Second in each of her last five starts, odds-on choice Octave defeated three rivals while becoming a grade I winner for the first time in the $237,500 Mother Goose for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park Saturday.
Calvin Borel, regular rider of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Street Sense, and Robby Albarado, rider of Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Curlin, head up this year's list of nominees for ESPN's ESPY Awards in the top jockey category.
Melnyk Racing Stables' homebred Indian Vale, responding well to strong left-handed urging from John Velazquez, edged away from Asi Siempre in the final stages to win the $327,600 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Following his win with Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), trainer Todd Pletcher has reloaded and sends out two horses, Master Command and Magna Graduate, who have big shots to take down Saturday's $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
- By Steve Haskin
Call it fate. Call it kismet. Whatever title you prefer, Rags to Riches seemed destined to give trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez their first classic winner.
- By Dan Liebman
Rags to Riches becomes the first filly to win the Belmont (gr. I) since 1905, beating Curlin in a thrilling stretch duel.
Cotton Blossom came charging on the outside to beat heavily favored Dream Rush by a length in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I).
Eighty minutes or so before the sport's top 3-year-olds battle it out in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, some of racing's fastest and classiest three-year-old fillies - including Christmas Kid, Cotton Blossom, and Boca Grande - will meet in the 77th running of the Acorn Stakes (gr. I).
The suspense was so thick, you could cut it with a...Well, maybe it wasn't quite that thick, but at least there was a some anticipation to see what Todd Pletcher was going to do regarding Rags to Riches' status in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). After putting off his decision as long as possible, he finally made the announcement at 9:30 Tuesday morning.
Precious Kitten, coming off a second-place finish in the April 14 Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland, will face down A True Pussycat when a field of 11 fillies and mares goes postward for Saturday's 1/16-mile Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard.
The saddle worn by Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro and purchased at the Mint Jubilee auction by Dwight Manley for $220,000 May 4, was purchased privately by Roy and Gretchen Jackson a few moments later.
Bill Heiligbrodt's Gaff overcame a yielding turf course to register a win in Friday's $150,000 Aegon Turf Sprint (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
The racing industry's equine stars have one shot at winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr.I). Their riders, on the other hand, keep coming back for more. Here are the Derby records of several jockeys with prospective mounts in this year's Run for the Roses.
Heavily favored Safari Queen accelerated to the lead entering the stretch en route to a decisive two-length victory in the $150,000 Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) for older fillies Wednesday at Keeneland.
Strong favorite Audacious Chloe led the field every step of the way to win the $115,700 Appalachian Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the Keeneland turf course Sunday, handing the dominating duo of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez one more stakes victory.
Aaron and Marie Jones' Master Command made short work of three overmatched rivals when he drew off to win the $250,000 National Jockey Club Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne by a convincing 3 3/4 lengths Saturday, helping him to eclipse $1 million dollars in earnings.
Gulfstream Park closes its 2007 racing season Sunday with Eclipse-winning trainer Todd Pletcher capturing his fourth consecutive title at the South Florida track. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez has sealed his first riding title.
Corinthian, after jumping in the air at the start, never reached contention, leaving the Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) for second choice Magna Graduate under a picture perfect ride from John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Jockey John Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher teamed for back-to-back stakes victories at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday when Green Hills Farm's favored Cassydora made every pole a winning one in the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares on the turf.
Making her first start since a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), Dogwood Stable's Cotton Blossom was too much to handle in the $200,000 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday.
Favored Circular Quay, able to avoid the traffic issues he encountered in the Risen Star (gr. III) one month ago, circled the field five wide coming off the far turn under John Velazquez and rallied impressively to win the $594,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Saturday.
The multiple graded stakes winner Master Command drew away like a a 3-10 shot should to record an easy win in the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Saturday.
Magna Graduate, trained by two-time Eclipse trainer Todd Pletcher and ridden by two-time Eclipse jockey John Velazquez, challenged the pacesetting Jonesboro at the head of the stretch, and drew off in the final furlong for a 1 3/4- length victory in the $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park.
Michael and Doreen Tabor's Circular Quay has been installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of eight 3-year-olds for the 94th running of the $600,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course March 10.
Arindel Farm's Wait a While, last year's Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top 3-year-old filly, started her 2007 season in fine style, going virtually gate to wire to win the $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap (gr. IIIT) as the prohibitive favorite on the Gulfstream Park turf Sunday.
Scat Daddy, somewhat overlooked in trainer Todd Pletcher's rich stable for this year's Triple Crown trail, stormed from far back to tag the tough-luck loser Stormello by a nose in the final stride of Saturday's $350,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.
