Grade II stakes winner Quintons Gold Rush died Jan. 17 while undergoing surgery at San Luis Rey Equine Hospital in California.
Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) winner Love of Money was delayed in Texas due to inclement weather and will not run in Sunday's $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), according to the agent for Victor Espinoza, who was slated to ride.
Grade II winners Rock Hard Ten and Love of Money return from layoffs to head up Sunday's $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), a test for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs that kicks off Santa Anita's 85-day winter meeting.
Minnesota-bred Wally's Choice found his best stride in the stretch and drove past the leaders in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the $167,250 Oklahoma Derby (gr. III) at muddy Remington Park Sunday.
A dozen 3-year-old colts will take the gate for Sunday's $150,000 Oklahoma Derby (gr. III), going 1 1/8-miles at Remington Park. The field is led by grade II winner Quinton's Gold Rush and grade III winner Mr. Jester.
Brass Hat and rider Willie Martinez came from the back of the field to surge past Suave and Hasslefree on his way to capturing the $511,300 Indiana Derby (gr. II) at Hoosier Park Saturday night.
Nick Zito-trained Sir Shackleton has been tabbed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for the $500,000-added Indiana Derby (gr. II) Saturday at Hoosier Park. The Miswaki colt will be joined by eight other 3-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile event.
They came one right after the other; first Lion Heart, then The Cliff's Edge, then Rock Hard Ten, then Read the Footnotes. Three of the faces were familiar, but the chestnut wearing the figure-8 and martingale was a stranger in town. Just when everyone had gotten used to seeing Lion Heart, poof, he was gone.
The week leading up to Saturday's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) got off to good start Monday, with four definite starters and one horse that is still knocking on the door breezing over a fast track at Churchill Downs.
With numerous riding options available to him, jockey Jerry Bailey has opted to ride Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Wimbledon in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Quintons Gold Rush paved his way into the 2004 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), turning in an impressive performance in Saturday's $325,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Keeneland.
An oversized field of 15, including one also-eligible, was entered for Saturday's $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), which will be the final prep to determine who will be in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Stan Fulton's Fire Slam and Padua Stable's Quintons Gold Rush turned in sharp efforts in their final tune-ups at Churchill Downs for Saturday's $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland.
Trainer Jeff Mullins was uncommitted Sunday about starting Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Castledale in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but said a decision will come in a few days.
In a wild stretch run, Castledale, a 30-1 shot, edged Rock Hard Ten by a head to win the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), the West Coast's major 3-year-old steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
The question in the 67th Santa Anita Derby, with Lion Heart going to Lexington to run in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes instead of here, is who will go to the lead.
Lion Heart, St Averil, and Wimbledon have been installed as the 10-1 co-favorites in the third and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool, which opens Thursday at noon Eastern and closes Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
Stan Fulton's St Averil, who just missed by a nose in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) in his last start, drilled five furlongs in :58 2/5 at Santa Anita Sunday, in preparation for next Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's grade I winner Lion Heart, in preparation for his probable start in the April 3 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), worked one mile in 1:42 2/5 in company with stablemate Tarkovsky March 22 on Santa Anita Park's fast main track.
The $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 3 is shaping up as one of the most competitive races of the year, with Wimbledon, Lion Heart, St Averil, and Imperialism all battling for West Coast supremacy among the 3-year-olds.
Saturday's $200,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) drew an overflow field of 12, including the undefeated Lion Heart, who will be making his 3-year-old debut. With only 10 horses allowed to start, the two outside horses, Spellbinder and Lipan, were placed on the also-eligible list.
Mike Mitchell has been training nearly 30 years but has never run a horse in the Kentucky Derby. If the 55-year-old Bakersfield, Calif. native gets to Churchill Downs on May 1, his hopes rest with Quinton's Gold Rush.
Each year at this time, new stars are spotted in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) galaxy for the first time. But there is always a question whether they have come along too late to shine brightly on the first Saturday in May. Such is the case with Redskin Warrior, Odds On, Purge, Rock Hard Ten, and Quintons Gold Rush.
With two fairly uneventful weekends coming up, this is the perfect time to see how the big March Madness stakes are shaping up across the country. While many of the big-name horses will be running in smaller fields in Florida and California, look for large, competitive fields down south.
This time of year, allowance races often hold more intrigue than stakes, as you never know if some new exciting star is going to emerge. On Friday, a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Santa Anita will feature three potential Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hopefuls –- Dwango, Spellbinder, and Bornwithit.
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