Even the Score, a two-length winner of the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) on May 8, figures to be favored among nine entrants in the 1 1/8-mile Californian (gr. II) Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Fresh off a dominant victory in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I), Argentine-bred Avanzado will attempt to reaffirm his standing as California's premier sprinter in Thursday's $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) at Hollywood Park.
Favored Joey Franco captured the $75,000-added El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds at Del Mar Friday night, prevailing by a head in an all-out stretch duel with Taste of Paradise and a fast-closing Paxtecum.
Kentucky Derby (gr. I) sixth-place finisher Came Home will return to the races June 23 at Hollywood Park in the Affirmed Stakes (gr. III), the final local prep for the $500,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. II) on July 14.
Astra ran down Starine in the final strides to win the $500,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap by a head Monday, two years after the 6-year-old mare won the same race.Both Azeri and Astra win major holiday races for trainer Laura De Seroux and the Allen Paulson Living Trust.
Hollywood Park's first race Monday is the $150,000 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. II), the first of three graded stakes on the track's holiday card.
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.
Headed by Repent and Changeintheweather, at least nine 3-year-olds are expected to be entered for Saturday's grade II, $500,000 Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park.
U S S Tinosa tuned up for Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) with a four-furlong work at Golden Gate Fields Sunday morning. Also working were stablemate Cappuchino, Medaglia d'Oro, Holdthehelm, Jack's Silver, Charioteer, Habibti, and Raven Power. Also, Patrick Valenzuela has been named to ride Mayakovsky in the Santa Anita Derby.
Gotham Stakes (gr. III) winner Maykovsky is definite for the April 6 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), trainer Patrick Biancone said Saturday, but Royal Gem has been declared from the race due to a quarter crack.
Peter Abruzzo and Barry Thiriot's multiple stakes winner U S S Tinosa blew out three furlongs in :36 3/5 Thursday in preparation for Sunday's San Felipe Stakes (gr. II).
$4.4 million yearling purchase Shah Jehan worked six furlongs Saturday in preparation for the $250,000 March 17 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II). Meanwhile, Fonz's is being prepared for a start in the April 6 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Came Home pressed Werblin through moderate fractions then drew away in the stretch to win the $200,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) by three lengths on Saturday at Santa Anita. Under Chris McCarron, Came Home completed the mile in 1:36.24 on a fast track to notch the victory in his first career attempt at a race run around two turns.
Although Saturday's San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita has drawn several classy colts, there is a major question whether or not the race will produce any Kentucky Derby contenders. Of the top choices in the one-mile race, only Pelirrojo looks like he wants any part of 1 1/4 miles. The other big names, Came Home, Fonz's, and Werblin, all have either pedigree issues or logistics going against them.
Came Home, who is looking to take the next step up the Kentucky Derby ladder, drilled a sharp half in :46 4/5 at Santa Anita Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's one-mile San Rafael Stakes.
Top Triple Crown hopeful Siphonic worked five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 over a fast track at Hollywood Park Saturday in preparation for the March 17 San Felipe S. (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) winner Fonz's and stakes-placed were on track Saturday morning in preparation for the Mar. 2 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II).
Amerman Racing Stables' Siphonic moves to the head of the West Coast 2-year-old class with a victory in the Hollywood Futurity.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
This is the time of the year to keep close tabs on 2-year-old maiden races. Whether trainers admit it or not, they are well aware that no Kentucky Derby winner has failed to start as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882. Recently, we've seen several intriguing prospects break their maiden, and now is as good a time as any to start planting the seed.
Sure, he looked strong, and there seemed to be some promise in his bloodlines. Then again, the chestnut colt had hind ankles questionable enough that most buyers simply turned their backs. For trainer David LaCroix, the $10,500 price tag represented a bargain, a gamble, a chance. There really was no further reason for him to think, or to dream, any bigger. That horse, Fonz's, returned from a nearly six-month layoff to win the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) Saturday at Hollywood Park.
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