Unhappy with the weights assigned for the Honorable Miss on Aug. 2, Gold Mover's trainer Mark Hennig said Saturday that his filly and champion Xtra Heat will not face each other in the race.
Not to be outdone by the boys in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on June 15, a quality-laden field including four grade I-winning fillies and mares take a shot at $300,000 in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) earlier on the card. Also on tap is the Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the $100,000 Northern Dancer Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile.
The Michael Tabor-owned pair of Mayakovsky and Shah Jehan were among nine horses entered for the Derby Trial (gr. III), which highlights Saturday's opening day card at Churchill Downs.
Trainer John T. Ward Jr. is optimistic about Holy Bull (gr. III) and Fountain of Youth (gr. I) Stakes winner Booklet's chances in the $1 million, 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby following the colt's five-furlong breeze Saturday morning.
High Star, third in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, turned in a sharp 5-furlong work in 1:00 4/5 at Gulfstream Park Monday in preparation for the March 16 Florida Derby.
Saarland, the colt in search of a race, indicated he is still sharp and ready for some action by breezing a sharp half in :48 at Gulfstream Monday morning.
Although the Florida Derby still is a little over three weeks away, it appears as if at least seven 3-year-olds are pointing for the $1 million, grade I event at Gulfstream Park on March 16. Booklet and Harlan's Holiday, who finished one-two in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth Stakes, are expected to renew their budding rivalry, with a few new faces ready to join the fray.
Stop us if you've heard this one before. Booklet, a tiny colt trainer John Ward calls "a walk-on, non-scholarship type of player," spurts to an open lead, and when finally collared late by Harlan's Holiday, refuses to yield, holding off that rival by a desperate nose.
Reflecting the lack of a strong favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby, bettors have made the mutuel field a prohibitive favorite in the first day of wagering in Pool One of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
The blurry Kentucky Derby picture should begin clearing up Saturday, as a number of Triple Crown hopefuls meet to determine who makes that all-important leap forward. The grade I Fountain of Youth Stakes, which drew a field of eight, is split right down the middle, with four stakes winners facing off against four up-and-coming stars. And in supporting allowance races, two promising colts lock horns in a prep for the Florida Derby, and a former Coolmore colt makes his U.S. debut.
Several of the top-name 3-year-olds worked over the Gulfstream track Saturday morning, headed by Remsen Stakes winner Saarland, whose five-furlong breeze in 1:02 from the gate may have earned him a berth in next Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes.
Stephentown, an impressive allowance winner on Jan. 9, breezed a half-mile in :52 Monday in preparation for the $200,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) on Feb. 16.
Trainer Bob Baffert sent out a trio of 3-year-olds coming off stakes wins for four-furlong works at Santa Anita Wednesday, including Golden Gate Derby (gr. III) winner Danthebluegrassman. All three completed their assignments in :48 3/5 on a fast track.
Willmott Stables' Stephentown, an impressive allowance winner at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday, will take a major step up in class when he makes his next appearance in the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 16.