earned in Dubai alone.

    "I've nicknamed him the slumdog millionaire. He just keeps doing it for us," said Powell, who admits to relief that his pride and joy failed the strict vetting process required for Hong Kong when an offer came for him early in his racing career.

    "He's never taken a lame step. He had some work done on his back when I noticed he was moving a bit short last year but he's been very sound," he said. "Last year he was running in the good handicaps at Goodwood and Ascot and he kept running well, finishing third and fourth, and that kept his mark high. I'm glad it did as we crept up to about a mark of 98 and I started to think he might be one to take to Dubai.

    "I said to Ken that there was prize money down to sixth in these races and if he ran a couple of races in fourth or fifth he might pick up £15,000. We figured it would cost us £10,000 to come so we thought we might make a little bit but mostly have a bit of fun. He's now won £158,000. Before him I'd never even had a runner in a listed race and now he's been second in a Group 2."

    Powell is deservedly enjoying his chance to shine on the big stage as a trainer, just as he once did in his riding days. The skills he possessed as a jockey have been inherited by both his children. Brendan Jr., 20, rides over jumps primarily for Colin Tizzard and his sister Jenny, 18, is a Flat apprentice formerly with Brown Panther's trainer Tom Dascombe but now attached to Henry Candy's stable after a winter riding trackwork in the United Stakes for Simon Callaghan.

    "I'm proud of them both and they're both a lot cooler in their races than I ever was -- they are much more patient," Powell said. "When I rode in big races I was never nervous and I was never particularly animated when I won but with Dark Emerald this is something else. You're out there with all the big trainers -- Saeed bin Suroor came and congratulated me after his first win and I didn't think he even knew who I was."

    Dark Emerald will face 15 rivals for the biggest challenge of his career on Saturday -- and his first on the dirt -- but the battler won't be running scared and neither will his trainer.

    "He's a tough horse and he doesn't like to let others pass him," Powell explained. "He's been on the dirt for three and a half weeks and he's been training great. We've been working on making sure he jumps out of the stalls quickly -- all I want is for him to get out of the gate and be handy. Whatever he does, he's already done us proud.

    "Being here in Dubai means an awful lot and we've had so much support from people, it's just brilliant," the trainer added. "I think it helps the sport to see smaller owners and trainers having some success like this. It makes everyone think that one day they could have a chance against some of the big names."

    KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

    MARCH 25, 2015

    by James Scully

    Firing Line (Line of David) did not disappoint in Sunday's Sunland Derby (G3) and Dubai Sky (Candy Ride) carried his improving turf form to Polytrack in Saturday's Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park.

    The "Championship Series" races offered points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers and we are now in the home stretch toward the May 2 Kentucky Derby, with three major weekends up ahead.

    Point values increase to 100-40-20-10 as the Florida Derby (G1), Louisiana Derby (G2) and U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) take center stage this Saturday.

    Sunland Derby

    After of a pair of narrow setbacks to Dortmund (Big Brown), Firing Line avoided his nemesis by shipping to the New Mexico desert. The confidence-building victory also erased any pressure he would've faced remaining in Southern California for his final prep since he only had eight points to his credit.

    On a Sunland Park track that played extremely fast, the front-running colt traveled easily through opening splits of :22 1/5, :45 2/5 and 1:09 before drawing off masterfully from the overmatched competition, with Gary Stevens sitting chilly as the 1-5 favorite cruised to a 14 1/4-length decision in the 1 1/8-mile race.

    The two opponents that prompted him on the early pace -- Why Two (Bob and John) and Malibu Moon (Malibu Moon) -- both finished more than 30 lengths behind Firing Line, who registered a career-best 101 BRIS Speed rating for the $400,000 cakewalk (winner's payout).

    Firing Line's performance should erase any doubts about the quality of competition that Dortmund had been facing -- the West Coast's three-year-old division is much deeper than the rest of the country -- but the talented colt's propensity for longer distances remains unsolved.

    His sire, 2010 Arkansas Derby upsetter Line of David, was able to carry his speed up to 1 1/8 miles before finding 1 1/4 miles too taxing, checking in 18th, and the same concerns surround Firing Line.

    Especially when considering that Dortmund had his number the last two times at 1 1/16 miles -- where will Firing Line find something extra to defeat that rival at an extended distance?

    I have my doubts but am not willing to give up completely on the Simon Callaghan-trained Firing Line.

    For one thing, he's battle-tested, dueling through the stretch drive of both the Los Alamatos Futurity (G1) and Robert B. Lewis (G2) before just missing. Those experiences, coupled with his fine tactical speed, could prove beneficial in a 20-horse field and the hard-trying Firing Line is eligible to be in the thick of things turning for home.

    And Firing Line's supporters can take comfort in the fact that Kentucky Derby history is littered with examples of prep race reversals. Here four are in the last 20 years:

  • Funny Cide played second fiddle to a much-the-best Empire Maker in the 2003 Wood Memorial (G1) before turning the tables on the heavy favorite three weeks later in the Kentucky Derby.
  • Florida Derby hero Monarchos proved no match for Congaree in the 2001 Wood but blew past his respected rival in the stretch at Churchill Downs.
  • Real Quiet was clearly second-best to stablemate Indian Charlie in the 1998 Santa Anita Derby (G1) before recording an 8-1 upset under the Twin Spires.
  • Silver Charm improved off a pair of close seconds to Free House in the San Felipe (G2) and Santa Anita Derby en route to capturing the 1997 Run for the Roses.
  • Firing Line will need to keep moving forward over the next six weeks and handle the extra ground, but he's got a chance to make a serious impact on Derby Day.

    Spiral

    Dubai Sky has required plenty of time between starts and bettors who didn't have him in the 1 1/8-mile Spiral can blame the South Florida weather. The Bill Mott-trained colt was set to run in the grassy Palm Beach (G3) three weeks earlier but was redirected to Turfway Park's main event after a torrential rainstorm washed out Gulfstream Park's February 28 program.

