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SATURDAY, APRIL 19, 2014

Racing Headlines

Cairo Prince to miss Derby with ankle injury

Cairo Prince is headed to Rood and Riddle (Natalie Fawkes/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Cairo Prince has sustained an ankle injury that will rule him out of the May 3 Kentucky Derby, Daily Racing Form's David Grening reported via Twitter.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin told Grening that Cairo Prince injured his left front ankle, and the colt is bound for Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington, Kentucky, for "further evaluation."

Cairo Prince was listed 19th on the Derby list with 24 points to his credit. His defection now allows another Pioneerof the Nile colt, Vinceremos, to move up into the Derby field at number 20.

Victorious in last fall's Nashua in his stakes debut, Cairo Prince missed by a nostril to Honor Code, who has likewise been sidelined by injury, in the November 30 Remsen. He kicked off his three-year-old campaign with a 5 3/4-length romp in the January 25 Holy Bull, prompting McLaughlin to describe him as his best-ever hope for the Kentucky Derby.

Darley subsequently purchased a majority share in the exciting prospect from his ownership group of Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey A. Clarke and W. Craig Robertson III.

Opting to skip the February 22 Fountain of Youth, Cairo Prince trained up to the March 29 Florida Derby. He made his debut in the Godolphin colors in that Gulfstream Park feature, only to wind up a flat fourth as the 6-5 favorite. His subpar effort briefly jeopardized his chances of making the Kentucky Derby field, but thanks to a few defections, his 24-point total turned out to be sufficient.

Cairo Prince worked once since the Florida Derby, breezing a half-mile at Palm Meadows in :48 3/5 last Sunday.

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Cairo Prince to miss Derby with ankle injury

Cairo Prince is headed to Rood and Riddle (Natalie Fawkes/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Cairo Prince has sustained an ankle injury that will rule him out of the May 3 Kentucky Derby, Daily Racing Form's David Grening reported via Twitter.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin told Grening that Cairo Prince injured his left front ankle, and the colt is bound for Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington, Kentucky, for "further evaluation."

Cairo Prince was listed 19th on the Derby list with 24 points to his credit. His defection now allows another Pioneerof the Nile colt, Vinceremos, to move up into the Derby field at number 20.

Victorious in last fall's Nashua in his stakes debut, Cairo Prince missed by a nostril to Honor Code, who has likewise been sidelined by injury, in the November 30 Remsen. He kicked off his three-year-old campaign with a 5 3/4-length romp in the January 25 Holy Bull, prompting McLaughlin to describe him as his best-ever hope for the Kentucky Derby.

Darley subsequently purchased a majority share in the exciting prospect from his ownership group of Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey A. Clarke and W. Craig Robertson III.

Opting to skip the February 22 Fountain of Youth, Cairo Prince trained up to the March 29 Florida Derby. He made his debut in the Godolphin colors in that Gulfstream Park feature, only to wind up a flat fourth as the 6-5 favorite. His subpar effort briefly jeopardized his chances of making the Kentucky Derby field, but thanks to a few defections, his 24-point total turned out to be sufficient.

Cairo Prince worked once since the Florida Derby, breezing a half-mile at Palm Meadows in :48 3/5 last Sunday.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Pablo Del Monte remains on Derby trail

Wesley Ward, trainer and part-owner of Blue Grass third-placer Pablo Del Monte, reports that his colt remains on the road to the 140th Kentucky Derby  for now.

With the defection of Cairo Prince Saturday, Pablo Del Monte ranks 23rd on the Kentucky Derby leader board with 20 points.

"Keep him on the list, but the way it looks now I'm training for the Preakness," Ward said.

The son of Giant's Causeway is presently behind Vinceremos (20th and final spot in the main body of the field), Harry's Holiday (21st) and Commanding Curve (22nd). All possess 20 points as well but have accumulated more non-restricted stakes earnings, which determines ties, than the $102,000 earned by Pablo Del Monte.

Ward said he plans to work Pablo Del Monte at Keeneland next weekend.

The top 20 point earners that pass through the Kentucky Derby entry box on April 30 are guaranteed a starting spot. Up to four also-eligibles, ranked by points, will also be named in case of an overflow. They could draw into the field should any horse(s) be scratched before scratch time on Friday, May 2, at 9 a.m. (EDT).

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Pablo Del Monte remains on Derby trail

Wesley Ward, trainer and part-owner of Blue Grass third-placer Pablo Del Monte, reports that his colt remains on the road to the 140th Kentucky Derby  for now.

With the defection of Cairo Prince Saturday, Pablo Del Monte ranks 23rd on the Kentucky Derby leader board with 20 points.

"Keep him on the list, but the way it looks now I'm training for the Preakness," Ward said.

The son of Giant's Causeway is presently behind Vinceremos (20th and final spot in the main body of the field), Harry's Holiday (21st) and Commanding Curve (22nd). All possess 20 points as well but have accumulated more non-restricted stakes earnings, which determines ties, than the $102,000 earned by Pablo Del Monte.

Ward said he plans to work Pablo Del Monte at Keeneland next weekend.

The top 20 point earners that pass through the Kentucky Derby entry box on April 30 are guaranteed a starting spot. Up to four also-eligibles, ranked by points, will also be named in case of an overflow. They could draw into the field should any horse(s) be scratched before scratch time on Friday, May 2, at 9 a.m. (EDT).

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Grandeur, Guineas prospect Ertijaal highlight the All-Weather Championships

Racing was conducted for the first time on Good Friday in Britain when Lingfield hosted the inaugural £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, and the most thrilling finish of the day was saved until last when Yvonne Jacques' Grandeur got the better of an epic tussle with Dick Doughtywylie in the £200,000 All-Weather Middle Distance Championship in front of a 8,777 sell-out crowd.

The five-year-old gray son of Verglas is trained in Newmarket by Jeremy Noseda, and entered the race off a 2014 debut win in the February 22 Winter Derby Trial and eighth-place effort in the Group 3 Winter Derby itself on March 22.

"Everything went wrong last time (in the Winter Derby), but to be honest I don't think too much went right today," Noseda. "There was no real pace for him -- I'm thrilled that he's won but it's just a shame that he's made such hard work of it.

"It sounds strange. I'm thrilled that he's won but he's a much better horse than those he's taken on today. They didn't go quickly enough for him and he was quite handy, whereas I think he's a better horse if he can sit further back in a strongly-run race.

"He's never a horse who is going to win by a long way but I thought he'd have at least a length on them. He's won though, that's the main thing."

Ryan Moore produced Grandeur with a well-timed run to land a bumper prize in the Middle Distance Championships.

"Last time out he had a bad draw and I thought he'd get in behind the leaders and settle in fifth or sixth. But Dick Doughtywylie got out of the stalls quickly and I got caught out and it became a messy race," Moore said. "Today the second had everything go his way and then we got a good run through.

"He's a tricky horse to place because he doesn't want the ground too quick but at the same time he can't go if it's too soft," Moore said. "So Jeremy has done a very good job placing him as he's won a lot of prize money. He's a Grade 2 winner in the States as well.

Noseda indicated that Grandeur is likely to head back to America, where he has raced successfully in the past to record victories in a pair of Grade 2 contests in California.

"I'm delighted -- this was the plan to win," Noseda added. "I was very disappointed on Winter Derby day so I said before the race that this was redemption day and we've had redemption. He's shown that he likes racing in America, so we'll probably head to Belmont Park in May and June to race on the turf there."

The second Dick Doughtywylie's trainer John Gosden and his wife, Rachel Hood, who owns and bred the six-year-old, were thrilled with the performance of their horse in finishing a head second to Grandeur.

"I thought that he was going to win 25 yards out. It is the best performance of his career and we are thrilled with him," Gosden said. "It made an exciting finish. He got headed, came back and got headed on the line. I think the best horse has won but we are over the moon with our fellow."

Cam Hardie, the 17-year-old apprentice to Richard Hannon, had extra reason to celebrate on Good Friday. Not only did he win the £50,000 All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap for the Heffer Syndicate aboard Viewpoint, but he made history by becoming the first jockey to ride a winner on Good Friday in Britain by getting the All-Weather Championships card underway.

Beating Grendisar by a neck, it was Hardie's first winner for his boss but sixth in total since the beginnning of 2014.

"It's the best day of my career so far and I'd like to thank everyone who has helped to get me here," said Hardie, whose father, William, is head lad to Tim Easterby in Yorkshire. "Tim Easterby got me the job with Mr Hannon and I'm very grateful.

"This is really special. It's a big meeting and there was a really good reception. I'm over the moon, it's my first winner for the boss. Viewpoint was feeling great, he's really fresh. Winning this was something different to the normal handicaps."

With Hannon still in Newmarket following the Craven Breeze-up Sale, his traveling head lad David Bourton added, "Cam has been with us for a year and a bit and that was his first win for the boss. Cam rode to orders and gave the horse a great ride, let's hope it's the first of many he rides for us.

Next up, Living the Life could hardly have been better named after delivering big-race success in the £150,000 All-Weather Championship Fillies' and Mares' Conditions Stakes for her Californian owner Henry 'Hank' Nothhaft, who had flown in specially for the race.

"In the past we've bought horses in England and shipped them to the States but I decided to get my license this year and race a few horses in England as I love coming here," said Nothhaft, who owns 40 horses spread around California, Kentucky and Philadelphia.

"We're so excited and very proud of the filly. Phil (McEntee) has done a great job for me and his brother Carl lives in Kentucky and is my bloodstock agent, so we're keeping it all in the family."

The four-year-old daughter of Footstepsinthesand will be transferred to trainer Gary Mandella in California after netting the first prize of £72,840 for her owner.

"Living the Life has paid for herself three times over since we bought her," Nothhaft added. "It was certainly worth leaving her here to run in this race. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be here.

"This is phenomenal (the day) -- it is what racing should be about. It should be a good time, it should be fun, it should be a family event and a lot of socializing. This is the best advertisement the sport can have."

Winning jockey Adam Kirby rode an enterprising race, making all to land the spoils by 3 1/2 lengths.

"I had an easy time in front and she ran into the turn really well," Kirby said. "We thought she was coming here with a chance but she was pretty impressive."

Newmarket trainer Phil McEntee celebrated the biggest victory of his career when Living the Life crossed under the wire first.

"It's truly amazing to win a race like this," McEntee remarked. "Adam is a big asset and he dictated it from the front perfectly. He got the fractions just right. My brother is Hank's racing manager in America and Hank had come over especially for this. It's great for him and hopefully it's the start of a long-term relationship.

Last month's listed Spring Cup winner Ertijaal confirmed his love of Lingfield Park with a tough follow-up win in the £150,000 All-Weather 3 Year Old Championships Conditions Stakes under Paul Hanagan, in which the Oasis Dream colt claimed £72,840 for his owner/breeder Sheikh Hamdan.

"I didn't want to be in the stalls too early and he nearly blew it there and so I had to ride him up a bit and force him so that he got settled," Hanagan explained his ride. "Once we were out he did it good, he pricked his ears and I was quite impressed with him. Once he got his position I was always confident."

Ertijaal is now two-for-two on the year at Lingfield, having captured the Spring Cup in his seasonal opener on March 22.

"Once he got out he traveled really well. It was a really rough race but he held his position well and did a good job," said Maureen Haggas, wife of the colt's trainer, William. "We had to come for this race -- it was the obvious race to go for, there's lots of prize money and it was the right race to run in -- but I think he'll be an even better horse on the grass."

Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum's assistant racing manager Richard Hills reported that Ertijaal could head to the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket in 15 days' time.

"Paul gave the horse a really good ride and we'll look forward to stepping him up to a mile now," Hills remarked. "I hope he goes (to the Guineas) but we will talk to Sheikh Hamdan and see what he would like to do. The horse is still learning, he got injured last year and had had a long time off before his comeback here last month."

With regard to Ertijaal's entry in the Two Thousand Guineas on the first Saturday of May, Haggas said, "He might be a horse to take a bit more time with. He never had a proper break in the winter because he had a few problems and that's when they get a chance to develop. I don't think he's still properly developed -- he looks better now than he did six weeks ago but he still looks a bit of a baby. He hasn't really filled out yet."

Commenting on the atmosphere at Lingfield for the All-Weather Championships, she added, "It's fantastic. I can't believe how many people are here, it's amazing really. It's great that it's been supported and anything that brings money into racing is a good thing."

George Baker is widely regarded as one of the best jockeys when it comes to riding Lingfield and his track experience paid off for trainer Seamus Durack, who had the 2-1 favourite Litigant spot on to claim glory in the £150,000 All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes for owner Tony Byrne.

"That was great," Baker said. "Jim Crowley (on runner-up Arch Villain) stole a bit of a march on me on the turn but my fellow was resolute and he did it really well in the end.

"I ride here a lot in the winter on everyday horses so it's nice to win a really big race. All the lads in the weighing-room are perfectly happy to be riding on Good Friday as long as the prize money is good and this day just shows that if you put on good prize money, you'll get decent horses and a decent crowd.

"You don't normally have to fight for a parking space at Lingfield but we did today. It's a great day."

Baker brought Litigant with a late and decisive run to capture the Marathon by a half-length to the delight of Durack.

"George said it took a while to get into top gear but the horse has a real turn of foot when he does reach top gear," Durack explained, before adding, "This day is a brilliant initiative and it's great for our little yard, we only have 20 horses including jumpers. It's like having five or six heritage handicaps in one day in terms of prize money. We set our stall out to try and win this race a while ago and had been looking forward to seeing him run.

"He is a really nice horse and is still improving -- I'm not sure how good he is. He saw two miles out really well today and I think he might be even better on the turf than the All-Weather. He might be a viable candidate for some of the Cup races.

"He was with Andre Fabre, then went to Godolphin, where he had a few issues with sore shins and never ran. He went to the sales at Doncaster in January last year when we got him. He had a couple of issues which we have sorted out."

Trainer Richard Fahey made the long journey from North Yorkshire worthwhile when Alben Star got up late to win the £150,000 All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes for owners Ken Shannon and Mike Scaife.

"It's been a while since I've been to Lingfield, I think the last time was when I was riding in a two-mile chase!" Fahey noted. "But this is a fantastic day and my only problem was getting in as it's so busy -- I missed the first race.

"This horse worked brilliantly last week and I told (jockey) Paul (Hanagan) he had a big chance. Paul moved on to bigger things (as retained rider for Hamdan Al Maktoum) but we were together for 17 years and we'll always be part of each other.

"They went a full flat-out gallop and it was a good honest-run race today which suited us.

"Today was our Derby and this was a huge day for the horse. I hope the handicapper doesn't kill him and he'll be entered in all the big sprint handicaps. I'd be surprised if he could step up much more on this.

"The horse is the walking wounded, he's had chips three time but we had a new vet -- John McVeigh -- who greased his joints and gave him a bit of a service. I think he's found 10 pound for that."

"They went a really good gallop and when he gets that strong pace he loves it," Hanagan said. "I'm delighted for the owners. I was confident I had it on the line and I gave him a pat down the neck.

"It's fantastic to have two winners on a day like this and well done to everyone who made it happen."

Captain Cat missed out on his early Flat turf season target of the Lincoln but waiting for All-Weather Championships Finals Day paid dividends for his connections when the statuesque five-year-old scooped the pot in the £150,000 All-Weather Mile Championships. The Roger Charlton-trained gelding was chased home by Highland Knight, with Alfred Hutchinson taking third, and set a new course record of 1:34.51, beating the existing record of 1:34.77.

"That was fantastic. It was a really fast-run race, which is what we thought we'd get today," stated Barry Hurley of owner Seasons Holidays. "He's only a lightly-raced horse and he doesn't like the ground moving underneath him, which is why we didn't run him on soft ground in the Lincoln."

James Doyle, who partnered Captain Cat to glory, added, "He's won nicely in the end. He's quite a character who has got his traits but he has a lot of ability. He's starting to get his act together.

"They went a hell of a pace early on and it was always the plan to wait and ride him like a nice horse. He quickened up well when he needed to. Everyone jumped out too well and they were pushing me into the rail, which I didn't want to be sucked into doing. I could afford to be patient. He wants good or slightly better ground as he is such a good mover and has always been a nice horse.

"This is a fantastic day. I've been in Dubai for a lot of the winter so missed the racing here but it's great to have a day like this with good prize money and super horses."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Grandeur, Guineas prospect Ertijaal highlight the All-Weather Championships

Racing was conducted for the first time on Good Friday in Britain when Lingfield hosted the inaugural £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, and the most thrilling finish of the day was saved until last when Yvonne Jacques' Grandeur got the better of an epic tussle with Dick Doughtywylie in the £200,000 All-Weather Middle Distance Championship in front of a 8,777 sell-out crowd.

The five-year-old gray son of Verglas is trained in Newmarket by Jeremy Noseda, and entered the race off a 2014 debut win in the February 22 Winter Derby Trial and eighth-place effort in the Group 3 Winter Derby itself on March 22.

"Everything went wrong last time (in the Winter Derby), but to be honest I don't think too much went right today," Noseda. "There was no real pace for him -- I'm thrilled that he's won but it's just a shame that he's made such hard work of it.

"It sounds strange. I'm thrilled that he's won but he's a much better horse than those he's taken on today. They didn't go quickly enough for him and he was quite handy, whereas I think he's a better horse if he can sit further back in a strongly-run race.

"He's never a horse who is going to win by a long way but I thought he'd have at least a length on them. He's won though, that's the main thing."

Ryan Moore produced Grandeur with a well-timed run to land a bumper prize in the Middle Distance Championships.

"Last time out he had a bad draw and I thought he'd get in behind the leaders and settle in fifth or sixth. But Dick Doughtywylie got out of the stalls quickly and I got caught out and it became a messy race," Moore said. "Today the second had everything go his way and then we got a good run through.

"He's a tricky horse to place because he doesn't want the ground too quick but at the same time he can't go if it's too soft," Moore said. "So Jeremy has done a very good job placing him as he's won a lot of prize money. He's a Grade 2 winner in the States as well.

Noseda indicated that Grandeur is likely to head back to America, where he has raced successfully in the past to record victories in a pair of Grade 2 contests in California.

"I'm delighted -- this was the plan to win," Noseda added. "I was very disappointed on Winter Derby day so I said before the race that this was redemption day and we've had redemption. He's shown that he likes racing in America, so we'll probably head to Belmont Park in May and June to race on the turf there."

The second Dick Doughtywylie's trainer John Gosden and his wife, Rachel Hood, who owns and bred the six-year-old, were thrilled with the performance of their horse in finishing a head second to Grandeur.

"I thought that he was going to win 25 yards out. It is the best performance of his career and we are thrilled with him," Gosden said. "It made an exciting finish. He got headed, came back and got headed on the line. I think the best horse has won but we are over the moon with our fellow."

Cam Hardie, the 17-year-old apprentice to Richard Hannon, had extra reason to celebrate on Good Friday. Not only did he win the £50,000 All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap for the Heffer Syndicate aboard Viewpoint, but he made history by becoming the first jockey to ride a winner on Good Friday in Britain by getting the All-Weather Championships card underway.

Beating Grendisar by a neck, it was Hardie's first winner for his boss but sixth in total since the beginnning of 2014.

"It's the best day of my career so far and I'd like to thank everyone who has helped to get me here," said Hardie, whose father, William, is head lad to Tim Easterby in Yorkshire. "Tim Easterby got me the job with Mr Hannon and I'm very grateful.

"This is really special. It's a big meeting and there was a really good reception. I'm over the moon, it's my first winner for the boss. Viewpoint was feeling great, he's really fresh. Winning this was something different to the normal handicaps."

With Hannon still in Newmarket following the Craven Breeze-up Sale, his traveling head lad David Bourton added, "Cam has been with us for a year and a bit and that was his first win for the boss. Cam rode to orders and gave the horse a great ride, let's hope it's the first of many he rides for us.

Next up, Living the Life could hardly have been better named after delivering big-race success in the £150,000 All-Weather Championship Fillies' and Mares' Conditions Stakes for her Californian owner Henry 'Hank' Nothhaft, who had flown in specially for the race.

"In the past we've bought horses in England and shipped them to the States but I decided to get my license this year and race a few horses in England as I love coming here," said Nothhaft, who owns 40 horses spread around California, Kentucky and Philadelphia.

"We're so excited and very proud of the filly. Phil (McEntee) has done a great job for me and his brother Carl lives in Kentucky and is my bloodstock agent, so we're keeping it all in the family."

The four-year-old daughter of Footstepsinthesand will be transferred to trainer Gary Mandella in California after netting the first prize of £72,840 for her owner.

"Living the Life has paid for herself three times over since we bought her," Nothhaft added. "It was certainly worth leaving her here to run in this race. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be here.

"This is phenomenal (the day) -- it is what racing should be about. It should be a good time, it should be fun, it should be a family event and a lot of socializing. This is the best advertisement the sport can have."

Winning jockey Adam Kirby rode an enterprising race, making all to land the spoils by 3 1/2 lengths.

"I had an easy time in front and she ran into the turn really well," Kirby said. "We thought she was coming here with a chance but she was pretty impressive."

Newmarket trainer Phil McEntee celebrated the biggest victory of his career when Living the Life crossed under the wire first.

"It's truly amazing to win a race like this," McEntee remarked. "Adam is a big asset and he dictated it from the front perfectly. He got the fractions just right. My brother is Hank's racing manager in America and Hank had come over especially for this. It's great for him and hopefully it's the start of a long-term relationship.

Last month's listed Spring Cup winner Ertijaal confirmed his love of Lingfield Park with a tough follow-up win in the £150,000 All-Weather 3 Year Old Championships Conditions Stakes under Paul Hanagan, in which the Oasis Dream colt claimed £72,840 for his owner/breeder Sheikh Hamdan.

"I didn't want to be in the stalls too early and he nearly blew it there and so I had to ride him up a bit and force him so that he got settled," Hanagan explained his ride. "Once we were out he did it good, he pricked his ears and I was quite impressed with him. Once he got his position I was always confident."

Ertijaal is now two-for-two on the year at Lingfield, having captured the Spring Cup in his seasonal opener on March 22.

"Once he got out he traveled really well. It was a really rough race but he held his position well and did a good job," said Maureen Haggas, wife of the colt's trainer, William. "We had to come for this race -- it was the obvious race to go for, there's lots of prize money and it was the right race to run in -- but I think he'll be an even better horse on the grass."

Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum's assistant racing manager Richard Hills reported that Ertijaal could head to the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket in 15 days' time.

"Paul gave the horse a really good ride and we'll look forward to stepping him up to a mile now," Hills remarked. "I hope he goes (to the Guineas) but we will talk to Sheikh Hamdan and see what he would like to do. The horse is still learning, he got injured last year and had had a long time off before his comeback here last month."

With regard to Ertijaal's entry in the Two Thousand Guineas on the first Saturday of May, Haggas said, "He might be a horse to take a bit more time with. He never had a proper break in the winter because he had a few problems and that's when they get a chance to develop. I don't think he's still properly developed -- he looks better now than he did six weeks ago but he still looks a bit of a baby. He hasn't really filled out yet."

Commenting on the atmosphere at Lingfield for the All-Weather Championships, she added, "It's fantastic. I can't believe how many people are here, it's amazing really. It's great that it's been supported and anything that brings money into racing is a good thing."

George Baker is widely regarded as one of the best jockeys when it comes to riding Lingfield and his track experience paid off for trainer Seamus Durack, who had the 2-1 favourite Litigant spot on to claim glory in the £150,000 All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes for owner Tony Byrne.

"That was great," Baker said. "Jim Crowley (on runner-up Arch Villain) stole a bit of a march on me on the turn but my fellow was resolute and he did it really well in the end.

