After gaining national prominence with his late-running victory in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) nearly five weeks ago, Heatseeker is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) April 5.
Sometimes change is a good thing. Just ask trainer Todd Pletcher, who not only added blinkers to his struggling 4-year-old colt Circular Quay, but shipped him back to Fair Grounds, the site of his only win in eight previous starts. The moves paid off, as Circular Quay outfought a stubborn Grasshopper in a terrific stretch duel to take the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) by a half-length March 8.
Grasshopper made an impressive 4-year-old debut and earned his first graded stakes victory when he took the $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
Todd Pletcher trainee Magna Graduate has not scored a win since April 2007 and the Neil Howard-trained Grasshopper has not raced since a second-place finish in the Super Derby Sept. 22. Both are looking for a return to their winning ways in the $150,000 Mineshaft Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
The four ungraded $100,000 stakes races at Fair Grounds' "Road to the Derby Kickoff Day" were all about gate-to-wire wins and solid payoffs, as all but one of the winners paid more than $10 while setting or contesting the pace to do so at the Louisiana track Jan. 12.
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