Although the current forecast calls for weather that could dampen Breeders' Cup weekend, Monmouth Park and Breeders' Cup officials, as well as trainers, are remaining optimistic.
James Tafel's Street Sense, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), tuned up for a run in the Sept. 29 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) at Turfway Park with a five furlong work Sept. 25 at Churchill Downs.
Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Street Sense and Derby runner-up Hard Spun will meet for the third time in next Saturday's $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) at Turfway Park, it was announced Sept. 22.
Proud Spell was a bit further off the pace than she had been in her first two career starts, but a decisive four-wide move around the final turn was plenty good enough, as the Larry Jones-trained filly scored by three lengths in the $250,000 Matron Stakes (gr. II) Sept. 15 at Belmont.
Heavily favored Hard Spun, a colt who has made all the major dances for trainer Larry Jones this season, earned his elusive first grade I victory when he turned back a serious challenge from First Defence in the $250,000 King's Bishop (gr. I) for 3-year-olds at Saratoga Aug. 25.
Hard Spun likely has only three races left in his career. That was conformed when it was recently announced that the Danzig colt would stand for Darley after the Breeders' Cup. That means, Saturday's $250,000 King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) may provide Hard Spun with his best chance to finally capture an elusive Grade I race, as he shortens up to seven furlongs in a test for 3-year-olds over Saratoga's main track.
Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Haskell Invitational (gr. I) runner-up Hard Spun worked at Delaware Park Aug. 19 in preparation for the King's Bishop Stakes (gr.I) at Saratoga Aug. 25.
During the post position draw for the Aug. 5 running of the $1-million Haskell Invitational (gr. 1), Steve Asmussen was asked if Curlin was the best horse he has ever trained. A master of understatement, Asmussen flatly replied: "I think that would be very reasonable."
The second season for 3-year-olds began on July 4, with the emphatic victory by Any Given Saturday in the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II), and judging from the works turned in by Curlin and Hard Spun on Monday, as well as Street Sense's work on Sunday, the heavy hitters from the Triple Crown are all primed and ready for their respective returns.
The paddock opens at 11:30 for schooling. One of the first to arrive is Belmont (gr. I) entrant Tiago. Trainer John Shirreffs, his stepson David Ingordo, and Frankie Herrarte, a member of his crew, follows the Pleasant Tap colt, who is led by Frank Leal.
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders Hard Spun, Imawildandcrazyguy, and Tiago, as well as Todd Pletcher-trained candidates Rags to Riches and Circular Quay, all hit the Belmont main track for work-outs Sunday morning.
With the racing world still rocking from the bombshell dropped by Carl Nafzger Thursday morning, all thoughts immediately turned to the two big horses who will remain on their Triple Crown journey and the two trainers who elected to see it through to its conclusion.
Thoroughbred racing is a sport of contrasting emotions, ranging from euphoria to despair and laced with a heavy dose of what might have beens. It often takes a special horse to bring all those emotions to the surface, and after watching the 132nd Preakness Stakes (gr. I), there is no doubt that Curlin is that kind of horse.
Mario Pino, long based in Maryland and a regular in other Mid-Atlantic states, has a lot of people rooting for him and his mount, Hard Spun, in Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course.
Street Sense and Hard Spun, the one-two finishers in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, drew outside post positions for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), which attracted a field of nine.
Hard Spun completed his preparations for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with a quarter-mile blowout under jockey Mario Pino May 16 at Delaware Park.
By Bill Nack - The Derby, unique and demanding, requires that a horse be absolutely dead fit to win it.
Trainer Nick Zito said it's "all systems go" for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) after C P West worked a half-mile at Belmont Park May 14. Meanwhile, Hard Spun, King of the Roxy, Xchanger, and Mint Slewlep all prepped for their run at the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Larry Jones, who is still having visions of Street Sense getting shut off somewhere - anywhere - in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is just about ready to drop what might have been and focus all his attention on what will be.
- By Dan Liebman
By Dan Liebman - More than anything else, this year's Run for the Roses is about relationships...and myths.
Massage helps Hard Spun work out all the kinks before Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr.I).
The $1-million Yum! Brands bonus that will be offered to this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) victor if he posts a margin larger than Barbaro's 6 1/2-length triumph in 2006 received cautious responses from Derby-bound trainers Tuesday morning on the backstretch at Churchill Downs.
It takes a lot to steal the spotlight from Curlin, but at approximately 8:35 Monday morning, Hard Spun made Curlin's half-mile work two hours earlier seem like a distant memory. That's when the Lane's End (gr. II) winner went out and worked five furlongs in :57 3/5, all but leaving sparks as his feet hit the ground.