"I ride here a lot in the winter on everyday horses so it's nice to win a really big race. All the lads in the weighing-room are perfectly happy to be riding on Good Friday as long as the prize money is good and this day just shows that if you put on good prize money, you'll get decent horses and a decent crowd.

"You don't normally have to fight for a parking space at Lingfield but we did today. It's a great day."

Baker brought Litigant with a late and decisive run to capture the Marathon by a half-length to the delight of Durack.

"George said it took a while to get into top gear but the horse has a real turn of foot when he does reach top gear," Durack explained, before adding, "This day is a brilliant initiative and it's great for our little yard, we only have 20 horses including jumpers. It's like having five or six heritage handicaps in one day in terms of prize money. We set our stall out to try and win this race a while ago and had been looking forward to seeing him run.

"He is a really nice horse and is still improving -- I'm not sure how good he is. He saw two miles out really well today and I think he might be even better on the turf than the All-Weather. He might be a viable candidate for some of the Cup races.

"He was with Andre Fabre, then went to Godolphin, where he had a few issues with sore shins and never ran. He went to the sales at Doncaster in January last year when we got him. He had a couple of issues which we have sorted out."

Trainer Richard Fahey made the long journey from North Yorkshire worthwhile when Alben Star got up late to win the £150,000 All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes for owners Ken Shannon and Mike Scaife.

"It's been a while since I've been to Lingfield, I think the last time was when I was riding in a two-mile chase!" Fahey noted. "But this is a fantastic day and my only problem was getting in as it's so busy -- I missed the first race.

"This horse worked brilliantly last week and I told (jockey) Paul (Hanagan) he had a big chance. Paul moved on to bigger things (as retained rider for Hamdan Al Maktoum) but we were together for 17 years and we'll always be part of each other.

"They went a full flat-out gallop and it was a good honest-run race today which suited us.

"Today was our Derby and this was a huge day for the horse. I hope the handicapper doesn't kill him and he'll be entered in all the big sprint handicaps. I'd be surprised if he could step up much more on this.

"The horse is the walking wounded, he's had chips three time but we had a new vet -- John McVeigh -- who greased his joints and gave him a bit of a service. I think he's found 10 pound for that."

"They went a really good gallop and when he gets that strong pace he loves it," Hanagan said. "I'm delighted for the owners. I was confident I had it on the line and I gave him a pat down the neck.

"It's fantastic to have two winners on a day like this and well done to everyone who made it happen."

Captain Cat missed out on his early Flat turf season target of the Lincoln but waiting for All-Weather Championships Finals Day paid dividends for his connections when the statuesque five-year-old scooped the pot in the £150,000 All-Weather Mile Championships. The Roger Charlton-trained gelding was chased home by Highland Knight, with Alfred Hutchinson taking third, and set a new course record of 1:34.51, beating the existing record of 1:34.77.

"That was fantastic. It was a really fast-run race, which is what we thought we'd get today," stated Barry Hurley of owner Seasons Holidays. "He's only a lightly-raced horse and he doesn't like the ground moving underneath him, which is why we didn't run him on soft ground in the Lincoln."

James Doyle, who partnered Captain Cat to glory, added, "He's won nicely in the end. He's quite a character who has got his traits but he has a lot of ability. He's starting to get his act together.

"They went a hell of a pace early on and it was always the plan to wait and ride him like a nice horse. He quickened up well when he needed to. Everyone jumped out too well and they were pushing me into the rail, which I didn't want to be sucked into doing. I could afford to be patient. He wants good or slightly better ground as he is such a good mover and has always been a nice horse.

"This is a fantastic day. I've been in Dubai for a lot of the winter so missed the racing here but it's great to have a day like this with good prize money and super horses."

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Beholder 'looks the same' as in BC Distaff

When last seen, Beholder was storming her way to a 4 1/4-length triumph in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, leaving in her wake champion Royal Delta and Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar.

That was last November 2 at Santa Anita. Beholder has been resting on her considerable laurels, so to speak, ever since, but on Sunday, the daughter of Henny Hughes owned by B. Waynes Hughes and trained by Richard Mandella returns to work in earnest in the $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes.

"We're just happy to be back," Mandella said on an overcast Friday morning at Santa Anita. "She trains as good as ever and we hope she runs as good as ever."

Asked if there were any noticeable changes in Beholder, physically or emotionally, from three to four, Mandella quipped: "I'm emotional. I'm pretty nervous about it."

That might be understandable anytime a trainer sends out a prohibitive favorite, which Mandella has done many times in a Hall of Fame career that lists Phone Chatter (1993) and Halfbridled (2003) among his previous two-year-old filly champions. Beholder has surpassed both of them, winning an Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old filly of 2012 and champion three-year-old filly of 2013.

"Beholder looks the same (as she did at the end of her three-year-old season)," Mandella said. "She grew up fast, as is obvious by her record. She matured very quickly. She's the same filly we sent out (after winning the Distaff); we hope she runs the same."

After finishing second by a half-length at 9-1 to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks early last May, Beholder ripped off three straight daylight victories: the ungraded Torry Pines at Del Mar on September 1; the Grade 1 Zenyatta on September 28; and the Grade 1 Distaff, cementing the title in the three-year-old filly division.

"She got so much better as she got older," Mandella said when asked the differences, if any, from Beholder to Phone Chatter and Halfbridled. "The other fillies came up with problems, and that compromised them. Beholder didn't."

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Beholder 'looks the same' as in BC Distaff

When last seen, Beholder was storming her way to a 4 1/4-length triumph in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, leaving in her wake champion Royal Delta and Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar.

That was last November 2 at Santa Anita. Beholder has been resting on her considerable laurels, so to speak, ever since, but on Sunday, the daughter of Henny Hughes owned by B. Waynes Hughes and trained by Richard Mandella returns to work in earnest in the $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes.

"We're just happy to be back," Mandella said on an overcast Friday morning at Santa Anita. "She trains as good as ever and we hope she runs as good as ever."

Asked if there were any noticeable changes in Beholder, physically or emotionally, from three to four, Mandella quipped: "I'm emotional. I'm pretty nervous about it."

That might be understandable anytime a trainer sends out a prohibitive favorite, which Mandella has done many times in a Hall of Fame career that lists Phone Chatter (1993) and Halfbridled (2003) among his previous two-year-old filly champions. Beholder has surpassed both of them, winning an Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old filly of 2012 and champion three-year-old filly of 2013.

"Beholder looks the same (as she did at the end of her three-year-old season)," Mandella said. "She grew up fast, as is obvious by her record. She matured very quickly. She's the same filly we sent out (after winning the Distaff); we hope she runs the same."

After finishing second by a half-length at 9-1 to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks early last May, Beholder ripped off three straight daylight victories: the ungraded Torry Pines at Del Mar on September 1; the Grade 1 Zenyatta on September 28; and the Grade 1 Distaff, cementing the title in the three-year-old filly division.

"She got so much better as she got older," Mandella said when asked the differences, if any, from Beholder to Phone Chatter and Halfbridled. "The other fillies came up with problems, and that compromised them. Beholder didn't."

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Mitchell passes the baton to longtime assistant D'Amato

After a memorable career that began four decades ago, Mike Mitchell is taking time to smell the roses. The 65-year-old trainer will pass full-time training duties on to assistant Phil D'Amato Sunday and lend considerable knowledge to his former aide of 10 years in a supporting role.

"We're still a team," said Mitchell, the son of the late trainer, Earl Mitchell, and a fixture in Southern California since 1974. "For me, it's not about most wins and records. I've done it all. Now, it's time to enjoy being part of the team.

"I'll still lend my support and give my advice and counseling, and be out at the track most mornings, but I want to travel and take care of my health. Phil's been like a son to me, and he's getting new clients in his own right. It's been a beautiful relationship but the time is right for this move."

A two-time leading trainer at Santa Anita's winter/spring meetings in 1992-93 and 2007-08, Mitchell is currently fifth on the all-time Santa Anita trainer's leaderboard with 659 wins, behind only Bobby Frankel, Charlie Whittingham, Ron McAnally and Bob Baffert. Mitchell was also leading trainer three times at Santa Anita's Oak Tree Meetings, taking titles in 1995, 1996 and 2004.

A perennial contender for leading trainer honors at all major meets in Southern California dating back to the late 70's, Mitchell was always known as a great claiming trainer and a keen judge of talent whose ability to analyze the way races would be run paid his clients and backers consistent dividends throughout his remarkable career.

Mitchell, a native of Bakersfield, has won 18 meet titles and 2,668 races, including a record 476 at Del Mar. In 2012, he had surgery to remove a brain tumor. D'Amato, 37, directed the stable operation during Mitchell's long recovery.

Among Mitchell's rejuvenated former claiming horses that he developed into stakes winners were Big Booster, Church Service, Ever a Friend, On the Acorn and Star Over the Bay, whom he claimed for $80,000 en route to a Grade 1 win in the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship in 2004. His most recent Grade 1 winner is the recently retired Egg Drop, who captured the Matriarch on December 1 at Hollywood Park.

His final stats for the meet are 29-6-7-5, good for a win percentage of 21. His horses finished in the money at a 62 percent clip this meet.

Mitchell and his wife, Denise, have two adult daughters, McCall and Shea.

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Mitchell passes the baton to longtime assistant D'Amato

After a memorable career that began four decades ago, Mike Mitchell is taking time to smell the roses. The 65-year-old trainer will pass full-time training duties on to assistant Phil D'Amato Sunday and lend considerable knowledge to his former aide of 10 years in a supporting role.

"We're still a team," said Mitchell, the son of the late trainer, Earl Mitchell, and a fixture in Southern California since 1974. "For me, it's not about most wins and records. I've done it all. Now, it's time to enjoy being part of the team.

"I'll still lend my support and give my advice and counseling, and be out at the track most mornings, but I want to travel and take care of my health. Phil's been like a son to me, and he's getting new clients in his own right. It's been a beautiful relationship but the time is right for this move."

A two-time leading trainer at Santa Anita's winter/spring meetings in 1992-93 and 2007-08, Mitchell is currently fifth on the all-time Santa Anita trainer's leaderboard with 659 wins, behind only Bobby Frankel, Charlie Whittingham, Ron McAnally and Bob Baffert. Mitchell was also leading trainer three times at Santa Anita's Oak Tree Meetings, taking titles in 1995, 1996 and 2004.

A perennial contender for leading trainer honors at all major meets in Southern California dating back to the late 70's, Mitchell was always known as a great claiming trainer and a keen judge of talent whose ability to analyze the way races would be run paid his clients and backers consistent dividends throughout his remarkable career.

Mitchell, a native of Bakersfield, has won 18 meet titles and 2,668 races, including a record 476 at Del Mar. In 2012, he had surgery to remove a brain tumor. D'Amato, 37, directed the stable operation during Mitchell's long recovery.

Among Mitchell's rejuvenated former claiming horses that he developed into stakes winners were Big Booster, Church Service, Ever a Friend, On the Acorn and Star Over the Bay, whom he claimed for $80,000 en route to a Grade 1 win in the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship in 2004. His most recent Grade 1 winner is the recently retired Egg Drop, who captured the Matriarch on December 1 at Hollywood Park.

His final stats for the meet are 29-6-7-5, good for a win percentage of 21. His horses finished in the money at a 62 percent clip this meet.

Mitchell and his wife, Denise, have two adult daughters, McCall and Shea.

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Samraat, Uncle Sigh turn in works at Belmont

Samraat (left) and Uncle Sigh turned in pre-Kentucky Derby works at Belmont Park (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

New York-breds Samraat and Uncle Sigh, who will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by New York's leading jockeys, brothers Jose and Irad Ortiz Jr., had their penultimate workouts for the May 3 Run for the Roses on Friday morning at Belmont Park.

Samraat, whose five-race unbeaten streak ended when second to leading Derby contender Wicked Strong in the Wood Memorial, worked a half-mile in :49 on the main track under exercise rider Simon Paine. Owner Leonard Riggio of My Meadowview Farm and Jose Ortiz, who is second to his brother in the 2014 jockey standings at Aqueduct, were both on hand to watch the 7 a.m. (EDT) work.

"It was perfect -- if we did it again, I don't know that we'd want to change anything," said trainer Rick Violette of Samraat, currently fifth on the Kentucky Derby points leader board, just behind Wicked Strong. "It was in hand, he stretched his legs, changed leads and pulled up good; he's acting like he just went out for a little jog. A week away, we'll go our steady mile -- next Friday or Saturday -- and go from there. It's pretty cool."

Violette said he and Ortiz are well aware of the importance of getting Samraat to properly change leads at Churchill Downs.

"There's no question it's a priority," he said. "I don't think he can win the Derby without changing leads. When he did change leads really late in the Wood, he went and got second. It's a big thing. Jose is aware of it...I think he's got to be very aware of that before he turns for home in (the Derby). You like a sweeping change coming out of the turn, almost accelerating, and to use that momentum to go do what he has to do. I don't think you can lay on horses in the Derby; there's too many that can come and get you. So you need to set sail at the head of the lane and run to the wire."

Uncle Sigh, who finished second to Samraat in the Withers and Gotham prior to a fifth in the Wood, went out at 9:30 a.m. on the training track. Outfitted with blinkers and with exercise rider and former jockey Nick Santagata in the irons, Uncle Sigh broke off several lengths behind stablemate Thug Daddy before blasting through along the rail at the top of the stretch and cruising to the wire five lengths in front. His time for five furlongs was 1:00 1/5, with splits of :12 3/5, :24 3/5 and :36 4/5, galloping out in 1:13 and up in 1:26 3/5.

"It was perfect," said Santagata of the work by Uncle Sigh, who moved up on the Derby leader board to grab the 20th and final slot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs when Florida Derby winner Constitution suffered a shin injury. "I sat behind, he ate dirt. The last couple of races he hasn't eaten dirt; he was outside, he's been in the front. So it was a different situation (today), and he responded well. We put him (behind a horse) and we came through the rail in case you got to come through a little hole in the Derby. Hopefully, we'll get lucky on Derby Day. Hopefully, we'll get a better break than we did in the Wood Memorial and we can place him better. I think the blinkers will do that. I think the blinkers will make him a little better out of the gate and be in a little bit better position."

Samraat, a son of Noble Causeway, and Uncle Sigh, sired by Indian Charlie, are bidding to join 2003's Funny Cide as the only New York-breds to win the Kentucky Derby.

According to available records, Irad Ortiz, 21, and Jose Ortiz, 20, will be the first brothers to ride against each other in the Derby since 1984, when Eddie Maple was third on At the Threshold and Sam Maple finished 13th on Taylor's Special.

"I think that's a pretty good story -- two brothers, both from New York, riding two New York horses in the Derby," Riggio said. "You don't see that very often."

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Samraat, Uncle Sigh turn in works at Belmont

Samraat (left) and Uncle Sigh turned in pre-Kentucky Derby works at Belmont Park (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

New York-breds Samraat and Uncle Sigh, who will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by New York's leading jockeys, brothers Jose and Irad Ortiz Jr., had their penultimate workouts for the May 3 Run for the Roses on Friday morning at Belmont Park.

Samraat, whose five-race unbeaten streak ended when second to leading Derby contender Wicked Strong in the Wood Memorial, worked a half-mile in :49 on the main track under exercise rider Simon Paine. Owner Leonard Riggio of My Meadowview Farm and Jose Ortiz, who is second to his brother in the 2014 jockey standings at Aqueduct, were both on hand to watch the 7 a.m. (EDT) work.

"It was perfect -- if we did it again, I don't know that we'd want to change anything," said trainer Rick Violette of Samraat, currently fifth on the Kentucky Derby points leader board, just behind Wicked Strong. "It was in hand, he stretched his legs, changed leads and pulled up good; he's acting like he just went out for a little jog. A week away, we'll go our steady mile -- next Friday or Saturday -- and go from there. It's pretty cool."

Violette said he and Ortiz are well aware of the importance of getting Samraat to properly change leads at Churchill Downs.

"There's no question it's a priority," he said. "I don't think he can win the Derby without changing leads. When he did change leads really late in the Wood, he went and got second. It's a big thing. Jose is aware of it...I think he's got to be very aware of that before he turns for home in (the Derby). You like a sweeping change coming out of the turn, almost accelerating, and to use that momentum to go do what he has to do. I don't think you can lay on horses in the Derby; there's too many that can come and get you. So you need to set sail at the head of the lane and run to the wire."

Uncle Sigh, who finished second to Samraat in the Withers and Gotham prior to a fifth in the Wood, went out at 9:30 a.m. on the training track. Outfitted with blinkers and with exercise rider and former jockey Nick Santagata in the irons, Uncle Sigh broke off several lengths behind stablemate Thug Daddy before blasting through along the rail at the top of the stretch and cruising to the wire five lengths in front. His time for five furlongs was 1:00 1/5, with splits of :12 3/5, :24 3/5 and :36 4/5, galloping out in 1:13 and up in 1:26 3/5.

"It was perfect," said Santagata of the work by Uncle Sigh, who moved up on the Derby leader board to grab the 20th and final slot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs when Florida Derby winner Constitution suffered a shin injury. "I sat behind, he ate dirt. The last couple of races he hasn't eaten dirt; he was outside, he's been in the front. So it was a different situation (today), and he responded well. We put him (behind a horse) and we came through the rail in case you got to come through a little hole in the Derby. Hopefully, we'll get lucky on Derby Day. Hopefully, we'll get a better break than we did in the Wood Memorial and we can place him better. I think the blinkers will do that. I think the blinkers will make him a little better out of the gate and be in a little bit better position."

Samraat, a son of Noble Causeway, and Uncle Sigh, sired by Indian Charlie, are bidding to join 2003's Funny Cide as the only New York-breds to win the Kentucky Derby.

According to available records, Irad Ortiz, 21, and Jose Ortiz, 20, will be the first brothers to ride against each other in the Derby since 1984, when Eddie Maple was third on At the Threshold and Sam Maple finished 13th on Taylor's Special.

"I think that's a pretty good story -- two brothers, both from New York, riding two New York horses in the Derby," Riggio said. "You don't see that very often."

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Dance With Fate confirmed for Derby

Dance With Fate will get the opportunity to transfer his Polytrack form to dirt (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate will indeed take his spot in the starting gate in the May 3 Kentucky Derby, connections announced Friday.

Both before, and after, his 100-point windfall at Keeneland last Saturday, trainer Peter Eurton wasn't ready to commit his charge to the Run for the Roses. Eurton cited Dance With Fate's apparent preference for turf and synthetic at this point in his career, as well as the possible concern of coming back three weeks after the Blue Grass.

But jockey Corey Nakatani, who rode the colt for the first time in the Blue Grass, was all for giving him the opportunity at Churchill Downs.

And with the benefit of time to reflect, connections -- including Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing -- agreed. Britney Eurton, the trainer's daughter, took to TVG to reveal the news.

The colt's official Twitter account, @DanceWithFate, also helped spread the story on social media while confirming that Nakatani would retain the mount.

A prominent two-year-old in Southern California last season, Dance With Fate was a troubled second to Tamarando in the Del Mar Futurity on Polytrack. In his first dirt, and two-turn, attempt in the FrontRunner at Santa Anita, he struck the front, only to be passed in deep stretch by Bond Holder. Dance With Fate tried the Breeders' Cup Juvenile over the same track and 1 1/16-mile trip, only to end up eighth after being squeezed at the start.

Connections then mapped out a plan with the Blue Grass as his primary early-season objective. Dance With Fate reappeared in a January 24 allowance on the Santa Anita turf, and showed that he loved the surface with a stylish 1 3/4-length decision. That was his prep for the February 15 El Camino Real Derby on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields, where he was caught late by his old foe Tamarando.

Dance With Fate was freshened for two months in advance of the Blue Grass, and responded with a powerful move from well back on Keeneland's Polytrack. Blue Grass runner-up Medal Count is already in the Derby field, while third Pablo Del Monte is among those on the outside looking in at the moment.

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Dance With Fate confirmed for Derby

Dance With Fate will get the opportunity to transfer his Polytrack form to dirt (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate will indeed take his spot in the starting gate in the May 3 Kentucky Derby, connections announced Friday.

Both before, and after, his 100-point windfall at Keeneland last Saturday, trainer Peter Eurton wasn't ready to commit his charge to the Run for the Roses. Eurton cited Dance With Fate's apparent preference for turf and synthetic at this point in his career, as well as the possible concern of coming back three weeks after the Blue Grass.

But jockey Corey Nakatani, who rode the colt for the first time in the Blue Grass, was all for giving him the opportunity at Churchill Downs.

And with the benefit of time to reflect, connections -- including Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing -- agreed. Britney Eurton, the trainer's daughter, took to TVG to reveal the news.

The colt's official Twitter account, @DanceWithFate, also helped spread the story on social media while confirming that Nakatani would retain the mount.

A prominent two-year-old in Southern California last season, Dance With Fate was a troubled second to Tamarando in the Del Mar Futurity on Polytrack. In his first dirt, and two-turn, attempt in the FrontRunner at Santa Anita, he struck the front, only to be passed in deep stretch by Bond Holder. Dance With Fate tried the Breeders' Cup Juvenile over the same track and 1 1/16-mile trip, only to end up eighth after being squeezed at the start.

Connections then mapped out a plan with the Blue Grass as his primary early-season objective. Dance With Fate reappeared in a January 24 allowance on the Santa Anita turf, and showed that he loved the surface with a stylish 1 3/4-length decision. That was his prep for the February 15 El Camino Real Derby on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields, where he was caught late by his old foe Tamarando.

Dance With Fate was freshened for two months in advance of the Blue Grass, and responded with a powerful move from well back on Keeneland's Polytrack. Blue Grass runner-up Medal Count is already in the Derby field, while third Pablo Del Monte is among those on the outside looking in at the moment.

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Commanding Curve, Unbridled Forever breeze in hopes of making Derby, Oaks

Unbridled Forever, like stablemate Commanding Curve for the Derby, is on the outside looking in to the Oaks (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

Kentucky Derby hopeful Commanding Curve, ranked No. 23 on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" leaderboard, continued his preparations for a potential start in the "Run for the Roses" with a five-furlong move Friday morning at Churchill Downs in 1:00 2/5.

Working under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode the colt to his maiden victory at Churchill Downs in November, Commanding Curve recorded splits of :12 3/5, :25 and :37 1/5 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 over the fast track.

"He looked very comfortable out there," trainer Dallas Stewart said. "He's got a great shot if he gets in (the Kentucky Derby)."

Commanding Curve will need defections to make the race. On Friday afternoon it was announced that No. 3 Dance With Fate, the Blue Grass winner who was previously uncommitted, would return to dirt for a start in the Derby. Vinceremos and Harry's Holiday are Nos. 21 and 22.

Friday's breeze by Commanding Curve was his second at Churchill Downs since placing third in the Louisiana Derby. His three-year-old campaign also includes a sixth-place effort in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds.

"We're just waiting," Stewart said. "These other horses have to earn their merit to run on this track, and the trainers have to believe they have a chance to win."

Commanding Curve's work was on the outside of stablemate Golden Soul, who was in very a similar on-the-outside-looking-in position before finishing second in last year's Kentucky Derby.

"We think he's got a good shot," Stewart said. "There's a lot of speed in this race, which I think will benefit him and he likes this distance."

Also working Friday for Stewart was Kentucky Oaks-hopeful Unbridled Forever, who is No. 16 on the preference list for the maximum 14-horse Oaks.

