If the 116th edition of the Longines Dixie Stakes (G2T) is any indication, the current vintage of Live Oak Plantation's homebred World Approval may be as good as ever.
Since Always Dreaming's Kentucky Derby triumph, there has been ample reason for both his camp and Classic Empire's to feel emboldened about the prospect of their horses throwing down something exceptional 14 days later.
J. Kirk and Judy Robison's Vertical Oak made the most of out of her setup at Pimlico Race Course Friday when she overtook My Miss Chiff a furlong out and kicked clear by 3 3/4-lengths in the six-furlong Miss Preakness Stakes.
John Oxley's Noble Bird has been scratched out of May 19 Pimlico Special Handicap (G3), a race he captured last season by 11 1/4 lengths.
Thanks in part to the lessons instilled by his former boss, trainer Todd Pletcher is nothing if not his own man now, with the enviable problem of constantly trying to kick his own bar of success to ever higher levels.
Having started his 2017 campaign off in smashing fashion last month, World Approval will try and duplicate that top-level form when he headlines a field of 10 in the $250,000 Longines Dixie Stakes (G2T) at Pimlico Race Course May 20.
Todd Pletcher is taking a cue from Always Dreaming in that he, like his high-energy charge, have about had it with the minutiae leading into the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1) and are ready to just run the race.
While the short rest between the first two legs of the Triple Crown has been a popular lament over the years, the modern history of the Preakness Stakes reflects a trend that is actually most unkind to the oft-proclaimed "new shooters."
Always Dreaming turned in another strong 1 1/2-mile gallop over the Pimlico Race Course main track May 17 as he readies for his start in the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1).,
It was a Chester and Mary Broman homebred sweep in the one-mile Ruffian Stakes (G2), as their Highway Star fought off fellow colorbearer Bar of Gold by half-length to earn her third graded stakes win.
Hawksmoor channeled her prior European form when she led every point of call, including the final bob over grade 1 winner Dacita, to take the $150,000 Beaugay Stakes (G3T) and earn her first North American-based victory.
Abel Tasman emerged none the worse for wear following her 1 1/4-lengths Oaks triumph and could resurface in the June 10 Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park should she continue to enthuse her Hall of Fame conditioner with her ability to bounce back.
Ken McPeek said May 11 he is looking to send Daddys Lil Darling to the June 2 Investec Oaks (G1) at Epsom Downs.
Having already taken down some of the best turf performers in Europe, Dermot Weld-trained Zhukova (IRE) is now aiming at making her first stateside impression a winning one.
Trainer Todd Pletcher stated all was well with newly minted Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Always Dreaming the morning after the colt's stirring triumph in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
It took more than a year, but race circumstance finally cycled back into the 5-year-old gelding's favor as he barely held off Awesome Slew on the line to take the $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com (G2).
The term "wide-open" has been tossed about the Churchill Downs backstretch like a baseball of late whenever the connections of Kentucky Derby aspirants are asked about the complexion of this year's Run for the Roses.
Tom Amoss-trained Big World made her game form last all the way on the front end in the $300,000 La Troienne Stakes (G1), setting comfortable early fractions and turning back a late run from Romantic Vision to earn her first top-level score.
While the world may know the Casse barn for its work in campaigning two-time champion turf female Tepin, Classic Empire may be the poster boy for the resolve of the connections who say they want a Derby triumph above all prizes.
Before another venture to Royal Ascot can be booked, Miss Temple City must clear the first hurdle of showing she is the same runner that has wreaked havoc on rivals of both sex.
Brad Grady's Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Girvin took his first ever spin around the Churchill Downs oval when he galloped over the surface May 3.
Champion Finest City will make her first venture outside of California as scheduled this week. Where the daughter of City Zip is set to land, however, is still to be determined.
After being exceptionally headstrong in his training for the first leg of the Triple Crown since arriving at Churchill Downs, the Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) winner was on his best behavior yet May 2 as he headed out under exercise rider Nick Bush.
Were it not for the cavity that resides where his left eye once did, there indeed would be no indicator Calumet Farm's homebred Patch is coping with a limited view of his world.