Trainer Larry Jones sent Kentucky Derby contender Hard Spun for a mile work over the Polytrack surface at Lexington's Keeneland Racecourse Monday, April 23.
Fox Hill Farm's Hard Spun stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) Thursday by breezing five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 1/5 at Churchill Downs and showing trainer Larry Jones that he handles the surface.
Fox Hill Farms' Hard Spun regained his status as a leading Triple Crown contender with a powerful win in the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds on Turfway Park's all-weather track Saturday.
Hard Spun, who won his first four races by 28 lengths before tasting defeat in the Feb. 19 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, is the lukewarm favorite for Satuday's Lane End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park.
Hard Spun has worked well on the Polytrack at Turfway Park in preparation for the March 24 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II).
Trainer Larry Jones thought undefeated Hard Spun would face the first difficult test of his career in Saturday's $100,000 Lecomte (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at the Fair Grounds. But as the even-money choice swung off the far turn, it was apparent that this one-mile event was all but over.
Grade I winner Wildcat Bettie B faces seven challengers on Saturday in the $200,000 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park. The eight competitors have combined to finish in the money 45 times in 53 career starts and have 25 victories at the six-furlong distance.
Delaware Park-based trainer Larry Jones came to Saratoga Race Course with Oasis Racing's grade I-winning Wildcat Bettie B and brought Maryland-based jockey Mario Pino with him to take the $110,700 Victory Ride (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies by a length Thursday.
Trainer Larry Jones hopes to kick off a successful weekend at Saratoga Race Course when he starts Miss Elsie in the $150,000 Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares Friday.
Oasis Racing's Wildcat Bettie B revved up while racing wide down the stretch and caught the 18-1 outsider Wild Gams in the final yards to win the $250,000 Prioress Breeders' Cup by a neck at Belmont Park Saturday.
Trainer John Servis and owner Rick Porter, who have been together for more than 15 years, have gone their separate ways, Porter said Wednesday.
Hello Liberty switched to the rail in deep stretch and passed tiring frontrunner Win McCool to win the $205,600 Nassau County Breeders' Cup (gr. II) on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Millionaire grade I winner Island Sand, owned by Jim Osborne's B A Man Stable, has been retired and will be bred in 2006 to A.P. Indy.
Grade I winner Island Sand, likely for the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), breezed five furlongs over Belmont's fast main track Sunday morning in 1:01 3/5. Among the other workers at Belmont were Breeders' Cup contenders Artie Schiller and Happy Ticket.
Island Sand, the only grade I winner in the field, stormed past Two Trail Sioux in mid-stretch and registered a powerful victory in Saturday's $1 million Delaware Handicap (gr. II), the richest race in Delaware Park history.
Prairie Meadows' 47-day spring meet saw overall betting drop 28% after switching from racing Monday afternoons, when it had strong simulcast betting, to Thursday evenings.
The rivalry between Shadow Cast and Island Sand will head into its third act Saturday at Churchill Downs when the pair of 4-year-old stakes winning fillies line up for the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) going 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs.
Josh's Madelyn went from last to first to earn her first graded-stakes win in Thursday's $224,200 Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland.
Six talented fillies will contest Saturday's $300,000 Mother Goose (gr. I) at Belmont Park, including the top two finishers from the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Ashado and Island Sand. The other two legs of the Triple Tiara include the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) on July 24th, and the $750,000 Alabama (gr. I) on Aug. 21st.
A salty field of 10 3-year-old fillies will attempt to crack the tough nut of the $250,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) over a flat mile at Belmont Park Friday.
The 2003 Oaklawn Park meet started with cancellation of the opening weekend's cards due to terrible weather, but ended its 49-day run with an outstanding crowd of 61,752 for the Arkansas Derby program April 12.
Ruby's Reception mowed down favorites Go for Glamour and My Trusty Cat in the stretch to register a mild upset in Friday's $200,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park.
Trainer Bernie Flint, who won the $50,000 Holiday Inaugural Stakes last year with Spanish Glitter, has doubled his chances for a repeat by entering both Freeforracing and Keepondealing for Saturday's feature.
Jockey Terry Thompson is taking his first opportunity to ride in a Breeders' Cup race quite seriously. This week he gave up his regular nighttime schedule at Hoosier Park, where he is close to becoming the all-time leading rider, to get a handle on the Arlington Park surface.
It might take you awhile to name the 2002 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships trainer that has the highest winning percentage this year.
Five of the nine fillies scheduled to run in the $400,000 Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes are stakes winners or stakes-placed.
Claiborne Farm's Trip has been made the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Turfway Breeders' Cup (gr. III), to be run during the Kentucky Cup card at the northern Kentucky track Sept. 14.
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