Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's 4-year-old Bandini makes his second start of the season in Saturday's $100,000 Skip Away Handicap (gr. III) at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park.
Glencrest Farm's 5-year-old mare Honey Ryder won the $150,000 Orchid Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park last year and defends her title in Saturday's renewal of the 12-furlong turf test.
Trainer Todd Pletcher couldn't go with his course specialist in Sunday's $101,200 Next Move Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares, so a newcomer to his deep stable, Fleet Indian, registered a one-length win on the Aqueduct inner dirt.
Peachtree Stable's High Cotton, a disappointment in his comeback race last month for trainer Todd Pletcher, led all the way to defeat 11 rivals in the $100,000 Rushaway for 3-year-olds at Turfway Park Saturday.
Favored Oonagh Maccool spotted her five rival fillies and mares a couple of lengths at the start of Saturday's $200,000 Rampart Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park but proved much the best in the drive to win easily at odds of 11-10.
Ready's Gal, trained by Todd Pletcher, scored her second graded stakes victory with a 1 1/4-length win over favored Amorama in the $137,500 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the turf for older fillies and mares at Tampa Bay Downs.
Bluegrass Cat, one of trainer Todd Pletcher's leading Triple Crown candidates, makes his second start of the 2006 season at Tampa Bay Downs in the $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) Saturday.
James Scatourchio's 4-year-old English Channel, making his first start since finishing fifth in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), drove to a three-quarters of a length victory in the $100,000 Canadian Turf Handicap Saturday at Gulfsteam Park.
WinStar Farm's 4-year-old Venetian Sunset, trained by Todd Pletcher, set a track record for a mile at Gulfstream Park of 1:34.11, winning Saturday's third-race allowance by 10 lengths under jockey John Velazquez.
Mr. Silver and Up an Octave, after trading decisions in two previous clashes, face off again in Sunday's $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds on the Gulfstream Park turf. Eight colts are entered.
The quick Bishop Court Hill should be the one to beat in Saturday's $100,000 Toboggan Handicap (gr. III) for sprinters at Aqueduct, but the outcome could be determined early.
Champion juvenile filly Folklore tops a list of 80 nominees for the $500,000 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) April 8, at Keeneland.
The first graded stakes win for Melnyk Racing Stable's $2.8 million colt Harlington was a long time in coming, but the 4-year-old got the job done while fully extended for John Velazquez to win the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) over a strong field.
Wait a While and French Park, early season leaders in the Florida 3-year-old filly division, clash for the first time in Sunday's $150,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.
The grade I winner Bandini set a track record for one mile at Gulfstream Park Wednesday in his first start since finishing 19th in the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's 4-year-old Bandini was nominated to Saturday's $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. II), but trainer Todd Pletcher will let the talented colt get his season started in a one-mile allowance/optional feature Wednesday at Gulfstream Park instead.
Buckram Oaks Farm's 4-year-old Silver Train, winner of the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), worked six furlongs in 1:14 Friday morning at Palm Meadows as he prepares for his expected season debut in the $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. II) going seven furlongs March 4.
So far, Todd Pletcher has been probing the enemy forces with his second- and third-stringers, with and without success. But this week it was time to get serious and bring out the heavy ammo. He hit his target with Bluegrass Cat on Saturday and now gets ready to fire off his second round with High Cotton on Wednesday.
High Cotton and Strong Contender, 3-year-olds with Triple Crown potential and high profile connections, make their first start of the year at Gulfstream Park in Wednesday's one-mile allowance feature.
WinStar Farm's homebred Bluegrass Cat kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with a dogged victory over 63-1 shot Deputy Glitters in the $121,000 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday.
Melnyk Racing Stable's grade I winner Host, beaten by a half-length when second in last year's $100,000 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, gets another chance in Saturday's renewal of the one-mile turf course test.
Big things have been expected of Melnyk Racing Stable's 4-year-old Harlington, a $2.8 million Keeneland yearling who's likely to be favored in Wednesday's 'three other than' allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.
Making his stakes debut, Keyed Entry repelled the 3-5 favorite First Samurai in the stretch to post a determined win in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds on a sloppy Gulfstream Park main track Saturday.
Arindel Farm's Wait a While, running for the Eclipse Award-winning duo of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez, demolished her six rivals in Saturday's $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies at sloppy Gulfstream Park.
War Front and Friendly Island, part of a terrific stretch battle in the Mr. Prospector Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 7, renew their rivalry Sunday in the $100,000 Deputy Minister Handicap (gr. III) at the South F
Colita looked like a potential star when Team Valor Stables bought into him in 2003, but the son of Grindstone heads into Saturday's $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) still looking for his first stakes victory.
