Trainer Bob Baffert's Officer, the 2-year-old colt who won his first five races so effortlessly he was promoted as racing's latest wunderkind, will seek redemption from two dramatic setbacks in Saturday's $460,750 Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park. Siphonic, who overcame obstacles that compromised odds-on favorite Officer and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is expected to be a slight favorite in the grade I event at 1 1/16 miles
Renaissance Woman worked four furlongs in :49.40 Wednesday at Hollywood Park to earn a probable start in the $345,000 Hollywood Starlet for 2-year-old fillies on Sunday. Also working at Hollywood Park on Wednesday, was Feverish, the defending champion in the Bayakoa Handicap who breezed four furlongs in :50.20.
Arlington Million winner Silvano was installed the 9-2 third choice when he drew the outside post position 14 for Sunday's Hong Kong Cup that highlights and international card of four graded races at Sha Tin Racecourse. Jim and Tonic will break from post five as the 3-1 favorite in the 1 1/4-mile race.
Ending weeks of speculation, trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Wednesday that he would enter Officer and Mountain Rage in the $360,000-estimated Hollywood Futurity Saturday. "They're the two that are doing the best," said Baffert Wednesday from his Santa Anita stable office. Baffert also had Popular and Hawk's Top Gun under consideration for the Grade I test at 1 1/16 miles.
He was 75 cents to the dollar in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and could be as high as 3-1 in the Hollywood Futurity. A victory by Officer on Saturday would no doubt make him a major candidate for Overlay of the Year. Although it will be no easy task knocking off Siphonic, Officer still looks to be one of the most appetizing propositions we've seen in a while.
While Argentina finds itself in a political and economic crisis, its racing industry, which sees itself seriously affected by the general situation, awaits to close the year with a bang this next Saturday at Hipodromo San Isidro with the running of the 113th edition of the Gran Premio Internacional Carlos Pellegrini (Arg-I), over the turf course at the distance of 2400 meters .
When Morluc finished second to Falvelon in the 2000 edition of the Hong Kong Sprint, he did so while running on tender feet. "That's not going to be the case this year," said trainer Randy Morse. "We've had Morluc on bar shoes ever since he arrived in Hong Kong. The shoes provide him with just the elevation he needs. Morluc's in much better condition for this year's race."
The one trainer who seems to be establishing his niche in this year's Derby picture is Shug McGaughey. With Saarland, Maybry's Boy, and D'Coach, it's as if McGaughey is standing at the quarter pole with a slingshot and launching some speeding projectiles down the Aqueduct stretch.
Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos put in a quick four-furlong drill at Gulfstream Park Sunday morning for trainer John Ward Jr.
Tampa Bay Downs will begin a customer reward program called "The Club" when the Oldsmar, Fl, track's 93-day meet begins Dec. 16.
Days after the defection of Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Val Royal from the Hong Kong Mile (HK-I), the race at Sha Tin Racecourse lost another prospective entrant Friday when it was announced that Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) runner-up Tamburlaine will also miss the Dec.16 race.
Florida's Calder Race Course will again close the National Steeplechase Association season, with two races carded as part of Sunday's racing program. The jumpers will compete in a $25,000 allowance hurdle and the $50,000 Tropical Park Steeplechase Stakes (NSA-III).
Crash Course, Tijiyr, and Slew Valley head the 12-horse field for Saturday's $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course.
Helen Groves' Batique and Jeanne Vance's Chaste will lead a full field of 12 fillies and mares postward in the $100,000 My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) Saturday at Calder Race Course.
The fields are set for the four $100,000 stakes races to be run on Saturday's Grand Slam I program at Calder Race Course -- the biggest afternoon of racing on the national calendar that day.
Before the early (and we stress early) list of classic hopefuls gets too long, we're going to sort out the growing number of promising 2-year-olds and take a crack at where they might fit in the 2002 Kentucky Derby picture. We're sure there will be omissions, but this at least will provide an idea who might be some of the major players next spring. Horses are listed in alphabetical order:
Trainers on both coasts unwrapped some exciting early Christmas presents last week, and all the gifts appear to come with batteries packed with enough charge to last well past next May. This is the time of year when the colts with Derby pedigrees make their appearance, and if you like to see brilliance and a big closing kick to go along with a very low dosage index, then you're going to love Pelirrojo, Charioteer, Axis, and Iwin.
No favorites won during Hollywood Park's nine-race card Sunday setting up a pick six carryover for Wednesday's program.
With no grade I races scheduled for next weekend, trainer Bobby Frankel will have to wait before attempting to earn his 18th grade I win of the year. He will, though, have a big shot at picking up stakes win 49 of the year when he sends out Euchre in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 9.
Remember Tincin, whose connections threatened to enter the maiden in this year's Kentucky Derby before a cough forced his withdrawal? Those who look back on that debacle fondly will want to tune in for the Dec. 15 Hollywood Futurity, when Iowa-bred Warp Speed Scottie will ship in to take on Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) third-place finisher Siphonic in the 1 1/16-mile grade I race.
Trainer Jim Chapman entered Caller One Friday for Sunday's $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) at Hollywood Park to the surprise of track officials.
A full field of 12 is scheduled to compete in Saturday's Holiday Inaugural Stakes, the first stakes event of the "winter" season in Kentucky. Turfway kicked off its Holiday Meet Nov. 25, and will race straight through to early April.
Rich Meadow Stable and Alan Burkhard's 4-year-old Slew Valley is likely to invade Calder from Maryland for a return to competition in the $100,000 Tropical Park Turf Handicap (gr. III) next Saturday (Dec. 8).