The Unbridled's Song filly breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 under regular exercise rider Pedro Velez. Unbridled Forever, who recorded internal splits of :12, :24 and :36 1/5, galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5. This was her second local workout since running third in the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 29. Prior to that start she won the Silverbulletday Stakes, also at Fair Grounds, in her sophomore debut on January 18.

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Commanding Curve, Unbridled Forever breeze in hopes of making Derby, Oaks

Unbridled Forever, like stablemate Commanding Curve for the Derby, is on the outside looking in to the Oaks (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

Kentucky Derby hopeful Commanding Curve, ranked No. 23 on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" leaderboard, continued his preparations for a potential start in the "Run for the Roses" with a five-furlong move Friday morning at Churchill Downs in 1:00 2/5.

Working under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode the colt to his maiden victory at Churchill Downs in November, Commanding Curve recorded splits of :12 3/5, :25 and :37 1/5 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 over the fast track.

"He looked very comfortable out there," trainer Dallas Stewart said. "He's got a great shot if he gets in (the Kentucky Derby)."

Commanding Curve will need defections to make the race. On Friday afternoon it was announced that No. 3 Dance With Fate, the Blue Grass winner who was previously uncommitted, would return to dirt for a start in the Derby. Vinceremos and Harry's Holiday are Nos. 21 and 22.

Friday's breeze by Commanding Curve was his second at Churchill Downs since placing third in the Louisiana Derby. His three-year-old campaign also includes a sixth-place effort in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds.

"We're just waiting," Stewart said. "These other horses have to earn their merit to run on this track, and the trainers have to believe they have a chance to win."

Commanding Curve's work was on the outside of stablemate Golden Soul, who was in very a similar on-the-outside-looking-in position before finishing second in last year's Kentucky Derby.

"We think he's got a good shot," Stewart said. "There's a lot of speed in this race, which I think will benefit him and he likes this distance."

Also working Friday for Stewart was Kentucky Oaks-hopeful Unbridled Forever, who is No. 16 on the preference list for the maximum 14-horse Oaks.

The Unbridled's Song filly breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 under regular exercise rider Pedro Velez. Unbridled Forever, who recorded internal splits of :12, :24 and :36 1/5, galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5. This was her second local workout since running third in the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 29. Prior to that start she won the Silverbulletday Stakes, also at Fair Grounds, in her sophomore debut on January 18.

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Ami's Holiday to pass Derby even with Lexington win

If Ami's Holiday wins Saturday's $200,000 Lexington at Keeneland, the $120,000 winner's share would increase his non-restricted stakes earnings to $256,145 and push his points total to 20. That would mean his earnings are more than the other six horses with 20 points bidding for a spot in the starting gate for the $2 million Kentucky Derby on May 3.

Despite this potential scenario, owner Ivan Dalos said Friday that his Harlan's Holiday colt would not be pointed to the Derby or be sold to someone with Derby aspirations.

"He's not going to make it," Dalos, who lives in Toronto, said. "(The Lexington) too close to Derby...If we had an extra week, I would definitely consider it. Two weeks is too close."

The Lexington marks the 2014 debut for Ami's Holiday, who is trained by Josie Carroll. In four races at two, all on Polytrack at Woodbine, the colt won the Grey and was third in the Display. He was at Oaklawn this year but missed training as a result of bad weather.

The original plan was to run Ami's Holiday in the Blue Grass last Saturday, but Dalos said, "We felt he wasn't ready to go a mile and an eighth at this point. (The Lexington) is a mile and a sixteenth -- a little shorter -- so this is a more suitable race since we're not going to the Derby."

Dalos said Ami's Holiday is nominated to the Queen's Plate and that the Preakness is a possibility for the colt, depending on his performance in the Lexington.

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Ami's Holiday to pass Derby even with Lexington win

If Ami's Holiday wins Saturday's $200,000 Lexington at Keeneland, the $120,000 winner's share would increase his non-restricted stakes earnings to $256,145 and push his points total to 20. That would mean his earnings are more than the other six horses with 20 points bidding for a spot in the starting gate for the $2 million Kentucky Derby on May 3.

Despite this potential scenario, owner Ivan Dalos said Friday that his Harlan's Holiday colt would not be pointed to the Derby or be sold to someone with Derby aspirations.

"He's not going to make it," Dalos, who lives in Toronto, said. "(The Lexington) too close to Derby...If we had an extra week, I would definitely consider it. Two weeks is too close."

The Lexington marks the 2014 debut for Ami's Holiday, who is trained by Josie Carroll. In four races at two, all on Polytrack at Woodbine, the colt won the Grey and was third in the Display. He was at Oaklawn this year but missed training as a result of bad weather.

The original plan was to run Ami's Holiday in the Blue Grass last Saturday, but Dalos said, "We felt he wasn't ready to go a mile and an eighth at this point. (The Lexington) is a mile and a sixteenth -- a little shorter -- so this is a more suitable race since we're not going to the Derby."

Dalos said Ami's Holiday is nominated to the Queen's Plate and that the Preakness is a possibility for the colt, depending on his performance in the Lexington.

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Churchill releases security and hospitality policies for Derby, Oaks

Churchill Downs has released its list of security and hospitality policies and procedures for this year's 140th celebrations of the Kentucky Derby on May 3 and the Kentucky Oaks on May 2.

The list mirrors the revised list of policies and procedures from last year that was issued following the attack on the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. As it retains last year's adjusted roster of security and hospitality policies, Churchill Downs officials are again asking Derby and Oaks patrons to be aware during their visits on both days and to heed a simple, but important, reminder: "If you see something, say something."

Most prominent among the policies for this year's Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks are:

  • A ban on carry-in coolers. Patrons will not be allowed bring their own coolers; however, coolers and ice will be available at several infield purchase points
  • Purses or bags measuring more than 12 inches in any dimension will not be allowed through any admission gate
  • Cans of any size or type and glass bottles and containers will not be permitted
  • Patron and pop-up tents are prohibited. Poles and stakes of any kind are not permitted
  • A ban on laptop computers, cameras with detachable lenses, cameras with attached lenses measuring six inches or more, camcorders and tripods
  • Most of the remaining security procedures on Churchill Downs' 2014 list have been in place since sweeping changes to those policies were formulated by the track and its security and safety partners and adopted for the 2002 Kentucky Derby.

    Among the items permitted for carry-in on both days are:

  • Food items and box lunches contained in clear plastic bags or clear plastic containers measuring no larger than 18" x 18"
  • Water and soft drinks in plastic bottles that are sealed and unopened
  • Sunscreen (in non-glass containers only)
  • Purses measuring less than 12" in any dimension, and baby and diaper bags, if accompanied by a child
  • Cellular phones, smartphones and tablets (patrons could be required to turn on electronic items before being allowed to enter the track)
  • Small cameras with non-detachable lenses no longer than six inches
  • "Our sincere hope is that every fan who visits Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks has an amazing experience," said Ryan Jordan, general manager of Churchill Downs. "Our fans have told us that they feel safe when they visit our racetrack. We are thankful for the tireless efforts of nearly 40 law enforcement, security and safety agencies who work together with Churchill Downs team members each year on security and safety policies for these great events.

    "In addition to maintaining tightened security policies, we are again asking that our patrons be aware of their surroundings and to say something to a uniformed security officer or a member of our Churchill Downs staff if they see something that seems out of the ordinary. 'If you see something, say something' is an important thought for all to remember."

    As has been the case since 2002, when security procedures were completely overhauled following the 9/11 terrorist attacks the previous autumn, all patrons entering the track on those days are subject to electronic wand scans.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Churchill releases security and hospitality policies for Derby, Oaks

    Churchill Downs has released its list of security and hospitality policies and procedures for this year's 140th celebrations of the Kentucky Derby on May 3 and the Kentucky Oaks on May 2.

    The list mirrors the revised list of policies and procedures from last year that was issued following the attack on the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. As it retains last year's adjusted roster of security and hospitality policies, Churchill Downs officials are again asking Derby and Oaks patrons to be aware during their visits on both days and to heed a simple, but important, reminder: "If you see something, say something."

    Most prominent among the policies for this year's Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks are:

  • A ban on carry-in coolers. Patrons will not be allowed bring their own coolers; however, coolers and ice will be available at several infield purchase points
  • Purses or bags measuring more than 12 inches in any dimension will not be allowed through any admission gate
  • Cans of any size or type and glass bottles and containers will not be permitted
  • Patron and pop-up tents are prohibited. Poles and stakes of any kind are not permitted
  • A ban on laptop computers, cameras with detachable lenses, cameras with attached lenses measuring six inches or more, camcorders and tripods
  • Most of the remaining security procedures on Churchill Downs' 2014 list have been in place since sweeping changes to those policies were formulated by the track and its security and safety partners and adopted for the 2002 Kentucky Derby.

    Among the items permitted for carry-in on both days are:

  • Food items and box lunches contained in clear plastic bags or clear plastic containers measuring no larger than 18" x 18"
  • Water and soft drinks in plastic bottles that are sealed and unopened
  • Sunscreen (in non-glass containers only)
  • Purses measuring less than 12" in any dimension, and baby and diaper bags, if accompanied by a child
  • Cellular phones, smartphones and tablets (patrons could be required to turn on electronic items before being allowed to enter the track)
  • Small cameras with non-detachable lenses no longer than six inches
  • "Our sincere hope is that every fan who visits Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks has an amazing experience," said Ryan Jordan, general manager of Churchill Downs. "Our fans have told us that they feel safe when they visit our racetrack. We are thankful for the tireless efforts of nearly 40 law enforcement, security and safety agencies who work together with Churchill Downs team members each year on security and safety policies for these great events.

    "In addition to maintaining tightened security policies, we are again asking that our patrons be aware of their surroundings and to say something to a uniformed security officer or a member of our Churchill Downs staff if they see something that seems out of the ordinary. 'If you see something, say something' is an important thought for all to remember."

    As has been the case since 2002, when security procedures were completely overhauled following the 9/11 terrorist attacks the previous autumn, all patrons entering the track on those days are subject to electronic wand scans.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Results

    NORTH AMERICAN GRADED STAKES RESULTS

    DOUBLEDOGDARE S. (G3), KEE, $100,000, 4YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/16M, 4-18.
    7—SISTERLY LOVE, m, 6, Bellamy Road--Odylic, by Dixieland Band. O-Gary Barber, B-Kinsman Farm (KY), T-Mark E. Casse, J-Stewart Elliott, $60,000.
    2—Moment in Dixie, m, 5, Dixieland Band--Ellie's Moment, by Kris S.. O-Phillips Racing Partnership, B-Phillips Racing Partnership (KY), $20,000.
    10—Emollient, f, 4, Empire Maker--Soothing Touch, by Touch Gold. O-Juddmonte Farms, Inc, B-Juddmonte Farms Inc (KY), $10,000.
    Also Ran: Strathnaver (GB), Solid Appeal, Ire, Noble Charlotte, Gold Medal Dancer, Sisterhood, Pearl Turn.
    Winning Time: 1:43 4/5 (ft)
    Margins: NK, NK, 1.
    Odds: 8.00, 25.10, 0.70.

    Sisterly Love continues love affair with Polytrack in Doubledogdare

    Sisterly Love would not be denied in the Doubledogdare (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)

    Gary Barber's Sisterly Love was just honored as Canada's champion older female during the Sovereign Awards on April 11 at Woodbine, but the six-year-old mare wasn't content to sit on her laurels. Instead, she showed up at Keeneland on Friday to upset 3-5 favorite and three-time Grade 1 queen Emollient in the Grade 3, $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes under the hot-riding Stewart Elliot.

    "I had a great trip. She was comfortable the whole way," Elliott stated. "On the far turn, I looked over and saw Mike (Smith on Emollient) and it looked like he was asking her already. I said, 'Man, I got a chance. I still have some horse left.' And I did. She finished up."

    Sisterly Love had one more start on the year than Emollient, who just returned on March 16 to be fourth in Santa Anita Park's Santa Ana following a close run to fill that same spot in last November's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. By comparison, Sisterly Love made her seasonal bow on February 16 in the Bayakoa at Oaklawn Park, finishing a well-beaten sixth, then returned two weeks ago to take a 1 1/16-mile allowance by 2 1/4 lengths on Keeneland's opening day.

    The Mark Casse trainee utilized front-running tactics that day, and attempted to duplicate that effort in the Doubledogdare. The bay mare shot straight to the front from her midpack 7 post but found company in the form of Emollient, who sped up on the outside to race in tandem with Sisterly Love on the backstretch while setting splits of :23 4/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 4/5. The two game mares continued duking it out in the stretch, with Sisterly Love gaining a slim margin over her rival.

    The daughter of Bellamy Road continued to exert herself and widened the advantage, appearing a clear winner briefly before Moment in Dixie came flying from the back of the pack. Sisterly Love just held by a neck on the wire as Moment in Dixie ran out of room in the 8 1/2-furlong Polytrack contest.

    "She came running but it was too late. She ran a very good race," remarked Moment in Dixie's rider, Jose Lezcano.

    Sisterly Love saved ground every step of the way in the Doubledogdare (Keeneland/Oaklawn Park)

    Sisterly Love paid $18 to win as the 8-1 third pick in the 10-distaffer field. Moment in Dixie, sent off the second longest shot on the board at 25-1, had a neck to spare over Emollient, while Strathnaver completed the superfecta another length back in fourth. Finishing the order under the wire were Solid Appeal, Ire, Noble Charlotte, Gold Medal Dancer, Sisterhood and Pearl Turn. Sisterly Love's stablemate Dixie Strike -- who beat the boys last year in the second leg of Canada's Triple Crown, the Breeders' Stakes -- was withdrawn.

    "(I'm) disappointed, the reason being is she's on the surface supposedly that we think she likes a lot," Mike Smith admitted about Emollient. "We got away from the gate really well and she was well within herself around the first turn and down the backside.

    "You know, last year she would have just blown the race open and I was looking for her to do that going into the turn. She just didn't fire her 'A' race at all."

    Now boasting a 7-1-1 mark from 14 career starts, Sisterly Love has banked $427,004 in lifetime earnings. The bay mare earned her recent Sovereign Award by taking the Ontario Matron and Trillium while placing in the Belle Mahone and Houston Ladies Classic last season. Her win in the Doubledogdare could be the start of another award-winning season.

    "I thought Stewart gave her an absolutely beautiful trip today, and he got to save every inch of ground," praised Norman Casse, assistant to his trainer father. "Turning for home, I was pretty confident that we were going to have enough to hold off everybody.

    "It was a little daunting," he added about being challenged by Emollient. "I was happy because as Stewart alluded to, she was comfortable. When she's comfortable, she's tough to beat."

    Bred in Kentucky by Kinsman Farm, Sisterly Love is the first registered stakes winner out of the Dixieland Band mare Odylic and counts as a half-sister the dam of Parranda, this year's scorer of the Suwannee River and Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf.

    Odylic is herself a full sister to Grade 1 winner and successful sire Dixie Brass, as well as a half-sister to another stallion in multiple Grade 2 victor Odyle. This female family is also responsible for Grade 2 winners Private Emblem and Owsley.

    Graded Recaps

    Sisterly Love continues love affair with Polytrack in Doubledogdare

    Sisterly Love would not be denied in the Doubledogdare (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)

    Gary Barber's Sisterly Love was just honored as Canada's champion older female during the Sovereign Awards on April 11 at Woodbine, but the six-year-old mare wasn't content to sit on her laurels. Instead, she showed up at Keeneland on Friday to upset 3-5 favorite and three-time Grade 1 queen Emollient in the Grade 3, $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes under the hot-riding Stewart Elliot.

    "I had a great trip. She was comfortable the whole way," Elliott stated. "On the far turn, I looked over and saw Mike (Smith on Emollient) and it looked like he was asking her already. I said, 'Man, I got a chance. I still have some horse left.' And I did. She finished up."

    Sisterly Love had one more start on the year than Emollient, who just returned on March 16 to be fourth in Santa Anita Park's Santa Ana following a close run to fill that same spot in last November's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. By comparison, Sisterly Love made her seasonal bow on February 16 in the Bayakoa at Oaklawn Park, finishing a well-beaten sixth, then returned two weeks ago to take a 1 1/16-mile allowance by 2 1/4 lengths on Keeneland's opening day.

    The Mark Casse trainee utilized front-running tactics that day, and attempted to duplicate that effort in the Doubledogdare. The bay mare shot straight to the front from her midpack 7 post but found company in the form of Emollient, who sped up on the outside to race in tandem with Sisterly Love on the backstretch while setting splits of :23 4/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 4/5. The two game mares continued duking it out in the stretch, with Sisterly Love gaining a slim margin over her rival.

    The daughter of Bellamy Road continued to exert herself and widened the advantage, appearing a clear winner briefly before Moment in Dixie came flying from the back of the pack. Sisterly Love just held by a neck on the wire as Moment in Dixie ran out of room in the 8 1/2-furlong Polytrack contest.

    "She came running but it was too late. She ran a very good race," remarked Moment in Dixie's rider, Jose Lezcano.

    Sisterly Love saved ground every step of the way in the Doubledogdare (Keeneland/Oaklawn Park)

    Sisterly Love paid $18 to win as the 8-1 third pick in the 10-distaffer field. Moment in Dixie, sent off the second longest shot on the board at 25-1, had a neck to spare over Emollient, while Strathnaver completed the superfecta another length back in fourth. Finishing the order under the wire were Solid Appeal, Ire, Noble Charlotte, Gold Medal Dancer, Sisterhood and Pearl Turn. Sisterly Love's stablemate Dixie Strike -- who beat the boys last year in the second leg of Canada's Triple Crown, the Breeders' Stakes -- was withdrawn.

    "(I'm) disappointed, the reason being is she's on the surface supposedly that we think she likes a lot," Mike Smith admitted about Emollient. "We got away from the gate really well and she was well within herself around the first turn and down the backside.

    "You know, last year she would have just blown the race open and I was looking for her to do that going into the turn. She just didn't fire her 'A' race at all."

    Now boasting a 7-1-1 mark from 14 career starts, Sisterly Love has banked $427,004 in lifetime earnings. The bay mare earned her recent Sovereign Award by taking the Ontario Matron and Trillium while placing in the Belle Mahone and Houston Ladies Classic last season. Her win in the Doubledogdare could be the start of another award-winning season.

    "I thought Stewart gave her an absolutely beautiful trip today, and he got to save every inch of ground," praised Norman Casse, assistant to his trainer father. "Turning for home, I was pretty confident that we were going to have enough to hold off everybody.

    "It was a little daunting," he added about being challenged by Emollient. "I was happy because as Stewart alluded to, she was comfortable. When she's comfortable, she's tough to beat."

    Bred in Kentucky by Kinsman Farm, Sisterly Love is the first registered stakes winner out of the Dixieland Band mare Odylic and counts as a half-sister the dam of Parranda, this year's scorer of the Suwannee River and Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf.

    Odylic is herself a full sister to Grade 1 winner and successful sire Dixie Brass, as well as a half-sister to another stallion in multiple Grade 2 victor Odyle. This female family is also responsible for Grade 2 winners Private Emblem and Owsley.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Racing Headlines

    Asia Express looking to be first foreign-bred winner of Satsuki Sho

    Sunday's Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese Two Thousand Guineas) at Nakayama Racecourse marks the first colts classic of the year in Japan, and is the opening leg of that country's Triple Crown. Asia Express, surprise winner of last year's Asahi Hai Futurity, looks to become the first foreign-bred horse to win this race.

    A $230,000 OBS March purchase last year, the Henny Hughes chestnut, now owned by Yukio Baba, broke his maiden by five lengths at first asking November 3 over the Tokyo dirt, and three weeks later added an allowance victory over the same course under jockey Ryan Moore, who was also aboard December 15 for the colt's successful switch to the turf in the Asahi Hai. After a winter holiday, Asia Express reappeared in the Spring Stakes over 1800 meters at Nakayama on March 23, finishing second.

    Despite that first blip in the record, trainer Takahisa Tezuka expressed confidence for Sunday's test.

    "He was coming off a layoff," the conditioner noted. "And the jockey was up for the first time. The colt was a little slow to respond in the straight but he quickened nonetheless. He's nice and forward and the track this time of year will suit him."

    Asia Express will have to see off a two-pronged attack from trainer Yasutoshi Ikee. The conditioner saddles To the World, the regally bred favorite. The Carrot Farm colorbearer is by King Kamehameha out of champion To the Victory, and therefore a full brother to multiple Grade 2 winner and dual Grade 1-placed To the Glory. Beaten only on debut and the winner of four straight, To the Glory has twice won over this trip, as his pedigree suggests he would, including a last out win in the Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho Stakes on March 9.

    His stablemate Tosen Stardom is unbeaten in three outings, and has suggested he could be any kind of horse with his rapid progression up the ranks. The son of Deep Impact became a Grade 3 winner last out in the February 9 Kisaragi Sho, but unlike his stablemate, he travels from his home base for the first time, with all three starts having come at Kyoto.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Asia Express looking to be first foreign-bred winner of Satsuki Sho

    Sunday's Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese Two Thousand Guineas) at Nakayama Racecourse marks the first colts classic of the year in Japan, and is the opening leg of that country's Triple Crown. Asia Express, surprise winner of last year's Asahi Hai Futurity, looks to become the first foreign-bred horse to win this race.

    A $230,000 OBS March purchase last year, the Henny Hughes chestnut, now owned by Yukio Baba, broke his maiden by five lengths at first asking November 3 over the Tokyo dirt, and three weeks later added an allowance victory over the same course under jockey Ryan Moore, who was also aboard December 15 for the colt's successful switch to the turf in the Asahi Hai. After a winter holiday, Asia Express reappeared in the Spring Stakes over 1800 meters at Nakayama on March 23, finishing second.

    Despite that first blip in the record, trainer Takahisa Tezuka expressed confidence for Sunday's test.

    "He was coming off a layoff," the conditioner noted. "And the jockey was up for the first time. The colt was a little slow to respond in the straight but he quickened nonetheless. He's nice and forward and the track this time of year will suit him."

    Asia Express will have to see off a two-pronged attack from trainer Yasutoshi Ikee. The conditioner saddles To the World, the regally bred favorite. The Carrot Farm colorbearer is by King Kamehameha out of champion To the Victory, and therefore a full brother to multiple Grade 2 winner and dual Grade 1-placed To the Glory. Beaten only on debut and the winner of four straight, To the Glory has twice won over this trip, as his pedigree suggests he would, including a last out win in the Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho Stakes on March 9.

    His stablemate Tosen Stardom is unbeaten in three outings, and has suggested he could be any kind of horse with his rapid progression up the ranks. The son of Deep Impact became a Grade 3 winner last out in the February 9 Kisaragi Sho, but unlike his stablemate, he travels from his home base for the first time, with all three starts having come at Kyoto.

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    Handle, purses show healthy increases at Oaklawn

    Oaklawn's 2014 live season concluded April 12 with double-digit increases in total handle, average daily handle and average daily purse distribution. Despite racing three fewer days in 2014 compared to 2013, Oaklawn's total handle increased 12 percent to $169,248,051. Average total handle increased 19 percent to $3,318,589.

    Buoyed by an expanded wagering menu which offered additional Superfectas, Pick Threes and a second Pick Four, off-track handle during the 51-day 2014 season saw the largest increase compared to the 54-day 2013 season, with a daily average this year of $2,585,327 compared with $2,040,707 in 2013 -- a 27 percent increase.

    "Racing fans throughout the nation and Arkansas responded to the high quality of racing we were able to offer," said Director of Racing David Longinotti. "Our goal every year is to provide our fans with Thoroughbred racing of the highest quality. These numbers reflect that we are achieving that goal."

