The Todd Pletcher-trained Bandini stepped into the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) spotlight with a brilliant performance in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland Saturday.
Todd Kabel, who equaled the late Avelino Gomez's mark of most stakes wins by a jockey in one season (36) in 2004, began another assault on the record by taking Saturday's 2005 opening day feature at Woodbine, the $140,475 Jacques Cartier Stakes aboard Ministers Wild Cat.
Soaring Free, away from the races since last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), showed that he has lost none of his grit Saturday when he held off Mighty Beau by a neck for victory in the $113,300 Shakertown (gr. IIIT) on the Keeneland lawn.
Tadahiro Hotehama's homebred T.H. Approval registered his first win in nine attempts on the Santa Anita turf in capturing the $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday.
Favored Afleet Alex bounced back from the worst race of his career, a last-place finish in the Rebel (gr. III) a month ago, to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) as much the best Saturday before 71,010 at Oaklawn Park.
Overbrook Fam's hard-knocking Clock Stopper ended an eight-race losing streak Saturday when he surprised a quality field of sprinters in the $424,900 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Keeneland.
Jockey Diane Nelson played the best poker hand in the $150,000 Comely Handicap (gr. IIT) when she guided Acey Deucey to a late-running victory over Seeking the Ante at Aqueduct Saturday.
- By Jack Shinar
Trainer Julio Canani became the third person facing a California Horse Racing Board complaint regarding the health and activities of Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) favorite Sweet Catomine during the week prior to the April 9 race.
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