The final stop on the NSA's 2001 calendar will include two races at Florida's Calder Race Course on Sunday, Dec. 9 and preliminary indications point to solid fields for both races.
Steve Haskin, an award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, provides his insights into the contenders and the pretenders for this year's Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races.
Men's Exclusive has lost his last four starts since winning the Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita in January, but conditioner Wesley Ward is confident the 8-year-old gelding will run big in defense of his crown in the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes (gr. III) at six furlongs Sunday.
Blazing Fury, who arrived from New York late Wednesday afternoon for Saturday's $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, jogged on the training track during a rainy Thursday morning. Assistant Danny Dubuc is overseeing final preparations for the 3-year-old gelding until trainer Jim Toner arrives Friday night.
Right now, the plan is simple: Johannesburg will point for the Kentucky Derby. The only question is how to go about doing it.
Bob Baffert is considering running Popular in the $200,000 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) rather than multiple graded stakes winner Officer. Hollywood Prevue winner Fonz's is also being pointed toward the Futurity, but trainer and co-owner David LaCroix also has a decision to make regarding his juvenile.
Churchill Downs' closing day $200,000-added stakes races for 2-year-olds -- the Golden Rod (gr. II) for fillies and the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) -- have each attracted fields of six horses, although both races suffered late defections because of illness.
There are many questions going into Sunday's 21st running of the Japan Cup (Jpn-I), whose nearly $4-million purse makes it one of the world's richest races. But first and foremost on the minds of many American racing fans is whether or not the four-horse U.S. contingent can break a 10-year victory drought in the 2,400 meter turf race.
Michael Tabor's Left Bank is the 5-2 favorite in the nine-horse field that will contest Saturday's Cigar Mile (gr. I), the last grade I race of the year in New York.
Trainer Neil Drysdale gave thumbs up for Crystal Music to be entered in the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes after the 3-year-old filly worked four furlongs on the Hollywood Park turf course in :48.40 under Alex Solis Thursday.
Bidding for an Eclipse Award as 2001 Turf Champion, Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal will be a solid favorite to capture Hollywood Park's grade II, $500,000 Citation Handicap on Saturday before shipping to Asia to compete in the $2.3-million Hong Kong Cup on Dec. 16.
Top turf sprinter Morluc was to have prepped at Churchill Downs Thursday for a run next month in the $1.025 million Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin Race Course, but trainer Randy Morse scratched him because of concern over the presence of the temporary rail on the Churchill Downs turf course.
Val Royal, winner of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship Mile in his last start Oct. 27 at Belmont Park, will run in the $500,000 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park Saturday, trainer Julio Canani confirmed.
Atelier, a solid fourth last out in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), will carry high weight into the grade II, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap Friday at Aqueduct. A good field of nine will face the starter.
Racing secretary Bob Umphrey reports that leading jockeys Jerry Bailey, Pat Day, and Jorge Chavez have committed to ride at Calder Race Course on Dec. 8, Grand Slam I Day, a program that will have four stakes races worth $100,000 each.
If you're looking for major contenders in Friday's 127th renewal of the historic Clark Handicap (grade II), simply follow the money. And when you follow that trail, you don't have to take many steps until you run into Gander.
Yonaguska, winner of the Hutcheson Stakes and Sport Page Handicap this year, drew the rail as 11 horses were entered for the Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. II) that highlight's Thursday's Thanksgiving Day card at Aqueduct.
A dozen of the game's top sprinters and middle distance runners have one more dance penciled in on their 2001 calendar - Saturday's $350,000 Cigar Mile, the last grade I race in New York this year.
Pimlico Special winner Include will be the starting highweight for Friday's 127th running of the $400,000-added Clark Handicap. Meanwhile, two more Churchill Downs-based horses have joined the list of prospective starters for the Clark. Mary and Gary West's Ubiquity, trained by Bill Mott, and Jim and Pat Bohanon's Trion Georgia will contest the race.
Six candidates for next Sunday's grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Derby, including Startac, worked on the Hollywood Park grass Sunday.
Spook Express, the probable favorite for the $500,000 Matriarch next Sunday, worked an easy half mile on the Hollywood Park turf course in :50.60 under regular rider Mike Smith.
The United States will have a strong contingent of seven horses at this year's Japan Cup (Jpn-I) and Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) invitational races at Tokyo racecourse next Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24-25, including horses trained by Hall of Fame conditioners Jonathan Sheppard, Neil Drysdale, Richard Mandella, and Robert Frankel.
Spain, who won the 2000 edition of the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) and came within a head of repeating that feat this year, worked a sharp :59 4/5 over five furlongs in her final preparation for Thursday's $250,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
On Parade, one of the most highly anticipated fillies in years, will go for her second consecutive victory when she heads a field of six drawn for the grade III, $75,000 added Valley Stream at Aqueduct Sunday.
Trainer Bobby Frankel, already odds-on to win his second consecutive Eclipse Award, will attempt to draw further away from his peers by starting up to nine horses in Hollywood Park's Turf Festival Nov. 23-25. In fact, he may corner the field in the Grade I Hollywood Derby, run for $500,000 at nine furlongs, by sending four horses to the post. Likely for the Nov. 25 Derby are Juddmonte Farms' Mizzen Mast, Amerman Racing's Blue Steller, Flaxman Holdings' Aldebaran, and the Niarchos Family's Denon.
Trainer Dallas Stewart confirmed that Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Unbridled Elaine is bound for the Falls City Handicap (gr. III) after a strong Thursday morning workout at Churchill Downs.
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