Fox Hill Farms' Eight Belles and Brereton Jones' Proud Spell, two fillies who have either the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) or the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in their immediate futures, each worked a half-mile April 20 in their final moves at Keeneland before they are shipped to Churchill Downs April 25.
Trainer Larry Jones said it is still up in the air whether his filly Eight Belles will challenge the boys in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) or if she will battle the fillies the day before in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
Eight Belles continued her quest to become the best 3-year-old filly in the nation, as the daughter of Unbridled's Song overcame a poor start to win by three-quarters of a length in the $250,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) April 6 at Oaklawn Park, her third consecutive stakes triumph.
Though Larry Jones was tempted to run his ultra-talented 3-year-old filly Eight Belles against the boys in the $1-million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) April 12, the trainer has decided to take the safer route, and instead will line up the daughter of Unbridled's Song in the $250,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) April 6 at Oaklawn Park.
Airdrie Stud's-homebred filly Proud Spell has been nominated to the Triple Crown. She is slated to make her next start against fillies in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) April 5 at Keeneland.
Maren's Meadow, the victim of a sponging incident at Delaware Park last fall, proved she's over the misfortunate episode and back in top form when she won the $150,000 Bourbonette Oaks Stakes (gr. III) for trainer Larry Jones at Turfway Park March 22.
In the $100,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) March 16 at Oaklawn Park, the streaking 3-year-old filly proved she could handle graded stakes competition, as she scored by 1 1/4 lengths after coasting to the wire with ease under a confident Ramon Dominguez. She defeated five rivals.
Undefeated Lewis Lakin homebred Pure Clan makes her 3-year-old debut March 16 in the $100,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III), and will have to hold off five rivals, including Eight Belles, who won her stakes debut in impressive fashion last month.
Three days ago, trainer Larry Jones said he hoped Proud Spell would pressure Indian Blessing through the early lead in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II). Although Brereton Jones' homebred Proud Citizen filly didn't exactly do that, she did manage to wear down the Eclipse Award winner and get her own score in the March 8 event in New Orleans.
Tom Crouch's 5-year-old homebred mare Kettleoneup puts her three-race win streak on the line March 9 in the $175,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park, and will have to take down, among others, multiple graded stakes winner Hystericalady in order to stretch it to four.
A total of 156 horses were nominated for the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) March 22 at Turfway Park.
Last year's 2-year-old champion filly and Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Fillies (gr. I) winner won at her fifth different racetrack and captured her fourth graded stakes.
Youthful runners and experienced contenders will go head-to-head at Sam Houston Race Park Jan. 26, when 7-year-old horses and 4-year-old colts mix it up in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup Handicap.
Iowa owner Sandra Rasmussen said one of her horses was apparently tampered with in a "sponging" incident at Delaware Park.
Steve Haskin interviews Larry Jones about the undefeated Juvenile Filly, Proud Spell and Hard Spun's post position for the Classic.
The high probability of rain for Breeders' Cup weekend has led trainers to make some decisions on shoeing.
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.
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