The Southern California handicap division looks ripe for the taking, and following the $200,000 San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II) on Jan. 5, expect nothing but knock-down, drag-out brawls during the coming weeks. The current king of the unorganized heap is Wooden Phone, best known as the obscurely-bred gelding who shook Tiznow out of his socks a year ago in the Strub Stakes (gr. II). If you still can't picture him, don't worry. You'll be hearing plenty from him in 2002.
When he perused the entries for Gulfstream's Jan. 5 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIT), trainer Mohammed Moubarak was especially familiar with one of the entrants. "I think Tubrok is the horse to beat," he said of the 5-year-old son of Rahy, the second choice of 10 runners owing, in part, to the powerful connections of trainer Bill Mott and rider Jerry Bailey.
Susan and John Moore's Iron Deputy opened up a six-length lead in the stretch en route to winning Saturday's $83,300 Count Fleet Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths at Aqueduct. One race earlier, Migliore and odds-on favorite Affirmed Success finished a half-length behind Boston Party in an allowance race at the Count Fleet distance after leading by three in the stretch.
Trainer John T. Ward Jr. sent Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos on a five-furlong work from the starting gate at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning. "We wanted to tweak his interest," said Ward of the drill.
Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III) winner Maybry's Boy will make his next start in the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II, Feb. 2), according to trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey. Meanwhile on the West Coast, undefeated Werblin will also make his next start on Groundhog's Day, that coming in the San Vicente (gr. II).
The initiative to get alternative gaming--likely slot machines--in Kentucky has received a major boost with a published report saying that the Keeneland Association will support the effort.
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Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
Owner: Alto Racing, LLC
Jockey: Javier Castellano