While their governor was being sworn in as president of the United States, Texas Thoroughbred owners and breeders were electing new officers and handing out awards at their annual get-together and dinner in Austin.
Ridden by Gary Stevens 1999 two-year-old filly champion Chilukki set leisurely fractions and turned the tables on 3-5 favorite Spain in the $147,000 El Encino Stakes, winning by 2 1/2 lengths. Spain, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff at odds of 55-1, had upset 7-10 favorite Chilukki in the seven-furlong La Brea Stakes last Dec. 30. Chilukki took command at once in the grade II El Encino and completed 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.55, with splits of :24.17, :48.39, 1:11.95 and 1:36.17 for the mile.
Millennium Wind, a $1.2 million son of Crytoclearance, took a major step towards the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7 with a hard-earned half-length victory over 31-1 outsider Palmeiro in Sunday's $107,700 Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Ridden by Chris McCarron, who won three stakes races at Santa Anita over the weekend, Millennium Wind covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.38. The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt paid $3.20 as the favorite in the field of six and earned $64,620 for owners David and Jill Heerensperger of Seattle, Washington.
Valhol finally got redemption and a stakes win the courts can't take away. In a much-maligned career that began at Fair Grounds less than two years ago, Valhol pranced to the winner's circle after a victory in the $75,000 Diplomat Way Handicap on Sunday. After a well documented win then disqualification in the 1999 Arkansas Derby in only his third career start, the strapping 5-year-old chestnut has been plagued by physical ailments
The National HBPA tackled medication issues during a meeting Sunday, and representatives believe the Thoroughbred industry can do quite a bit to alter the perception that horse racing is rife with medication abuse and use of performance-enhancing drugs in racehorses.
A P Valentine, winner of the grade 1 Champagne and a prospect for the $1 million Florida Derby March 10, breezed a half-mile in :51 at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning at Hialeah Park. The Zito-trained Albert The Great, a leading candidate for the grade 1 Donn Handicap February 3, also worked Saturday morning at Hialeah, getting a half-mile in :47 3/5 in handy fashion.
Golden Ballet made a sparkling return with a seven-length victory in the grade II, $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. Golden Ballet, racing for the first time since June, ran seven furlongs in 1:22 1/5 and paid $4.20, $3 and $3. Chris McCarron was up at 123 pounds for Team Valor and Heiligbrodt Racing Stables.
Bienamado asserted his class in the stretch and earned a victory Saturday in the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita Park. In winning the same race his father won at Santa Anita in 1994, Bienamado, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Bien Bien, paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Chris McCarron rode the winner at 122 pounds for trainer Paco Gonzalez and owners Trudy McCaffery, John Toffan and Robert Sangster.
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Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
Owner: Alto Racing, LLC
Jockey: Javier Castellano