Local hope Request for Parole, winner of last month's John Battaglia Memorial Stakes and two-for-two over the local surface, drew post two and was installed the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's Lane's End Spiral Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park.
Three days of heavy rain in Kentucky forced Turfway Park to close the track to training Wednesday morning, keeping two local contenders for the Lane's End Spiral Stakes (gr. II) under the shedrow.
Holdthehelm, who was scheduled to ship from California for Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End Spiral Stakes, will be forced to miss the race after popping a quarter crack.
Perfect Drift put the finishing touches on his preparations for Saturday's Lane's End Spiral Stakes (gr. II) Tuesday with a five-furlong drill at Trackside training track in Louisville.
Trainer Tony Dutrow and owner Alvin Akman have agreed not to push the undefeated Saratoga Blues to make the Kentucky Derby, and will point for the Lane's End Spiral Stakes March 23 to determine if the son of Twining is Preakness caliber.
The $200,000 Gotham Stakes, to be run Sunday March 17, could draw a talented group of 3-year-olds from different parts of the country, including two big-name colts from last year who will be making their 3-year-old debut. Coming up from Florida will be Remsen winner Saarland, who was unable to get a 7-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream to fill on three occasions.
That's what Saratoga Blues' opponents have been doing in the colt's three career starts. The son of Twining captured Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct for his third consecutive victory. At Santa Anita, USS Tinosa drew off to an impressive score in Friday's Sham Stakes, while stablemate Cappuchino had no trouble winning the Golden State Mile back home at Golden Gate.
Saratoga Blues stalked pacesetter Flo's Bo through the early going before driving clear in the stretch to win the $82,525 Whirlaway Stakes by two lengths on Saturday at Aqueduct.
Normally, the Whirlaway Stakes over Aqueduct's inner track receives very little fanfare, as only a moderate group of winter residents and Maryland shippers bother showing up. But this year, the winter residents appear much stronger than usual, as do the Maryland shippers. Add a pair of invaders from England who have already won a couple of races each on the dirt, and Saturday's Whirlaway takes on a whole different look.
While many are preparing to open their Christmas presents Tuesday morning, Kenny McPeek is already playing with his new toys. Even though the Kentucky Derby is still over four months away, McPeek is thinking more of mint juleps than egg nog.
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