Favored Dyna's Destiny nosed Best Mom at the wire to win the $80,175 Bedanken for 3-year-old fillies on the turf Sunday at the Fair Grounds meet at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.
It's not often we get to see the probable 2-year-old champ and early favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) running in January. But not only is Stevie Wonderboy making his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes (gr. II), he'll be facing another leading juvenile and major Derby contender in Brother Derek.
It's time once again to officially embark on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Now is as good a time as any to preview what's to come by listing the most accomplished and promising youngsters. Many of these names will be only that in a few months, but for now, this is how the classic division shapes up as we begin the road to the May 6 Derby.
Recent grade II winners Magna Graduate and Super Frolic have each been assigned 120 pounds and are co-highweights for Saturday's $400,000-added New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), the biggest race of the Fair Grounds meet at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.
- By Tom Precious
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who recently set a single-season record for earnings, was suspended for 45 days by New York regulators Dec. 15 for a banned substance found in one of his horses that raced a year ago at Saratoga.
Todd Pletcher, who two weeks ago set a North American record for earnings in a year by a trainer, submitted the names of 17 horses for early-bird nomination to the April 1 Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park.
WinStar Farm's homebred Bluegrass Cat, the 3-5 favorite, withstood a serious threat from Flashy Bull in the deep stretch and drew away from the stubborn challenger to win the 92nd running of the $200,000 Remsen (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at Aqueduct Saturday.
There's no denying Todd Pletcher these days, no matter the odds. A day after setting the North American record for earnings by a trainer and winning the rich Clark Handicap (gr. II) with Magna Graduate, Pletcher hit again with 25-1 shot Purge in the $350,000 Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct Saturday.
On a day that Todd Pletcher set the North American earnings record for trainers, an ultra-game Magna Graduate proved to be his cherry on top, winning the $573,500 Clark Handicap (gr. II) at chilly Churchill Downs Friday by a head over Suave.
Trainer Todd Pletcher saddles three of the five juvenile fillies entered in the $200,000 Demoiselle (gr. II) at nine furlongs Saturday at Aqueduct.
The promising Bluegrass Cat stands out in a field of eight 2-year-olds entered for the $200,000 Remsen (gr. II) Saturday at nine furlongs at Aqueduct.
Barbaro (Laurel Futurity), J'ray (Selima Stakes) and Trickle of Gold (Anne Arundel Stakes) proved popular winners on the De Francis Dash undercard at Laurel Park Saturday.
Indian Vale's chances to win her first graded stakes race were improved dramatically with the scratches of Shebelongstoyou and Personal Legend and the Melnyk Racing Stables homebred took full advantage to capture the $105,800 Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr. III) by 9 1/2 lengths Saturday at Aqueduct.
Melnyk Racing Stable's Indian Vale, who disappointed as the 2-5 favorite in last month's Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park, will try to atone for that effort Saturday in the $100,000-added Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares at Aqueduct.
Magna Graduate won his second straight stakes Saturday at Belmont, coming from off the pace to win the $287,250 Discovery Handicap (gr. III) over favored Scrappy T.
Dogwood Stable's Vicarage, a dominating 10-length winner of the Perryville Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland, is the 8-5 morning line favorite in Sunday's $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, the featured event on the opening day of a 21-day fall meet.
WinStar Farm's Bluegrass Cat continued his education at Belmont Park on Friday afternoon, winning the $113,300 Nashua (gr. III) for 2-year-olds at a mile by 1 1/4 lengths over outsider Political Force.
Fifth at the top of the stretch, J'ray charged between the leaders inside the sixteenth pole to post an upset in the $112,000 Jessamine Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on the Keeneland turf Thursday.
The powerhouse jockey/trainer tandem of John Velazquez and Todd Pletcher shipped Honey Ryder to Woodbine Sunday to take the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-I) in game fashion.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who broke through with his first two Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships victories last year with Ashado and Speightstown, has eight horses pre-entered this year.
Maddalena heads an evenly matched field of seven entered for Laurel Park's $150,000 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday.
Vicarage took the lead after a quarter mile and drew away to a 10-length victory in the $200,000 Perryville Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds Friday at Keeneland.
In his first start since February, the Chilean-bred outsider Host came from last on the backstretch to collar Vanderlin in deep stretch for a neck victory in the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland Saturday.
Favored Adieu showed her credentials as one of the leaders in the juvenile filly division with a game two-length victory in the Frizette (gr. I) over a sloppy Belmont Park track Saturday.
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