    That fortuitous turn of events resulted in a 2 1/4-length victory and a berth in the Kentucky Derby field. Dubai Sky raced up close to a contested pace before being given his cue from Jose Lezcano leaving the far turn and accelerated to a clear lead. He was never seriously threatened through the stretch drive of his graded stakes debut.

    After racing exclusively on turf, the bay sophomore made a seamless transition to Polytrack and stretched his win streak to four while adding first-time Lasix. His 103 BRIS Speed rating was easily a career-best.

    A distrust of synthetic/turf horses making their first start on dirt makes me want to toss Dubai Sky immediately, but it's worth mentioning that he is a full brother to the versatile Twirling Candy, a graded stakes winner on three different surfaces (dirt, synthetic and turf).

    However, a look at that classy performer's past performances shows a glaring weakness that doesn't bode well for Dubai Sky's Kentucky Derby chances: Twirling Candy was outstanding at distances up to 1 1/8 miles, winning seven-of-eight attempts, but he went zero-for-three at 1 1/4 miles, losing as the favorite each time.

    Dubai Sky will receive a serious class check next time after squaring off against suspect company throughout his career -- Firespike (Flower Alley) missed second by a neck in the Spiral after being beaten by 21 lengths in the February 28 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.

    Supporters will point to Animal Kingdom, who captured the 2012 Kentucky Derby in his first dirt start, but I can't envision Dubai Sky being a significant factor.

    Upcoming

    The $1 million Florida Derby features a rematch between the top two finishers in the February 21 Fountain of Youth (G2), Upstart (Flatter) and Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid). The former will be looking to run back to his monstrous 5 1/2-length score in the January 24 Holy Bull (G2) that netted him a 105 BRIS Speed rating, one of the top figures earned by a Kentucky Derby hopeful this year. Itsaknockout remained unbeaten via the disqualification of Upstart in the Fountain of Youth and will attempt to give trainer Todd Pletcher back-to-back wins in Gulfstream Park's signature race.

    Pletcher will also be represented by Materiality (Afleet Alex), who improved his record to two-for-two with a convincing score in the March 6 Islamorada at Saturday's 1 1/8-mile distance. Ami's Flatter (Flatter) is another contender of note for conditioner Josie Carroll, recording a fast-finishing second to the highly-regarded Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) in the March 7 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

    The top four from the February 21 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds will be back for Saturday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby including International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus), who will be looking to cement his status as a top Kentucky Derby contender for Mike Maker following consecutive wins in the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star. The runner-up from those races, War Story (Northern Afleet), looms as a top challenger once again and Mr. Z (Malibu Moon) is a newcomer to watch following third-place efforts in the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park for four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas.

    The U.A.E. Derby will kick off the stakes action overseas and Mubtaahij (Dubawi) is the horse to beat following his 2 1/2-length score in March 7 Al Bastakiya. The Godolphin colorbeater has posted three wins and a head second from four starts over the Meydan dirt track and the Mike De Kock trainee is expected to travel for a Kentucky Derby bid if he runs well Saturday.

    HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

    MARCH 27, 2015

    by Dick Powell

    The $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) will be run for the 20th time at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates and for the first time since Meydan opened up six years ago, it will be run on dirt.

    As I have pointed out in the past, when Meydan was opened with the main track being surfaced by Tapeta Footings, the races had full fields every year. On the dirt at the old Nad al Sheba track, there were times when the World Cup only had seven starters. At Meydan, a full gate of 14 to 16 starters was the norm.

    With all the attention that the switch to dirt has garnered, and the appearance of 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) because of it, this year's Dubai World Cup has only attracted nine starters and one of them was quickly added when there was a defection last weekend due to injury.

    Before the Dubai Carnival begins, a condition sheet is released with all the races laid out months ahead of time. On Tapeta, there was not a single main track race that did not fill.

    This year, on the dirt, there were numerous instances of scheduled races not filling and being replaced by cheaper, $60K handicap races for horses rated 60 to 80. This is quite the comedown for a track that always had horses rated at least 95. Trainers like Mike de Kock came out at the start of the Carnival and said that he would not race over the dirt, but he quickly changed his mind as he trains for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's Shadwell Stables and it was Sheikh Hamdan who was the primary proponent to move the main track races back to dirt.

    So we have dirt at Meydan and we have California Chrome as a premier American presence on a card that is very strong. The Dubai World Cup will be decided by either the Americans (California Chrome, Lea [First Samurai] and the imported Candy Boy [Candy Ride]), the locals (last year's winner African Story [Pivotal] and Prince Bishop [Dubawi]) or the Japanese (Hokko Tamurae [King Kamehameha] and Epiphaneia [Symboli Kris S]).

    The Americans will be very tough to beat. California Chrome can handle the distance but could lose a lot of ground from post 9. Because of the severe kickback on the dirt surface, horses that race in behind others usually hate it so their riders move outside to avoid it. Victor Espinoza, it says here, will have to send him to gain better position as the connections of the other horses have all publicly stated they need to race forwardly.

    If the race turns into a slugfest and falls apart in the stretch, Japan Cup (Jpn-G1) winner Epiphaneia might pick up the pieces. Most of his races have been going longer and all came on the turf. He handled shipping when he went to Hong Kong and was beaten four lengths by Designs on Rome (Holy Roman Emperor) in the QE II Cup (HK-G1) and after winning the Japan Cup by four lengths, he finished out last season with a close finish in the Arima Kinen (Jpn-G1) behind Gentildonna, who made mince meat of her competition in last year's Sheema Classic (UAE-G1).

    Epiphaneia is a mystery on dirt and the kickback could be a big problem, but he will be the strong horse in the stretch. His countrymate, Hokko Tamurae, is not a mystery on dirt as he is a Grade 1 winner over it in Japan and like 2011 World Cup winner Victoire Pisa, he does his best racing at 10 furlongs.

