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Headlines and features from the Thoroughbred industry

Steve Haskin's Kentucky Derby Top 20: March 26 Update

Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, updates his top Kentucky Derby contenders weekly. During his 29 years with the Daily Racing Form, Haskin became known for his insightful coverage of the Triple Crown races. Haskin won the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby writing in 1997, 1999, and 2000.and received the David Woods Award for best Preakness story in 1997. In 1999, he co-authored "Baffert: Dirt Road to the Derby" with trainer Bob Baffert and wrote the book, "Dr. Fager" for Eclipse Press' "Thoroughbred Legends" series in 2000.

Fair Grounds Racing Report: Tijiyr Posts Upset Victory

Big money. Big money. Six-hundred thousand dead presidents were on the line in the nine-furlong Explosive Bid Handicap (gr. IIT) on March 25 and there were plenty of takers. Top grass horses from each corner of the map swarmed into Fair Grounds like moths attracted to a porch light. Five invaders came from the East Coast and six shipped in from California. The biggest name on the marquee was Centennial Farms' King Cugat, a multiple graded stakes winner, who was making his 4-year-old debut. However, trainer Niall O'Callaghan came to bury Caesar, not to praise him, and he did it with Gary Tanaka's Tijiyr. The Irish-bred, under Robby Albarado, put in a determined finish to cap off a ground-saving trip and seal the upset ($21.40) victory.

Albert the Great Gives Zito Trainees Two Track Records on One Card

Sent off at odds of 1-20, Nick Zito trainee Albert the Great drew off in the final furlong to win Saturday's $200,000 Widener Handicap (gr. III) by 5 3/4 lengths at Hialeah Park, breaking the track record for 1 1/8 miles in the process. Albert the Great took over on the second turn and kicked clear in the stretch, running the final furlong in a quick :11.51. He completed the distance in 1:45.52 on a fast track. Earlier on the card, Zito-trained A P Valentine set a course record for 1 1/16 miles.

Aqueduct Racing Report: Big Win for 'The Boss'

George Steinbrenner has transcended the role of sports franchise owner. Through all the salary disputes, manager firings, front-page headlines, and, of course, the dynasties and World Series championships, Steinbrenner has become a living, breathing part of the "Big Apple" as owner of the New York Yankees. But when it comes to his involvement in the Sport of Kings, he still is powerless in his attempt to ascend the throne. Here, he has no visions of grandeur, just an admiration for athletes who still compete for the love of the game. To New York racing fans, "The Boss" is merely George, and the track is where he escapes to mingle with these athletes, who demand nothing in return for their heroic deeds. That is why you'll see Steinbrenner at The Big A on a cold, windy March afternoon beaming over his prized four-legged athlete Dream Supreme.

A P Valentine Breaks Track Record at Hialeah Park

Ol Memorial Stable and Michael Tabor's A P Valentine closed from eight lengths back after a half-mile run in :45.79 to earn a 3 3/4-length win in an optional claiming race for 3-year-olds and upwards Saturday at Hialeah Park. Ridden by Eibar Coa, the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) winner completed the 1 1/16 miles in track-record time of 1:40.39.

Turfway Park Racing Report: Balto Star Shines Bright

In the days, hours, and even minutes leading up to the March 24 Spiral Stakes (gr. II), there wasn't a clear-cut favorite -- much less a star -- among the nine 3-year-olds going to the starting gate. Six of the nine starters were between 3-1 and 6-1 in the wagering. But all that changed at 4:42 p.m. EST as a star did emerge coming down Turfway Park's stretch. His name: Balto Star. And the strapping dark bay gelding, in an effortless performance, ran off from his foes to a surprising 12 3/4-length romp in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep.

Geldings Battle to Wire in Dubai Duty Free

The older geldings Jim and Tonic and Fairy King Prawn ran by the great New Zealand mare Sunline and fought to the finish in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-II) on the World Cup card at Nad al Sheba racecourse. At the end, it was Jim and Tonic on top as the 7-year-old French-bred posted his 11th victory in his 30th career start. Previous to the Duty Free, the gelding trained by Francois Doumen was third in the Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) in Decembe

Dubai World Cup Report: Captain Steve Triumphs

Captain Steve's owner, Mike Pegram, stood 10 yards away as trainer Bob Baffert issued instructions to Jerry Bailey in the Nad al Sheba walking ring prior to the sixth Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on the evening of March 24. "I let them go to it," he said. "Those guys will be in the Hall of Fame one day (Bailey already is) and I'll be standing outside on the sidewalk. They know what they're doing." Asked the significance of running in his first $6-million race, the world's richest, Pegram reflected for a minute: "I never thought I'd be running for $6 million in my entire career. That's a lot of $10,000 claimers."

Festival of Light, Caller One Victorious on World Cup Card

American jockey David Flores rode Godolphin Racing's Festival of Light to victory in the Godolphin Mile and American runner Caller One ran off with the Golden Shaheen (UAE-III) as part of Saturday's Dubai World Cup undercard. Flores, who later won the UAE Derby with Express Tour, said Festival of Light bobbled slightly at the start before recovering to take the lead in the stretch.