Favored Half Ours remained unbeaten in five starts when he staved off the hard-charging Park Avenue Ball in the closing strides to take the $225,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship Handicap (gr. II) by a half-length at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
Audacious Chloe handed Dreaming of Anna her first defeat on the turf Sunday in the $76,500 Gaily Gaily Stakes, outfighting the champion 2-year-old filly of 2006 over the final furlong by a half-length at Gulfstream Park.
WinStar Farm's Any Given Saturday went off at odds of 1-5 in his 3-year-old debut Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. He gave his supporters little reason for concern with a 2 3/4-length triumph in the $146,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes.
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's favored Appealing Zophie, a grade I winner, turned away an erratic Total in the stretch to run away with Saturday's $200,000 Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds.
Odds-on choice Master Command left the tiring Purim approaching the eighth pole and cruised to victory in the $194,000 Mineshaft Handicap, the first of four successive grade III races on the Fair Grounds program Saturday.
A change in his usual tactics contributed to a career-best effort for Anstu Stable's Ramazutti, a handy winner of Sunday's $150,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 3/8 miles on the Gulfstream Park lawn.
N.T.S. Stable's 3-year-old filly Annabill extended her win streak to three races after her victory in the $100,000 Chaposa Springs Handicap at Calder on Saturday.
Melnyk Racing Stables' speedy Bishop Court Hill took control of the $110,600 Gravesend Handicap (gr. III) coming away from the gate and rolled to a measured one-length victory under John Velazquez on the Aqueduct inner track Sunday.
The Argentine-bred Safari Queen wasn't hindered in the least when Saturday's $200,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. III) was switched from the turf to a sloppy Calder main track, cruising to a front-running victory for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Half Ours eked out a victory in an allowance/optional claiming race at Aqueduct Thursday in his first start since being sold for $6.1 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Magna Graduate, sidelined for most of the year, took command of Saturday's $107,700 Queen's County Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct soon after the start en route to his first victory of 2006.
The Jockeys' Guild has outlined a five-point plan for 2007 that primarily focuses on financial matters, but it also has made a strong call for solidarity among the membership and heightened political action in individual states and Washington, D.C.
English invader Bayeux, ignored at odds of 23-1 in his American debut, unleashed a strong stretch drive to score an upset victory over Lord Admiral in the $168,900 River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) on turf Friday at Churchill Downs.
High winds again forced the cancellation of racing at Aqueduct on Sunday afternoon after the first race. The horses were in the paddock for the second race when the announcement was made.
Twilight Meteor collared favored Marcavelly with an eighth of a mile remaining and gradually pulled away to a 2 ¼-length victory in the $125,000 Woodford Reserve Bourbon County Stakes Friday at Keeneland.
Trainer Todd Pletcher tied the single-season mark for graded stakes victories Wednesday when Roman Dynasty won the $105,300 Discovery Handicap (gr. III) for 3-year-olds on the opening day of the Aqueduct fall meet.
Scat Daddy gave trainer Todd Pletcher his record 93rd stakes victory in 2006 with a smart win over favored Nobiz Like Shobiz in the 135th running of the $400,000 Champagne (gr. I) for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park Saturday.
English Channel, who ran fifth in last year's John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), has his final prep for this year's Breeders' Cup Saturday in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.
Team Valor Stable's King of the Roxy, getting better with experience, notched his first graded stakes victory on Saturday when he held C P West safe for a three-quarter-length victory in the 117th running of Belmont Park's $250,000 Futurity (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs.
Pool Land tracked favored Take D' Tour through wickedly fast early fractions, then pulled away in the stretch to win the $300,000 Ruffian (gr. I) for fillies and mares at Belmont Park Sunday.
Making his second start for trainer Martin Wolfson, Silverleaf Farm's Pomeroy, ridden confidently by John Velazquez, pulled away from War Front in the final furlong to win the $250,000 Forego Handicap (gr. I) in an upset at Saratoga Race Course Saturday.
Prohibitive favorite Henny Hughes took command of Saturday's King Bishop (gr. I) on the bend and turned the seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds into a romp on an overcast day at Saratoga Race Course.
Even-money favorite Bluegrass Cat, winless since taking the Sam F. Davis in February, demolished the field in Sunday's $1,030,000 Haskell Invitational with devastating late burst.
The multiple graded stakes winner Ready's Gal, forwardly placed in Sunday's $150,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker (gr. IIIT), took the lead at the head of the stretch and held off the late challenge of Prop Me Up to win by a half-length on the Monmouth Park grass.
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