    All reports coming out of Meydan this week indicate that Lea has thrived since arriving. He just missed in the Donn Handicap (G1) last out at Gulfstream Park and that race should set him up well for this. Nine furlongs is the farthest he has ever raced, but he certainly has the right running style and Joel Rosario should break him running from the gate.

    The local horses have competed at the Dubai Carnival for years and a pair of eight-year-olds (African Story and Prince Bishop) could be taken for granted. Big Mistake! African Story won this race last year on the Tapeta and captured the final round of the 1 1/4-mile Maktoum Challenge (UAE-G1) on the dirt last out. His final time of 2:04 4/5 seconds was especially good since the race was run much earlier in the day and the track had not firmed up like it will this Saturday night when the sun goes down. Stablemate Prince Bishop unleashed furious rallies in the stretch to just miss in the last two legs of the Maktoum Challenge. He likes to go way outside for a clear run and will be coming again.

    These veteran performers have taken to the dirt like they have raced on it all their lives.

    One horse that deserves honorable mention is world traveler Side Glance (Passing Glance). At the age of eight, the multi-millionaire's accomplishments include a Group 3 victory in England; a Group 1 score placings in the prestigious Cox Plate (Aus-G1) and Caulfield Cup (Aus-G1) in Australia; a pair of thirds in the last two runnings of the Arlington Million (G1) stateside; and a fourth in the past two runnings of the Dubai World Cup. Throw in some trips to Hong Kong and Singapore and this guy's passport has been filled up in a remarkable career.

    In an upset, I am going to go with Japanese invader Hokko Tamurae to take down the $6 million first prize. He has won his last three starts, two of them Group 1s, and had the perfect setup last month when he beat listed stakes foes as the 1-to-20 favorite. An earner of more than $8 million, Hokko Tamurae has won 15 of his 29 lifetime starts.

    Last year, Hokko Tamurae raced in the World Cup on the Tapeta, ran poorly, then suffered a severe case of colic and had to be left behind before he was well enough to return to Japan. He has recovered nicely and should take full advantage of the dirt course to pull off the upset.

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

    MARCH 25, 2015

    American-based horses looking to make a serious impact in Dubai

    by John Mucciolo

    A very strong contingent of U.S.-based horses will take aim at various races during the 20th edition of the Dubai World Cup on Saturday at Meydan. With top runners in the most lucrative races on the day, the U.S. group might be leaving the desert with a lot of dirhams (dollars).

    I've taken a look at a few of the major contenders below before departing overseas and will be reporting on-site this Saturday for the TwinSpires.com/blog.

    World Cup (UAE-G1)

    Reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) looms the one to beat and could be a fairly short-priced favorite in the marquee event of the day. The Art Sherman trainee was a big second in the San Antonio (G2) in his 2015 bow, finishing behind arguably the best dirt horse in training right now, and 'Chrome appears to be training forwardly since the tightener. Proven at the trip, the four-year-old has reportedly settled in nicely since his arrival and could spearhead a one-two finish from the U.S. runners.

    Lea (First Samurai) is a most intriguing contender in the race and it should come as no surprise to see the six-year-old right there at the finish. Conditioned by Bill Mott, the Kentucky-bred is lightly raced since 2014 but has recorded four big efforts during that interval, coming up just short most recently in the Donn H. (G1). I'm expecting a big performance from the tactical chestnut as he makes his third start off a long layoff and Lea may wind up being my top selection. His running style, form and pedigree to thrive at the trip, combined, makes him most interesting.

    Sheema Classic (UAE-G1)

    Champion turf star Main Sequence (Aldebaran) has blossomed into a sensational performer since being importing to the U.S. and teamed with savvy horseman Graham Motion. The late-blooming six-year-old gelding does his best running late but leaves little doubt at the same time, and his last two performances were visually phenomenal. A decisive winner over a top the field in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) two prior, Main Sequence showed off his rapid acceleration in the stretch to take the February 21 Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1) with ease and could be even stronger for this test. In a field loaded like this one, it's possible that we might get a hint of value on the explosive closer.

    Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1)

    A three-pronged attack of U.S. entrants figure to have a big say in the outcome of this sprint event. Secret Circle (Eddington) has dropped six straight starts since winning the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) and it's possible to doubt whether he'll be in absolute peak form on Saturday, but the Bob Baffert-trained horse almost always runs big (with five placings in his six losses) and figures to be ready for his Hall of Fame conditioner.

    Grade 1 hero Big Macher (Beau Genius) is a touch below the top contenders in this heat, though the Richard Baltas-trained former claimer is more than capable on his best day, and American runners have had a huge impact on this race when on dirt, historically.

    Salutos Amigos (Salute the Sarge) brings razor-sharp form with a four-race win streak and the five-year-old gelding packs an outstanding late punch for trainer David Jacobson. One of the top sprinters on the East Coast, he must avoid leaving himself too much to do, especially over a track that has played kindly to front-running types, but Salutos Amigos rates as a viable top-three contender if he shows up with his best.

    Dubai Turf (UAE-G1)

    The Todd Pletcher-trained Mshawish (Medaglia d'Oro) has been a fine performer this winter in Florida, reeling off a trio of stakes wins in succession, and is another who has impressed from a visual standpoint. The five-year-old may be a cut below a few of these from a class perspective, perhaps, but the Grade 1 winner has been in superb form. He checked in fourth last year behind the mighty Just A Way in this event and could be knocking at the door inside the final furlong on Saturday at a fair price.

    Godolphin Mile (G2)

    This race always seems difficult for me to gauge and it's the same situation in regards to the U. S. contingent this year. A three-pronged attack with Bradester (Lion Heart), Prayer for Relief (Jump Start) and Quadrivium (Henrythenavigator) will go postward, and while I am not fond with any of the trio, their dirt experience could be a big edge in a field that is often wide open. Of the group, Prayer for Relief has perhaps the best chance to pick up some pieces late after having knocked heads in some big spots stateside and could be a nice horse to key underneath in the vertical exotics.

