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Haskin's Belmont Report: Love That Bird

Haskin's Belmont Report: Love That Bird

Ok, I am officially smitten with Mine That Bird. I admit to being one of those misguided souls who paid no attention to him before the Kentucky Derby other than to comment what a beautiful mover he was. After the Preakness and seeing him on the Belmont track Thursday morning, I have to say in simplest of terms this is one cool horse.

Haskin's Belmont Report: Pace Makes the Race

Haskin's Belmont Report: Pace Makes the Race

The two key figures in the pace scenario for Saturday's Belmont Stakes are Miner's Escape and Charitable Man. The former will be a longshot in the field of 10, while Charitable Man was made the 3-1 second choice behind Mine That Bird. So, let's see how this may play out.

Haskin's Belmont Report: The D. Wayne Reign

Haskin's Belmont Report: The D. Wayne Reign

Remember when D. Wayne Lukas won an amazing six Triple Crown races in a row and seven of eight from 1994 to 1996? Remember when Lukas sent out one of the most improbable Belmont Stakes winners ever in Commendable? Well, before you dismiss Lukas' pair of longshots this year, remember who you're dealing with.

Haskin's Belmont Report: The Belmont Breeze

Haskin's Belmont Report: The Belmont Breeze

"Between :49 and :50." That has become your standard instructions by a trainer to his rider prior to a horse's final work for the Belmont Stakes. Gone are the days when trainers would work their horse at least seven furlongs, more likely a mile or even a mile and an eighth for the grueling "Test of the Champion."

Woolley Will Wait For Jackson's Decision

Woolley Will Wait For Jackson's Decision

Whatever the reasons for Jess Jackson delaying his decision on Rachel Alexandra's Belmont Stakes status, Chip Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird, is prepared to wait him out and will not name a rider for the Kentucky Derby winner until Jackson announces his decision.

Haskin's Preakness Report: Rachel on Display

Haskin's Preakness Report: Rachel on Display

There was little new activity Thursday morning, although Pioneerof the Nile did have his first feel of the Pimlico track. Rachel Alexandra went unseen, walking the shed at around 4:30, but did show up for all to see in the afternoon, schooling in the paddock before the fourth race.

Haskin's Preakness Report: Haywire

Haskin's Preakness Report: Haywire

There is no denying that Ahmed Zayat started a firestorm of controversy when he went on HRTV and TVG to announce and then take back his intentions of trying to keep Rachel Alexandra out of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The predicted fallout occurred, but it is now time to cut him some slack.

Tuesday Work to Determine Friesan Fire Status

Tuesday Work to Determine Friesan Fire Status

Friesan Fire, who grabbed his quarter and suffered a several cuts while finishing 18th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will ship down to Pimlico next Monday from Delaware Park and will work on Tuesday under jockey Gabriel Saez to determine whether the colt will run in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

Haskin's Derby Recap: Rare Bird Sighting

Haskin's Derby Recap: Rare Bird Sighting

Well, we saw one bird fly over the rainbow. The vast majority of experts and racing fans were astounded, aghast, and amazed at Mine That Bird's otherworldly performance in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), in which he took off on a demonic dash as if he were being chased by a swarm of angry hornets.

Haskin's Derby Report: The Picks

Haskin's Derby Report: The Picks

To start, this is as tough a Derby as I have ever had to decipher, with a case to be made for at least dozen of the horses. I will break the race down in several categories and then put it all together and come up with something that resembles a wagering strategy.

Ky. Derby Trail: The Key Word is Prep

Ky. Derby Trail: The Key Word is Prep

Saturday's big three Kentucky Derby preps should be pretty formful, with one or two standouts in each race. But, there's a lot more to these races than who is going to win. While they are all prestigious events, let's not forget the fact that they are indeed preps.

Ky. Derby Trail: Rabbit Punch

Ky. Derby Trail: Rabbit Punch

On several occasions over the past few years, Todd Pletcher has reached into his hat to pull out a rabbit, and in most cases the trick didn't go quite as planned. Despite some bad hare days, Pletcher has decided to try his luck at prestidigitation once again in Saturday's Florida Derby (gr. I).

