Five days after reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan won the Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT) in his 2013 debut, trainer Charlie LoPresti confirmed the June 15 Stephen Foster (gr. I) as his likely next target.
It may not be worth points on the road to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but the $750,000 Illinois Derby (gr. III) drew a packed field of 14, including some familiar names, when entries were taken April 17
Out from the shadow of rival Joyful Victory, Brushed by a Star has a chance to shine in the $200,000 Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne Race Course April 20.
The April 20 Coolmore Lexington (gr. III) offers 20 points and a potential place in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) starting gate, but not all contenders in the last-minute prep will aim for the first Saturday in May.
Donver Stable's Inglorious, winner of the 2011 Queen's Plate against males, heads a field of eight entered for the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) April 19 at Keeneland.
Charles Fipke's homebred Java's War overcame a troubled start in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes April 13 at Keeneland, closing from last to first to earn his way into the field for the May 4 Kentucky Derby.
G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s homebred Centre Court ran down 2012 Jenny Wiley (gr. IT) winner Daisy Devine in the final furlong of the 2013 renewal to get her first grade I victory for trainer Rusty Arnold at Keeneland April 13.
Turtle Bird Stable's undefeated Cluster of Stars repelled the challenge of Los Ojitos and preserved her perfect record April 13 at Aqueduct Racetrack, winning the $200,000 Distaff Handicap (gr. II).
Reddam Racing's 2012 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) winner Handsome Mike took the $175,000 Commonwealth Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland April 13, earning his first victory for trainer Doug O'Neill since that upset score at Parx.
Anita Cauley's On Fire Baby hadn't raced since May 28 of last year. She came back with a vengeance April 12, holding off Tiz Miz Sue to win the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn by half a length.
Morton Fink's 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan easily won the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT) by a length over Data Link at Keeneland April 12, successfully making his 2013 debut while recording his sixth straight victory.
This year's edition of the $300,000 Madison Stakes (gr. I) may not feature a superstar such as 2012 winner Groupie Doll, but 10 older fillies and mares will provide a good wagering event at Keeneland April 13.
Morton Fink's reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan makes his 2013 debut for trainer Charlie LoPresti in the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland April 12, with only four contenders willing to face him.
"If horses could talk, what a job this would be," said one Gary Contessa, enjoying a bountiful breakfast at Keeneland. "I'd ask that sunofagun right now, 'Do you like that track as much as you like the grass?"
Patrick Smithwick was awarded the seventh annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award during an evening ceremony April 10 at Castleton Lyons Farm near Lexington.
Jockey Javier Castellano has committed to ride Fox Hill Farms' Wood Memorial (gr. I) runner-up Normandy Invasion in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
David A. Ross Racing Stable's Perfect Officer, a nose winner in last year's Shakertown Stakes (gr.IIIT), faces eight rivals April 13 when he makes his 2013 debut in the 17th running of the $100,000 turf sprint at Keeneland.
Defending Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IT) winner Daisy Devine is back to protect her title April 13 at Keeneland, but the 5-year-old daughter of Kafwain faces a steep question as she goes up against six stakes winners.
Jockey Joel Rosario has been named to ride Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Orb in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), agent Ron Anderson confirmed April 10.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who was sidelined after an April 7 spill at Aqueduct, hopes to resume riding May 1 -- three days before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Twin Creek Racing Stables' Graydar, back-to-back winner of the Donn Handicap (gr. I) and New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), will be sidelined for about 60 days after undergoing surgery to remove a chip from his left front ankle.
It was a crowded scene at the April 10 post-position draw for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), as the connections crossed their fingers and hoped for good post positions.
- By Claire Novak
Claire Novak catches up with the connections of Wise Dan, Richard's Kid, Ramsey Farm, and Daisy Devine. read blog
Verrazano turned back the challenge of Vyjack and held off a late-closing Normandy Invasion in a formful edition of the $1 million Wood Memorial (gr. I) April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
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.
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