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

    MARCH 26, 2015

    Chrome lands outside for World Cup

    by Emma Berry

    California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) may have drawn widest of all for the world's richest race, Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), but his position in stall 9 came as welcome news for trainer Art Sherman.

    "I love it," proclaimed the trainer at the glitzy gathering in the Meydan theatre. "Nine is a perfect position for our horse. I've got all the speed horses to the inside of me and he loves to run from the outside."

    Sherman added, "(Jockey) Victor (Espinoza) knows him really well. I'm just really glad to be here. We've gotten a lot of texts. He's a rock star in California, I can tell you that."

    "This horse has got some natural speed, and he can get out, get in and keep the dirt out of his face. This is a good post for us -- we're really happy with it," stated co-owner Steve Cobourn, who stood alongside Sherman for the draw.

    "This has been an amazing journey for us, to end up here," Cobourn concluded. "The hospitality we've received here -- you know that tall building out there, the tallest building in the world? Take that times 10, that's the hospitality we've received here -- it's been fantastic."

    California Chrome will have to get rolling early to take on Godolphin's defending champion African Story (Pivotal), who has been drawn in stall 3 and fared much better in his recent start when winning from a more prominent position throughout in the Al Maktoum Challenge (UAE-G1). The runner-up in that race, his stablemate Prince Bishop (Dubawi), drew the inside gate.

    "He won this race last year. I'm happy with stall 3," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said in regards to African Story. "He won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 -- good horses go on any surface and this is a very good horse."

    Splitting the two Godolphin runners in stall 2 is Hokko Tarumae (King Kamehameha), whose compatriot Epiphaneia (Symboli Kris S) will be racing from one inside California Chrome in gate number 8.

    Epiphaneia's trainer Katsuhiko Sumii was also happy with his draw, stating of last year's Japan Cup (Jpn-G1) winner, "He jumps out of the gates really well. This is a good draw to be able to see the inside horses."

    Five was given to another of the American contenders, Lea (First Samurai), whose trainer Bill Mott lifted the first ever Dubai World Cup with Cigar. Mott attended the draw along with Walker Hancock and Bernie Sams of Claiborne Farm, where the six-year-old was bred.

    "We're proud to have been associated with Cigar who won the first Dubai World Cup and we're excited to be back with Lea," Mott said. "I've heard that speed is a big asset here and he has tactical speed. We'll let him place himself and see what happens."

    Mott added, "I think we got lucky. We'd have been happy with anything from the middle to outside draw. In a perfect world, we'd have liked to have been outside California Chrome, but we are still in a good spot."

    The Doug Watson-trained Candy Boy (Candy Ride) was last to be selected and is in stall 6. Completing the field is the Salem bin Ghadayer-trained Long River (A.P. Indy) in stall 7 and Andrew Balding's admirable globetrotter Side Glance (Passing Glance), who was fourth in the last two World Cups and is drawn in stall 4.

    Emerald shines bright for Powell

    When Dark Emerald (Dark Angel) lines up for the $1 million Godolphin Mile (UAE-G2) Saturday, it won't just be a Dubai World Cup night first for the horse but also for his trainer Brendan Powell and jockey Adam Kirby.

    Though an admirable campaigner at home in England, with five wins to his credit prior to shipping to Dubai, the hardy five-year-old has been something of a revelation since his arrival in the UAE in early January. From four starts on the turf at Meydan he has won twice and been second twice, most recently finishing runner-up to Safety Check (Dubawi) in the Zabeel Mile (UAE-G2) on February 26.

    "The first time he ran I came over for a week to see the setup," said the Irish-born Powell, whose success as a jump jockey included winning the 1988 Grand National on Rhyme n' Reason. Since setting up as a trainer in 2000, he has prepared horses under both codes and currently has 23 Flat horses alongside his "10 or 12 jumpers."

    "In Lambourn, we're so used to hill gallops and I got there and thought, 'How am I going to train him?'" he said. "We thought we'd run him twice and see how we got on. At the minute his work has improved so much I'm now wondering how I'm going to train him back in England, but a lot of it has to do with the warm weather and he's really blossomed since he's been out here."

    As well as putting the finishing touches to the biggest runner of his career, Powell is also in the process of moving his horses from his Berkshire yard to next-door to David Lanigan at Kingsdown Stables, the former home to fellow World Cup night runner Main Sequence (Alderbaran). Though frustrating, the move takes him only a mile up the road, to a new base at Frenchman's Lodge.

    While the trainer has been commuting between his horses in Lambourn and his stable star in Dubai, Dark Emerald has been looked after during his time at Meydan by Tom Cox.

    "Tom's done a wonderful job with him -- he used to be a bit of wild lad but he's stepped up and taken the responsibility for him over here while I've been to and fro. I think he and the horse have grown up together," said the trainer, who first set eyes on Dark Emerald at the Goffs breeze-up sale in 2012.

    "The horse had another two-year-old leading him and that doesn't happen very often these days," Powell recalled. "He was being pushed along past us but then I watched him go past the winning post and he half looked at the bend and his rider Rory Cleary gave him a slap on the shoulder and he just took off and galloped on halfway down the back straight.

    "So we went and saw him with Bobby O'Ryan and we bought him -- his owners Ken and Caroline Rhatigan loved him. He ran against some good horses in nice maidens at two and all his form was good. Then he came back and won first time out at three -- he's best fresh, really."

    Having been bought by the Rhatigans for £26,000, Dark Emerald now has earnings in excess of £215,000, with almost three-quarters of that tally having been earned in Dubai alone.

    "I've nicknamed him the slumdog millionaire. He just keeps doing it for us," said Powell, who admits to relief that his pride and joy failed the strict vetting process required for Hong Kong when an offer came for him early in his racing career.