The Fastest Horse in the Gotham...by Far

The Fastest Horse in the Gotham...by Far

Looking at the Thoro-Graph numbers for Saturday's Gotham, there is one horse whose numbers stand out far above the others. That's not to say someone won't make a big move forward and he won't regress, but for speed purposes right now he stands alone, and is "the most likely winner," according to Thoro-Graph's Jerry Brown.

Midshipman Injured, Out of Triple Crown

Midshipman Injured, Out of Triple Crown

Last year's champion 2-year-old Midshipman will miss the Triple Crown after he sustained a minor soft tissue injury to his left fore leg during routine exercise at Godolphin's Al Quoz Stables in Dubai Feb. 28.

Take the Points Already a Big Winner

Take the Points Already a Big Winner

Take the Points, who shipped to California Thursday for Saturday's $200,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III), is a gamble that has already paid off big-time for the colt's breeders Ramiro Salazar and his wife Denise Belcher of Phoenix Farm.

Imperial Council to Run Next in Gotham

March means horses shuttling all over looking for graded earnings and moving forward on the Kentucky Derby trail. One of the more interesting 3-year-olds is Imperial Council, who will head up to New York for the $250,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) March 7, which promises to be a bang-up race.

Emerging Stars to Shine at Fair Grounds

Although this weekend's action is headed by the grade III Southwest Stakes, El Camino Real Derby, and Sam F. Davis, and the 3-year-old debut of Imperial Council, a race to keep a close eye on is the 8th at Fair Grounds on Saturday.

Imperial Council Debuts at Gulf Saturday

Few maiden winners have garnered the kind of respect Imperial Council has, and the Shug McGaughey-trained 3-year-old will attempt to justify his high regard as a potential Kentucky Derby horse when he makes his long-awaited debut in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park Saturday.

Ky. Derby Trail: The Challenge is On

Ky. Derby Trail: The Challenge is On

So, 23 "elite" 3-year-olds have been chosen to make up the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager field. Well, several of those who didn't make the cut are up in arms over the selections and are offering a challenge to the so-called leading Derby contenders.

Saturday 3YO Stakes: What to Look For

Saturday 3YO Stakes: What to Look For

We have an interesting assortment of 3-year-old stakes this weekend, even though the Whirlaway and WEBN Stakes came up pretty thin. Will the Derby winner be in the Robert Lewis (gr. III) or Risen Star (gr. III)? We could have a much better idea once certain questions are answered.

Ky. Derby Trail: Florida Follies

Ky. Derby Trail: Florida Follies

Either tracks like Gulfstream and Oaklawn are getting noticeably slower or the horses are. From all indications, it is the tracks, which is fine if they keep horses sounder. (See end of text for first official Top 30)

Ky. Derby Trail: Sneak Preview

Ky. Derby Trail: Sneak Preview

The first Derby Dozen comes out next week, but we'll get a jump on it with a more comprehensive look before this weekend's stakes. Then we'll make any adjustments based on the results. So, this is more of a speculative list, with a great deal riding on the Hutcheson and Holy Bull Stakes.

Curlin Repeats as Horse of the Year

Curlin Repeats as Horse of the Year

As the only member of the elite crop of 2007 3-year-olds to return to racing as a 4-year-old, Curlin had the hopes of racing fans across the country resting on his shoulders as he embarked on an ambitious campaign that was designed to break new ground in international racing.

3-Year-Old Male Eclipse: Big Brown

3-Year-Old Male Eclipse: Big Brown

Big Brown's championship campaign in 2008 was predominantly about his long list of accomplishments, several which were history-making and unlikely to be duplicated for a long time.

Male Sprint Eclipse: Benny the Bull

Male Sprint Eclipse: Benny the Bull

It takes a great deal to dethrone a champion, and after Midnight Lute's powerful repeat victory in the Sentient Flight Group Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), it was assumed by many that the defending sprint champion had accomplished enough in that race alone to secure a second Eclipse Award.

Dunkirk, $3.7 million Yearling, Romps

Dunkirk, a $3.7 million yearling purchase owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, made that price look like a potential bargain when he overcame traffic problems and blew his opposition away in his career debut.

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