Grade I winners Affirmed Success and D'wildcat headline a field of 12 for Monday's $200,000 General George Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel.
The Churchill Downs spring meet begins Saturday with the $100,000-added Derby Trial (gr. III), the final prep for the May 5 Derby. The race is being used by trainer Ken McPeek to determine whether Gift Of The Eagle will be sent back in the classic one week later.
With the winds of change swirling hard around the South Florida racing scene, Gulfstream Park opened for its 2001 meet on Jan. 3 with its usual accompaniment of the top horses and outfits from across the East Coast and Midwest. Perhaps appropriately, with a wrecking ball due to demolish the plant once the meet concludes as part of a Magna Entertainment major reconstruction, and a war over racing dates in the offing, the results of a trio of opening week stakes were as likely as Frank Stronach joining Tim Smith for a friendly round of golf.
Songandaprayer, a $1 million purchase who broke his maiden at Monmouth in his only other start, enjoyed a successful stakes debut Sunday by winning the $84,800 Huntington Stakes on a sloppy track at Aqueduct.
Peter Callahan's Fistfite moved up to the lead on the turn and edged away in the stretch to win the $108,800 Cowdin Stakes (gr. III) by 2 1/4 lengths Sunday at Belmont Park. Under Richard Migliore, Fistfite completed the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.63 on a fast track.
Peachtree Stable's American Century breezed five furlongs for trainer Todd Pletcher Sunday morning, completing the distance in 1:02 2/5 over a muddy track at Saratoga. The 2-year-old, who won a Sartoga maiden race by 7 1/4 lengths, will run next in the $150,000 Saratoga Special (gr. II) on Wednesday at Saratoga.
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