    Average daily purse distribution rose from $365,370 in 2013 to $411,071 in 2014, an increase of 13 percent. The season featured two significant purse increases. Maiden special weight races began the year at $55,000 and rose to $60,000 by season's end, with open allowance races beginning at $56,000 and rising to as high as $64,000. Purses for claiming races with a claiming price of $20,000 and higher also saw significant purse increases, as much as $5,000 from the beginning of the season to the end, and the minimum purse also saw increases.

    A season high 63,186 turned out closing day to watch Danza pull a stunning upset in the 78th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby.

    The 2015 race meet is scheduled for January9-April 11.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Handle, purses show healthy increases at Oaklawn

    Oaklawn's 2014 live season concluded April 12 with double-digit increases in total handle, average daily handle and average daily purse distribution. Despite racing three fewer days in 2014 compared to 2013, Oaklawn's total handle increased 12 percent to $169,248,051. Average total handle increased 19 percent to $3,318,589.

    Buoyed by an expanded wagering menu which offered additional Superfectas, Pick Threes and a second Pick Four, off-track handle during the 51-day 2014 season saw the largest increase compared to the 54-day 2013 season, with a daily average this year of $2,585,327 compared with $2,040,707 in 2013 -- a 27 percent increase.

    "Racing fans throughout the nation and Arkansas responded to the high quality of racing we were able to offer," said Director of Racing David Longinotti. "Our goal every year is to provide our fans with Thoroughbred racing of the highest quality. These numbers reflect that we are achieving that goal."

    Average daily purse distribution rose from $365,370 in 2013 to $411,071 in 2014, an increase of 13 percent. The season featured two significant purse increases. Maiden special weight races began the year at $55,000 and rose to $60,000 by season's end, with open allowance races beginning at $56,000 and rising to as high as $64,000. Purses for claiming races with a claiming price of $20,000 and higher also saw significant purse increases, as much as $5,000 from the beginning of the season to the end, and the minimum purse also saw increases.

    A season high 63,186 turned out closing day to watch Danza pull a stunning upset in the 78th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby.

    The 2015 race meet is scheduled for January9-April 11.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Kid Cruz, Oliver Zip highlight Federico Tesio

    Saturday's $100,000 Federico Tesio serves as a local prep for the May 17 Preakness at Pimlico. Deputed Testamony was the last winner to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown in 1983, but five runners have placed since then -- Icabad Crane (2008), Magic Weisner (2002), Oliver's Twist (1995), Rock Point (1989) and Broad Brush (1986) -- and 2011 Tesio runner-up Ruler on Ice came back to win the Belmont Stakes.

    Kid Cruz, who posted a last-to-first victory in the March 8 Private Terms at Laurel Park, is a prime Preakness candidate with a strong showing Saturday. Haltered for $50,000 from a maiden claiming victory in his second career start, the son of Lemon Drop Kid recorded a fast-closing second in an Aqueduct allowance in late January prior to the Private Terms. Trainer Linda Rice entered the improving colt in the April 5 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial but Kid Cruz wound up scratching due to a shoulder strain.

    Listed as the 2-1 morning line favorite among nine rivals, Kid Cruz will return from a 42-day freshening with jockey Julian Pimenthal.

    The connections of Oliver Zip may not have any Preakness aspirations -- the City Zip colt will be making his first start around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile race -- but the Kelly Breen charge merits serious respect following a nose second in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at seven furlongs. The hard-trying chestnut has recorded three wins and three seconds from six career outings, including a convincing score in the Fred "Cappy" Capossela two back, and Oliver Zip is listed as the 5-2 second choice with new rider Sheldon Russell.

    Undertaker, who defeated Kid Cruz in the aforementioned allowance at Aqueduct, will make his stakes debut for trainer John Servis. Kendrick Carmouche will take over the reins on the 5-1 early third choice. Multiple stakes victor Joint Custody, runner-up in the Private Terms and Miracle Wood in his last two outings, is listed at 6-1 with regular rider Wesley Ho.

    Pimlico will offer a total of four $100,000 stakes.

    The Stormy Blues kicks off the stakes action with a field of eight sophomore fillies at five furlongs on turf. Sweet Emma Rose and Tizgale, who both exit optional claiming scores at Gulfstream Park, are top contenders. The Primonetta features eight fillies and mares at six furlongs on the main track. Stakes winner She's Ordained is a slight 5-2 favorite on the morning line, but Do Somethin owns a three-race win streak and figures to attract plenty of support in her stakes debut. The Henry Clark matches a field of 11 older horses at a mile on turf. Nutello, who competed in a pair of Grade 1s and a Grade 3 event after shipping to the United States last summer, will receive some class relief in his 2014 debut for Graham Motion, and two-time Maryland Million Turf hero Roadhog can't be dismissed following a nose second in the Japan Racing Association last out.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Kid Cruz, Oliver Zip highlight Federico Tesio

    Saturday's $100,000 Federico Tesio serves as a local prep for the May 17 Preakness at Pimlico. Deputed Testamony was the last winner to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown in 1983, but five runners have placed since then -- Icabad Crane (2008), Magic Weisner (2002), Oliver's Twist (1995), Rock Point (1989) and Broad Brush (1986) -- and 2011 Tesio runner-up Ruler on Ice came back to win the Belmont Stakes.

    Kid Cruz, who posted a last-to-first victory in the March 8 Private Terms at Laurel Park, is a prime Preakness candidate with a strong showing Saturday. Haltered for $50,000 from a maiden claiming victory in his second career start, the son of Lemon Drop Kid recorded a fast-closing second in an Aqueduct allowance in late January prior to the Private Terms. Trainer Linda Rice entered the improving colt in the April 5 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial but Kid Cruz wound up scratching due to a shoulder strain.

    Listed as the 2-1 morning line favorite among nine rivals, Kid Cruz will return from a 42-day freshening with jockey Julian Pimenthal.

    The connections of Oliver Zip may not have any Preakness aspirations -- the City Zip colt will be making his first start around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile race -- but the Kelly Breen charge merits serious respect following a nose second in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at seven furlongs. The hard-trying chestnut has recorded three wins and three seconds from six career outings, including a convincing score in the Fred "Cappy" Capossela two back, and Oliver Zip is listed as the 5-2 second choice with new rider Sheldon Russell.

    Undertaker, who defeated Kid Cruz in the aforementioned allowance at Aqueduct, will make his stakes debut for trainer John Servis. Kendrick Carmouche will take over the reins on the 5-1 early third choice. Multiple stakes victor Joint Custody, runner-up in the Private Terms and Miracle Wood in his last two outings, is listed at 6-1 with regular rider Wesley Ho.

    Pimlico will offer a total of four $100,000 stakes.

    The Stormy Blues kicks off the stakes action with a field of eight sophomore fillies at five furlongs on turf. Sweet Emma Rose and Tizgale, who both exit optional claiming scores at Gulfstream Park, are top contenders. The Primonetta features eight fillies and mares at six furlongs on the main track. Stakes winner She's Ordained is a slight 5-2 favorite on the morning line, but Do Somethin owns a three-race win streak and figures to attract plenty of support in her stakes debut. The Henry Clark matches a field of 11 older horses at a mile on turf. Nutello, who competed in a pair of Grade 1s and a Grade 3 event after shipping to the United States last summer, will receive some class relief in his 2014 debut for Graham Motion, and two-time Maryland Million Turf hero Roadhog can't be dismissed following a nose second in the Japan Racing Association last out.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Eleven line up for Lexington

    Ami's Holiday is the only Lexington entrant with a shot at getting in the Derby (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)

    Keeneland will play host to the final race in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series when 11 sophomores line up in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington.

    The 1 1/16-mile Polytrack contest will award points on a 10-4-2-1 basis, in line with the prep season races instead of the more lucrative championship series events that were worth 100-40-20-10. Nonetheless, the winner's share of 10 points could make the difference between obtaining a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby and being left in the barn.

    Actually the only one in the field with even a shot at the Derby gate on the first Saturday in May is Ami's Holiday, who earned 10 points for capturing the Grey at Woodbine last October. The Josie Carroll-trained son of Harlan's Holiday has since finished fifth in the Coronation Futurity and third in the Display at the Canadian track. Those two races closed out Ami's Holiday juvenile season, and the bay colt will be making his three-year-old debut in the Lexington.

    Robby Albarado has the call on Ami's Holiday, who will move up to 23rd on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with a win Saturday.

    One of the main contenders in the Lexington is Solitary Ranger, who recorded back-to-back wins at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, including a 4 3/4-length score in the John Battaglia Memorial, before fading to a subpar ninth in the Spiral last out in late March. Florent Geroux has been aboard Solitary Ranger ever since the U S Ranger colt took the Arlington-Washington Futurity last September 7 and retains the mount for trainer Wayne Catalano.

    Mr Speaker is also in with a good chance following a half-length second in the grassy Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park last month. The bay son of Pulpit broke his maiden and captured the Dania Beach in his final two juvenile starts for trainer Shug McGaughey and keeps Jose Lezcano in the irons for this first foray over the synthetic Polytrack.

    Poker Player captured the Bourbon over track and distance last October (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

    Poker Player will be getting the blinkers taken off for the Lexington following a dismal 10th-place effort in the Spiral. Prior to that, the Catalano charge was second in the John Battaglia and took the Bourbon over the track during Keeneland's fall meet. Hot-riding Stewart Elliott, who has been winning at a 24-percent clip at Keeneland, will be in the pilot's seat on the gray son of Harlan's Holiday.

    Divine Oath is putting his unbeaten two-for-two mark on the line in his first all-weather try and at a distance of ground. Previously the Todd Pletcher trainee broke his maiden and took an optional claimer, both at 7 1/2 furlongs on Gulfstream Park's turf. The Broken Vow colt will have regular jockey Javier Castellano holding the reins for the Lexington.

    Dynamic Impact could make some noise in his return to Keeneland's Polytrack Saturday. Last October the Mark Casse runner just missed by a neck against fellow maiden rivals, and recently earned his first victory by that same margin on Oaklawn Park's dirt. The late-blooming son of Tiznow earned a field-best 96 BRIS Speed rating for that initial winning effort and will be guided by Alan Garcia.

    Supermonic just tried Keeneland for the first time in an allowance going the Lexington's 8 1/2-furlong distance and romped home a 7 1/2-length front-running winner. The Pletcher-trained son of Latent Heat stamped himself as one to watch on Saturday as he faces stakes rivals for the first time with Joel Rosario taking the mount.

    The rest of the Lexington field is stakes, and synthetic, debuter Z Lucky; optional claiming scorer Ride Away; and maiden winners Morning Calm and Global Strike.

    While the Lexington is the feature on Saturday at Keeneland, it shares the program with one other graded contest and a stakes event.

    The Grade 3, $150,000 Ben Ali is sandwiched in between the $100,000 Giant's Causeway, which begins the stakes action, and the Lexington. The nine-furlong, main-track contest drew 10 older horses, including Newsdad and Frac Daddy. The former just captured the Pan American at Gulfstream on March 24 and boasts a 2-0-0 mark from three tries at Keeneland, including last year's Fayette.

    Frac Daddy scored an allowance win at Keeneland, just the second victory of his career, last October and is exiting a second in the Maxxam Gold Cup. The Scat Daddy gray has yet to actually earn a stakes win but will be saddled by trainer Kenny McPeek, who has been winning at a 23-percent clip at the current meet.

    Eleven distaffers have been entered for the grassy, 5 1/2-furlong Giant's Causeway.

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    Eleven line up for Lexington

    Ami's Holiday is the only Lexington entrant with a shot at getting in the Derby (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)

    Keeneland will play host to the final race in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series when 11 sophomores line up in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington.

    The 1 1/16-mile Polytrack contest will award points on a 10-4-2-1 basis, in line with the prep season races instead of the more lucrative championship series events that were worth 100-40-20-10. Nonetheless, the winner's share of 10 points could make the difference between obtaining a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby and being left in the barn.

    Actually the only one in the field with even a shot at the Derby gate on the first Saturday in May is Ami's Holiday, who earned 10 points for capturing the Grey at Woodbine last October. The Josie Carroll-trained son of Harlan's Holiday has since finished fifth in the Coronation Futurity and third in the Display at the Canadian track. Those two races closed out Ami's Holiday juvenile season, and the bay colt will be making his three-year-old debut in the Lexington.

    Robby Albarado has the call on Ami's Holiday, who will move up to 23rd on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with a win Saturday.

    One of the main contenders in the Lexington is Solitary Ranger, who recorded back-to-back wins at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, including a 4 3/4-length score in the John Battaglia Memorial, before fading to a subpar ninth in the Spiral last out in late March. Florent Geroux has been aboard Solitary Ranger ever since the U S Ranger colt took the Arlington-Washington Futurity last September 7 and retains the mount for trainer Wayne Catalano.

    Mr Speaker is also in with a good chance following a half-length second in the grassy Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park last month. The bay son of Pulpit broke his maiden and captured the Dania Beach in his final two juvenile starts for trainer Shug McGaughey and keeps Jose Lezcano in the irons for this first foray over the synthetic Polytrack.

    Poker Player captured the Bourbon over track and distance last October (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

    Poker Player will be getting the blinkers taken off for the Lexington following a dismal 10th-place effort in the Spiral. Prior to that, the Catalano charge was second in the John Battaglia and took the Bourbon over the track during Keeneland's fall meet. Hot-riding Stewart Elliott, who has been winning at a 24-percent clip at Keeneland, will be in the pilot's seat on the gray son of Harlan's Holiday.

    Divine Oath is putting his unbeaten two-for-two mark on the line in his first all-weather try and at a distance of ground. Previously the Todd Pletcher trainee broke his maiden and took an optional claimer, both at 7 1/2 furlongs on Gulfstream Park's turf. The Broken Vow colt will have regular jockey Javier Castellano holding the reins for the Lexington.

    Dynamic Impact could make some noise in his return to Keeneland's Polytrack Saturday. Last October the Mark Casse runner just missed by a neck against fellow maiden rivals, and recently earned his first victory by that same margin on Oaklawn Park's dirt. The late-blooming son of Tiznow earned a field-best 96 BRIS Speed rating for that initial winning effort and will be guided by Alan Garcia.

    Supermonic just tried Keeneland for the first time in an allowance going the Lexington's 8 1/2-furlong distance and romped home a 7 1/2-length front-running winner. The Pletcher-trained son of Latent Heat stamped himself as one to watch on Saturday as he faces stakes rivals for the first time with Joel Rosario taking the mount.

    The rest of the Lexington field is stakes, and synthetic, debuter Z Lucky; optional claiming scorer Ride Away; and maiden winners Morning Calm and Global Strike.

    While the Lexington is the feature on Saturday at Keeneland, it shares the program with one other graded contest and a stakes event.

    The Grade 3, $150,000 Ben Ali is sandwiched in between the $100,000 Giant's Causeway, which begins the stakes action, and the Lexington. The nine-furlong, main-track contest drew 10 older horses, including Newsdad and Frac Daddy. The former just captured the Pan American at Gulfstream on March 24 and boasts a 2-0-0 mark from three tries at Keeneland, including last year's Fayette.

    Frac Daddy scored an allowance win at Keeneland, just the second victory of his career, last October and is exiting a second in the Maxxam Gold Cup. The Scat Daddy gray has yet to actually earn a stakes win but will be saddled by trainer Kenny McPeek, who has been winning at a 23-percent clip at the current meet.

    Eleven distaffers have been entered for the grassy, 5 1/2-furlong Giant's Causeway.

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    Midnight Hawk holds class edge in Illinois Derby

    Midnight Hawk will be a strong favorite to take the Illinois Derby (Benoit Photo)

    Midnight Hawk has earned enough points in the "Road to Kentucky Derby" series to compete in the May 3 classic at Churchill Downs, but any potential trip the colt makes to Louisville will involve a pit stop in Chicago on Saturday for the Grade 3, $500,000 Illinois Derby.

    The 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby, the spring meet highlight at Hawthorne, does not offer any qualifying points for Kentucky Derby eligibility, and is now seen as more of a prep for the Preakness on May 17. That was the case last year when Claiborne Farm's gelding Departing used a romping win in the race as a springboard to Pimlico.

    Midnight Hawk's presence at Hawthorne perhaps has something to do with the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby distance, specifically the colt's ability to get it. The son of champion sprinter Midnight Lute has racked up Derby eligibility points with second- and third-place finishes in the Robert B. Lewis, San Felipe and Sunland Derby, but noticeably lost ground late in those races, which were contested at either 1 1/16 miles or 1 1/8 miles.

    Whether or not Midnight Hawk will appreciate the distance of the Illinois Derby, the gray will at least experience some welcome class relief. A winner of his first two starts, including the one-mile Sham at Santa Anita in January, Midnight Hawk has futilely chased the likes of probable Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome, Candy Boy, and Chitu in recent outings.

    Midnight Hawk's most serious rival on Saturday might be Class Leader. The late-blooming Smart Strike colt, from the barn of Neil Howard, makes his stakes debut after back-to-back wins at Fair Grounds, the latter a one-length allowance score on March 13.

    Trainer Todd Pletcher, whose barn has racked up wins in the Florida Derby and Arkansas Derby in recent weeks, has entered King Cyrus and Global Strike. Second in a minor stakes at Calder two back, King Cyrus will add blinkers for the Illinois Derby after a nondescript seventh-place effort in the Louisiana Derby. Global Strike, who is also cross-entered in Saturday's Lexington at Keeneland, is probably better than his last-out sixth in the Sunland Derby would indicate.

    Like Global Strike, the Mark Casse-trained Dynamic Impact was cross-entered in the Lexington. The Tiznow colt needed five starts to break his maiden, but did so over a mile at Oaklawn last time in an effort which garnered a solid 96 BRIS Speed rating.

    The Illinois Derby field is completed by longshots A Step Ahead, Irish You Well, and Emmett Park.

    Recently sixth against a tough field in the Azeri at Oaklawn, Flashy American might move forward in her second start of the season in the Grade 3, $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap over nine furlongs. A three-time stakes winner last season, the five-year-old gray mare also placed in the Shuvee Handicap and Falls City Handicap for trainer Ken McPeek.

    Also entered in this wide-open renewal are Gamay Noir, who upset the Rampart at Gulfstream at odds of 49-1 last time, and Imposing Grace, a recent allowance runner-up who will probably move on to defend her title in next month's Arlington Matron.

    Likely to show speed here are Sonja's Angel, second against optional claiming foes at Gulfstream last out, and Dress the Part, who landed the $50,000 Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs most recently. Todd Pletcher's Brazilian import Ana Luisa and 2012 Canadian classic winner Dixie Strike are also among the eight fillies and mares entered.

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    Midnight Hawk holds class edge in Illinois Derby

    Midnight Hawk will be a strong favorite to take the Illinois Derby (Benoit Photo)

    Midnight Hawk has earned enough points in the "Road to Kentucky Derby" series to compete in the May 3 classic at Churchill Downs, but any potential trip the colt makes to Louisville will involve a pit stop in Chicago on Saturday for the Grade 3, $500,000 Illinois Derby.

    The 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby, the spring meet highlight at Hawthorne, does not offer any qualifying points for Kentucky Derby eligibility, and is now seen as more of a prep for the Preakness on May 17. That was the case last year when Claiborne Farm's gelding Departing used a romping win in the race as a springboard to Pimlico.

    Midnight Hawk's presence at Hawthorne perhaps has something to do with the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby distance, specifically the colt's ability to get it. The son of champion sprinter Midnight Lute has racked up Derby eligibility points with second- and third-place finishes in the Robert B. Lewis, San Felipe and Sunland Derby, but noticeably lost ground late in those races, which were contested at either 1 1/16 miles or 1 1/8 miles.

    Whether or not Midnight Hawk will appreciate the distance of the Illinois Derby, the gray will at least experience some welcome class relief. A winner of his first two starts, including the one-mile Sham at Santa Anita in January, Midnight Hawk has futilely chased the likes of probable Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome, Candy Boy, and Chitu in recent outings.

    Midnight Hawk's most serious rival on Saturday might be Class Leader. The late-blooming Smart Strike colt, from the barn of Neil Howard, makes his stakes debut after back-to-back wins at Fair Grounds, the latter a one-length allowance score on March 13.

    Trainer Todd Pletcher, whose barn has racked up wins in the Florida Derby and Arkansas Derby in recent weeks, has entered King Cyrus and Global Strike. Second in a minor stakes at Calder two back, King Cyrus will add blinkers for the Illinois Derby after a nondescript seventh-place effort in the Louisiana Derby. Global Strike, who is also cross-entered in Saturday's Lexington at Keeneland, is probably better than his last-out sixth in the Sunland Derby would indicate.

    Like Global Strike, the Mark Casse-trained Dynamic Impact was cross-entered in the Lexington. The Tiznow colt needed five starts to break his maiden, but did so over a mile at Oaklawn last time in an effort which garnered a solid 96 BRIS Speed rating.

    The Illinois Derby field is completed by longshots A Step Ahead, Irish You Well, and Emmett Park.

    Recently sixth against a tough field in the Azeri at Oaklawn, Flashy American might move forward in her second start of the season in the Grade 3, $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap over nine furlongs. A three-time stakes winner last season, the five-year-old gray mare also placed in the Shuvee Handicap and Falls City Handicap for trainer Ken McPeek.

    Also entered in this wide-open renewal are Gamay Noir, who upset the Rampart at Gulfstream at odds of 49-1 last time, and Imposing Grace, a recent allowance runner-up who will probably move on to defend her title in next month's Arlington Matron.

    Likely to show speed here are Sonja's Angel, second against optional claiming foes at Gulfstream last out, and Dress the Part, who landed the $50,000 Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs most recently. Todd Pletcher's Brazilian import Ana Luisa and 2012 Canadian classic winner Dixie Strike are also among the eight fillies and mares entered.

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    Game On Dude towers over six rivals in Charles Town Classic

    Game On Dude defeated Clubhouse Ride (outside) and Ron the Greek in last year's Charles Town Classic (Charles Town/Coady Photography)

    After recording his third career win in the Santa Anita H., Game On Dude will invade West Virginia for a title defense in Saturday's Grade 2, $1.5 million Charles Town Classic. The seven-year-old gelding will receive significant class relief in the 1 1/8-mile event, defeating the likes of Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge while posting an outstanding 1 3/4-length victory last time out, and figures to be an overwhelming odds-on favorite in the seven-horse field.

    Game On Dude registered a 106 BRIS Speed rating for his half-length score in last year's Charles Town Classic and received an imposing 108 for the March 8 Big 'Cap. Conditioned by Bob Baffert, the classy son of Awesome Again owns a total of 14 stakes victories and has earned more than $6.1 million during his illustrious career. Game On Dude shows a recent six-furlong bullet work (1:11) in preparation and regular rider Mike Smith will be in for the mount.

    "He's doing really well," Baffert said. "He worked great the other day, and he's happy."

    Multiple stakes victor Long River brings improving form into the race for Kiaran McLaughlin. A nice winner of the January 18 Evening Attire at Aqueduct, the four-year-old son of A.P. Indy exits a neck second to well-regarded stablemate Romansh in the Grade 3 Excelsior on March 22. Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the assignment.

    "Maybe we can sit third, fourth or fifth and make a run," said McLaughlin, who is anticipating a hot early pace. "Game on Dude is obviously the horse to beat and a nice horse. He's coming off a big effort in California but has to fly (to West Virginia_. We're coming off a big effort at Aqueduct. There are a million and five reasons to come. He deserves a chance, and it's a Grade 2, and we're trying to win a graded stakes with our horse. There's no reason not to run."

