As pool three of the Kentucky Derby future wager offered by Churchill Downs enters its stretch run, a pair of contenders have crept closer to early leader Johannesburg. After day three of the four-day event, Johannesburg remains favored, but his odds have drifted up to 6-1, with Came Home (7-1) and Harlan's Holiday (8-1) next in line.
When jockey Chris McCarron booted home Seinne a half-length winner in the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT), he became the first rider in Santa Anita Park history to ride three graded stakes winner on the same card. Previously on the day, McCarron was in the irons for graded stakes wins in the San Bernardino Handicap (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
The bird has flown, leaving us instead with the Aventura Stakes, Gulfstream Park's $250,000 replacement for Hialeah's signature Flamingo Stakes that served as a springboard to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) for the likes of Citation and Seattle Slew. Based upon the returns of the inaugural Aventura, run on April 6, none of the nine 3-year-olds are likely to follow that path.
A pair of cool California invaders made their way deep into the Ozark Mountains for the opening weekend of Oaklawn Park's Racing Festival of the South and came away the big winners. For the first time in Festival history, Oaklawn featured the Oaklawn and Apple Blossom Handicaps, both grade I and worth $500,000 each, on the same card, making April 6 the richest day ever in Arkansas racing.
Her voice was starting to break. Her eyes were beginning to well up. And the admiration was undeniable. Trudy McCaffery, suffused with the glow of Came Home's brave victory in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), stood in the track's posh Director's Room on April 6, extolling the countless virtues of the man who made it all happen.
California trainer David La Croix verbalized what most of the entrants were thinking in the days leading up to the April 6 Illinois Derby (gr. II) when he said he was looking for a "back door" to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) for Fonz's.
With two Triple Crown nominees in action on April 6, Jerry and Feye Bach of Select Stable faced a dilemma that most Thoroughbred owners would envy. They could head south from their home near Cincinnati and watch Take Charge Lady in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. Or they could go north and cheer on Repent in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) at Sportsman's Park.
John Little edged Windsor Castle by a neck Saturday in the 90th running of the $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Easyfromthegitgo will have his final Kentucky Derby prep in the April 20 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland. Meanwhile, 11 3-year-olds entered Wednesday's Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and the ever-changing list of horses probable for the April 13 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) is currently down to 10.
- By Steve Haskin
Any questions regarding Castle Gandolfo's ability to handle the dirt were answered Saturday, as the son of Gone West drew off to a decisive 2 1/2-length victory in the Fosters-International Trial Stakes over the all-weather polytrack surface at Lingfield.
Mrs. John Magnier's Castle Gandolfo raced four-wide while in fifth-place heading into the stretch before rallying under Michael Kinane to win the Fosters-International Trial Stakes on the all-weather course at Lingfield Saturday.
Despite losing Rebel Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Ocean Sound to the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), 12 runners are still expected for the April 13 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park with the addition of Gold Dollar to the likely field of runners.
Johannesburg remains favored in pool three of the Kentucky Derby future wager despite drifting up to 5-1 at the close of Friday's wagering after beginning the day at 4-1.
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