Close Hatches led at every pole, repelled Princess of Sylmar in deep stretch, and drew away to keep her unbeaten record intact, registering her first stakes score in the $250,000 Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) April 6 at Aqueduct.
Howe Great, the 2012 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) victor whose last win came in the July 21 Jersey Derby at Monmouth, took a strong Keeneland allowance race April 6 in which 2011 Woodbine Mile winner Turallure ran sixth.
Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) contenders Rydilluc, Uncaptured, Undrafted, and Dewey Square all turned in pre-race works April 5 at Keeneland. Also working were Dynamic Sky at Churchill and Fear the Kitten at Trackside.
Gary Barber's Jack Milton came up from Florida to earn his first stakes score, holding off the late charge of Up With the Birds to win the $100,000 Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) on opening day at Keeneland.
Team Valor International has hired Rick Mettee to train all of its North American-based racehorses, replacing Graham Motion, the partnership group announced April 5.
Trainer Charlie LoPresti has the somewhat enviable if daunting task of bringing several top-level horses back off the bench this spring at Keeneland, including 2011 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (gr. IT) winner Turallure.
Morton Fink's reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan muscled his way through five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 flat April 4 at Keeneland, setting himself up perfectly for a 2013 debut in the April 12 Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT).
King of Prussia Stable's impressive Princess of Sylmar takes a step up into graded company April 6 in the $250,000 Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack, facing a talented field of sophomore fillies.
John Oxley's Star Contender is highweighted at 123 pounds in a field of 11 for the $100,000 Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT), but SamSon Farms' Up With the Birds has beaten him and will likely be favored at Keeneland April 5.
Twilight Ridge, winner of the 1985 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), died April 2 at Mike Rutherford's Manchester Farm. At 30, she was the oldest living Breeders' Cup victress.
Trainer John Shirreffs will leave the West Coast to run a string at Belmont Park at the end of April, according to a March 20 report from the Los Angeles Times.
WinStar Farm's Revolutionary took the overland route to victory in the March 30 Louisiana Derby (gr. II), closing with a five-wide run and holding off the late charge of 19-1 shot Mylute in the final furlong at Fair Grounds.
The 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song proved doubters wrong March 30 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots when he held off Mark Valeski for a determined 1 3/4-length New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) score.
Stonestreet Stables' homebred Dreaming of Julia left her connections dreaming of victory in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) when she devastated the $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II) March 30 at Gulfstream Park by 21 3/4 lengths.
Michael B. Tabor's Ciao Bella ran like a favorite should at Gulfstream Park March 30, holding the advantage from gate to wire and drawing off to a 4 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 Rampart Stakes (gr. III).
Steve Bass, who booked mounts for nine-time leading Keeneland rider Julien Leparoux for the past seven years, will have Rosie Napravnik and Alan Garcia when the meet opens April 5.
- By Claire Novak
Flash back with me. Spring of 1962. The target everyone wants to hit, of course, is the Kentucky Derby--but in the meantime, as a stepping stone, the Florida Derby looms. read blog
Optimizer has been a different horse since he moved to the grass, and streaks into the March 30 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds with two graded stakes scores under his girth.
A power-packed field will assemble for the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) March 30 at Fair Grounds. In the lineup are Graydar, Bourbon Courage, Flat Out, and Mark Valeski.
Undefeated Unlimited Budget and Honeybee Stakes runner-up Flashy Gray head a quality field that includes grade I winner So Many Ways in the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) March 30 at Fair Grounds Race Course.
WinStar Farm's Revolutionary, winner of the Withers Stakes (gr. III), has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite in a field of 14 for the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 30 at Fair Grounds.
Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), drew post 12 of 13 when the field was drawn March 27 for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) at Meydan March 30.
American interests He's Had Enough and Dice Flavor take on top Godolphin contender Secret Number in the $2 million UAE Derby (UAE-II) March 30 at Meydan, three of 12 sophomores entered for the 1900-meter event.
Sterling Racing's Black Onyx ran his way into the picture for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a 1 1/2-length victory in the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway March 23.
Last Gunfighter overcame a troubled start and came through on the rail to win the $150,000 Excelsior Stakes (gr. III) March 23 at Aqueduct, while 2011 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Ruler On Ice finished fifth.