    Imperative finished ahead of Game On Dude when second at 26-1 odds in the Grade 2 San Antonio two back and will attempt to rebound from a seventh in the Big 'Cap. Kent Desormeaux sticks with the George Papaprodromou-trained gelding.

    Clubhouse Ride finished second to Game On Dude three times last season, including the Charles Town Classic, and returns for another shot at the favorite. However, the Craig Lewis charge will need to turn things around, dropping seven starts in a row, including all three efforts this year. The six-year-old exits a non-threatening third in the March 30 Santana Mile at Santa Anita. The Candy Ride horse keeps Typer Baze in the irons.

    "Chasing (Game On Dude) around the country is like trying to catch the wind," Lewis said. "He's coming up to this as well as I could hope. He's feeling good, acting good."

    Moreno, a nose second in the Travers, will make his first appearance of the year. Scratched from last Saturday's Oaklawn H., the four-year-old gelding has not started since a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Eric Guillot trainee captured the Grade 2 Dwyer last season and the speedster also placed in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and Grade 2 Jim Dandy. Moreno picks up the services of Joel Rosario and figures to break running from post position 2.

    "His pedigree indicates he should be better at four," Guillot said. "He's been working lights out at Santa Anita."

    Multiple Grade 2 runner-up Ruler of Love, fourth when opening 2014 in the March 22 Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs; and local star Lucy's Bob Boy, an eight-time Charles Town stakes winner, round out the field.

    "He kind of accelerates on the turns here while everyone else slows down a little bit," trainer Sandra Dono said of the West Virginia-bred Lucy's Bob Boy. "He might have a little bit of a hometown advantage, but just to run with this class of horses -- like Game on Dude -- is a privilege."

    Two races prior to the Classic, Grade 3 winner Rise Up heads a a field of nine three-year-olds in the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial at seven furlongs. The Tom Amoss-trained colt entered the year on the Kentucky Derby trail but missed the start and never threatened in both outings this year, finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Risen Star and 10th in the Louisiana Derby. The Rockport Harbor colt picks up a new rider in Leandro Goncalves.

    An overflow of 11 fillies and mares, including one also-eligible, were entered to the $200,000 Sugar Maple. Multiple stakes winner My Pal Chrisy, who is cross-entered to Saturday's Grade 2 Distaff H. at Aqueduct, will be the one to beat in the seven-furlong test following a runner-up in the Grade 2 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park.

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    Game On Dude towers over six rivals in Charles Town Classic

    Game On Dude defeated Clubhouse Ride (outside) and Ron the Greek in last year's Charles Town Classic (Charles Town/Coady Photography)

    After recording his third career win in the Santa Anita H., Game On Dude will invade West Virginia for a title defense in Saturday's Grade 2, $1.5 million Charles Town Classic. The seven-year-old gelding will receive significant class relief in the 1 1/8-mile event, defeating the likes of Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge while posting an outstanding 1 3/4-length victory last time out, and figures to be an overwhelming odds-on favorite in the seven-horse field.

    Game On Dude registered a 106 BRIS Speed rating for his half-length score in last year's Charles Town Classic and received an imposing 108 for the March 8 Big 'Cap. Conditioned by Bob Baffert, the classy son of Awesome Again owns a total of 14 stakes victories and has earned more than $6.1 million during his illustrious career. Game On Dude shows a recent six-furlong bullet work (1:11) in preparation and regular rider Mike Smith will be in for the mount.

    "He's doing really well," Baffert said. "He worked great the other day, and he's happy."

    Multiple stakes victor Long River brings improving form into the race for Kiaran McLaughlin. A nice winner of the January 18 Evening Attire at Aqueduct, the four-year-old son of A.P. Indy exits a neck second to well-regarded stablemate Romansh in the Grade 3 Excelsior on March 22. Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the assignment.

    "Maybe we can sit third, fourth or fifth and make a run," said McLaughlin, who is anticipating a hot early pace. "Game on Dude is obviously the horse to beat and a nice horse. He's coming off a big effort in California but has to fly (to West Virginia_. We're coming off a big effort at Aqueduct. There are a million and five reasons to come. He deserves a chance, and it's a Grade 2, and we're trying to win a graded stakes with our horse. There's no reason not to run."

    Imperative finished ahead of Game On Dude when second at 26-1 odds in the Grade 2 San Antonio two back and will attempt to rebound from a seventh in the Big 'Cap. Kent Desormeaux sticks with the George Papaprodromou-trained gelding.

    Clubhouse Ride finished second to Game On Dude three times last season, including the Charles Town Classic, and returns for another shot at the favorite. However, the Craig Lewis charge will need to turn things around, dropping seven starts in a row, including all three efforts this year. The six-year-old exits a non-threatening third in the March 30 Santana Mile at Santa Anita. The Candy Ride horse keeps Typer Baze in the irons.

    "Chasing (Game On Dude) around the country is like trying to catch the wind," Lewis said. "He's coming up to this as well as I could hope. He's feeling good, acting good."

    Moreno, a nose second in the Travers, will make his first appearance of the year. Scratched from last Saturday's Oaklawn H., the four-year-old gelding has not started since a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Eric Guillot trainee captured the Grade 2 Dwyer last season and the speedster also placed in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and Grade 2 Jim Dandy. Moreno picks up the services of Joel Rosario and figures to break running from post position 2.

    "His pedigree indicates he should be better at four," Guillot said. "He's been working lights out at Santa Anita."

    Multiple Grade 2 runner-up Ruler of Love, fourth when opening 2014 in the March 22 Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs; and local star Lucy's Bob Boy, an eight-time Charles Town stakes winner, round out the field.

    "He kind of accelerates on the turns here while everyone else slows down a little bit," trainer Sandra Dono said of the West Virginia-bred Lucy's Bob Boy. "He might have a little bit of a hometown advantage, but just to run with this class of horses -- like Game on Dude -- is a privilege."

    Two races prior to the Classic, Grade 3 winner Rise Up heads a a field of nine three-year-olds in the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial at seven furlongs. The Tom Amoss-trained colt entered the year on the Kentucky Derby trail but missed the start and never threatened in both outings this year, finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Risen Star and 10th in the Louisiana Derby. The Rockport Harbor colt picks up a new rider in Leandro Goncalves.

    An overflow of 11 fillies and mares, including one also-eligible, were entered to the $200,000 Sugar Maple. Multiple stakes winner My Pal Chrisy, who is cross-entered to Saturday's Grade 2 Distaff H. at Aqueduct, will be the one to beat in the seven-furlong test following a runner-up in the Grade 2 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park.

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    Kauai Katie returns in Distaff Handicap

    Kauai Katie's last win came one year ago (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Kauai Katie, unraced since finishing sixth in the Prioress in July, will return to the races on Saturday when she faces an evenly matched field of filly and mare sprinters in Aqueduct's Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap at six furlongs.

    As a two-year-old, Kauai Katie won her first three starts, including the Adirondack and Matron, both Grade 2s. She then tired to fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, the only time in her career she has competed around two turns.

    At three, Kauai Katie easily won the Old Hat, Forward Gal and Road Princess before she stumbled at the start, pressed the pace, and retreated in the stretch when third, beaten seven lengths, as the 8-5 second choice in the Acorn in May at Belmont Park.

    Despite the loss, Kauai Katie went off as the 2-5 favorite in the Prioress at Saratoga. Once again, she tracked the leaders and came up empty in the stretch, finishing last of six, 6 1/4 lengths behind the winner. Following that disappointing effort, the Malibu Moon filly was freshened by trainer Todd Pletcher with the intention of focusing on a four-year-old campaign.

    "It was always planned to come back (in the Distaff); it worked out, timing wise," said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher. "She has been feeling great in the mornings, never missed a step out there. We'll see what happens. This is a difficult spot, but she's a very high-quality filly, and we think she's capable of competing at any level."

    Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez rill ride Kauai Katie, the 3-1 second choice on the morning-line, from post 5.

    La Verdad, also a four-year-old, has won six-of-eight starts, including five-of-six at Aqueduct. In her most recent start, the bay daughter of Yes It's True made quick work of New York-bred competition in the Broadway over the inner track in March. She was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Distaff.

    After finishing fourth in her debut, La Verdad won five straight races before she set the pace and yielded late when second in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap in February at Laurel Park. The front runner found the Broadway to her liking, quickly seizing the lead and never looking back en route to a 3 1/4-length triumph.

    La Verdad cruised over the sloppy Aqueduct surface in the Broadway (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    "She's racing well, but this is a pretty big jump up in company," trainer Linda Rice admitted. "She ran very well (in the Barbara Fritchie), which made me think she deserves another chance in a graded stakes."

    La Verdad, who will be ridden once again by Jose Ortiz, drew post 1 for the Distaff.

    "Jose knows her well, so he'll make the best decision for her," Rice added of La Verdad's draw.

    The lightly raced Bridgehampton will be making her second start of 2014 in the Distaff. Second in the Victory Ride in her sophomore finale, the Bernardini lass made her return in an entry-level allowance over the inner track on March 23, showing speed from the gate, opening a five-length lead in the stretch, and holding on while shortening stride late to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths.

    "I thought it was just what she needed, just what we were looking for," trainer Michael Hushion stated. "We've been pointing for the Distaff for three months. This has been our long-term plan. We've done everything we can to get her a little stronger since (the allowance race). We'll find out at the sixteenth-pole."

    Rajiv Maragh will ride Bridgehampton, drew post 6, for the first time in the Distaff.

    Munnings Sister, who has won five stakes, including three at Belmont Park, returns to New York after competing twice in Florida and making one start in California for trainer Barclay Tagg. She was third in the Sugar Swirl in December and won the Awesome Feather in February before reporting home third in the Las Flores on March 9. The winner of the Las Flores, Judy the Beauty, returned to take Keeneland's Madison last Saturday.

    Luis Saez will ride Munnings Sister, 4-1, from post 4.

    The Distaff field is completed by Miss d'Oro, who was second in last year's Distaff and hasn't raced since finishing fourth in the Vagrancy Handicap in May; Lion D N A, who won a pair of inner track stakes before finishing fifth in a starter allowance February 17; and My Pal Chrisy, who has finished second in three straight races, including the March 22 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park, and is cross-entered to Saturday evening's $200,000 Sugar Maple at Charles Town.

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    Kauai Katie returns in Distaff Handicap

    Kauai Katie's last win came one year ago (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Kauai Katie, unraced since finishing sixth in the Prioress in July, will return to the races on Saturday when she faces an evenly matched field of filly and mare sprinters in Aqueduct's Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap at six furlongs.

    As a two-year-old, Kauai Katie won her first three starts, including the Adirondack and Matron, both Grade 2s. She then tired to fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, the only time in her career she has competed around two turns.

    At three, Kauai Katie easily won the Old Hat, Forward Gal and Road Princess before she stumbled at the start, pressed the pace, and retreated in the stretch when third, beaten seven lengths, as the 8-5 second choice in the Acorn in May at Belmont Park.

    Despite the loss, Kauai Katie went off as the 2-5 favorite in the Prioress at Saratoga. Once again, she tracked the leaders and came up empty in the stretch, finishing last of six, 6 1/4 lengths behind the winner. Following that disappointing effort, the Malibu Moon filly was freshened by trainer Todd Pletcher with the intention of focusing on a four-year-old campaign.

    "It was always planned to come back (in the Distaff); it worked out, timing wise," said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher. "She has been feeling great in the mornings, never missed a step out there. We'll see what happens. This is a difficult spot, but she's a very high-quality filly, and we think she's capable of competing at any level."

    Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez rill ride Kauai Katie, the 3-1 second choice on the morning-line, from post 5.

    La Verdad, also a four-year-old, has won six-of-eight starts, including five-of-six at Aqueduct. In her most recent start, the bay daughter of Yes It's True made quick work of New York-bred competition in the Broadway over the inner track in March. She was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Distaff.

    After finishing fourth in her debut, La Verdad won five straight races before she set the pace and yielded late when second in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap in February at Laurel Park. The front runner found the Broadway to her liking, quickly seizing the lead and never looking back en route to a 3 1/4-length triumph.

    La Verdad cruised over the sloppy Aqueduct surface in the Broadway (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    "She's racing well, but this is a pretty big jump up in company," trainer Linda Rice admitted. "She ran very well (in the Barbara Fritchie), which made me think she deserves another chance in a graded stakes."

    La Verdad, who will be ridden once again by Jose Ortiz, drew post 1 for the Distaff.

    "Jose knows her well, so he'll make the best decision for her," Rice added of La Verdad's draw.

    The lightly raced Bridgehampton will be making her second start of 2014 in the Distaff. Second in the Victory Ride in her sophomore finale, the Bernardini lass made her return in an entry-level allowance over the inner track on March 23, showing speed from the gate, opening a five-length lead in the stretch, and holding on while shortening stride late to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths.

    "I thought it was just what she needed, just what we were looking for," trainer Michael Hushion stated. "We've been pointing for the Distaff for three months. This has been our long-term plan. We've done everything we can to get her a little stronger since (the allowance race). We'll find out at the sixteenth-pole."

    Rajiv Maragh will ride Bridgehampton, drew post 6, for the first time in the Distaff.

    Munnings Sister, who has won five stakes, including three at Belmont Park, returns to New York after competing twice in Florida and making one start in California for trainer Barclay Tagg. She was third in the Sugar Swirl in December and won the Awesome Feather in February before reporting home third in the Las Flores on March 9. The winner of the Las Flores, Judy the Beauty, returned to take Keeneland's Madison last Saturday.

    Luis Saez will ride Munnings Sister, 4-1, from post 4.

    The Distaff field is completed by Miss d'Oro, who was second in last year's Distaff and hasn't raced since finishing fourth in the Vagrancy Handicap in May; Lion D N A, who won a pair of inner track stakes before finishing fifth in a starter allowance February 17; and My Pal Chrisy, who has finished second in three straight races, including the March 22 Inside Information at Gulfstream Park, and is cross-entered to Saturday evening's $200,000 Sugar Maple at Charles Town.

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    Beholder returns in Santa Lucia

    Beholder will use Sunday's Santa Lucia as her tightener in advance of the Ogden Phipps (Breeders' Cup Ltd.)
    Two-time Eclipse Award champion filly Beholder towers over six older fillies and mares in next Sunday's $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on November 1.

    Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm, Beholder is in search of her fourth consecutive win as she preps for the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps at 1 1/16 miles on June 7 at Belmont Park.

    "We were looking for a race to get her started and we felt this would be a good prep for the million dollar race on Belmont Day," Mandella said. "Adding it up, we just didn't want to ship out of town for her first race back. I don't feel she's wound up as tight as she might be, but it should be good enough for now."

    A supplemental entrant at a cost of $1,500, the four-year-old filly by Henny Hughes is in search of her ninth overall win from 13 career starts. A winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in 2012, she was America's Eclipse Award winning two-year-old filly and she was voted Eclipse Champion three-year-old filly for 2013. She has career earnings of $3,075,000 and will be ridden for the fourth time in a row by Gary Stevens.

    A filly blessed with tremendous speed, Beholder has eight works on her Santa Anita tab, dating back to February 26. Her last two moves have come at seven furlongs, more recently clocking 1:27 3/5 on Saturday.

    Lightly-raced Eblouissante, the much-heralded half sister to legendary Zenyatta, has been idle since running second as the 3-5 favorite in a second condition allowance going 1 1/16 miles and will try stakes competition for the second time in her fifth overall start. A fve-year-old mare by Bernardini, she won her first two races -- a maiden special weight on November 16, 2012, at Hollywood Park and a first condition allowance at Santa Anita on January 17, 2013, both at 1 1/16 miles.

    Like Zenyatta, she is trained by John Shirreffs and will be ridden for the second time in a row by Mike Smith. Owned by St. George Farm Racing, LLC, she is 4-2-1-0 with earnings of $77,800.

    The complete field for the Santa Lucia Stakes, to be run as the 8TH race on a nine-race card Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Legacy, Drayden Van Dyke, 117; Moulin de Mougin, Martin Garcia, 117; Beholder, Gary Stevens, 123; Magic Union, Victor Espinoza, 117; Eblouissante, Mike Smith, 117; City At Dawn, Julien Couton, 117, and Irish Presence, Tyler Baze, 117.

    First post time on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. (PDT). Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Beholder returns in Santa Lucia

    Beholder will use Sunday's Santa Lucia as her tightener in advance of the Ogden Phipps (Breeders' Cup Ltd.)
    Two-time Eclipse Award champion filly Beholder towers over six older fillies and mares in next Sunday's $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on November 1.

    Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm, Beholder is in search of her fourth consecutive win as she preps for the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps at 1 1/16 miles on June 7 at Belmont Park.

    "We were looking for a race to get her started and we felt this would be a good prep for the million dollar race on Belmont Day," Mandella said. "Adding it up, we just didn't want to ship out of town for her first race back. I don't feel she's wound up as tight as she might be, but it should be good enough for now."

    A supplemental entrant at a cost of $1,500, the four-year-old filly by Henny Hughes is in search of her ninth overall win from 13 career starts. A winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in 2012, she was America's Eclipse Award winning two-year-old filly and she was voted Eclipse Champion three-year-old filly for 2013. She has career earnings of $3,075,000 and will be ridden for the fourth time in a row by Gary Stevens.

    A filly blessed with tremendous speed, Beholder has eight works on her Santa Anita tab, dating back to February 26. Her last two moves have come at seven furlongs, more recently clocking 1:27 3/5 on Saturday.

    Lightly-raced Eblouissante, the much-heralded half sister to legendary Zenyatta, has been idle since running second as the 3-5 favorite in a second condition allowance going 1 1/16 miles and will try stakes competition for the second time in her fifth overall start. A fve-year-old mare by Bernardini, she won her first two races -- a maiden special weight on November 16, 2012, at Hollywood Park and a first condition allowance at Santa Anita on January 17, 2013, both at 1 1/16 miles.

    Like Zenyatta, she is trained by John Shirreffs and will be ridden for the second time in a row by Mike Smith. Owned by St. George Farm Racing, LLC, she is 4-2-1-0 with earnings of $77,800.

    The complete field for the Santa Lucia Stakes, to be run as the 8TH race on a nine-race card Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Legacy, Drayden Van Dyke, 117; Moulin de Mougin, Martin Garcia, 117; Beholder, Gary Stevens, 123; Magic Union, Victor Espinoza, 117; Eblouissante, Mike Smith, 117; City At Dawn, Julien Couton, 117, and Irish Presence, Tyler Baze, 117.

    First post time on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. (PDT). Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    In brief

    Godolphin's Be Ready (New Approach), who disappointed when trailing home last as the second favorite in Thursday's Craven S. (Eng-G3) at Newmarket, is reported by Godolphin to have suffered an atrial fibrillation, and was set to undergo further cardiac testing on Friday. Be Ready's heart rate had returned to normal Friday, and he was scheduled to undergo a heart scan, amongst other tests, by Celia Marr, a leading specialist in equine internal medicine. Godolphin noted that Be Ready's heart rate will be monitored when he returns to training, and that the condition is not uncommon in racehorses and usually a one-off event...

    David Rock, assistant to trainer Graham Motion, said Daring Dancer (Empire Maker) came out of her victory in Thursday's Appalachian S. (G3) at Keeneland well as she extended her undefeated streak to three. Next for Daring Dancer likely will be the $100,000 Hilltop S. at Pimlico going 1 1/16 miles on the grass on May 16. Jose Hernandez, assistant to trainer Chad Brown, said Appalachian runner-up Sweet Acclaim (Acclamation) and fourth-place finisher Kitten Kaboodle (Kitten's Joy) came out of the race fine and would be headed to New York soon. Also heading to New York is Recepta (Speightstown), who finished third as the favorite in her 2014 debut. "She's OK this morning and ran well for her first start back," trainer Jimmy Toner said. The $200,000 Wonder Again S. at Belmont Park on May 25 is her intended next start...

    The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is donating 45 trees -- and the space to plant them -- to the Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA) to help raise funds for Anna House, Belmont Park's on-track early education center for the children of backstretch workers. For a $100 donation, supporters will receive a certificate and a commemorative card in recognition of their gift, and for an additional $60, a personalized plaque will be displayed on the tree. The mature specimens, a mixture of oaks, elms and maples, will be planted throughout Belmont Park, including one in the children's garden at Anna House that will be dedicated to the memory of owner/breeder Richard Bomze, who died on March 11. Bomze had been a benefactor of the organization since its inception. Anna House is open every day of the year and provides services for approximately 70 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years. Open from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. (EDT) to accommodate the early-morning work schedule of backstretch employees, Anna House offers early childhood literacy, math and science programs and also has an after-school tutoring program for elementary and middle school students. Belmont Park is the first racetrack in the country to provide onsite child care. Anna House opened in 2003 and was named in appreciation of a $1-million donation from Thoroughbred owners Laura and Eugene Melnyk, whose daughter's name is Anna...

    Ten sophomore fillies are set to sprint six furlongs on Saturday in Woodbine's C$125,000 Star Shoot. Madly Truly (Malibu Moon) closed out her juvenile season with a win in the Mazarine (Can-G3) over Woodbine's Polytrack before shipping to Kentucky for a subpar effort in the Golden Rod (G2) on November 30. The Mark Casse trainee returns in the Star Shoot off a more than four-month break and will get Eurico Da Silva aboard. Paladin Bay (Sligo Bay) is also making her sophomore debut in this spot Saturday, having last been seen taking the Ontario Lassie by a neck. The Harold Ladoucer pupil also won the Princess Elizabeth and placed in four other stakes at Woodbine. Regular rider Gerry Olguin has the call on Paladin Bay...

    Dual stakes winner Enterprising (Elusive Quality) heads a field of eight sophomores entered Saturday in Santa Anita Park's $75,000 La Puente going nine furlongs on the turf. The Tom Proctor-trained bay has thus far captured the Pasadena and Eddie Logan over the course and has also placed in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) and California Derby. Jockey Gary Stevens will be back in the irons as Enterprising faces, among others, stakes scorer and recent Pasadena fourth Diamond Bachelor (War Front)...

    A disappointing seventh as the 2-1 favorite in the February 9 Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1), Summer Front (War Front) will look to rebound in Saturday's $100,000 Miami Mile H. (G3) at Calder. The five-year-old Christophe Clement trainee kicked off the season with a victory in the Ft. Lauderdale S. (G2) by three parts of a length, and figures to be a strong favorite to defend his title in the Miami Mile, which he won last year by 1 1/2 lengths. Also in the lineup is Hey Leroy (Any Given Saturday), who pulled off an 11-1 upset of the Appleton S. (G3) at Gulfstream last month in his stakes debut for trainer Manny Azpurua, and Travelin Man (Trippi), a Grade 2 winner on dirt who finished second in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint two back. Csaba (Kitten's Joy), a multiple Grade 3 winner on Calder's main track, is entered for the main track only...

    Keeneland's regular Sunrise Trackside event on Saturday -- which offers activities for all ages beginning at 7 a.m. (EDT) including Breakfast With the Works, children's activities in the Kids Club Corner, guided walking tours of Keeneland and a trackside handicapping seminar -- will offer something special for this upcoming Saturday. The Keeneland Kids Club will host an Easter Egg Hunt on the North Terrace Lawn at 9 a.m., and children will be able to see baby chicks, bunnies and other animals from Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Keeneland is closed on Easter Sunday, April 20.

    Breeding & Sales News

    Speightstown colt blazes fastest quarter at final OBS under tack

    Hip No. 1187, a son of Speightstown consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, agent for Stonestreet Stables, breezed a quarter in :20 3/5 to post the fastest work at the distance at the fourth and final session of the under tack show for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 2014 Spring Sale of Two Year Olds in Training. The chestnut colt, out of Emptythetill (Holy Bull), is a half-brother to dual Grade 3 winner Conveyance (Indian Charlie).

