Four Roses Thoroughbreds' Anak Nakal, who was prominent on the Triple Crown trail in 2008 and later won the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II), will make his 4-year-old debut against 13 rivals during Gulfstream Park's opening day $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap (gr. III) Jan. 3.
Racegoers might get a sense of deja vu when the field heads postward for the $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III) at Calder Race Course Dec. 15. Many of the runners in the seven-furlong event have faced each other before, sometimes with very close results.
Six 3-year-olds will battle one mile over the Widener Turf Course in Friday's 33rd running of the $100,000-added Hill Prince (gr. IIIT), a race in which Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher are likely to combine for a very chalky exacta box.
Owner Rick Porter and trainer Larry Jones have named Garrett Gomez to ride Hard Spun in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), replacing Mario Pino, who had ridden the colt in all eight of his previous starts. As of now, Hard Spun is considered 98% certain to run, according to Porter.
In a year where multiple trainers have multiple horses in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Bill Kaplan will saddle two longshots.
Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Curlin was installed the moderate 7-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $2 million, 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when post positions were drawn Wednesday.
The connections of Storm in May will have first choice when post positions are selected later this evening thanks to pulling the No. 1 pill during the pill pull at the racing office. In all 22 horses were entered. Reporting for Duty and Delightful Kiss did not draw into the body of the field due to lack of enough graded earnings.
The work of the morning at Churchill Downs Monday was Hard Spun's :57 3/5 scorcher, but other Derby hopefuls went through their final paces over the main track just after the renovation break. Trainer Bill Kaplan sent out Storm in May and Imawildandcrazyguy while trainer Darrin Miller worked Silverton Hills' Sedgefield.
Undefeated Curlin made like Smarty Jones in winning Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and heads into next month's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) as the potential favorite following his record 10 1/2-length demolition job at Oaklawn Park.
Jumping from the maiden ranks into stakes competition, Andrew Farm's Duveen won an all-out battle in the final furlong by a nose over favored Soldier's Dancer in the $115,500 Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds on the Gulfstream Park turf Saturday.
Herman Heinlein's gelding Soldier's Dancer is the most accomplished of seven 3-year-olds entered in Saturday's $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park and should rule as a strong choice in the 1 1/8-mile turf test.
The Nick Zito-trained Forefathers steps back into the fray off a second-place finish in the Swale Stakes last month to head Saturday's Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) at 7 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream Park.
Herman Heinlein's newly turned 3-year-old gelding Soldier's Dancer, sent off as the 3-2 favorite, won his second stakes race over the Calder turf, the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT), by three-quarters of a length on New Year's Day.
Surprising Fernando Po and favored Rutherienne each captured $100,000 stakes races for 2-year-olds Saturday on the turf at Calder Race Course.
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