Stay Gold Pulls Dubai Sheema Classic Upset

Stay Gold, a Japanese-bred son of Sunday Silence, caught Godolphin Racing's highly touted Fantastic Light at the wire to win the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-II) on the World Cup card at Nad al Sheba racecourse. Ridden by Yutaka Take, Stay Gold was set down in the stretch just to catch Fantastic Light and win by a nose bob at the wire.

Stay Gold Pulls Dubai Sheema Classic Upset

Stay Gold, a Japanese-bred son of Sunday Silence, caught Godolphin Racing's highly touted Fantastic Light at the wire to win the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-II) on the World Cup card at Nad al Sheba racecourse. Ridden by Yutaka Take, Stay Gold was set down in the stretch just to catch Fantastic Light and win by a nose bob at the wire.

Stay Gold Pulls Dubai Sheema Classic Upset

Stay Gold, a Japanese-bred son of Sunday Silence, caught Godolphin Racing's highly touted Fantastic Light at the wire to win the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-II) on the World Cup card at Nad al Sheba racecourse. Ridden by Yutaka Take, Stay Gold was set down in the stretch just to catch Fantastic Light and win by a nose bob at the wire.

Fair Grounds to Launch Internet Wagering

Fair Grounds on Saturday joined the ranks of U.S. racetracks offering its own Internet wagering system. The New Orleans track will introduce Net Bet, an integrated Internet and telephone account wagering service. Net Bet will provide real time odds, full race programs, web casts of live races, archived race replays, and online betting.

Sunline Seeks New Earnings Mark in Duty Free

New Zealand racemare Sunline could become the first Australasian horse to reach the elusive AUS$10-million earnings mark with a victory in Saturday's $US2-million (AUS$4.09 million) Dubai Duty Free, a turf race on the Dubai World Cup card at Nad al Sheba racecourse in the United Arab Emirates. A victory would be worth US$1.2-million (AUS$2.45 million).

TVG Targeted for Two More States

A deal between TV Games Network's parent company and Comcast, the nation's third leading cable operator, will put the horse racing network in two more states before September.

Portland Meadows Changes Operators

Real estate developer Tom Moyer bought the operating rights for Portland Meadows, Oregon's largest racetrack. The change, however, does not bring much stability to the state's Thoroughbred racing industry.

Stage Set For World Cup; Street Cry in Derby Prep

Mike Pegram's Captain Steve and Godolphin's Best of the Bests, co-favorites at 7-4 for Saturday's Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) with British bookmaker William Hill, will break from the starting gate alongside each other in post-positions 11 and 10 respectively as a dozen international runners face the starter for the $6 million pot, richest in racing with $3.6 million earmarked for the winner. Also competing in the 1 1/4-mile test is Bobby Frankel-trained Aptitude.

A P Valentine to Run at Hialeah Saturday

In a surprise move, trainer Nick Zito has entered A P Valentine in a 1 1/16-mile race at Hialeah Saturday. It was originally planned to run the son of A.P. Indy in the Flamingo Stakes on April 7, but Zito felt it was time to find out just where the colt stood on the Kentucky Derby trail. Iin Saturday's race, A P Valentine will carry 108 pounds as he faces older horses in the optional claiming test for non-winners of two other/than. A P Valentine is one of two starters in the six horse field not running for the claiming price of $150,000.

Top Derby Pedigrees Updated

Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, analyzes the top pedigrees for this year's Kentucky Derby candidates. During his 29 years with the Daily Racing Form, Haskin became known for his insightful coverage of the Triple Crown races. Haskin won the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby writing in 1997, 1999, and 2000 and received the David Woods Award for best Preakness story in 1997.

Buckle Down Ben 5-2 Morning Line Choice for Spiral

Michael Tabor's Buckle Down Ben, winless in two starts this year but winner of last year's Laurel Futurity (gr. III), was installed the 5-2 morning line favorite after drawing post 8 for Saturday's $600,000 Spiral Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. While there is no standout, a well-balanced field of nine 3-year-olds were entered for the 1 1/8-mile race that will be telecast live on ESPN from 4-5 p.m. EST.

Desormeaux to Ride in Japan for Three Months

Kent Desormeaux won the Kentucky Derby in 1998 and 2000, but in 2001 his best Derby hope may come on May 27 in the Japanese Derby at Tokyo racecourse. Desormeaux has agreed to ride in Japan on a three-month license from the Japan Racing Association, beginning on April 28, the date of a key trial race for the Japanese classic.

OBS March Sale Ends With A Bang

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March select auction of 2-year-olds ended with a bang on Wednesday. A Dehere ridgling became the most expensive juvenile ever sold by OBS when he brought a $1,050,000 bid from trainer Todd Pletcher, who was representing pharmaceutical executive Eugene Melnyk.

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