    Two horses worked the quickest eighths in :9 4/5.

    Hip 928, consigned by Dean's List, is a dark bay filly by Freud out of All of Me (Unbridled's Song), who is a daughter of stakes heroine Bold and Gorgeous (Caveat).

    Also getting the same time was a bay colt by Henny Hughes consigned by Whitman Sales, agent. He is out of Brahms Allegro (Brahms), who is a half-sister to stakes-placed Tally Ho Dixie (Dixieland Band).

    Two horses shared honors for the session's fastest three-eighths, stopping the timer in :33 1/5.

    Hip 949, a Mass Media colt consigned by Boutte Sales, agent, was first clocked in the swift time. The dark bay colt is out of Appropre (Kris S.), who is herself a daughter of stakes-placed Appropriately (Wajima).

    Later, Hip 988, consigned by All Dreams Equine, agent, also recorded three furlongs in :33 1/5. The dark bay colt is by Indygo Shiner out of Bexley (Level Sands), who is a half-sister to Grade 2-placed multiple stakes victress Zada Belle (Indian Charlie).

    The workouts were recorded and available on the OBS website, in their entirety or by individual hip number. They are also available for viewing in the video room adjacent to the Horsemen's Lounge in the sales pavilion as well as several kiosks in the lobby and the covered walking ring.

    In-room viewing is available at The Courtyard by Marriott, Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Residence Inn and the Ocala Hilton, plus lounge viewing is available at the Hilton.

    Under tack show results are posted on the OBS website in pdf and Excel format as well as via a sortable master index.

    The Spring sale begins Monday at 10:30 a.m. (EDT). For more information regarding the sale, please call 352-237-2154.

    Racing Headlines

    In brief

    Godolphin's Be Ready (New Approach), who disappointed when trailing home last as the second favorite in Thursday's Craven S. (Eng-G3) at Newmarket, is reported by Godolphin to have suffered an atrial fibrillation, and was set to undergo further cardiac testing on Friday. Be Ready's heart rate had returned to normal Friday, and he was scheduled to undergo a heart scan, amongst other tests, by Celia Marr, a leading specialist in equine internal medicine. Godolphin noted that Be Ready's heart rate will be monitored when he returns to training, and that the condition is not uncommon in racehorses and usually a one-off event...

    David Rock, assistant to trainer Graham Motion, said Daring Dancer (Empire Maker) came out of her victory in Thursday's Appalachian S. (G3) at Keeneland well as she extended her undefeated streak to three. Next for Daring Dancer likely will be the $100,000 Hilltop S. at Pimlico going 1 1/16 miles on the grass on May 16. Jose Hernandez, assistant to trainer Chad Brown, said Appalachian runner-up Sweet Acclaim (Acclamation) and fourth-place finisher Kitten Kaboodle (Kitten's Joy) came out of the race fine and would be headed to New York soon. Also heading to New York is Recepta (Speightstown), who finished third as the favorite in her 2014 debut. "She's OK this morning and ran well for her first start back," trainer Jimmy Toner said. The $200,000 Wonder Again S. at Belmont Park on May 25 is her intended next start...

    The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is donating 45 trees -- and the space to plant them -- to the Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA) to help raise funds for Anna House, Belmont Park's on-track early education center for the children of backstretch workers. For a $100 donation, supporters will receive a certificate and a commemorative card in recognition of their gift, and for an additional $60, a personalized plaque will be displayed on the tree. The mature specimens, a mixture of oaks, elms and maples, will be planted throughout Belmont Park, including one in the children's garden at Anna House that will be dedicated to the memory of owner/breeder Richard Bomze, who died on March 11. Bomze had been a benefactor of the organization since its inception. Anna House is open every day of the year and provides services for approximately 70 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years. Open from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. (EDT) to accommodate the early-morning work schedule of backstretch employees, Anna House offers early childhood literacy, math and science programs and also has an after-school tutoring program for elementary and middle school students. Belmont Park is the first racetrack in the country to provide onsite child care. Anna House opened in 2003 and was named in appreciation of a $1-million donation from Thoroughbred owners Laura and Eugene Melnyk, whose daughter's name is Anna...

    Ten sophomore fillies are set to sprint six furlongs on Saturday in Woodbine's C$125,000 Star Shoot. Madly Truly (Malibu Moon) closed out her juvenile season with a win in the Mazarine (Can-G3) over Woodbine's Polytrack before shipping to Kentucky for a subpar effort in the Golden Rod (G2) on November 30. The Mark Casse trainee returns in the Star Shoot off a more than four-month break and will get Eurico Da Silva aboard. Paladin Bay (Sligo Bay) is also making her sophomore debut in this spot Saturday, having last been seen taking the Ontario Lassie by a neck. The Harold Ladoucer pupil also won the Princess Elizabeth and placed in four other stakes at Woodbine. Regular rider Gerry Olguin has the call on Paladin Bay...

    Dual stakes winner Enterprising (Elusive Quality) heads a field of eight sophomores entered Saturday in Santa Anita Park's $75,000 La Puente going nine furlongs on the turf. The Tom Proctor-trained bay has thus far captured the Pasadena and Eddie Logan over the course and has also placed in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) and California Derby. Jockey Gary Stevens will be back in the irons as Enterprising faces, among others, stakes scorer and recent Pasadena fourth Diamond Bachelor (War Front)...

    A disappointing seventh as the 2-1 favorite in the February 9 Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1), Summer Front (War Front) will look to rebound in Saturday's $100,000 Miami Mile H. (G3) at Calder. The five-year-old Christophe Clement trainee kicked off the season with a victory in the Ft. Lauderdale S. (G2) by three parts of a length, and figures to be a strong favorite to defend his title in the Miami Mile, which he won last year by 1 1/2 lengths. Also in the lineup is Hey Leroy (Any Given Saturday), who pulled off an 11-1 upset of the Appleton S. (G3) at Gulfstream last month in his stakes debut for trainer Manny Azpurua, and Travelin Man (Trippi), a Grade 2 winner on dirt who finished second in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint two back. Csaba (Kitten's Joy), a multiple Grade 3 winner on Calder's main track, is entered for the main track only...

    Keeneland's regular Sunrise Trackside event on Saturday -- which offers activities for all ages beginning at 7 a.m. (EDT) including Breakfast With the Works, children's activities in the Kids Club Corner, guided walking tours of Keeneland and a trackside handicapping seminar -- will offer something special for this upcoming Saturday. The Keeneland Kids Club will host an Easter Egg Hunt on the North Terrace Lawn at 9 a.m., and children will be able to see baby chicks, bunnies and other animals from Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Keeneland is closed on Easter Sunday, April 20.

    Carryover Watch

    For Saturday or Next Raceday

    GULFSTREAM:   Pick 6 -- $5,272,255
    HAWTHORNE:   High 5 -- $40,666
    PIMLICO:   Pick 5 -- $40,168
    CALDER:   Pick 6 -- $13,385

    Results

    NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS

    WO, 7TH, ALW, $100,545, 3YO/UP, 7F, 4-18.
    1—PENDER HARBOUR, g, 6, Philanthropist--Uproar, by Hail the Ruckus. ($15,782 '09 ONTSEP). O-Andrews, Dennis, Lazaruk, Sandra and Giffin, Rob and Roberta, B-Gardiner Farms Limited (ON), T-Michael P. De Paulo, J-Luis Contreras, $64,983.
    5—Chief Thundercloud, g, 6, Indian Charlie--Stormin Weather, by Stormin Fever. ($170,000 '08 KEENOV; $200,000 '09 KEESEP). O-High Five Racing, B-Brereton C Jones & Bill Justice (KY), $13,538.
    3—Sniper, g, 5, Trajectory--Hot Toy, by Silver Charm. O-Minshall, Barbara J and Gomez, Avelino Jr, B-Barbara J Minshall (ON), $11,914.
    Winning Time: 1:22 2/5 (ft)
     
    KEE, 3RD, ALW, $62,400, 3YO, 5 1/2FT, 4-18.
    1—CHART TOPPER, c, 3, Leroidesanimaux (BRZ)--Goodness Unbridled, by Unbridled's Song. ($10,000 '11 KEENOV; $8,000 '12 FTKOCT). O-Span Investments Inc, B-Liberation Farm & Brandywine Farm (KY), T-Brian A. Lynch, J-Julien R. Leparoux, $39,520.
    7—Ry's the Man, g, 3, Officer--Jr. Clare, by Yankee Gentleman. O-Lothenbach Stables, Inc, B-Lothenbach Stables Inc (KY), $12,800.
    6—Sniper (GB), c, 3, Dubawi (IRE)--Anayid (GB), by A.P. Indy. (140,000gns 2013 TATHIT). O-David A Ross Racing Stable, LLC, B-Qatar Bloodstock Ltd (GB), $5,600.
    Winning Time: 1:03 1/5 (fm)
     
    AQU, 2ND, AOC, $62,000, 4YO/UP, F/M, 1M, 4-18.
    3—MISS DA POINT, f, 4, Strong Contender--Long Distance Love, by Dehere. O-Bran Jam Stable and Clark, David W, B-James Roberts (NY), T-John T. Toscano, Jr., J-Emmanuel Esquivel, $37,200.
    1—Carameaway, f, 4, Lawyer Ron--Adorable You, by Grand Slam. O-Richard Greeley, B-Richard Greeley (NY), $12,400.
    1A—Dreaming of Cara, m, 5, North Light (IRE)--Sheboygan, by Quiet American. ($32,000 '10 KEESEP). O-Richard Greeley, B-Berkshire Stud (NY), $6,200.
    Winning Time: 1:36 4/5 (ft)
     
    KEE, 10TH, ALW, $60,000, 4YO/UP, 1 1/16MT, 4-18.
    2—TESSERON, c, 4, Tapit--Cute Cognac, by Hennessy. ($357,000 '11 FTSAUG). O-Donver Stable, B-Magalen O Bryant (KY), T-Josie Carroll, J-John R. Velazquez, $36,000.
    5—Aqtaar, g, 6, Smart Strike--Ashraakat, by Danzig. ($3,000 2011 KEENOV). O-Peitz, Daniel and McCrocklin, Tom, B-Shadwell Farm, LLC (KY), $12,000.
    9—Honor the Kitten, c, 4, Kitten's Joy--Blazing Bliss, by Honour and Glory. O-Ramsey, Kenneth L and Sarah K, B-Kenneth L Ramsey & Sarah K Ramsey (KY), $6,000.
    Winning Time: 1:43 4/5 (fm)
     
    KEE, 7TH, ALW, $59,972, 4YO/UP, 1 1/16MT, 4-18.
    8—RED VINE, c, 4, Candy Ride (ARG)--Murky Waters, by Storm Creek. ($200,000 '11 FTSAUG). O-Kelly, Jon and Sarah, B-Alastar Thoroughbred Co (KY), T-Christophe Clement, J-Joel Rosario, $36,000.
    10—Song to You, c, 4, Unbridled's Song--Lexington Girl, by Storm Cat. O-Mount Brilliant Stable LLC, B-Mount Brilliant Farm & Ranch, LLC (KY), $12,000.
    5—Lurego, c, 4, Borrego--Personal Allure, by Wekiva Springs. O-Four D Stable, B-4-D Stables (KY), $6,000.
    Winning Time: 1:43 2/5 (fm)
     
    KEE, 8TH, ALW, $57,125, 4YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/16M, 4-18.
    1—LADY ROUGE, f, 4, Ghostzapper--Lady Hillingdon, by Vindication. O-Stronach Stables, B-Adena Springs (KY), T-Mark R. Frostad, J-Rosie Napravnik, $32,700.
    2—Lonesome Town, m, 5, Broken Vow--Dreams, by Silver Hawk. O-Robert S Evans, B-R S Evans (KY), $12,400.
    10—Ambusher, f, 4, Stephen Got Even--Competition, by Dixie Union. ($40,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Lothenbach Stables, Inc, B-Robert B Tillyer & Martin J Keogh (KY), $6,200.
    Winning Time: 1:45 3/5 (ft)
     
    AQU, 8TH, ALW, $57,000, 3YO/UP, 1M, 4-18.
    5—PISCESBYMOONLIGHT, g, 6, Empire Maker--Moonlightandbeauty, by Capote. O-Albert Fried, Jr, B-Albert Fried Jr (NY), T-Bruce R. Brown, J-Manuel Franco, $34,200.
    2—Beyond Empire, g, 4, Empire Maker--Intend to Win, by Housebuster. ($115,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Mrs Fitriani Hay, B-Mrs Gerald A Nielsen (NY), $11,400.
    8—Wise Guide, g, 4, Freud--American Journey, by Quiet American. ($35,000 '11 FTNAUG). O-Gumpster Stable LLC, B-Sequel Thoroughbreds LLC &A Lakin & Sons Inc (NY), $5,700.
    Winning Time: 1:36 (ft)
     
    AQU, 7TH, ALW, $57,000, 3YO/UP, 1MT, 4-18.
    7—GOODTOLOOK, g, 4, Disco Rico--Lookstoogood, by Tiger Ridge. ($43,000 2012 FTMMAY). O-Samotowka Stables LLC, Shay, Sean, Bilinski, Darlene and Mullins, Richard, B-Lucia Carroll (NY), T-Gary C. Contessa, J-Luis Saez, $34,200.
    6—Noosh's Tale, c, 4, Tale of the Cat--Upper Noosh, by Red Ransom. O-Fox Ridge Farm, Inc, B-Fox Ridge Farm (NY), $11,400.
    3—Barnards Galaxy, g, 5, Greeley's Galaxy--Town Charmer, by Williamstown. O-Robert Kuzmins, B-Michael McPoland & Sean Finn (NY), $5,700.
    Winning Time: 1:39 2/5 (gd)
     
    PIM, 7TH, ALW, $43,544, 3YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/16MT, 4-18.
    6—SILVER FRAME, f, 4, Northern Afleet--Art Student, by El Prado (IRE). O-William M Backer Revocable Trust, B-William M Backer (VA), T-Jonathan E. Sheppard, J-Alex Cintron, $23,940.
    4—Coco Punch, m, 5, Two Punch--Lady Lear, by Lear Fan. O-Spingler, Mr and Mrs Phil, B-Cynthia Pence & Philip Spingler (MD), $10,364.
    12—Sabouli, m, 5, Lemon Drop Kid--Two Ninety Jones, by Sir Harry Lewis. O-Robert J Sullivan, B-Matecumbe Stable (KY), $4,620.
    Winning Time: 1:48 3/5 (fm)
     
    GP, 5TH, AOC, $42,800, 3YO/UP, 5FT, 4-18.
    5—PETEY CRAMER, g, 6, Mass Media--Miss Woodruff, by Two Punch. ($0 '08 NYBOCT). O-Speranza, Steven and Silver Streak Stables, B-Mark E Kerin (NY), T-Jorge Navarro, J-Elvis Trujillo, $24,150.
    2—Oration, g, 3, Spring At Last--Miz Betty Grace, by Matty G. O-Donarra Thoroughbreds, LLC, B-Donarra Thoroughbreds LLC (FL), $9,750.
    1—At Large, g, 4, Orientate--Catch Me Deputy, by Silver Deputy. ($14,500 '11 OBSAUG; $65,000 2013 OBSJAN). O-Andrew Sulley, B-Oakleaf Farm (FL), $4,875.
    Winning Time: :55 2/5 (gd)
     
    HAW, 5TH, AOC, $32,000, 3YO/UP, 6F, 4-18.
    2—BET SEATTLE, g, 5, Seattle Fitz (ARG)--Second Bet, by Belong to Me. ($1,500 '10 KEEJAN). O-Hugh H Robertson, B-Buck Pond Farm, Inc (KY), T-Hugh H. Robertson, J-Timothy Thornton, $19,200.
    5—W. B. Smudge, g, 5, Grand Reward--Beauty Is, by Personal Flag. O-World Thoroughbreds Racing, Inc, B-World Thoroughbreds Racing Inc (KY), $6,400.
    1—Helooksthepart, g, 4, Songandaprayer--Rathsallagh, by Fusaichi Pegasus. ($15,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Battaglia, Lee and DiVito, James P, B-Ann Marie Farm (KY), $3,200.
    Winning Time: 1:09 1/5 (ft)
     
    PEN, 6TH, ALW, $30,680, 3YO/UP, 1M, 4-17.
    6—SMOKEN LEGACY, g, 5, Smoke Glacken--Seeno, by Encino. ($23,000 '10 KEESEP). O-Kasey K Racing Stable, B-Dr David G Doane & Dr Thomas R Borthwick (KY), T-T. Bernard Houghton, J-David Cora, $17,700.
    2—Badstormrising, g, 4, Cat Thief--Risingalma, by Risen Star. O-Paladin Racing, Inc, B-Paladin of PA, Inc (PA), $7,080.
    8—Minescape, h, 5, Mineshaft--Konvincha, by Cormorant. ($40,000 '10 KEESEP). O-Ray M Pennington, III, B-Liberation Farm & Brandywine Farm (KY), $3,245.
    Winning Time: 1:39 1/5 (ft)
     
    HAW, 7TH, ALW, $29,000, 3YO/UP, 1 1/16M, 4-18.
    8—URBAN COOL, g, 3, City Zip--Modjadji, by Pioneering. O-Carson Springs Farm, B-Carson Springs Farm (IL), T-Christine K. Janks, J-Christopher A. Emigh, $17,400.
    1—Tactics Best, g, 5, Cherokee Rap--Wildwood Tactics, by Native Tactics. O-Barlas, Jean and Ted, B-William P Stiritz (IL), $5,800.
    2—Twisted Thoughts, g, 3, Songandaprayer--Icy Mocha, by Alaskan Frost. O-Danalisa Racing Stable, Inc, B-Dana Waier Thoroughbreds, LLC (IL), $2,900.
    Winning Time: 1:45 (ft)
     
    TAM, 7TH, ALW, $21,400, 4YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/16M, 4-18.
    4—REAL GOOD TIME, f, 4, Hard Spun--Sunbeam Music, by Fly So Free. O-Ramsey, Kenneth L and Sarah K, B-Elizabeth Jones Valando (KY), T-Wesley A. Ward, J-Pablo Morales, $12,600.
    2—Solitary Life, f, 4, Grand Slam--Lonely Fact, by Known Fact. O-Niall Racing, B-Donard H Niall & Michael L Niall (KY), $4,410.
    3—Sing Me a Lullaby, m, 6, Sweetsouthernsaint--Hurdy Gurdy, by In Reality. ($2,500 2010 OBSAPR). O-Robert A Meier, B-Ocala Stud (FL), $2,710.
    Winning Time: 1:46 3/5 (sy)
     
    LS, 7TH, ALW, $21,000, 3&4YO, 7F, 4-17.
    10—LITTLE KINKAID, g, 4, My Golden Song--Cats Meow, by Storm Cat. ($2,700 '11 TEXAUG). O-William E Goss, B-Clarence Scharbauer Jr (TX), T-Karl Broberg, J-Glen Murphy, $12,300.
    3—Early Hot Water, g, 3, Early Flyer--Aguascalientes, by Captain Bodgit. O-Kenneth W Murphy, B-Kenneth Murphy (TX), $4,100.
    5—Salt Lake Flyer, c, 4, Early Flyer--Salt Cedar, by Salt Lake. ($4,200 '11 HEROCT). O-Del Viento Racing LLC, B-Burnett Ranches LLC (TX), $2,255.
    Winning Time: 1:25 (ft)
     
    FL, 7TH, ALW, $20,854, 3YO/UP, 4 1/2F, 4-18.
    4—SNEAKIN THE GOLD, g, 8, Gold Token--Sneaky Partner, by Partner's Hero. O-James S Acquilano, B-Ryan Jolley & Melody Jolley (FL), T-James S. Acquilano, J-Michael A. Davila, Jr., $11,580.
    1A—Frisky Warrior, g, 5, Desert Warrior--Let's Roll Lady, by Maria's Mon. O-Ralph D'Alessandro, B-Ted Taylor Thoroughbreds (NY), $4,850.
    3—Meet the Mets, g, 4, Grand Slam--Hey Darla, by Evansville Slew. ($145,000 '11 FTMOCT; $100,000 '11 FTNAUG). O-Cecil H Fiske, B-Pegasus Farms, Inc (NY), $2,420.
    Winning Time: :53 (ft)
     
    FL, 6TH, ALW, $20,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 4 1/2F, 4-18.
    7—CRYSTAL MARKET, f, 4, After Market--Crystal Sweet, by Holy Bull. ($2,500 '11 FTMOCT). O-Nat Krohn, B-Establo Madoca Corp (NY), T-Adrianne Rohena, J-Charlie Amaro, $12,000.
    6—Comity, m, 5, Lion Hearted--Tickles, by Cure the Blues. O-Sheila Sherry, B-Dr Herb Sherry (NY), $4,000.
    3—Acrobatic Tactic, f, 4, Hook and Ladder--Thetactics Ofdance, by Tactical Advantage. O-Kathryn Wright, B-Wachtel Stable & Preferred Advocates LTD (NY), $2,000.
    Winning Time: :53 3/5 (ft)
     
    TDN, 7TH, ALW, $19,500, 3YO/UP, 5 1/2F, 4-18.
    8—DANCE IDOL, g, 5, Good Reward--Affirmed Dancer, by Affirmed. O-Rusty Taylor, B-Tracy Farmer (KY), T-Kenneth W. Marshall, J-Jareth Loveberry, $11,700.
    4—Judge Carr, g, 4, Mizzen Mast--Gone to Party, by All Gone. ($25,000 '11 BESOCT; $75,000 2012 BESMAR). O-Loooch Racing Stable, Inc, B-Louis Neve (CA), $3,900.
    10—Carnbrea'sdestiny, g, 4, Dance to Destiny--Carn Brea, by Tethra. O-Charlie J Williams LLC, B-George Tharrenos (ON), $1,950.
    Winning Time: 1:05 3/5 (ft)

    Features

    DEROSA'S BLOG

    APRIL 19, 2014

    Weekend Selections: Derbys, Classics, Stakes, Money

    by Ed DeRosa

    The heavy lifting for the Kentucky Derby is complete, but there are still plenty of boxes to move around this weekend, including the final Lucky 7s promotion, the final chance to earn a share in our $10,000 Kentucky Derby SHOWdown promotion, a possible Kentucky Derby starter running as the favorite in the Illinois Derby, and a 1-million points promo on the all-stakes Pick 4 Saturday night at Charles Town for its $1.5 million Classic featuring Game On Dude.

    I'll yield to Dick Powell on the Australia picks, but I'm loaded for bear in the other spots. Check out these clever opinions:

    In the Lexington, I feel some allegiance to Divine Oath, who I'd have loved in the Blue Grass if he had drawn in, and even though I lose some price, I like a now horse for this race in a division that has been pretty plain overall. Other variables in Divine Oath's favor is that I like Broken Vow on the Polytrack, and I like that Divine Oath has won both his races with different running styles. I'll also use Poker Player and Ami's Holiday in multis with a slight preference for the latter, who makes his three-year-old debut after burning some money at the end of his two-year-old season, but any improvement as a fresh horse fits with these.

    I will not try to beat Midnight Hawk in the Illinois Derby. Taking a frequent bridesmaid at a short price can be perilous, but I prefer to view him as a class dropper who's not having to face the likes of Chitu or Candy Boy in this spot. Plus his speed fits the Hawthorne profile, which has had 59 percent "E" or "E/P" type winners when routing.