Team Valor is sponsoring the $75,000 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway March 23, and as fate would have it, it will also use the race as a last-ditch effort to get highly-regarded Crop Report to a Kentucky Derby prep.
Four runners from the Feb. 16 Mac Diarmida Stakes, headed by Resolute Group Stables' second-place finisher Teaks North, are among 10 entered to contest the $150,000 Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) March 23 at Gulfstream Park.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas is holding the hottest hand of 3-year-olds he's had in a while, and that talent showed March 16 when stablemates Will Take Charge and Oxbow finished 1-2 in the $600,000 Rebel Stakes.
Tiz Miz Sue upset the Azeri Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park last year at odds of 8-1, and this season she did it again. The Cresran homebred ran down top contenders My Miss Aurelia and Don't Tell Sophia to get the job done.
There was no moss growing on Centre Court, who made her 2013 debut a winning one by 1 3/4 lengths in the $150,000 Honey Fox Stakes (gr. IIT) March 16 at Gulfstream Park.
Claire Novak and Pete Denk handicap the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park this weekend. Can Super Ninety Nine repeat his efforts from his last race? watch video
Withers Stakes (gr. III) winner Revolutionary heads a group of 13 sophomores considered probable for the 100th running of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots March 30.
Bob Baffert's reputation at Oaklawn Park is that of a phenomenon, one you cannot afford to bet against. Selectively shipping in from his West Coast base with a remarkable 59% win rate, he has captured 17 of 29.
Team Valor International's Went the Day Well, winner of the 2012 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) and fourth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will undergo a tie-back operation in Versailles, Ky.
Verrazano lived up to his billing as a top Triple Crown contender March 9 with a solid three-length score in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at Tampa Bay Downs.
E. Paul Robsham Stables' Discreet Dancer picked up the pieces of an incident-marred running of the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) March 9, when Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Fort Larned stumbled at the start.
Believe You Can blew away the competition in the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies March 9 at Fair Grounds, posting her second straight win off the layoff; the $150,000 Duncan F. Kenner went to Delaunay for owner Maggi Moss.
Mr Palmer had the highest Beyer speed figure of nine 3-year-olds who went to the gate for the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes March 9 at Laurel Park, and teh favorite prevailed when he closed with a strong late run.
A strong group of 12 older fillies will contest the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs March 9, including Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) victress Old Tune and grade II winner Mystical Star.
Believe You Can looks to parlay a Feb. 2 tally at Fair Grounds into victory in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes March 9; Louisiana Derby winner Hero of Order will wheel back in the Duncan F. Kenner on the same day.
Highly-regarded sophomore Verrazano makes his stakes debut against eight others March 9 in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at Tampa Bay Downs, rolling in off an impressive 16 3/4-length allowance win at Gulfstream Park.
Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Paynter turned in his second work since making a comeback from severe illness and the subsequent surgery he underwent last year, breezing four furlongs in :50 1/5 at Santa Anita Park.
Wise Dan, Morton Fink's 2012 Horse of the Year, turned in his second work of the season at Keeneland March 2, a four-furlong move in :49 1/5. Stablemates Turallure and Successful Dan are also training well.
Pozo de Luna's Argentine-bred Suggestive Boy held off a late-flying Silentio by a nose in a thrilling edition of the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park March 2.
Clearly Now came off a third-place finish behind Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) to claim a victory of his own in the $150,000 Swale Stakes (gr. III) March 2 at Gulfstream Park.
Pick Six Racing's Vyjack remained unbeaten in four starts and proceeded on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with an impressive late run March 2 in the $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.
My Happy Face, runner-up in the 2012 Frizette Stakes (gr. I) and winner of that year's Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack, is off the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) trail with a virus contracted at Gulfstream Park.
Veterinarians at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington remain pleased with the progress of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra following her abdominal surgery resulting from foaling complications Feb. 13.
Went the Day Well, winner of the 2012 Spiral Stakes (gr. III) and fourth after traffic trouble in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), returns March 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Defending Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) winner Mucho Macho Man will miss the March 9 event because of a mild virus, owner Dean Reeves confirmed Feb. 28.
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