    "He's never taken a lame step. He had some work done on his back when I noticed he was moving a bit short last year but he's been very sound," he said. "Last year he was running in the good handicaps at Goodwood and Ascot and he kept running well, finishing third and fourth, and that kept his mark high. I'm glad it did as we crept up to about a mark of 98 and I started to think he might be one to take to Dubai.

    "I said to Ken that there was prize money down to sixth in these races and if he ran a couple of races in fourth or fifth he might pick up £15,000. We figured it would cost us £10,000 to come so we thought we might make a little bit but mostly have a bit of fun. He's now won £158,000. Before him I'd never even had a runner in a listed race and now he's been second in a Group 2."

    Powell is deservedly enjoying his chance to shine on the big stage as a trainer, just as he once did in his riding days. The skills he possessed as a jockey have been inherited by both his children. Brendan Jr., 20, rides over jumps primarily for Colin Tizzard and his sister Jenny, 18, is a Flat apprentice formerly with Brown Panther's trainer Tom Dascombe but now attached to Henry Candy's stable after a winter riding trackwork in the United Stakes for Simon Callaghan.

    "I'm proud of them both and they're both a lot cooler in their races than I ever was -- they are much more patient," Powell said. "When I rode in big races I was never nervous and I was never particularly animated when I won but with Dark Emerald this is something else. You're out there with all the big trainers -- Saeed bin Suroor came and congratulated me after his first win and I didn't think he even knew who I was."

    Dark Emerald will face 15 rivals for the biggest challenge of his career on Saturday -- and his first on the dirt -- but the battler won't be running scared and neither will his trainer.

    "He's a tough horse and he doesn't like to let others pass him," Powell explained. "He's been on the dirt for three and a half weeks and he's been training great. We've been working on making sure he jumps out of the stalls quickly -- all I want is for him to get out of the gate and be handy. Whatever he does, he's already done us proud.

    "Being here in Dubai means an awful lot and we've had so much support from people, it's just brilliant," the trainer added. "I think it helps the sport to see smaller owners and trainers having some success like this. It makes everyone think that one day they could have a chance against some of the big names."

    Notebooks

    AQUEDUCT NOTEBOOK

    MARCH 26, 2015

    by John Mucciolo

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

    Track Stats

    A total of 27 races were held over the inner strip at the Long Island, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 52 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 63 percent of the wins during the week. Twelve races were won in wire-to-wire fashion (44 percent).

    Horses on the front end did very well for the second straight week, with 12 winners leading throughout. Of those, six came in sprints and six in route events. Over the past two weeks from 64 races, 25 winners wired their respective fields (39 percent).

    Inner posts were dominant, as well, with 11 of those winners breaking from the rail, and 16 overall from the innermost three post positions.

    Meet Totals

    RACES:   439
    DIRT:   439
    FAVORITES:   166 (38 percent)
    2ND CHOICES:   94 (21 percent)
    DIRT WIRE:   113 (26 percent)

    HORSES TO WATCH

    Thursday (3/19)

    2ND -- SPECIAL OPS (Big Brown) made his 2015 bow a winning one when blowing past his foes like a good thing for trainer Christophe Clement. The four-year-old gelding appeared to have a lot left in the tank and should be a player with winners in his comeback.

    7TH -- SHERIFFA (Posse) pummeled her second straight field in wire-to-wire fashion since stretching out to two turns, and should be stakes-bound before long. The four-year-old filly was under a hand ride for most of this affair and has never been better for Linda Rice.

    Saturday (3/21)

    2ND -- ROOM FOR ME (Harlington) turned out to be a pretty heady claim for David Jacobson when going from $12,500 claimer to a stakes winner who posted a wicked 107 BRIS Speed figure. The five-year-old mare did race on an oval that produced numerous runaway winners, but the performance was sharp, nonetheless, and her second big one in a row.

    4TH -- PEBBLE BEACH BABY (Rock Hard Ten) was last to the top of the lane but put in a spirited late run to win going away late on an oval that has been favoring speed. The Chris Englehart-trained mare showed a big form reversal in this spot and could be very live right back with something like this showing.

    Sunday (3/22)

    1ST -- GLICKMAN (Trippi) returned off a short break to dominate this field and will go off the claim for conditioner Michelle Nevin in his return. The seven-year-old gelding came back in 10 days to run huge in this one and another quick turn around could be in the cards, as well as a slight class rise.

    4TH -- RAPID REPAIR (Arch) had no chance getting to the wire-to-wire winner in this maiden test, but the Bill Mott trainee was well clear in second in what we thought was a very good run in her first since July.

    A Look Ahead

    There is no graded action upcoming at Aqueduct.

    Features

    KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

    MARCH 25, 2015

    by James Scully

    Firing Line (Line of David) did not disappoint in Sunday's Sunland Derby (G3) and Dubai Sky (Candy Ride) carried his improving turf form to Polytrack in Saturday's Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park.

    The "Championship Series" races offered points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers and we are now in the home stretch toward the May 2 Kentucky Derby, with three major weekends up ahead.

    Point values increase to 100-40-20-10 as the Florida Derby (G1), Louisiana Derby (G2) and U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) take center stage this Saturday.

    Sunland Derby

    After of a pair of narrow setbacks to Dortmund (Big Brown), Firing Line avoided his nemesis by shipping to the New Mexico desert. The confidence-building victory also erased any pressure he would've faced remaining in Southern California for his final prep since he only had eight points to his credit.

    On a Sunland Park track that played extremely fast, the front-running colt traveled easily through opening splits of :22 1/5, :45 2/5 and 1:09 before drawing off masterfully from the overmatched competition, with Gary Stevens sitting chilly as the 1-5 favorite cruised to a 14 1/4-length decision in the 1 1/8-mile race.

    The two opponents that prompted him on the early pace -- Why Two (Bob and John) and Malibu Moon (Malibu Moon) -- both finished more than 30 lengths behind Firing Line, who registered a career-best 101 BRIS Speed rating for the $400,000 cakewalk (winner's payout).