    Kicking off the graded stakes double at Hawthorne is the Sixty Sails Stakes, and I like jockey Martin Garcia in there as well (he also rides Midnight Hawk) aboard #1 Sonja's Angel. The 1 1/8 miles is a concern, but anything better than 3-1 on her compensates us for that question, and as long as she's forwardly placed enough breaking from the rail not to get shuffled back, I like her chances to get the trip with a ground-saving trip.

    Hopefully we'll have enough money left for nighttime racing, and the strong 14-race card at Charles Town, and I'll say the same thing about its feature as I did about Hawthorne's: I'm not going to try to beat Game On Dude here.

    Thankfully, there is other value in this Pick 4, starting with the Confucius Say Stakes where In Fairway is the most-likely winner, but #3 Figpen and #9 Allegheny Jack both entice in the $20 range. Figpen returns to a fast track and has gone gate-to-wire at this trip before while Allegheny Jack cuts back and appears to be in career-best form following a layoff.

    In the Hinton for three-year-olds, I'm divorcing Rise Up who disappointed in both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby and now looks to be a short price. Germaniac has disappointed in his last two starts as well, but a return to winter form following a slight freshening gets the job done at 4-1.

    If you want to brush up on your Derby info among all this action from Friday night (Australia) and on into Saturday, then check out Brisnet.com's Kentucky Derby contender and Kentucky Oaks contender PPs.

    KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

    APRIL 18, 2014

    by James Scully

    A Derby decision is still pending for Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

    The Blue Grass went to a logical winner, synthetic/turf horse Dance With Fate, who is on the fence for the Kentucky Derby, but the Arkansas Derby outcome was impossible to predict as Danza rolled home at 41-1.

    Trainer Peter Eurton brought no Derby aspirations into the Blue Grass, consistently questioning Dance With Fate's dirt ability before and after the race, and the colt's connections are going to wait until next week to make a final decision. I expect them to opt for the Run for the Roses -- Dance With Fate's late running style figures to be the deciding factor in a speed-laden field.

    Danza's effort came out of nowhere but was easy to admire. The Todd Pletcher trainee netted a 104 BRIS Speed rating for the 4 3/4-length decision, one of the top numbers in the Derby field, but he is a candidate for a regression following the career-best performance.

    I'll review both races and offer a prediction for the final scoring prep this weekend.

    Blue Grass

    Dance With Fate improved upon a narrow runner-up in the February 15 El Camino Real Derby on Tapeta, registering a second straight century-topping BRIS Late Pace rating as well as a career-best 99 Speed rating in the Blue Grass. Despite a solid pedigree for dirt tracks, he's run faster on turf and all-weather than in two dirt attempts.

    Eurton has explained as much, noting that Dance With Fate packs a more powerful punch on synthetics because the ground doesn't give way for him like dirt does. The conditioner wasn't keen about coming back on three weeks' rest, mentioning the May 17 Preakness as a more viable target for joining the Triple Crown chase, but the allure of the Derby could prove impossible to overcome for the colt's connections.

    Dance With Fate rated near the back during the early stages of the Blue Grass and was still 11th with three-eighths of a mile remaining. Jockey Corey Nakatani swung him extremely wide nearing the conclusion of the far turn and the dark bay colt responded with an outstanding turn of foot, blowing past Medal Count in midstretch to win going away by 1 3/4 lengths.

    Dance With Fate shipped back to California on Monday and if the race doesn't take too much out of him, the argument can be made that the Blue Grass winner deserves to be in the Kentucky Derby. Nakatani pointed out how the Churchill Downs main track can play favorably to some turf horses -- "He seems to do well on the grass, and at Churchill, I've won the (Kentucky) Oaks on a filly that won on the grass (Pike Place Dancer in 1996) so hopefully we'll get (Dance With Fate) there after this race."

    Animal Kingdom raced exclusively on turf and synthetics prior to his 2011 Derby victory and similar types such as Dullahan (2012) and Paddy O'Prado (2010) have placed in recent years. Those examples help make the case for Dance With Fate's involvement as well as the expected pace scenario -- the opening half-mile has been :45 1/5 the last two years and could be extreme again this year.

    Dance With Fate will be an outsider if his connections opt for the Derby. I don't expect to see him thrive over the main track at Churchill Downs but stranger things have happened.

    Blue Grass runner-up Medal Count is confirmed. By Dynaformer, sire of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, Medal Count is based at Churchill Downs with Dale Romans and has really come on in his last two starts on Keeneland's Polytrack, recording a sharp victory in the off-the-turf Transylvania before wheeling back eight days later in the Blue Grass.

    The bay colt broke his maiden over the main track at Ellis but will need to improve significantly upon his last two dirt efforts, recording unplaced efforts in the Fountain of Youth and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. However, the late runner caught a speed-favoring track at Gulfstream earlier this year and his form appears much improved now.

    Don't know whether Medal Count is good enough -- his numbers aren't among the best in the field -- and it will be important to follow his progress over the next couple of weeks. But I'm looking at him as an intriguing option for the exotics.

    Arkansas Derby

    Danza made two starts last year, breaking his maiden at 5 1/2 furlongs before recording a close third in the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special, and the chestnut son of sprinter Street Boss was no factor opening the year in a seven-furlong optional claimer, finishing 7 1/2 lengths back of stablemate Anchor Down, who is currently sidelined.

    One of only two runners higher than 10-1 in the eight-horse Arkansas Derby field, Danza paid $84.60 after easily winning his two-turn bow. He broke from the innermost post position and hugged the rail throughout the 1 1/8-mile event, stalking up close in third before slipping through an opening entering the stretch.

    Ahead by 1 1/2 lengths with an eighth of a mile remaining, Danza continued to widen his advantage to the finish line. He turned in a huge performance.

    Joe Bravo rode the chestnut colt and hopes to keep the mount for the Derby, but Javier Castellano is waiting in the wings without an assignment following this week's defection of Constitution. Castellano rode Danza in his first two starts.

    Pletcher was considering both the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby before opting for the latter.

    "We were searching for the right race and the right option," the trainer said, "and it seemed like the Arkansas Derby was the race for us to step out and take our shot. We're certainly very excited that we did and very proud of the way the horse ran today."

    Danza surprised everybody and the term "bounce" will be bandied about regarding his chances in the Derby. He benefited from a perfect trip, with pacesetter Bayern drifting several paths off the rail leaving the bend, and figures to face greater adversity in the 20-horse Derby field.

    I'll be surprised to see him play a major role next time but won't dismiss Danza's chances for a minor award. He will settle off the pace before looking to rally and has been able to improve his position in the stretch run of all four career starts, registering a 106 Late Pace rating in the Arkansas Derby.

    Out of a French Deputy mare, Danza is bred for the distance on his dam's side -- half-brother Majestic Harbor recently captured the 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita -- but the grueling nature of the 1 1/4-mile test could prove too much too soon for the lightly-raced colt. Animal Kingdom became the first Derby winner with only four starts beforehand (Big Brown won with just three in 2008) and Sunland Derby winner Chitu is the only other confirmed Derby horse this year with such limited experience.

    Ride On Curlin closed belatedly to outfinish Bayern for second and will head to the Derby off three consecutive stakes placings, recording a pair of troubled thirds in the Rebel and Southwest. Conditioned by Billy "Bronco" Gowan, the hard-knocking colt settled nicely near the tail of the field Saturday after being forwardly placed in his three previous outings and the grinder figures to employ similar tactics in the Derby.

    Picking up the services of Calvin Borel won't help his price -- the Hall of Famer has captured three of the last seven runnings -- and Ride On Curlin has failed to earn a triple-digit Speed rating in his last seven starts. Others look faster than him but Ride On Curlin remains a possible exotics player.

    Bayern is under consideration but needs help qualifying with only 20 points (currently 26th on the leaderboard). The lightly-raced colt missed a scheduled start in the March 8 San Felipe due to a foot bruise and came up a little short after establishing a reasonable pace in the Arkansas Derby, but he figures to benefit from the first stakes attempt.

    Bob Baffert could point Bayern toward the Preakness.

    Tapiture failed to fire after advancing into a striking position at the head of the stretch. He was making his first start at nine furlongs and rates as a poor candidate to handle the added ground in the Derby.

    Preview

    Saturday's Lexington at Keeneland offers a total of 17 points (10 to the winner) and probably won't have any impact upon the Derby. Grey winner Ami's Holiday, a 10-1 outsider in his first start of 2014, is the only horse with any points in the field and would move to 23rd on the list with an upset.

    Global Strike is cross-entered to the Illinois Derby and figures to scratch after drawing post 11 in the Lexington, but there is still plenty of speed in the line-up.

    Divine Oath and Mr Speaker both look dangerous and figure to compete for favoritism, but I'll take a shot with Poker Player, who was never a factor following a slow start in the Spiral but returns to his favorite track Saturday.

    The Wayne Catalano charge offered an eye-catching move on the far turn of last year's off-the-turf Bourbon on Keeneland's Polytrack, winning by a length in a 13-horse field and rebounds Saturday at a decent price (10-1 morning line).

    The focus shifts to Derby contenders next week.

    Kentucky Derby Top 10

    1. California Chrome -- Derby favorite will continue to train at Los Alamitos for Sherman before shipping the week of the race.
    2. Hoppertunity -- Six of the last 13 Derby winners dropped final prep; stalker rates as serious contender for three-time Derby victor Baffert.
    3. Wicked Strong -- Turned things around in Wood and will be running late at Churchill Downs.
    4. Samraat -- Sustained first loss but Wood could continue to move him up; will look to challenge from midpack.
    5. Cairo Prince -- Lacked a rally following two-month freshening in Florida Derby but candidate to rebound for McLaughlin.
    6. Intense Holiday -- Couldn't catch front-running winner but solid effort for second in Louisiana Derby.
    7. Medal Count -- Like the progress he's making for Romans; moves up if he trains forwardly at Churchill.
    8. Ride on Curlin -- Hard-trying sort picks up the services of three-time Derby winner Calvin Borel.
    9. Candy Boy -- Similar to Cairo Prince, didn't fire following two-month hiatus but could show more in Louisville.
    10. Danza --  Exits a commendable win in Arkansas Derby but Pletcher trainee is still light on experience.

    North American Maiden Winners
    Bring the Heat--Heads Will Roll (GB) (G3), by Efisio (GB); GOODBYE SORROW, f, 2, GP, Msw, 4-18, 4 1/2f, :53 . B-Wesley Ward (FL.).
    Awesome Again--Orate by A.P. Indy; AGAINSOME, c, 3, AQU, Mcl 35000, 4-18, 1m, 1:36 . B-Claiborne Farm (KY.). $400,000 '12 KEESEP.
    Capsized--Series of Dreams by Aptitude; CRAFTY REGAN, f, 3, GG, Mcl 12500, 4-18, 6f, 1:13 . B-M.A. Douzos & Gil Matos (CA.).
    Corinthian--Blue Warbler by More Than Ready; BLUE STAGE, g, 3, LS, Mcl 7500, 4-17, 6f, 1:12 2/5. B-Patinack Farm (KY.). $11,000 '12 FTKOCT; $25,000 2013 TEXMAR.
    Disco Rico--Nautical Agent by Victory Gallop; STATION CHIEF, c, 3, AQU, Msw, 4-18, 5 1/2f, 1:04 2/5. B-Clay Street Associates, LLC (NY.). $27,000 2013 FTMMAY.
    Double Honor--Smart Secretary by Bertrando; DOUBLE SECRET, f, 3, TAM, Msw, 4-18, 6f, 1:11 . B-Southern Cross Farm (FL.). $5,000 '12 OBSAUG.
    Ecclesiastic--Special Package by Mojave Moon; EZEEKLEYZEE, f, 3, PEN, Mcl 7500, 4-17, 6f, 1:13 4/5. B-Joseph Besecker (PA.).
    Fear the Cape--Saratoga Sky by Peaks and Valleys; FEARLESS ANGEL, f, 3, CT, Mcl 10000, 4-17, 6 1/2f, 1:24 2/5. B-Harry Joe Painter & Dr. Alison Kate Painter (WV.).
    Garnered--Chloe by Cryptoclearance; CARROW GRAIE, f, 3, CT, Mcl 10000, 4-17, 6 1/2f, 1:23 4/5. B-Rene K. Moore (WV.). *1/2 to Commodore Way ($296,519).
    Giant's Causeway--Open Story by Open Forum; TEMPER, f, 3, KEE, Msw, 4-18, 6 1/2f, 1:18 1/5. B-Mckee Stables, Inc (KY.). $52,000 2013 OBSJUN.
    Graeme Hall--Family Honor by Mr. Prospector; HONOR GRAEME, f, 3, HAW, Mcl 17500, 4-18, 6f, 1:13 . B-Edward A. Seltzer & Beverly Anderson (FL.). $27,000 '12 OBSAUG.
    Hear No Evil--Sweet Lady Jane by Who's Fleet; SWEEBLE, f, 3, TAM, Mcl 12500, 4-18, 5 1/2f, 1:05 2/5. B-Kevin O'Gorman (FL.). $12,000 '12 OBSAUG.
    Kitalpha--Race the Breeze by Theatrical (IRE); RACING BREEZY, c, 3, TAM, Mcl 32000, 4-18, 1 1/16mT, 1:45 1/5. B-Aschinger Bloodstock, LLC (KY.).
    Limehouse--Grand Slalom by Broad Brush; MOUNTAIN SPRITE, f, 3, PIM, Mcl 25000, 4-18, 5fT, 1:01 . B-Rosalee C. Davison Revocable Trust (KY.).
    Luftikus--Melody Queen (GB) (MG1P$325,587), by Merdon Melody (GB); KING LUFTY, g, 3, CT, Mcl 10000, 4-17, 7f, 1:29 2/5. B-Nellie M. Cox & Rose Retreat Farm (VA.).
    Milwaukee Brew--Matching Sox by Tale of the Cat; TWO BREWS TO GO, f, 3, WO, Msw, 4-18, 6f, 1:11 3/5. B-Mike Ambler (ON.). *1/2 to Double Malt (MSW$343,866) *1/2 to Posh Sox ($260,209).
    More Than Ready--Robyns Tune by Robyn Dancer; YOU BE READY, f, 3, PEN, Mcl 12500, 4-18, 1m, 1:41 4/5. B-Smart Angle (PA.). $47,000 '12 FTMOCT.
    My Friend Max--Miss Flit n Flot by Leestown; MY FLIT N FLOT, g, 3, EVD, Mcl 7500, 4-17, 7f, 1:26 3/5. B-Gerald L Averett (LA.).
    Purim--Kith n Kin (IRE) by Spinning World; PROFLUENT, r, 3, PIM, Msw, 4-18, 6f, 1:12 2/5. B-Runnymede Farm Inc. & The Peter J. Callahan Revocable Trust (KY.). $18,000 '12 FTKOCT; $115,000 2013 FTMMAY.
    Put It Back--Karousel Karen by My Prince Charming; SHAKEDOWN SISTER, f, 3, EVD, Msw, 4-17, a1mT, 1:37 3/5. B-Robert McDowell & Charles DeCou (LA.). $11,000 '12 OBSJAN; $52,000 2013 OBSAPR.
    Quinton's Gold--Wild for Jeanne by Wild Zone; MISSING WHO, g, 3, SRP, Mcl 6500, 4-18, 4 1/2f, :52 4/5. B-Sam E. Stevens & Sammy L Stevens (NM.).
    Ready's Image--Cuccinella by Boundary; SATYRICON, g, 3, CT, Mcl 5000, 4-17, 6 1/2f, 1:22 . B-Germania Farm (KY.).
    Roaring Fever--Queen in Waiting by Sea Salute; SHANGALOO, f, 3, FL, Msw, 4-18, 4 1/2f, :53 . B-Carl Buhr (NY.).
    Rock Hard Ten--Celtic Sunshine by Victory Gallop; TEN HARD WAYS, f, 3, LS, Msw, 4-17, 1mT, 1:37 1/5. B-T/C Stable, LLC & Mercedes Stable (KY.). $8,000 '12 FTKOCT.
    Sabre d'Argent--Looks Like a Lady by Proud Truth; ISN'T SHE LOVEY, f, 3, CRC, Mcl 12500, 4-18, 1m, 1:44 3/5. B-Gilbert G. Campbell (FL.).
    Scat Daddy--Kiss the Breeze by Kafwain; SCAT DADDYS BREEZE, f, 3, GP, Mcl 12500, 4-18, 6f, 1:11 2/5. B-The Elkstone Group LLC (KY.). $50,000 '12 FTKOCT.
    Scat Daddy--Concorde Escapade by Wild Escapade; SCATCAPADE, f, 3, GP, Msw, 4-18, 1mT, 1:35 4/5. B-Patricia Generazio (FL.).
    Siberian Summer--Recklesswarrant by Candi's Gold; SUMMER STORY, g, 3, GG, Mcl 12500, 4-18, 5f, :58 3/5. B-Andy Mathis (CA.).
    Thisnearlywasmine--Count Me Twice by Alymagic; COUNT ON YOU, g, 3, GG, Mcl 8000, 4-18, 1m, 1:41 3/5. B-Daehling Ranch LLC (CA.).
    Too Much Bling--Dream a Bit by Slew City Slew; DREAM BLING, f, 3, TDN, Msw, 4-18, 5 1/2f, 1:06 3/5. B-Blazing Meadows Farm (OH.).
    Will He Shine--Louisiana Lace by Cuvee; CONTRARIAN BET, g, 3, EVD, Mcl 7500, 4-17, 5 1/2f, 1:05 2/5. B-Northpointe Thoroughbreds (LA.).
    El Corredor--Code Name Cassie by Partner's Hero; COVER OF DARKNESS, g, 4, PEN, Msw, 4-17, 6f, 1:11 3/5. B-Joseph Besecker (PA.). $47,000 '11 OBSAUG; $22,000 2013 KEENOV.
    Empire Maker--Girl of Gold by Seeking the Gold; SEEKING AN EMPIRE, g, 4, CT, Msw, 4-17, 7f, 1:28 4/5. B-Dr. & Mrs. Walter Zent & Tony Holmes (KY.). $80,000 '11 KEESEP.
    Fusaichi Pegasus--Tiz the Day by Tiznow; TIZ PEGGY, f, 4, FON, Mcl 10000, 4-18, 1m 70y, 1:49 2/5. B-D.D.L.M. Thoroughbreds (KY.). $10,000 '11 KEESEP.
    Gottcha Gold--M and M Machine by Bucksplasher; AMERICAN PIASA, g, 4, HAW, Mcl 15000, 4-18, 1m 70y, 1:47 2/5. B-Moises Yanez (IL.).
    Midnight Lute--Ivy's Jewel by Rizzi; MIDNIGHT LURE, g, 4, EVD, Mcl 15000, 4-17, 1m, 1:40 1/5. B-Michele Rodriguez (LA.).
    Monarchos--Runaway Princess by Runaway Groom; RUN FOR THE MONEY, f, 4, WO, Mcl 12500, 4-18, 5f, :59 4/5. B-Parrish Hill Farm (KY.).
    Read the Footnotes--Decapolis by Glomar; PEGASUS T, g, 4, AQU, Mcl 25000, 4-18, 6f, 1:11 3/5. B-Sequel Stallions New York LLC & Pegasus Farms, Inc. (NY.).
    Scorpion--Stack Ana by Stack; MRS LOUD MOUTH, f, 4, TAM, Mcl 8000, 4-18, 6f, 1:12 2/5. B-Santa Cruz Ranch Inc. (FL.).
    Simon Pure--Notable Obsession by Unaccounted For; SIMON'S HOPE, g, 4, TAM, Mcl 12500, 4-18, 7f, 1:25 4/5. B-Luisa Degwitz (FL.).
    Sweet Return (GB)--Punnichy by Mizzen Mast; PURE SWEETNESS, f, 4, FL, Mcl 5000, 4-18, 4 1/2f, :54 3/5. B-Red Oak Stable (FL.).
    Tapit--Le Marais by Unbridled's Song; SEDA FRANCESA (ARG), f, 4, GP, Msw, 4-18, 1mT, 1:35 1/5. B-Mt. Brilliant Farm LLC (ARG.).
    Tin Can Sailor--Devons Super Lady by Devon Lane; VONDALE, f, 4, SRP, Msw, 4-18, 4 1/2f, :52 1/5. B-Dee Mooring (NM.). $1,500 '11 RUIAUG.
    War Front--High Savannah (GB) by Rousillon; DECAMP, g, 4, KEE, Msw, 4-18, 1 3/16m, 1:58 4/5. B-Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider (KY.). *1/2 to Lady in Waiting (GB) (G2) *1/2 to Savannah Bay (GB) (G3) *1/2 to Grassy (MG2$573,624).
    War Pass--America's Queen by Pleasant Colony; WARSHOW, c, 4, TDN, Mcl 4000, 4-18, 6f, 1:12 4/5. B-Courtlandt Farm (KY.).
    March Time--Fager Fleet by Afleet; ARTIFICIAL DIAMOND, m, 5, FON, Msw, 4-18, 6f, 1:16 2/5. B-Roland R. Schulz (NE.).
    River Flyer--Tizmyaly by Cee's Tizzy; MS. SWEET FREEDOM, m, 5, GG, Mcl 5000, 4-18, 1m, 1:42 . B-Gary Folgner & Susan Derby (CA.).
    Rockport Harbor--Tustin by Conquistador Cielo; DENDRITE, g, 5, AQU, Mcl 35000, 4-18, 1mT, 1:40 3/5. B-Richard Forbush (KY.).
    Silver Deputy--Miss Penny Fortune by Rahy; PENNY'S DEPUTY, g, 5, KEE, Mcl 40000, 4-18, 6f, 1:12 1/5. B-Fortune Marital Trust (KY.).

    Features

    DEROSA'S BLOG

    APRIL 19, 2014

    Weekend Selections: Derbys, Classics, Stakes, Money

    by Ed DeRosa

    The heavy lifting for the Kentucky Derby is complete, but there are still plenty of boxes to move around this weekend, including the final Lucky 7s promotion, the final chance to earn a share in our $10,000 Kentucky Derby SHOWdown promotion, a possible Kentucky Derby starter running as the favorite in the Illinois Derby, and a 1-million points promo on the all-stakes Pick 4 Saturday night at Charles Town for its $1.5 million Classic featuring Game On Dude.

    I'll yield to Dick Powell on the Australia picks, but I'm loaded for bear in the other spots. Check out these clever opinions:

    In the Lexington, I feel some allegiance to Divine Oath, who I'd have loved in the Blue Grass if he had drawn in, and even though I lose some price, I like a now horse for this race in a division that has been pretty plain overall. Other variables in Divine Oath's favor is that I like Broken Vow on the Polytrack, and I like that Divine Oath has won both his races with different running styles. I'll also use Poker Player and Ami's Holiday in multis with a slight preference for the latter, who makes his three-year-old debut after burning some money at the end of his two-year-old season, but any improvement as a fresh horse fits with these.

    I will not try to beat Midnight Hawk in the Illinois Derby. Taking a frequent bridesmaid at a short price can be perilous, but I prefer to view him as a class dropper who's not having to face the likes of Chitu or Candy Boy in this spot. Plus his speed fits the Hawthorne profile, which has had 59 percent "E" or "E/P" type winners when routing.

    Kicking off the graded stakes double at Hawthorne is the Sixty Sails Stakes, and I like jockey Martin Garcia in there as well (he also rides Midnight Hawk) aboard #1 Sonja's Angel. The 1 1/8 miles is a concern, but anything better than 3-1 on her compensates us for that question, and as long as she's forwardly placed enough breaking from the rail not to get shuffled back, I like her chances to get the trip with a ground-saving trip.

