Alumni Hall figures to be ready for one of the toughest challenges of his racing career Friday night, when he takes on eight rivals under 121 pounds of high weight in the $500,000 Meadowlands Breeders' Cup (gr. I).
Jay Em Ess Stable's homebred Suave overcame a stumbling start to give trainer Paul McGee his first Saratoga graded stakes victory, carrying jockey John Velazquez to a 2 ¾-length victory in the $245,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at 10 furlongs before a crowd of 55,503.
Glencrest Farm's odds-on favorite Honey Ryder pounded out a convincing 5 1/4-length victory over nine rivals in the $296,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial for fillies and mares at Delaware Park Saturday.
In the race immediately preceding the Preakness (gr. I) at Pimlico Saturday, eight older horses will contest the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) over nine furlongs.
Hilly Fields Stable's Rousing Victory, an improving colt since trainer Phil Serpe added blinkers this summer, will take a crack at the $100,000-added Lawrence Realization Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds Saturday on the Belmont Park turf.
The $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Sep. 6 may draw as many as 12 to 13 starters, in what promises to be a competitive race. Although the absence of Smarty Jones will be felt by the expected large holiday crowd, the 1 1/8-mile race is expected to draw some of the top 3-year-olds in the country.
Tap Day and Pie's Prospect were added to Sunday's $1-million Haskell Invitiational Handicap (gr. I) at Monmouth Park bring the total field to seven starters.
Lion Heart leads a field of seven expected for the $1-million Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), going 1 1/8-miles on Aug. 8 at Monmouth Park. The Patrick Biancone-trained Lion Heart will carry a top weight of 121 pounds.
A field of eight, topped by grade I winner Lion Heart, is shaping up for the $1-million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), going 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 8 at Monmouth Park.
Lion Heart seemed ideally placed for his first win of 2004 in Saturday's $100,000 Long Branch Breeders' Cup (gr. III), but the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) runner-up needed everything he had to prevail as the 3-10 choice by a head over stubborn My Snookie's Boy at Monmouth Park.
Two veterans of the Triple Crown trail whose paths have yet to cross will finally meet as the favorites in Saturday's $100,000 Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Nick Zito has been busy recently trying to come up with a schedule for his talented arsenal of 3-year-olds. Even with the loss of Eurosilver, Zito is loaded as he sets his sights on a number of major stakes, beginning with the July 11 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park.
Eddington, the third-place finisher in the Preakness (gr. I) and 10-1 on the morning line for Saturday's 136th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds, galloped a mile and three furlongs over Belmont's main track Friday. "He's ready," trainer Mark Hennig said. "He's doing as well as can be expected."
According to Bob Baffert, the toll of the Triple Crown Trail usually manifests itself about a week after the Preakness. There is no sign that the Trail has taken a toll on Smarty Jones.
Shortly before he arrived at Belmont Park after a 2 1/2-hour van ride, Someday Farms' Smarty Jones was installed as the 2-5 morning line favorite when he breaks from the outside nine post position in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Jockey Pat Day discussed his faith and responded to questions concerning jockey advertisements and the scale of weights at the June 1 Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club meeting.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Tuesday morning that Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Purge will attempt to disrupt Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid in Saturday's $1-million Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
With Visa Triple Crown Challenge contender Smarty Jones biding his time at Philadelphia Park until mid-week, three colts who will attempt to pull an upset in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) worked five-eighths of a mile at Belmont Park Monday.
John Servis is a longtime Philadelphia Flyers fan, and he "wasn't happy" to see his hockey team eliminated in the Stanley Cup playoffs Saturday night. Although he now has Philly's number one sports franchise in Smarty Jones, and the almost-fanatical support of the city and all of Pennsylvania, Servis said he's still not feeling any added pressure.
Marylou Whitney's Champagne (gr. I) winner Birdstone breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track Saturday morning.
Although trainer John Servis said Sunday morning he had not yet decided when Smarty Jones would ship to Belmont Park, barn foreman Bill Foster said they wanted to get the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner acclimated to the 1 /2-mile track and may van up as early as 10 days out.
Royal Assault, content to lope along near the back of the pack early under a patient Pat Day, unleashed a strong run in the stretch to win the Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at Pimlico.
The Cliff's Edge, who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after losing both his front shoes, turned in a solid half-mile breeze in :48 2/5 at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Trainer Nick Zito, who saddled two horses in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), could have two or even three in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Zito said owner Tracy Farmer and racing manager Lincoln Collins are seriously considering the second leg of the Triple Crown for Sir Shackleton and/or Royal Assault.
Saturday's big afternoon of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps will kick off with the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I), as 11 3-year-olds, headed by Value Plus, Master David, and Eddington, try to earn a starting berth in the 130th Run for the Roses.
After this weekend's stakes gala, it's going to be much more difficult finding that one Derby horse who will pay off the mortgage and put the kids through college. But right now, that horse may still be out there in plain sight.
A preview of this weekend's feast of big stakes in Florida and California and high-profile allowance races at Gulfstream will come later in the week, but for now, here are a few little appetizers to munch on.
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