When Harlan's Holiday won last year's Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) in a time of 1:51.51, it was the slowest winning time in the 1 1/8-mile race since Granacus (1:52) beat Intensive Command by three lengths in 1988. On Saturday, Peace Rules creeped home slower than Harlan's Holiday, finishing the key Kentucky Derby prep race in 1:51.73 on the fast track.
Last of 12 after the opening half-mile, 55-1 shot Sir Cherokee charged home with a powerful kick in the stretch to win the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) over Eugene's Third Son at Oaklawn Park Saturday.
James Vreeland's Mr. Technique and jockey Roberto Gonzalez rallied from the back of the pack to defeat 4-5 favorite Apalachian Thunder and Russell Baze by a length in Saturday's $100,000 Bay Meadows Derby.
Trainer James Cassidy had his patience rewarded Saturday when British import Steelaninch, under jockey Victor Espinoza, won the $150,000 La Puente Stakes on the Santa Anita turf by a nose over 11-10 favorite Singletary, who was ridden by David Flores.
One of Woodbine's most consistent trainers for the past eight years, Robert Tiller is off to the best start in his 30-year career.
Classic Appeal stole the show Saturday at Hawthorne, winning the Chicagoland Handicap as part of a six-race stakes series each worth $100,000. Gumbo Love is the sire Jambalaya Jazz's first stakes winner in the Violet.
Stan Fulton's Roll Hennessy Roll, runner-up in the April 6 Lafayette Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland, returned to trainer Rafael Becerra's Santa Anita base this past week and will begin preparations for his next start in the $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park May 26.
Congaree remained perfect from three starts at Aqueduct -- all graded stakes -- winning Saturday's $350,000 Carter Handicap (gr. I) by 3 1/2 lengths over Aldebaran. The win in the seven-furlong race also marks his first in a sprint.
Juddmonte Farms' Empire Maker confirmed his credentials as this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) consensus choice with a calculated half-length victory in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I) in the mud at Aqueduct Park.
No Jacket Required, claimed by trainer Tom Amoss for $40,000 in his last start, returned to the track Saturday to earn a neck-length win in the $113,700 Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland. Under jockey Brice Blanc, the 6-year-old gelded son of Jolie's Halo completed the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.25 on firm turf.
Edward P. Evans' homebred Halo Homewrecker edged past pacesetting Don Six in mid-stretch and held on for a one-length victory in the $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at muddy Aqueduct Park.
Effective April 12, Keeneland will return to its former policy of closing wagering when the gates open at the start of a race.
- By Victor Ryan
Jockey Patty Cooksey was seriously injured in a three-horse spill during the first race at Keeneland Saturday.
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