Trainer Todd Pletcher ran three horses in the $1-million Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) Saturday, so he expected to win. But it was the 3-year-old colt no one expected, 37-1 shot Red Giant, who won by a nose in course record time.
There may have been questions about Octave's winning desire after five consecutive runner-up efforts dating back to last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). But not after the quality filly made it back-to-back grade I victories Saturday in the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
All of the betting favorites fell apart, leaving Team Valor's lightly regarded Unbridled Belle to pick up the pieces, and she drew off smartly under Ramon Dominguez to win the $1 million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Delaware Park Sunday.
Aaron and Marie Jones' Sunriver has found a home on the turf after taking a front-running victory in the $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 3/8 miles on the Belmont Park inner turf course Sunday.
Pacesetting Pavarotti, a $2.5 million yearling purchase, refused to give way under extreme pressure from Time Squared, fighting back in deep stretch for a head victory in the $100,000 Round Table for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park Saturday.
Donald Adam's Longley could be peaking just in time for the inaugural running of the $300,000 Barbaro Stakes (gr. III), formerly the Leonard Richards, at Delaware Park on Sunday.
Jockey Joe Bravo scored the 4,000th victory of his career when he guided the Todd Pletcher-trained Alotofappeal to a one-length victory in the seventh race at Monmouth Park Wednesdau, an allowance event.
Centaur Farm's Distorted Reality did exactly what trainer Todd Pletcher hoped he would do Sunday afternoon, and the result was a half-length victory for the 2-5 choice over Buddy's Humor in the $106,000 Lexington on the firm inner turf course at Belmont Park.
Rags to Riches, the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, breezed an easy five furlongs over Belmont Park's main track Sunday morning in 1:04 1/5.
Glencrest Farm's Panty Raid, making her turf debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, got a dream stalking trip under Edgar Prado to win the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) for 3-year-old fillies in a mild surprise on the Hollywood Park turf course Saturday.
Jim Scatuorchio's English Channel broke his own course record at Monmouth Park Saturday as he powered his way to a one-length victory in the 54th running of the $750,000 United Nations Stakes Presented by TVG (gr. IT).
Trainer Bill Mott, the all-time leader in victories and stakes wins at Churchill Downs, hopes to wrap up the Louisville track's spring meet on Sunday by adding a victory in each column when he saddles favored Quite a Bride in a field of six older fillies and mares in Sunday's $150,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf.
The Stronach Stables entry of Sugar Swirl and Ginger Punch gives trainer Bobby Frankel a strong hand in the $150,000 First Flight Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at seven furlongs Sunday at Belmont Park.
Freshened by trainer Todd Pletcher since an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Any Given Saturday repelled his rival Nobiz Like Shobiz at the top of the stretch and rolled to a convincing victory in the $147,000 Dwyer (gr. II) for 3-year-olds Wednesday at Belmont Park.
Always First and Ramazutti, the second and third-place finishers in the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) May 26 at Churchill Downs, top a competitive field of nine grass course specialists entered in Wednesday's $200,000 Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap (gr. IIT).
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.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has given the nod for Octave to start in Saturday's $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. The nine-furlong race, which is restricted to three-year-old fillies and is the second leg of the Triple Tiara, drew a compact field of four horses.
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, the national earnings leader with more than $12 million in purses, seeks to pad those figures with an invasion of Hollywood Park for the three richest races of the meet the next two weekends.
Scat Daddy, a grade I winner the past two years, has been retired from racing because of a slight tendon injury
Edward P. Evans' homebred Pleasant Strike was angled out mid-stretch by jockey Rene Douglas and finished with aplomb to win the $150,000 Arlington Classic (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds going away at Arlington Park on Saturday.
Lawyer Ron will look to add a fifth graded stakes victory to his resume when he takes on four others in the $150,000 Salvator Mile Handicap (gr. III) at Monmouth Park June 23.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has launched a special blog page dedicated to Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Rags to Riches.
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.
