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.
After three days of mild exercise in the barn, Jerry and Ann Moss' Giacomo, the surprise winner of the 131st Kentucky Derby (gr. I), returned to the Churchill Downs track Wednesday for the first time since his stunning victory.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who rode Giacomo to a 50-1 upset victory in Saturday's 131st Kentucky Derby (gr. I), will join The Blood-Horse's senior correspondent Steve Haskin for a special edition of bloodhorse.com's "Talkin' Horses" Wednesday at noon (ET; 9 a.m PT).
Mike Smith stood by himself in front of the detention barn on the Churchill Downs backstretch. The May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) was still a week and a half away, and the mass influx of media was not due for several days. Smith, who had been riding regularly at Keeneland, gazed out at the track, watching the morning activities.
Trainer John Shirreffs said he'll give Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo a few days to walk and rest at Churchill Downs before being shipped to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on May 21.
One day after riding Giacomo to an upset victory in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at 50-1 odds, jockey Mike Smith was in the limelight Sunday morning in the Churchill Downs barn area.
Giacomo, the second biggest upset winner in the 131-year history of the Kentucky Derby, runner-up Closing Argument and third place finisher Afleet Alex could all start in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 21 although winning trainer John Shirreffs hasn't committed his son of Holy Bull.
Hollywood Story nearly went down after clipping heels heading into the clubhouse turn in Saturday's $100,000 Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park. But the John Shirreffs-trained filly not only kept her feet, she and jockey Victor Espinoza went on to win the 1 1/6-mile test for fillies and mares.
Hollywood Story, whose greatest success has come at Hollywood Park, returns to her favorite racetrack on Saturday when she heads a field of seven in the $100,000 Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) at 1 1/16 miles.
Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss' Giacomo breezed seven-furlongs in 1:23.80 over a "fast" track at Hollywood Park.
Stanley Park, who registered a 7-1 upset in his last race, carries top weight of 118 pounds as the likely favorite in the about 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) on turf, the highlight of Santa Anita Park's closing weekend.
In continuing fallout from the weekend loss by champion Sweet Catomine in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), four or five horses previously trained by Julio Canani for owners Marty and Pam Wygod are being transferred to trainer John Shirreffs.
The pacesetting Tarlow, ridden to a frantic finish by Patrick Valenzuela, reached the wire a nose in front of Dream of Summer to win the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Saturday.
Front-running Tarlow pulled jockey Patrick Valenzuela to the lead soon after the start and was never headed while recording a two-length victory in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) for 4-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Saturday.
Trainer John Shirreffs aims for his fourth Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) winner in seven years Sunday at Hollywood Park when he saddles Hollywood Story in the $150,000 race for fillies and mares.
Calkins Road wore down 2-5 favorite Yougottawanna late to register his first stakes victory since November 2002 in the $97,840 Joseph T. Grace Handicap at Santa Rosa's Sonoma County Fair Saturday.
Hollywood Story, who most recently finished fifth in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), heads a field of six 3-year-old fillies entered to race 1 1/16 miles in the $175,000 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) in Inglewood Saturday.
Patrick Valenzuela became the first jockey in 20 years to sweep all five major Southern California riding titles in the same year when he brought a maiden, 6-1 shot Hollywood Story, from behind to win the $349,500 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) for 2-year-old fillies. In typical P. Val fashion, he survived a stewards' inquiry to do it.
Hollywood Story, arguably the most accomplished maiden 2-year-old filly in the nation, will make her next start in the $200,000 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) on Dec. 21, trainer John Shirreffs confirmed Wednesday.
Debuting trainer Leonard Powell, 27, plans to send out his first starter, Labirinto, in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, a grade I test at 12 furlongs at Hollywood Park on Nov. 22. "I've got to start somewhere," said Powell with a chuckle.
Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss' Stanley Park surged past favored Bis Repetitas near the eighth pole and swept to an easy 2 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 Bay Meadows Derby (gr. IIIT) Saturday.
Sheikh Maktoum's Storming Home, seventh as the 2-1 favorite in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), had a chunk taken out of his right hind foot when he was involved in a bumping incident with Sulamani rounding the first turn.
