Unlike the Arcadia, where Willyconker rallied too late, the Irish-bred
gelding enjoyed a better tactical position for new rider Joel Rosario. Jimmy
Simms carved out splits of :23, :46 4/5 and 1:10 3/5, with Compari in close
attendance, and Willyconker well placed in third. Jeranimo was anchored in
midpack, but Mr. Commons was unhurried near the tail of the field.
Wachtel Stable, Brous Stable and breeder Jack T. Hammer's Ron the Greek bided
his time as 2-1 favorite Ultimate Eagle set suicidal fractions on the front end
of Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000
Anita Handicap before putting in a furious rally down the center of the
track to take the prestigious event by 3 1/2 lengths.
Eden's Moon was an easy winner of Saturday's $250,000
Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita Park, but the talented bay miss had to
survive an objection lodged by runner-up Reneesgotzip's trainer before she could
give owner Kaleem Shah his first Grade 1 victory.
Former claimer Willyconker became a grade I winner when he outlasted odds-on choice Mr. Commons in a thrilling finish to the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at odds of 10-1 March 3 on the Santa Anita turf course.
Eden's Moon took a major step toward the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) when she drew away from 6-5 favorite Reneesgotzip in the homestretch to take the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) in her stakes debut March 3 at Santa Anita.
A smart ride and grit at the wire made Team Valor International's State of
Play best by a head in Saturday's $75,000
John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park. The Graham Motion trainee
ran 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack in 1:46 2/5 to return to the winner's circle
under jockey Victor Lebron.
Doubles Partner had not raced since his third-place finish in the Grade 1
Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day. The Grade 2 veteran was
dispatched as the 7-2 third choice, with Juddmonte's French Group 1 winner
Mutual Trust garnering second choice status at 3-1.
Any suggestion that Hansen was a mere a one-dimensional speedball proved
unfounded in Saturday's Grade 3, $400,000
Gotham at Aqueduct, as last year's
juvenile colt champion overcame an outside post, a wide journey into the
clubhouse turn, and having a little dirt kicked in his face for the first time
to register an emphatic three-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile inner dirt
Despite possessing a perfect four-for-four mark over Aqueduct's inner dirt
leading into Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000
Tom Fool Handicap, Mike Repole's
Calibrachoa was let go at a nifty 7-2 going up against the likes of multiple
Grade 1 winner Caleb's Posse and the imposing stakes newbie Emcee. Calibrachoa's
loyal backers were rewarded when the five-year-old earned his second consecutive
Tom Fool triumph, gutting out a neck victory over a fast-charging Caleb's Posse
in the six-furlong contest over a tiring surface labeled good.
Kelly Breen indicated early in the week that Pants On Fire was more than ready for his first start since late July, and the 4-year-old colt confirmed that March 3 at Gulfstream Park when winning by more than four lengths.
Doubles Partner showed little effect from a 10-month layoff when he charged home late to register a three-quarters of a length victory in the $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 3 on the Gulfstream Park turf.
George and Lori Hall's Pants on Fire, who bled when ninth in the Kentucky
Derby, was last seen finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July
31. The Kelly Breen charge had been entered, and scratched, from a couple of
other potential reappearances, most recently in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap
at Fair Grounds last Saturday. Despite the fact that the speedy colt figured to
get the jump on the deep-closing Dialed In, Pants on Fire was sent off as the
5-2 second choice.
Godolphin Racing's two-time grade I winner It's Tricky made her season debut successful in the Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) when she took over from pacesetter Love and Pride at the top of the lane and cruised to victory.
It's Tricky broke a three-race streak of seconds on Saturday when making her
return in the Grade 2, $196,000
Flight Handicap at Aqueduct. The Godolphin colorbearer had to work over the
tiring track to get the 2 3/4-length victory in her first race since running
second in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic last November, but gutted out the
win under jockey Ramon Dominguez as the near 2-5 favorite.
Grade 3 Southwest Stakes runner-up Scatman, preparing for the Grade 2,
$500,000 Rebel Stakes on March 17, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 over the
fast track at Oaklawn Park Saturday. Michael Lauer instructed jockey Luis
Quinonez to work the colt between 1:01 and 1:02, and the veteran rider executed
Union Rags attracted strong support during first of three days of betting in the second pool of Churchill Downs' 2012 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but the mutuel field ended the day as a narrow favorite March 2.