Grade 1 winner Gun Runner has been steadily training since returning from a runner-up finish in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) and is targeting the June 17 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs, Asmussen said May 1.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said May 1 he plans to keep Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming training in draw reins the remainder of the week after getting satisfactory results from the equipment addition Monday morning.
Before sending Hence to the track during the 8:30 a.m. training slot Monday, trainer Steve Asmussen warned that the son of Street Boss would likely clock in at a decidedly swifter rate than stablemates Lookin At Lee and Untrapped.
As he took in Ian Wilkes' cool demeanor less than a week out from the first leg of the Triple Crown, it was hard to find anyone enjoying the ascent of multiple graded stakes winner McCraken more than Carl Nafzger himself.
In his final major preparation for what will be his most significant race beneath the Twin Spires, Janis Whitham's homebred looked every bit the house horse, turning in a strong five-furlong move in 1:00 4/5 under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.
Given the number of top charges Tammy Fox's diminutive frame has been aboard, it's little wonder her gregarious partner heeds her when she says one of his young runners is worthy of faith.
Rebel Stakes (G2) winner Malagacy and Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G2) runner-up Battalion Runner will both bypass the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed via text message April 29.
Thunder Snow, winner of the March 25 UAE Derby Sponsored By The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2) at Meydan Racecourse, has been confirmed to start in the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), Godolphin Racing announced April 29.
J Boys Echo was his typical self in his final work for the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), rolling through a five-furlong drill in 1:01 with stablemate Little Irishdancer.
Blissfully unaware of the weight upon his stout shoulders, Gunnevera went about his final serious paces in advance of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), working an easy five furlongs in 1:03 3/5 at Churchill Downs April 28.
Standing alongside his son and top assistant, Norman Casse, Mark Casse watched his best-ever hope for a classic victory stride out down the Churchill Downs stretch—and finally, deeply exhaled.
Brad Grady's Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Girvin is currently battling a quarter crack in his right front foot but his connections are still hopeful the son of Tale of Ekati can run in the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Amidst growing speculation regarding the status of Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Girvin, trainer Joe Sharp said April 26 the colt is still on track to have his last serious workout for the Kentucky Derby (G1) in the coming days.
Luis Saez has been named to ride Gotham Stakes (G3) winner J Boys Echo in the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), the colt's connections confirmed April 26.
Multiple grade 1 winner Private Zone has been retired to Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky, Old Friends founder Michael Blowen said April 25.
Whether McCraken becomes the latest Derby winner to come out of Churchill's Barn 26 remains to be seen, but the bay colt put in five-furlong drill in 1:00 3/5 April 24 that was nearly as buzz worthy as Street Sense's final move before his triumph.
Multiplier shook free in midstretch and ultimately gave his rider the kick he was seeking, getting up in the final strides to nail 9-5 favorite Hedge Fund by a head in the Illinois Derby (G3).
The turf marathon niche has proven one that suits Jed Cohen's Itsinthepost as the bay gelding scored his second straight graded triumph when he captured the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes (G2T) by 1 1/4 lengths over Charming Kitten.
After making her connections sweat, Unbridled Mo allowed them to celebrate as the 4-year-old bay filly turned back Power of Snunner in the lane en route to taking the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) by three-quarters of a length.
Irap, who broke his maiden with a three-quarter-length win in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) April 8, put in his first move since that shocker, working a mile in 1:44 at Keeneland Friday morning.
Leslie's Lady, dam of 4-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder and sire Into Mischief, was named the 2016 Broodmare of the Year by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders.
Red Oak Stable's homebred Unbridled Mo, winner of five of seven starts and two grade 3 events, heads a field of five fillies and mares entered for the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) at Keeneland April 21.
Robert Masterson's two-time defending champion turf female Tepin has been retired, trainer Mark Casse announced April 18.
Back at his home track, Churchill Downs, McCraken showed composure before and during his half-mile drill April 18 in :47 4/5.
Facing a group of turf distaffers as good as any a racing secretary could amass outside of Breeders' Cup day, Dickinson showed she was well on her way to becoming the latest unique talent in Kiaran McLaughlin's barn.
Instead of listening to outside noise, Mark Casse heeded what his champion charge was telling him. And when the rubber hit the road in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15, the Hall of Fame finalist's instincts where proven dead-on accurate.
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