Mansell Stables' Quest Star and jockey Edgar Prado dictated the pace from the start and scored a sharp 1 3/4-length victory over 3-5 favorite Man From Wicklow in the $200,000 Pan American Handicap (gr. IIT) on the lawn at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
Rick Violette Jr.'s Man From Wicklow should be a solid favorite in Saturday's $200,000 Pan American Handicap (gr. II), where he attempts to become the second horse to sweep the meet's two top turf handicaps.
Augustin Stable's Rochester and Lyn and Michael Shanley's Whitmore's Conn, major players in the turf marathon division this year, will be among the choices in the 31st running of the $200,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. II). The McKnight is one of four stakes worth a total $600,000 to be run at Florida's Calder Racecourse on Saturday.
Whata Brainstorm returns to stakes company Saturday just in time to attempt to repeat as the winner of the Pan American Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park.
Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos continued working toward the Feb. 9 Donn Handicap (gr. I) Sunday, working five furlongs at Gulfstream Park. The John Ward trainee, who won the Florida Derby (gr. I) at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Donn, will likely have to face 2000 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Red Bullet in the $500,000 Donn.
Big money. Big money. Six-hundred thousand dead presidents were on the line in the nine-furlong Explosive Bid Handicap (gr. IIT) on March 25 and there were plenty of takers. Top grass horses from each corner of the map swarmed into Fair Grounds like moths attracted to a porch light. Five invaders came from the East Coast and six shipped in from California. The biggest name on the marquee was Centennial Farms' King Cugat, a multiple graded stakes winner, who was making his 4-year-old debut. However, trainer Niall O'Callaghan came to bury Caesar, not to praise him, and he did it with Gary Tanaka's Tijiyr. The Irish-bred, under Robby Albarado, put in a determined finish to cap off a ground-saving trip and seal the upset ($21.40) victory.
Whata Brainstorm saved ground along the hedge under jockey John Velazquez before swinging out for the stretch run en route to winning Sunday's $250,000 Pan American Handicap (gr. IIT) on a firm turf course at Gulfstream Park. Whata Brainstorm completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:23.75 -- three-fifths of a second off the course record -- after running the final quarter-mile in :23.75.
Manndar and Thesaurus, both slated to go postward in Saturday's $200,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, were on the track for morning trials on Tuesday. Manndar, recently shipped from California for the turf route, had his first workout over the local strip breezing a half-mile in :49 1/5. Trainer Ken McPeek had Thesaurus breeze five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 on Tuesday. A 7-year-old roan gelding, Thesaurus finished second in the GPBC Handicap last year and gets into this edition of the race with 113 pounds.
A Lille Luck rallied in the stretch to win the $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) by a length over Stokosky on Saturday at Calder Race Course. The Barclay Tagg-trained gelding rallied in the stretch under jockey Mike Smith to catch second-place finisher Stokosky, finishing the 1 1/2-mile race in 2:29.01 on a firm turf course.
Michael Dickinson-trained Cetewayo earned his first victory since the 1999 Riggs Handicap, winning the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap over an Aqueduct turf course labeled good.
Michael Dickinson-trained Cetewayo returns to the races Saturday in the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT), the last graded stakes this year on turf in New York.
Although he has passed on to the winner's circle in the sky, the legacy of Fred Hooper continues to live, as Hooper-bred Whata Brainstorm won the Calder Derby.
Centennial Farms' King Cugat launched a powerful closing run at the top of the stretch to catch pacesetter Mandarin Marsh at the wire, winning the $200,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) by a nose Sunday at Belmont Park. Under Jerry Bailey, the Bill Mott-trained King Cugat completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.63 on firm turf.
Jayeff B Stables' homebred 3-year-old Ciro remained unbeaten in North America, winning the $150,000 Lawrence Realization Handicap (gr. IIIT) by 2 1/2 lengths over Whata Brainstorm Sunday at Belmont Park.
A field of 14 3-year-olds has been entered in the $150,000 Lawrence Realization Handicap (gr. IIIT) Sunday at Belmont Park, with 123-pound highweight Ciro drawing the inside post for the 1 1/2-mile turf race.
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