    Firing Line's performance should erase any doubts about the quality of competition that Dortmund had been facing -- the West Coast's three-year-old division is much deeper than the rest of the country -- but the talented colt's propensity for longer distances remains unsolved.

    His sire, 2010 Arkansas Derby upsetter Line of David, was able to carry his speed up to 1 1/8 miles before finding 1 1/4 miles too taxing, checking in 18th, and the same concerns surround Firing Line.

    Especially when considering that Dortmund had his number the last two times at 1 1/16 miles -- where will Firing Line find something extra to defeat that rival at an extended distance?

    I have my doubts but am not willing to give up completely on the Simon Callaghan-trained Firing Line.

    For one thing, he's battle-tested, dueling through the stretch drive of both the Los Alamatos Futurity (G1) and Robert B. Lewis (G2) before just missing. Those experiences, coupled with his fine tactical speed, could prove beneficial in a 20-horse field and the hard-trying Firing Line is eligible to be in the thick of things turning for home.

    And Firing Line's supporters can take comfort in the fact that Kentucky Derby history is littered with examples of prep race reversals. Here four are in the last 20 years:

  • Funny Cide played second fiddle to a much-the-best Empire Maker in the 2003 Wood Memorial (G1) before turning the tables on the heavy favorite three weeks later in the Kentucky Derby.
  • Florida Derby hero Monarchos proved no match for Congaree in the 2001 Wood but blew past his respected rival in the stretch at Churchill Downs.
  • Real Quiet was clearly second-best to stablemate Indian Charlie in the 1998 Santa Anita Derby (G1) before recording an 8-1 upset under the Twin Spires.
  • Silver Charm improved off a pair of close seconds to Free House in the San Felipe (G2) and Santa Anita Derby en route to capturing the 1997 Run for the Roses.
  • Firing Line will need to keep moving forward over the next six weeks and handle the extra ground, but he's got a chance to make a serious impact on Derby Day.

    Spiral

    Dubai Sky has required plenty of time between starts and bettors who didn't have him in the 1 1/8-mile Spiral can blame the South Florida weather. The Bill Mott-trained colt was set to run in the grassy Palm Beach (G3) three weeks earlier but was redirected to Turfway Park's main event after a torrential rainstorm washed out Gulfstream Park's February 28 program.

    That fortuitous turn of events resulted in a 2 1/4-length victory and a berth in the Kentucky Derby field. Dubai Sky raced up close to a contested pace before being given his cue from Jose Lezcano leaving the far turn and accelerated to a clear lead. He was never seriously threatened through the stretch drive of his graded stakes debut.

    After racing exclusively on turf, the bay sophomore made a seamless transition to Polytrack and stretched his win streak to four while adding first-time Lasix. His 103 BRIS Speed rating was easily a career-best.

    A distrust of synthetic/turf horses making their first start on dirt makes me want to toss Dubai Sky immediately, but it's worth mentioning that he is a full brother to the versatile Twirling Candy, a graded stakes winner on three different surfaces (dirt, synthetic and turf).

    However, a look at that classy performer's past performances shows a glaring weakness that doesn't bode well for Dubai Sky's Kentucky Derby chances: Twirling Candy was outstanding at distances up to 1 1/8 miles, winning seven-of-eight attempts, but he went zero-for-three at 1 1/4 miles, losing as the favorite each time.

    Dubai Sky will receive a serious class check next time after squaring off against suspect company throughout his career -- Firespike (Flower Alley) missed second by a neck in the Spiral after being beaten by 21 lengths in the February 28 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.

    Supporters will point to Animal Kingdom, who captured the 2012 Kentucky Derby in his first dirt start, but I can't envision Dubai Sky being a significant factor.

    Upcoming

    The $1 million Florida Derby features a rematch between the top two finishers in the February 21 Fountain of Youth (G2), Upstart (Flatter) and Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid). The former will be looking to run back to his monstrous 5 1/2-length score in the January 24 Holy Bull (G2) that netted him a 105 BRIS Speed rating, one of the top figures earned by a Kentucky Derby hopeful this year. Itsaknockout remained unbeaten via the disqualification of Upstart in the Fountain of Youth and will attempt to give trainer Todd Pletcher back-to-back wins in Gulfstream Park's signature race.

    Pletcher will also be represented by Materiality (Afleet Alex), who improved his record to two-for-two with a convincing score in the March 6 Islamorada at Saturday's 1 1/8-mile distance. Ami's Flatter (Flatter) is another contender of note for conditioner Josie Carroll, recording a fast-finishing second to the highly-regarded Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) in the March 7 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

    The top four from the February 21 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds will be back for Saturday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby including International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus), who will be looking to cement his status as a top Kentucky Derby contender for Mike Maker following consecutive wins in the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star. The runner-up from those races, War Story (Northern Afleet), looms as a top challenger once again and Mr. Z (Malibu Moon) is a newcomer to watch following third-place efforts in the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park for four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas.

    The U.A.E. Derby will kick off the stakes action overseas and Mubtaahij (Dubawi) is the horse to beat following his 2 1/2-length score in March 7 Al Bastakiya. The Godolphin colorbeater has posted three wins and a head second from four starts over the Meydan dirt track and the Mike De Kock trainee is expected to travel for a Kentucky Derby bid if he runs well Saturday.

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

    MARCH 25, 2015

    American-based horses looking to make a serious impact in Dubai

    by John Mucciolo

    A very strong contingent of U.S.-based horses will take aim at various races during the 20th edition of the Dubai World Cup on Saturday at Meydan. With top runners in the most lucrative races on the day, the U.S. group might be leaving the desert with a lot of dirhams (dollars).

    I've taken a look at a few of the major contenders below before departing overseas and will be reporting on-site this Saturday for the TwinSpires.com/blog.

