Spite the Devil and West Virginia, the first two finishers in last year's Empire Classic at Belmont Park, return for Saturday's renewal of the $250,000 race, the centerpiece of the $1 million New York Showcase Day for state breds.
Henry C. Gregory's Gold and Roses pulled away from the front-running favorite Galloping Grocer on a sealed, sloppy main track at Saratoga Race Course Wednesday under jockey Edgar Prado for a 6 ¾-length victory in the $250,000 Cab Calloway Division of the New York Stallion Series.
As 14 horses were entered Wednesday for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Scrappy T turned his final workout, getting three furlongs in :37 3/5 in what was described as a "maintenance work."
In Tuesday developments leading up to Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), High Fly joined trainer Nick Zito's contingent of contenders after breezing at Churchill Downs. Also putting in final works at Churchill before shipping to Pimlico were Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo and Wilko.
Complete daily report on contenders for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Racecourse.
Jockeys Edgar Prado and David Flores have picked up mounts in the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course. Prado gets the call aboard High Limit and Flores will ride Greeley's Galaxy.
Fourteen horses, the absolute limit, have not started in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) since 1992, but as events continue to unfold, it appears the starting gate could be filled to capacity for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
Sackatoga Stable's Eclipse-and-Classic-winning Funny Cide, whose 2004 graded victories included the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), was again named New York-bred horse of the year at the 25th annual New York Thoroughbred Breeders' awards banquet .
It's now or never for the eight starters entered in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I). If any hope to make it to the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), they must deliver the goods in the Wood, especially with only two of the participants – Bellamy Road and Survivalist – on the top 20 list of graded earnings.
Saturday's $150,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct drew three strong Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders in Galloping Grocer, Naughty New Yorker, and Survivalist in the field of nine. While all three would prefer two turns, Galloping Grocer has the brilliance to bounce back off his fourth in the Whirlaway with a big performance.
Simply put, this has been a relatively uneventful Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Until Feb. 12, no 3-year-old had done anything exciting enough to infiltrate the top spots, occupied by last year's stars, none of whom have even run yet in 2005. Then, along came Scipion.
Preferred Pals Stable's outsider Sort It Out spoiled the sophomore debut of odds-on favorite Galloping Grocer on Saturday, winning the $84,150 Whirlaway for 3-year-olds at a 1 1/16 miles by a neck over Naughty New Yorker.
It's Future Wager time again, and with six of the 23 individual betting interests in Pool 1 running this weekend and six having run last weekend, you pretty much have some idea how the betting will go on more than half the field.
Rafael Bejarano, Aqueduct's leading rider, has been hit with a seven-day suspension and will sit out next week after accepting the ban without appealing.
Trainer Shug McGaughey is set to take the wraps off Laurel Futurity winner Defer in Saturday's $100,000 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park in what he hopes will be the first step toward the 3-year-old Classic races later this spring.
"Too fast to last." That is an old slogan that racing fans hope does not ring true in 2005. If it doesn't, then we're in for a memorable winter and spring on the road to the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), as a legion of brilliant young horses across the country prepare to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Fox Hill Farms' Rockport Harbor, undefeated winner of the Remsen (gr. II) and Nashua Stakes (gr. III), is recovering nicely from a severe gash to his back foot and is scheduled to leave Philadelphia Park for Oaklawn Wednesday.
With the year drawing to a close, it's time to start sizing up the future travelers who are preparing to embark on the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail.
Fox Hill Farms' Rockport Harbor, who scored a gutsy victory over Galloping Grocer in the Nov. 27 Remsen Stakes (gr. II), came out of the 1 1/8-mile race with a severe gash on his right hind leg that was described by trainer John Servis as "pretty nasty."
The clash of undefeated 2-year olds in Saturday's Remsen (gr. II) lived up to billing when Rockport Harbor dug in to earn a neck victory over Galloping Grocer in a stretch battle that drew a rare shout of applause from the Aqueduct grandstand.
Two undefeated juvenile colts – Galloping Grocer and Rockport Harbor – square off in the $200,000 Remsen (gr. II) at Aqueduct Saturday at 1 1/8 miles.
Will "Rocky" score another knockout? Will The Grocer breeze through the express lane again? Those questions should be answered in the Nov. 27 Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct. The same day, at Churchill Downs, Iroquois (gr. III) winner Straight Line again will try to take the shortest way home in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II).
On the Bus took the express lane to victory in the $150,000 Ticonderoga Handicap, one of the highlights of New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park Saturday.
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