Istintaj, the 4-5 favorite in Sunday's Deputy Minister Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park, took a slim lead just inside the eighth pole to win the 6 1/2-furlong bout by a half-length. Among his rivals were 3-1 second choice Fappie's Notebook, who finished second, and 21-1 longshot Fantastic Finish, who led for most of the race before giving way in the last yards to finish third. The winner paid $3.80, the exacta returned $15.20, and the trifecta was worth $692.00.
The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company reported there were no positive results of random drug tests taken on horses that worked out Jan. 29 in preparation for Tuesday's 2-year-olds in training sale at Calder Race Course. OBSC took blood samples from 21 horses that took part in the first Under Tack Show. An additional 22 horses were tested randomly during Sunday's second Under Tack Show. "Everything went well," OBSC general manager and sales director Tom Ventura said of the testing.
Morton Fink's Guided Tour, shipped into Southern California from Louisiana by trainer Niall O'Callaghan, posted a mild upset in the $300,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park on Sunday, defeating Lethal Instrument by a length and a half under jockey Larry Melancon. Moonlight Charger finished third, with ex-claimer Freedom Crest, the odds-on favorite, bringing up the rear in the eight-horse field.
A record number of 439 three-year-old horses have been nominated to the 2001 Visa Triple Crown and the $5 million Visa Triple Crown Challenge during the recently completed early nomination period for the world's most prestigious trio of horse racing classics. The overall nomination number outdistanced by more than a furlong the previous record of 422 set in 1986, the first year of the common nomination process under the auspices of Triple Crown Productions, headquartered at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Helping to push the nomination field to a new standard was the record number of nominations from Europe -- 53-- far surpassing last year's record total of 24.
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