    World Cup (UAE-G1)

    Reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) looms the one to beat and could be a fairly short-priced favorite in the marquee event of the day. The Art Sherman trainee was a big second in the San Antonio (G2) in his 2015 bow, finishing behind arguably the best dirt horse in training right now, and 'Chrome appears to be training forwardly since the tightener. Proven at the trip, the four-year-old has reportedly settled in nicely since his arrival and could spearhead a one-two finish from the U.S. runners.

    Lea (First Samurai) is a most intriguing contender in the race and it should come as no surprise to see the six-year-old right there at the finish. Conditioned by Bill Mott, the Kentucky-bred is lightly raced since 2014 but has recorded four big efforts during that interval, coming up just short most recently in the Donn H. (G1). I'm expecting a big performance from the tactical chestnut as he makes his third start off a long layoff and Lea may wind up being my top selection. His running style, form and pedigree to thrive at the trip, combined, makes him most interesting.

    Sheema Classic (UAE-G1)

    Champion turf star Main Sequence (Aldebaran) has blossomed into a sensational performer since being importing to the U.S. and teamed with savvy horseman Graham Motion. The late-blooming six-year-old gelding does his best running late but leaves little doubt at the same time, and his last two performances were visually phenomenal. A decisive winner over a top the field in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) two prior, Main Sequence showed off his rapid acceleration in the stretch to take the February 21 Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1) with ease and could be even stronger for this test. In a field loaded like this one, it's possible that we might get a hint of value on the explosive closer.

    Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1)

    A three-pronged attack of U.S. entrants figure to have a big say in the outcome of this sprint event. Secret Circle (Eddington) has dropped six straight starts since winning the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) and it's possible to doubt whether he'll be in absolute peak form on Saturday, but the Bob Baffert-trained horse almost always runs big (with five placings in his six losses) and figures to be ready for his Hall of Fame conditioner.

    Grade 1 hero Big Macher (Beau Genius) is a touch below the top contenders in this heat, though the Richard Baltas-trained former claimer is more than capable on his best day, and American runners have had a huge impact on this race when on dirt, historically.

    Salutos Amigos (Salute the Sarge) brings razor-sharp form with a four-race win streak and the five-year-old gelding packs an outstanding late punch for trainer David Jacobson. One of the top sprinters on the East Coast, he must avoid leaving himself too much to do, especially over a track that has played kindly to front-running types, but Salutos Amigos rates as a viable top-three contender if he shows up with his best.

    Dubai Turf (UAE-G1)

    The Todd Pletcher-trained Mshawish (Medaglia d'Oro) has been a fine performer this winter in Florida, reeling off a trio of stakes wins in succession, and is another who has impressed from a visual standpoint. The five-year-old may be a cut below a few of these from a class perspective, perhaps, but the Grade 1 winner has been in superb form. He checked in fourth last year behind the mighty Just A Way in this event and could be knocking at the door inside the final furlong on Saturday at a fair price.

    Godolphin Mile (G2)

    This race always seems difficult for me to gauge and it's the same situation in regards to the U. S. contingent this year. A three-pronged attack with Bradester (Lion Heart), Prayer for Relief (Jump Start) and Quadrivium (Henrythenavigator) will go postward, and while I am not fond with any of the trio, their dirt experience could be a big edge in a field that is often wide open. Of the group, Prayer for Relief has perhaps the best chance to pick up some pieces late after having knocked heads in some big spots stateside and could be a nice horse to key underneath in the vertical exotics.

    UPCOMING STAKES

    Click here for the monthly March Calendar

    Friday, March 27
     
    Arkansas Breeders' S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3&up, 1 1/16m.
     
    Saturday, February 28
     
    FLORIDA DERBY (G1), Gulfstream Park, $1,000,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m.
    LOUISIANA DERBY (G2), Fair Grounds, $750,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m.
    FAIR GROUNDS OAKS (G2), Fair Grounds, $400,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m.
    NEW ORLEANS H. (G2), Fair Grounds, $400,000, 4&up, 1 1/8m.
    MERVIN H. MUNIZ JR. MEMORIAL H. (G2), Fair Grounds, $300,000, 4&up, abt 1 1/8mT.
    HONEY FOX S. (G2), Gulfstream Park, $300,000, 4&up, f&m, 1mT.
    GULFSTREAM PARK OAKS (G2), Gulfstream Park, $250,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m.
    PAN AMERICAN S. (G2), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 4&up, 1 1/2mT.
    APPLETON S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 4&up, 1mT.
    ORCHID S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 4&up, f&m, 1 1/2mT.
    SKIP AWAY S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 4&up, 1 3/16m.
    TOKYO CITY CUP (G3), Santa Anita Park, $100,000, 4&up, 1 1/2m.
    Sir Shackleton S., Gulfstream Park, $100,000, 4&up, 7f.
    Crescent City Derby (r), Fair Grounds, $75,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
    Crescent City Oaks (r), Fair Grounds, $75,000, 3yo, f, 1m 70yds.
    Robert S. Molaro H. (r), Hawthorne, $75,000, 4&up, 6f.
    Third Chance H. (r), Hawthorne, $75,000, 4&up, f&m, 6f.
    Southern Park S. (r), Mahoning Valley, $75,000, 3yo, f, 6f.
    Rainbow Miss S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3yo, f, 6f.
    Costa Rising S. (r), Fair Grounds, $60,000, 3&up, abt 5 1/2fT.
    Star Guitar S. (r), Fair Grounds, $60,000, 4&up, 1 1/16m.
     
    Sunday, March 29
     
    Rainbow S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3yo, c&g, 6f.

    Notebooks

    AQUEDUCT NOTEBOOK

    MARCH 26, 2015

    by John Mucciolo

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

    Track Stats

    A total of 27 races were held over the inner strip at the Long Island, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 52 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 63 percent of the wins during the week. Twelve races were won in wire-to-wire fashion (44 percent).