Edmund A. Gann's Peace Rules ran off after exercise rider Marco Ramirez came out of the stirrups and then turned in a bullet workout at Hollywood Park on Monday.
Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) hopeful Yankee Gentleman displayed his quick turn of foot Wednesday, breezing five furlongs in a quick :58 1/5 over Santa Anita's main track. The time was the co-second fastest of the day among 39 horses working that distance.
Wertheimer Farm's unbeaten Halfbridled, the likely favorite for next month's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), showed her versatility in winning Sunday's $250,000 Oak Leaf States (gr. II) for jockey Julie Krone at Santa Anita.
Trainer John Shirreffs, a man of few words, hopes to let Bullistic do the talking in the $400,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Sunday.
Private Chef, unbeaten but seemingly unconvincing, will seek his third victory and some appreciation on Sunday in Hollywood Park's $200,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Blythe Miller Davies, a retired steeplechase riding star, took out an exercise rider's license this week and is galloping horses for trainer John Shirreffs at Hollywood Park.
Calkins Road, sidelined since winning the California Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November, is scheduled to return Saturday in the $400,000 Californian (gr. II) at Hollywood Park.
Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss' Private Chef, making his second career start, came storming from behind to register a narrow victory over pacesetting Banshee King in Sunday's $112,600 Will Rogers Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park.
George Krikorian's even-money favorite Makeup Artist rallied widely on the final turn in posting a 1 1/2-length victory in Saturday's $113,500 Senorita Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies on the Hollywood Park turf.
Owner George Krikorian said that Starrer, winner of her last three starts, will be forced to miss the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I), expected to showcase Horse of the Year Azeri at Hollywood Park on May 24.
Makeup Artist worked three furlongs in a bullet :34.80 Wednesday at Hollywood Park and will be supplemented to the $100,000-added Senorita Stakes (gr. IIIT) on Saturday, trainer John Shirreffs confirmed.
Alexine, a gray mare who lost by a nose when favored in last year's Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III), will be the high weight and probable favorite in this year's $100,000-added running on Friday night at Hollywood Park.
Alex Solis, who won the Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) aboard Affluent but opted to get off of her to ride Got Koko in the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I), will be back aboard the daughter of Affirmed when she meets Horse of the Year Azeri in the April 5 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park.
George Krikorian's favored Starrer went over the $1 million mark in career earnings Sunday, pulling away from front-running Sightseek in deep stretch to win the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita.
Affluent and Starrer, grade I winners in their last races, have been assigned co-high weight of 121 pounds for Sunday's $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.
Starrer was ready to roll down the backstretch in the $200,000 Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park on Sunday, but jockey Patrick Valenzuela knew better than to let her go so soon.
Starrer returns to competition in Sunday's $200,000 Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) for older fillies and mares at Santa Anita following a two-month layoff.
Sea Jewel, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), faces stakes winners Atlantic Ocean and Summer Wind Dancer in Sunday's $100,000-added Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Park.
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela found room along the rail and shot even-money favorite Starrer through the opening at the top of the stretch, going on to a five-length victory in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Starrer, winless in five races since her victory in last year's Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park, will try to repeat in Sunday's 21st running of the $150,000 stakes race for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
Starrer worked six furlongs in 1:14.60 at Hollywood Park Sunday morning under exercise rider Michelle Jensen in preparation for defense of her Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) crown next Sunday.
Rmisvesta worked seven furlongs in 1:26.40 Sunday morning at Hollywood Park and received the green light for the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) for 2-year-old fillies Saturday from trainer John Sadler.
Old pro Laffitt Pincay Jr. picked up his third Cal Cup Classic victory aboard 10-1 Calkins Road Saturday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
Preparing Kona Gold for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) is old hat for Bruce Headley, who is preparing the 8-year-old for his fifth run at the Sprint.
Five Southern California trainers have been fined $1,500 each by the California Horse Racing Board after an herbal product they used on horses under their care was found to contain two banned substances. A hearing will be held in January.
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