At Bay Meadows Sunday, Irish-bred Blue Steller closed from last to win the $100,000 Bay Meadows Derby Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths.
Stonerside Stable's 3-year-old homebred Congaree earned his first grade I stakes victory in his third attempt, winning Sunday's paceless renewal of the $500,000 Swaps Stakes by four lengths at Hollywood Park.
Six 3-year-olds, including Kentucky Derby veterans Congaree and Jamaican Rum, have been entered for Sunday's $500,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.
Carl J. Odegaard's Northern California-based 3-year-old Hoovergetthekeys, winless since taking the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) in March, will ship to Hollywood Park to face Congaree in the $500,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. I) on July 15.
In a race marred by a spill involving 13-10 favorite Marine, Sir Alfred rallied in the stretch to win Sunday's $100,000 Ascot Handicap (gr. IIIT) by 3/4 lengths over Hoovergetthekeys at Bay Meadows.
With its purse ratcheted up to $500,000, its distance stretched out to 1 1/8 miles, and its date moved to a more convenient spot on the calendar, Lone Star Park's derby became a genuine prep for the famed roseate run in Kentucky. The Grand Prairie, Texas, racetrack even created a $1-million bonus, to be paid to any horse that parlays a Lone Star Derby win into a victory in any of the Triple Crown races. It was a meaningful prep indeed--an ironic one, too. Percy Hope served up generous portions of both meaning and irony. The field, which included four stakes winners, had earned $1.2 million, or an average of $154,429 per starter, more than twice as much as the field for the grade II Illinois Derby. And Percy Hope, who previously had won the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park, once again made winning look easy.
Hoovergetthekeys is the 9-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $500,000 Lone Star Derby, the richest race in Texas. Eight horses have entered the race that offers a $1 million bonus if the winner goes on to capture any one of the Triple Crown races.
In this analysis, we're going to add Thoro-Graph speed figure patterns on occasion to see, from that perspective, just who is likely to come into the Derby sitting on a peak performance. Thoro-Graph's Jerry Brown stated emphatically that this is "by far the best 3-year-old crop in history." Brown added, "The numbers so far have been insane, and it's probably going to take around a 2 1/2 to win the Derby," which is the same number Fusaichi Pegasus ran last year.
Ranked in preference order, with horse/ trainer/breeding
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Carl J. Odegaard's Hoovergetthekeys -- racing for the first time since winning the Golden Gate Derby (gr. III) by five lengths in January -- rallied to win Saturday's $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields. Despite blazing early fractions, 3-5 favorite Startac failed to reach contention, finishing seven lengths behind the winner. The Turf Paradise Derby winner closed from last and just managed to finish second, a head in front of Mo Mon, who raced two lengths off hot the early pace.
Carl J. Odegarrd's Hoovergetthekeys split the leaders in the stretch and overcame a bumping incident to win the $150,000 Golden Gate Derby (gr. III). The 3-year-old gelded son of Mt. Livermore was ridden by Ron Warren Jr. to defeat Padua Stable's High Cascade, the 17-10 favorite in the seven-horse field.
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