    Horses on the front end did very well for the second straight week, with 12 winners leading throughout. Of those, six came in sprints and six in route events. Over the past two weeks from 64 races, 25 winners wired their respective fields (39 percent).

    Inner posts were dominant, as well, with 11 of those winners breaking from the rail, and 16 overall from the innermost three post positions.

    Meet Totals

    RACES:   439
    DIRT:   439
    FAVORITES:   166 (38 percent)
    2ND CHOICES:   94 (21 percent)
    DIRT WIRE:   113 (26 percent)

    HORSES TO WATCH

    Thursday (3/19)

    2ND -- SPECIAL OPS (Big Brown) made his 2015 bow a winning one when blowing past his foes like a good thing for trainer Christophe Clement. The four-year-old gelding appeared to have a lot left in the tank and should be a player with winners in his comeback.

    7TH -- SHERIFFA (Posse) pummeled her second straight field in wire-to-wire fashion since stretching out to two turns, and should be stakes-bound before long. The four-year-old filly was under a hand ride for most of this affair and has never been better for Linda Rice.

    Saturday (3/21)

    2ND -- ROOM FOR ME (Harlington) turned out to be a pretty heady claim for David Jacobson when going from $12,500 claimer to a stakes winner who posted a wicked 107 BRIS Speed figure. The five-year-old mare did race on an oval that produced numerous runaway winners, but the performance was sharp, nonetheless, and her second big one in a row.

    4TH -- PEBBLE BEACH BABY (Rock Hard Ten) was last to the top of the lane but put in a spirited late run to win going away late on an oval that has been favoring speed. The Chris Englehart-trained mare showed a big form reversal in this spot and could be very live right back with something like this showing.

    Sunday (3/22)

    1ST -- GLICKMAN (Trippi) returned off a short break to dominate this field and will go off the claim for conditioner Michelle Nevin in his return. The seven-year-old gelding came back in 10 days to run huge in this one and another quick turn around could be in the cards, as well as a slight class rise.

    4TH -- RAPID REPAIR (Arch) had no chance getting to the wire-to-wire winner in this maiden test, but the Bill Mott trainee was well clear in second in what we thought was a very good run in her first since July.

    A Look Ahead

    There is no graded action upcoming at Aqueduct.

    Features

    RACING DATES

    Current Meetings
         
    AQUEDUCT:   Jan. 1 - March 28
    CHARLES TOWN:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 30
    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
    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

    UPCOMING STAKES

    Click here for the monthly March Calendar

    Friday, March 27
     
    Arkansas Breeders' S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3&up, 1 1/16m.
     
    Saturday, February 28
     
    FLORIDA DERBY (G1), Gulfstream Park, $1,000,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m.
    LOUISIANA DERBY (G2), Fair Grounds, $750,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m.
    FAIR GROUNDS OAKS (G2), Fair Grounds, $400,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m.
    NEW ORLEANS H. (G2), Fair Grounds, $400,000, 4&up, 1 1/8m.
    MERVIN H. MUNIZ JR. MEMORIAL H. (G2), Fair Grounds, $300,000, 4&up, abt 1 1/8mT.
    HONEY FOX S. (G2), Gulfstream Park, $300,000, 4&up, f&m, 1mT.
    GULFSTREAM PARK OAKS (G2), Gulfstream Park, $250,000, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m.
    PAN AMERICAN S. (G2), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 4&up, 1 1/2mT.
    APPLETON S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 4&up, 1mT.
    ORCHID S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 4&up, f&m, 1 1/2mT.
    SKIP AWAY S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $150,000, 4&up, 1 3/16m.
    TOKYO CITY CUP (G3), Santa Anita Park, $100,000, 4&up, 1 1/2m.
    Sir Shackleton S., Gulfstream Park, $100,000, 4&up, 7f.
    Crescent City Derby (r), Fair Grounds, $75,000, 3yo, 1 1/16m.
    Crescent City Oaks (r), Fair Grounds, $75,000, 3yo, f, 1m 70yds.
    Robert S. Molaro H. (r), Hawthorne, $75,000, 4&up, 6f.
    Third Chance H. (r), Hawthorne, $75,000, 4&up, f&m, 6f.
    Southern Park S. (r), Mahoning Valley, $75,000, 3yo, f, 6f.
    Rainbow Miss S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3yo, f, 6f.
    Costa Rising S. (r), Fair Grounds, $60,000, 3&up, abt 5 1/2fT.
    Star Guitar S. (r), Fair Grounds, $60,000, 4&up, 1 1/16m.
     
    Sunday, March 29
     
    Rainbow S. (r), Oaklawn Park, $75,000, 3yo, c&g, 6f.

    Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

    SPOT PLAYS

    For Thursday

    TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
    Aqueduct   (6th) Perfect Freud, 4-1
        (7th) Imposing Figure, 5-1
    Charles Town   (5th) Majestic Indeed, 3-1
        (8th) Twin Engine, 7-2
    Fair Grounds   (8th) My Love Venezuela, 9-2
        (11th) Hannah Lynn, 8-1
    Golden Gate Fields   (2nd) Mr. Satisfaction, 8-1
        (7th) Lucky Feelin, 6-1
    Gulfstream Park   (3rd) Aces for John, 4-1
        (4th) Percy's Ambition, 3-1
    Laurel Park   (4th) Flash Heart, 5-1
        (7th) Magic Lion, 4-1
    Oaklawn Park   (1st) Spotsback, 5-1
        (3rd) Inflation Tarrget, 4-1
    Penn National   (4th) The Count, 9-2
        (8th) Black Opal, 3-1
    Santa Anita   (2nd) Lute It Up, 5-1
        (5th) Surfing Angel, 4-1

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

    Announcements

    Help Wanted

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

    Features

    RACING DATES

    Current Meetings
         
    AQUEDUCT:   Jan. 1 - March 28
    CHARLES TOWN:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 30
    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
    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.