    Hopefully we'll have enough money left for nighttime racing, and the strong 14-race card at Charles Town, and I'll say the same thing about its feature as I did about Hawthorne's: I'm not going to try to beat Game On Dude here.

    Thankfully, there is other value in this Pick 4, starting with the Confucius Say Stakes where In Fairway is the most-likely winner, but #3 Figpen and #9 Allegheny Jack both entice in the $20 range. Figpen returns to a fast track and has gone gate-to-wire at this trip before while Allegheny Jack cuts back and appears to be in career-best form following a layoff.

    In the Hinton for three-year-olds, I'm divorcing Rise Up who disappointed in both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby and now looks to be a short price. Germaniac has disappointed in his last two starts as well, but a return to winter form following a slight freshening gets the job done at 4-1.

    If you want to brush up on your Derby info among all this action from Friday night (Australia) and on into Saturday, then check out Brisnet.com's Kentucky Derby contender and Kentucky Oaks contender PPs.

    HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

    APRIL 18, 2014

    by Dick Powell

    The Blue Grass Stakes (G1) was run for the eighth and final time on Polytrack Saturday and California shipper Dance With Fate (Two Step Salsa) will go into the history books as the last winner over the synthetic track.

    Whether or not Dance With Fate goes on to greatness three weeks later in the Kentucky Derby is a moot point. He beat 13 rivals in a terrific betting race and joins the likes of Bandini, Sinister Minister and Millennium Wind that won the Blue Grass and little else.

    I picked those three as they won the Blue Grass back when it was run on dirt. Since switching to Polytrack, the Bluegrass has had a spotty record producing classic types but that was the case in the most recent years when it was run on dirt. Not much changed but at least the Blue Grass renewals that were run on Polytrack had big fields.

    A couple of years ago, the Jockey Club spent millions of dollars to have McKinsey & Co. do extensive market research on our industry. One common theme that they, and every other forum, has come up with is that field size is a critical component of business success. Bigger fields create more exotic wagering opportunities and more betting.

    Despite its universal acceptance, racing still pays lip service to field size. It brags when it is up marginally but despite fewer foals produced, still runs too many races. A slight increase in field size barely results in marginal results. When we say we want bigger field sizes, I have to quote a panel at a Thoroughbred Racing Association seminar that stated, "We want seven 10s and not 10 sevens."

    In other words, seven races a day with 10 horses in each instead of 10 races a day with seven horses in each. But each day, despite McKinsey's research that reinforced what we already knew, racing still gives us 10 sevens each day.

    No further proof is needed when you look at the recent decisions of Keeneland and Del Mar to pull out their Polytrack and go back to dirt. It's not like dirt is the new surface and they were taking a big gamble to install it. They have years of experience on dirt, eight and seven years experience with Poly, and they ignored the proven advice that bettors want big fields.

    In the years between 1999 and 2006, the Blue Grass was run on dirt at Keeneland. The average field size for the eight runnings was 8.86 starters per race. When Polytrack was installed for the 2007 meeting, the last eight runnings of the Bluegrass Stakes had an average field size of 13.14, an increase of 48 percent. If you were told that field size for your premier three-year-old race would increase by 48 percent, you would agree to a synthetic track of plastic bottle caps.

    I went back and looked at the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar to see what the results were when they switched to Polytrack in 2007. In the years between 2000 and 2006, the Pacific Classic was run on dirt and the average field size for the seven runnings was 8.28 starters per race. When Polytrack was installed for the 2007 meeting, the average field size for the seven runnings increased to 10.71, an increase of 29 percent.

    As far as betting was concerned, it was hard to gauge the results since over the past 14 years, betting menus have changed dramatically and more wagering options fractionalize existing pools.

    Was the Blue Grass a better Kentucky Derby prep when it was run on dirt? I would say yes, but not by much. Was the Blue Grass run on Polytrack a better race? I would say yes, by far.

    *****

    The Arkansas Derby (G1) was also run on Saturday at Oaklawn Park and when was the last time Todd Pletcher won a Grade 1 stakes race at 41-1? The only one that I can remember that comes close was when his Red Giant won the Virginia Derby (G2) at 37-1. Danza (Street Boss) was dismissed by the bettors since he only had one start this year and this was the farthest he had ever run.

    Under a heady ride by Joe Bravo, he saved all the ground and when a hole opened up on the rail at the top of the stretch, he burst through to go on to a 4 3/4-length victory in the good time of 1:49.68. His career-best BRIS Speed rating of 104 equals the one earned 30 minutes earlier when Will Take Charge (Unbridled's Song) won the Oaklawn Park Handicap (G2) in 1:49.55.

    Ride on Curlin (Curlin) rode the rail early then had to swing wide for clear sailing around the far turn. He finished with interest to get up for second and should have no trouble with 10 furlongs. It was a new dimension for him as he usually races up near the pace and this time was able to finish well after relaxing early.

    KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT

    APRIL 18, 2014

    by James Scully

    A Derby decision is still pending for Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

    The Blue Grass went to a logical winner, synthetic/turf horse Dance With Fate, who is on the fence for the Kentucky Derby, but the Arkansas Derby outcome was impossible to predict as Danza rolled home at 41-1.

    Trainer Peter Eurton brought no Derby aspirations into the Blue Grass, consistently questioning Dance With Fate's dirt ability before and after the race, and the colt's connections are going to wait until next week to make a final decision. I expect them to opt for the Run for the Roses -- Dance With Fate's late running style figures to be the deciding factor in a speed-laden field.

    Danza's effort came out of nowhere but was easy to admire. The Todd Pletcher trainee netted a 104 BRIS Speed rating for the 4 3/4-length decision, one of the top numbers in the Derby field, but he is a candidate for a regression following the career-best performance.

    I'll review both races and offer a prediction for the final scoring prep this weekend.

    Blue Grass

    Dance With Fate improved upon a narrow runner-up in the February 15 El Camino Real Derby on Tapeta, registering a second straight century-topping BRIS Late Pace rating as well as a career-best 99 Speed rating in the Blue Grass. Despite a solid pedigree for dirt tracks, he's run faster on turf and all-weather than in two dirt attempts.

    Eurton has explained as much, noting that Dance With Fate packs a more powerful punch on synthetics because the ground doesn't give way for him like dirt does. The conditioner wasn't keen about coming back on three weeks' rest, mentioning the May 17 Preakness as a more viable target for joining the Triple Crown chase, but the allure of the Derby could prove impossible to overcome for the colt's connections.

    Dance With Fate rated near the back during the early stages of the Blue Grass and was still 11th with three-eighths of a mile remaining. Jockey Corey Nakatani swung him extremely wide nearing the conclusion of the far turn and the dark bay colt responded with an outstanding turn of foot, blowing past Medal Count in midstretch to win going away by 1 3/4 lengths.

    Dance With Fate shipped back to California on Monday and if the race doesn't take too much out of him, the argument can be made that the Blue Grass winner deserves to be in the Kentucky Derby. Nakatani pointed out how the Churchill Downs main track can play favorably to some turf horses -- "He seems to do well on the grass, and at Churchill, I've won the (Kentucky) Oaks on a filly that won on the grass (Pike Place Dancer in 1996) so hopefully we'll get (Dance With Fate) there after this race."

    Animal Kingdom raced exclusively on turf and synthetics prior to his 2011 Derby victory and similar types such as Dullahan (2012) and Paddy O'Prado (2010) have placed in recent years. Those examples help make the case for Dance With Fate's involvement as well as the expected pace scenario -- the opening half-mile has been :45 1/5 the last two years and could be extreme again this year.

    Dance With Fate will be an outsider if his connections opt for the Derby. I don't expect to see him thrive over the main track at Churchill Downs but stranger things have happened.

    Blue Grass runner-up Medal Count is confirmed. By Dynaformer, sire of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, Medal Count is based at Churchill Downs with Dale Romans and has really come on in his last two starts on Keeneland's Polytrack, recording a sharp victory in the off-the-turf Transylvania before wheeling back eight days later in the Blue Grass.

    The bay colt broke his maiden over the main track at Ellis but will need to improve significantly upon his last two dirt efforts, recording unplaced efforts in the Fountain of Youth and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. However, the late runner caught a speed-favoring track at Gulfstream earlier this year and his form appears much improved now.

    Don't know whether Medal Count is good enough -- his numbers aren't among the best in the field -- and it will be important to follow his progress over the next couple of weeks. But I'm looking at him as an intriguing option for the exotics.

    Arkansas Derby

    Danza made two starts last year, breaking his maiden at 5 1/2 furlongs before recording a close third in the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special, and the chestnut son of sprinter Street Boss was no factor opening the year in a seven-furlong optional claimer, finishing 7 1/2 lengths back of stablemate Anchor Down, who is currently sidelined.

    One of only two runners higher than 10-1 in the eight-horse Arkansas Derby field, Danza paid $84.60 after easily winning his two-turn bow. He broke from the innermost post position and hugged the rail throughout the 1 1/8-mile event, stalking up close in third before slipping through an opening entering the stretch.

    Ahead by 1 1/2 lengths with an eighth of a mile remaining, Danza continued to widen his advantage to the finish line. He turned in a huge performance.

    Joe Bravo rode the chestnut colt and hopes to keep the mount for the Derby, but Javier Castellano is waiting in the wings without an assignment following this week's defection of Constitution. Castellano rode Danza in his first two starts.

    Pletcher was considering both the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby before opting for the latter.

    "We were searching for the right race and the right option," the trainer said, "and it seemed like the Arkansas Derby was the race for us to step out and take our shot. We're certainly very excited that we did and very proud of the way the horse ran today."

    Danza surprised everybody and the term "bounce" will be bandied about regarding his chances in the Derby. He benefited from a perfect trip, with pacesetter Bayern drifting several paths off the rail leaving the bend, and figures to face greater adversity in the 20-horse Derby field.

    I'll be surprised to see him play a major role next time but won't dismiss Danza's chances for a minor award. He will settle off the pace before looking to rally and has been able to improve his position in the stretch run of all four career starts, registering a 106 Late Pace rating in the Arkansas Derby.

    Out of a French Deputy mare, Danza is bred for the distance on his dam's side -- half-brother Majestic Harbor recently captured the 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita -- but the grueling nature of the 1 1/4-mile test could prove too much too soon for the lightly-raced colt. Animal Kingdom became the first Derby winner with only four starts beforehand (Big Brown won with just three in 2008) and Sunland Derby winner Chitu is the only other confirmed Derby horse this year with such limited experience.

    Ride On Curlin closed belatedly to outfinish Bayern for second and will head to the Derby off three consecutive stakes placings, recording a pair of troubled thirds in the Rebel and Southwest. Conditioned by Billy "Bronco" Gowan, the hard-knocking colt settled nicely near the tail of the field Saturday after being forwardly placed in his three previous outings and the grinder figures to employ similar tactics in the Derby.

    Picking up the services of Calvin Borel won't help his price -- the Hall of Famer has captured three of the last seven runnings -- and Ride On Curlin has failed to earn a triple-digit Speed rating in his last seven starts. Others look faster than him but Ride On Curlin remains a possible exotics player.

    Bayern is under consideration but needs help qualifying with only 20 points (currently 26th on the leaderboard). The lightly-raced colt missed a scheduled start in the March 8 San Felipe due to a foot bruise and came up a little short after establishing a reasonable pace in the Arkansas Derby, but he figures to benefit from the first stakes attempt.

    Bob Baffert could point Bayern toward the Preakness.

    Tapiture failed to fire after advancing into a striking position at the head of the stretch. He was making his first start at nine furlongs and rates as a poor candidate to handle the added ground in the Derby.

    Preview

    Saturday's Lexington at Keeneland offers a total of 17 points (10 to the winner) and probably won't have any impact upon the Derby. Grey winner Ami's Holiday, a 10-1 outsider in his first start of 2014, is the only horse with any points in the field and would move to 23rd on the list with an upset.

    Global Strike is cross-entered to the Illinois Derby and figures to scratch after drawing post 11 in the Lexington, but there is still plenty of speed in the line-up.

    Divine Oath and Mr Speaker both look dangerous and figure to compete for favoritism, but I'll take a shot with Poker Player, who was never a factor following a slow start in the Spiral but returns to his favorite track Saturday.

    The Wayne Catalano charge offered an eye-catching move on the far turn of last year's off-the-turf Bourbon on Keeneland's Polytrack, winning by a length in a 13-horse field and rebounds Saturday at a decent price (10-1 morning line).

    The focus shifts to Derby contenders next week.

    Kentucky Derby Top 10

    1. California Chrome -- Derby favorite will continue to train at Los Alamitos for Sherman before shipping the week of the race.
    2. Hoppertunity -- Six of the last 13 Derby winners dropped final prep; stalker rates as serious contender for three-time Derby victor Baffert.
    3. Wicked Strong -- Turned things around in Wood and will be running late at Churchill Downs.
    4. Samraat -- Sustained first loss but Wood could continue to move him up; will look to challenge from midpack.
    5. Cairo Prince -- Lacked a rally following two-month freshening in Florida Derby but candidate to rebound for McLaughlin.
    6. Intense Holiday -- Couldn't catch front-running winner but solid effort for second in Louisiana Derby.
    7. Medal Count -- Like the progress he's making for Romans; moves up if he trains forwardly at Churchill.
    8. Ride on Curlin -- Hard-trying sort picks up the services of three-time Derby winner Calvin Borel.
    9. Candy Boy -- Similar to Cairo Prince, didn't fire following two-month hiatus but could show more in Louisville.
    10. Danza --  Exits a commendable win in Arkansas Derby but Pletcher trainee is still light on experience.

    Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

    SPOT PLAYS

    For Saturday

    TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
    Aqueduct   (4th) Muscles Marinara, 8-1
        (7th) The Rhythmisright,7-2
    Calder   (7th) Dad'z Laugh, 6-1
        (8th) Delta Bluesman, 6-1
    Charles Town   (5th) Little Big Sime, 9-2
        (6th) Flying Posse, 4-1
    Emerald Downs   (5th) Sharper Knight, 6-1
        (9th) Nacho Macho, 7-2
    Evangeline Downs   (1st) Rejoice Rejoice, 3-1
        (6th) Louisiana Glory, 4-1
    Finger Lakes   (3rd) Buddy Red, 4-1
        (8th) Nicole's Miss El, 7-2
    Golden Gate Fields   (5th) Flamin Hot Mama, 3-1
        (8th) Buffalo Hills, 6-1
    Gulfstream Park   (2nd0 Skip's World, 6-1
        (8th) Jo Jo's Comet, 6-1
    Hawthorne   (3rd) Laythatpistoldown, 7-2
        (7th) Joy Filled, 6-1
    Keeneland   (5th) Magical Steps, 10-1
        (7th) Allwewantforxmas, 5-1
    Lone Star Park   (5th) Blue Stage, 7-2
        (6th) She'sabrees, 9-2
    Mountaineer   (1st) Offlee Clever, 3-1
        (9th) Summer's Empire, 3-1
    Parx Racing   (2nd) Baby Cat, 10-1
        (5th) Royal Shamus, 7-2
    Penn National   (2nd) Siren's Step, 6-1
        (6th) Handy Andy, 6-1
    Pimlico   (4th) Cherokee Empire, 4-1
        (9th) Smash and Grab, 10-1
    Prairie Meadows   (3rd) Hesaprivate, 9-2
        (7th) Voodooville, 9-2
    Santa Anita   (4th) Toppers Sunshine, 6-1
        (6th) Heath Flash, 6-1
    Tampa Bay Downs   (6th) Category, 3-1
        (11th) No Peace At All, 7-2
    Thistledown   (2nd) Crafty Noble, 4-1
        (7th) Joy Train, 9-2
    Turf Paradise   (7th) Ciao Valentina, 4-1
        (8th) Red Charger, 3-1
    Woodbine   (7th) Run Wild, 7-2
        (8th) Paladin Bay, 6-1

    Features

    HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

    APRIL 18, 2014

    by Dick Powell

    The Blue Grass Stakes (G1) was run for the eighth and final time on Polytrack Saturday and California shipper Dance With Fate (Two Step Salsa) will go into the history books as the last winner over the synthetic track.

    Whether or not Dance With Fate goes on to greatness three weeks later in the Kentucky Derby is a moot point. He beat 13 rivals in a terrific betting race and joins the likes of Bandini, Sinister Minister and Millennium Wind that won the Blue Grass and little else.

    I picked those three as they won the Blue Grass back when it was run on dirt. Since switching to Polytrack, the Bluegrass has had a spotty record producing classic types but that was the case in the most recent years when it was run on dirt. Not much changed but at least the Blue Grass renewals that were run on Polytrack had big fields.

    A couple of years ago, the Jockey Club spent millions of dollars to have McKinsey & Co. do extensive market research on our industry. One common theme that they, and every other forum, has come up with is that field size is a critical component of business success. Bigger fields create more exotic wagering opportunities and more betting.

    Despite its universal acceptance, racing still pays lip service to field size. It brags when it is up marginally but despite fewer foals produced, still runs too many races. A slight increase in field size barely results in marginal results. When we say we want bigger field sizes, I have to quote a panel at a Thoroughbred Racing Association seminar that stated, "We want seven 10s and not 10 sevens."

    In other words, seven races a day with 10 horses in each instead of 10 races a day with seven horses in each. But each day, despite McKinsey's research that reinforced what we already knew, racing still gives us 10 sevens each day.

    No further proof is needed when you look at the recent decisions of Keeneland and Del Mar to pull out their Polytrack and go back to dirt. It's not like dirt is the new surface and they were taking a big gamble to install it. They have years of experience on dirt, eight and seven years experience with Poly, and they ignored the proven advice that bettors want big fields.

    In the years between 1999 and 2006, the Blue Grass was run on dirt at Keeneland. The average field size for the eight runnings was 8.86 starters per race. When Polytrack was installed for the 2007 meeting, the last eight runnings of the Bluegrass Stakes had an average field size of 13.14, an increase of 48 percent. If you were told that field size for your premier three-year-old race would increase by 48 percent, you would agree to a synthetic track of plastic bottle caps.

    I went back and looked at the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar to see what the results were when they switched to Polytrack in 2007. In the years between 2000 and 2006, the Pacific Classic was run on dirt and the average field size for the seven runnings was 8.28 starters per race. When Polytrack was installed for the 2007 meeting, the average field size for the seven runnings increased to 10.71, an increase of 29 percent.

    As far as betting was concerned, it was hard to gauge the results since over the past 14 years, betting menus have changed dramatically and more wagering options fractionalize existing pools.

    Was the Blue Grass a better Kentucky Derby prep when it was run on dirt? I would say yes, but not by much. Was the Blue Grass run on Polytrack a better race? I would say yes, by far.

    *****

    The Arkansas Derby (G1) was also run on Saturday at Oaklawn Park and when was the last time Todd Pletcher won a Grade 1 stakes race at 41-1? The only one that I can remember that comes close was when his Red Giant won the Virginia Derby (G2) at 37-1. Danza (Street Boss) was dismissed by the bettors since he only had one start this year and this was the farthest he had ever run.

    Under a heady ride by Joe Bravo, he saved all the ground and when a hole opened up on the rail at the top of the stretch, he burst through to go on to a 4 3/4-length victory in the good time of 1:49.68. His career-best BRIS Speed rating of 104 equals the one earned 30 minutes earlier when Will Take Charge (Unbridled's Song) won the Oaklawn Park Handicap (G2) in 1:49.55.

    Ride on Curlin (Curlin) rode the rail early then had to swing wide for clear sailing around the far turn. He finished with interest to get up for second and should have no trouble with 10 furlongs. It was a new dimension for him as he usually races up near the pace and this time was able to finish well after relaxing early.

    Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

    HIGHLIGHTS

    For Saturday

    AQUEDUCT (1:20): $200,000 Distaff H. (G2), 3&up, f/m, 6f (8TH).
    CALDER (12:55): $100,000 Miami Mile H. (G3), 3&up, 1mT (7TH).
    CHARLES TOWN (5:00): $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic (G2), 4&up, 1 1/8m (12TH); $200,000 Sugar Maple S., 4&up, f/m, 7f (11TH); $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial, 3yo, 7f (10TH); $50,000 Confucius Say S., 3&up, 7f (9TH); $50,000 Original Gold S., 3&up, f/m, 7f (8TH); $50,000 Webb Synder Charles Town Dash, 3&up, 4 1/2f (7TH).
    GULFSTREAM PARK (1:25): $75,000 Lincoln S., 3&up, 5fT (8TH).
    HAWTHORNE (2:50): $500,000 Illinois Derby (G3), 3yo, 1 1/8m (9TH); $150,000 Sixty Sails H. (G3), 3&up, f/m, 1 1/8m (8TH); $100,000 Robert S. Molaro H., 4&up, 6f (6TH); $100,000 Third Chance H., 4&up, f/m, 6f (5TH).
    KEENELAND (1:05): $200,000 Lexington S. (G3), 3yo, 1 1/16m (9TH); $150,000 Ben Ali S. (G3), 4&up, 1 1/8m (8TH); $100,000 Giant's Causeway S., 4&up, f/m, 5 1/2fT (7TH).
    PIMLICO (1:10): $100,000 Federico Tesio S., 3yo, 1 1/16m (10TH); $100,000 Henry S. Clark S., 3&up, 1mT (9TH); $100,000 Primonetta S., 3&up, f/m, 6f (8TH); $100,000 Stormy Blues S., 3yo, 5fT (5TH).
    SANTA ANITA (3:30): $75,000 La Puente S., 3yo, 1 1/8mT (8TH).
    WOODBINE (1:00): C$125,000 Star Shoot S., 3yo, f, 6f (8TH).

    *all times Eastern

    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.

    Racing Highlights

    For Saturday

    AQUEDUCT (1:20): $200,000 Distaff H. (G2), 3&up, f/m, 6f (8TH).
    CALDER (12:55): $100,000 Miami Mile H. (G3), 3&up, 1mT (7TH).
    CHARLES TOWN (5:00): $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic (G2), 4&up, 1 1/8m (12TH); $200,000 Sugar Maple S., 4&up, f/m, 7f (11TH); $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial, 3yo, 7f (10TH); $50,000 Confucius Say S., 3&up, 7f (9TH); $50,000 Original Gold S., 3&up, f/m, 7f (8TH); $50,000 Webb Synder Charles Town Dash, 3&up, 4 1/2f (7TH).
    GULFSTREAM PARK (1:25): $75,000 Lincoln S., 3&up, 5fT (8TH).
    HAWTHORNE (2:50): $500,000 Illinois Derby (G3), 3yo, 1 1/8m (9TH); $150,000 Sixty Sails H. (G3), 3&up, f/m, 1 1/8m (8TH); $100,000 Robert S. Molaro H., 4&up, 6f (6TH); $100,000 Third Chance H., 4&up, f/m, 6f (5TH).
    KEENELAND (1:05): $200,000 Lexington S. (G3), 3yo, 1 1/16m (9TH); $150,000 Ben Ali S. (G3), 4&up, 1 1/8m (8TH); $100,000 Giant's Causeway S., 4&up, f/m, 5 1/2fT (7TH).
    PIMLICO (1:10): $100,000 Federico Tesio S., 3yo, 1 1/16m (10TH); $100,000 Henry S. Clark S., 3&up, 1mT (9TH); $100,000 Primonetta S., 3&up, f/m, 6f (8TH); $100,000 Stormy Blues S., 3yo, 5fT (5TH).
    SANTA ANITA (3:30): $75,000 La Puente S., 3yo, 1 1/8mT (8TH).
    WOODBINE (1:00): C$125,000 Star Shoot S., 3yo, f, 6f (8TH).

      *all times Eastern

    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.