Graded stakes winner Quite a Bride looks to better a bridesmaid-like performance in the May 5 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile as she stretches out for Saturday's renewal of the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Churchill's Stephen Foster Day undercard.
Rags to Riches, who became the queen of racing after she outfought the imposing Curlin in Saturday's 139th Belmont Stakes (gr. I), came out of the race no worse for wear in spite of a bad stumble at the start.
- 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).
Hall of Famer Woody Stephens trained five consecutive winners of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in the 1980s. So why is there a race named for him on Belmont Stakes day run at seven furlongs? We'll probably never know for sure, but the one thing that seems certain is that Deadly Dealer, the 5-2 favorite in the $250,000 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds, should prove tough to beat.
Six 3-year-olds will battle one mile over the Widener Turf Course in Friday's 33rd running of the $100,000-added Hill Prince (gr. IIIT), a race in which Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher are likely to combine for a very chalky exacta box.
Trainer Todd Pletcher announced Tuesday morning that the filly Rags to Riches will contest the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and be ridden by John Velazquez. Also, trainer Greg Fox said Rafael Bejarano has been named to ride Slew's Tizzy.
While Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Curlin put in his final preparations for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Monday was a quiet day for other contenders for the $1-million classic.
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.
Cowtown Cat, winner of the Illinois Derby (gr. II) and Gotham Stakes (gr. III) this season, drew the No. 6 post position and has been installed the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $300,000 Ohio Derby (gr. II) at Thistledown.
With the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) fast approaching, trainers of the expected contenders were making plans for travel and pre-race works May 31.
Miss Macy Sue, ridden by Eusebio Razo Jr., rallied from just off of a rapid pace and drew away late to score a comfortable 2 1/4-length victory in stakes record time in the fourth running of the $110,100 grade III Winning Colors Stakes on the Memorial Day program at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Todd Pletcher unleashed more than a handful of his stakes horses for workouts at Belmont Park Sunday morning, including 3-year-old stars Rags to Riches and Any Given Saturday.
James Scatuorchio's Ready to Please, a graded stakes winner at 3 and an impressive winner earlier in the Churchill Downs meet, heads a field of eight fillies and mares for the $100,000-added Winning Colors (gr. III) at six furlongs, the Memorial Day holiday feature at the Louisville track.
Glencrest Farm's Honey Ryder, handled patiently by Garrett Gomez, swept past stablemate Safari Queen inside the final sixteenth of a mile to make it back-to-back victories in the $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Belmont Park inner turf course Saturday.
The raid was on at cloudy Pimlico Friday. Panty Raid, under Edgar Prado, came from off the pace to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) with authority.
King of the Roxy and Circular Quay arrive at Pimlico Thursday afternoon.
As the eighth largest crowd in the 133-year history of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) watched post-time favorite Rags to Riches romp to a 4 1/4-length victory over a full field of 14 fillies, Churchill Downs set new records for on-track, off-track and all-sources wagering on a competitive 11-race Oaks Day card, as well as the Kentucky Oaks race itself.
Rags to Riches put on a spectacular performance to win the Kentucky Oaks Friday, her third straight grade I win.
As the gates opened at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks day, the key was not the field for the race but the weather forecast.
Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Curlin was installed the moderate 7-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $2 million, 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when post positions were drawn Wednesday.
With Friday's 133rd edition of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) coming up quickly, a pair of 3-year-old lassies out of the Todd Pletcher barn did some serious leg stretching Saturday morning at Keeneland on a cloudy and crisp morning.
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.
Starlight Stable and Paul Lucarelli's Sam P. tuned up for an expected run in the $2 million Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a sharp five-furlong workout at Churchill Downs on Monday.
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.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Arindel Farm's 5-year-old mare Safari Queen as the 124-pound high weight in Wednesday's $150,000 Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) for older fillies and mares on the Keeneland turf.
Trainer Todd Pletcher continued the classic preparations for three of his five probable Kentucky Derby starters when Scat Daddy, Any Given Saturday, and Circular Quay worked over the Polytrack surface at Lexington's Keeneland Racecourse Sunday, April 22.
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