Stakes records continued to fall at Churchill Downs Friday as Mort Fink's
homebred Successful Dan was timed in 1:41 in winning the Grade 2, $337,800
Alysheba for older horses. Not only was it the fastest time achieved in the
nine-year history of the event, but it also bested the previous track-record
time of 1:41 1/5 set by Brass Hat in 2007.
Chicagoland racing fans who annually enjoy the Arlington experience may be
unfamiliar with the name of jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, but the 26-year-old native
of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has rapidly made a strong, positive impression among
the nation's more discerning horsemen on other major league circuits.
William S. and Graydon Patterson's Juanita kept pace with 2-5 favorite Plum
Pretty on the front end of Friday's Grade 2, $327,000
Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs before putting that rival away and just
holding for the win as St. John's River came with a game late rally in the final
strides. Sent off the 16-1 fifth pick, the Mineshaft filly ran 1 1/16 miles on
the fast main track in 1:42 4/5 to pay $35.40, $13.20 and $5.
The Group 1, £376,500 One Thousand Guineas, run on the Rowley Mile at
Newmarket Sunday, has attracted 18 runners. The final field for the first
fillies' classic of the season includes the well supported ante-post favorite
Maybe, who rounded off an unbeaten juvenile campaign with a smooth victory in
the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes in August. The daughter of Galileo and her
stablemate Homecoming Queen, who won the Leopardstown One Thousand Guineas Trial
in April, will be bidding to give their trainer Aidan O'Brien a second success
in the race after Virginia Waters' runaway victory in 2005.
Saturday's Kentucky Derby has a pair of top contenders in Bodemeister and
Union Rags, but I've never seen a Kentucky Derby field so deep with viable win
options. A compelling case can probably be made for half the field.
I've identified eight logical win candidates (in alphabetical order) --
Bodemeister, Creative Cause, Dullahan, Gemologist, Hansen, I'll Have Another,
Take Charge Indy and Union Rags -- and could've included Alpha and Daddy Nose
Best in the mix as well.
With such a competitive field, the post position draw was critical and I felt
Bodemeister (post 6) and Union Rags (post 4) were hurt by the draw.
Bodemeister excelled from post 11 against a soft field in the Arkansas
Derby, earning the top last-race BRIS Speed rating (105), but he's an
inexperienced colt who was late to develop and probably needed an outside post
to have his best c
Few in the crowd on Saturday will feel the emotional
weight of the Kentucky Derby quite like the team with a chance to relive the
great opportunity that took them to the pinnacle of American racing 12 months
The waiting and anticipation is now almost over with the first classic of
England's 2012 Flat turf season, Saturday's Group 1, £376,500 Two Thousand Guineas on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
Final declarations were made Thursday morning, and 18 colts are set to go
to post in the famous mile contest.
Get Stormy failed to turn an uncontested lead into a repeat victory in the
Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland three weeks ago, but will have an
opportunity to make amends in his title defense of Saturday's Grade 1 $500,000
Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. The nine-furlong grass test,
the traditional race before the Kentucky Derby, highlights a blockbuster Derby
Day undercard that includes four other graded stakes.
Sassy Image won numerous battles in the race for champion female sprinter
honors in 2011, but ultimately lost the war when Musical Romance was awarded top
honors after winning the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in Sassy
Image's absence. The two will square off for a second time in Saturday's Grade
1, $300,000 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs over seven furlongs.
The finish of Friday's Grade 2, $300,000
La Troienne could wind up looking a
lot like that of the 2011 Kentucky Oaks as Plum Pretty and St. John's River
renew acquaintance over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs. The La Troienne is the
first of six stakes on the Kentucky Oaks Day program.
Winter Memories, whose explosive turn of foot propelled her to four graded
stakes wins last season, including the Grade 1 Garden City, makes her
four-year-old debut Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000
Beaugay at Belmont Park.
The gray daughter of El Prado should find the conditions ideal in the 1
1/16-mile grass test as she's undefeated in three attempts over Belmont's two
Grace Hall, who exits an impressive 6 1/2-length tally in the Grade 2
Gulfstream Park Oaks, arrived at Churchill Downs late Tuesday morning following
a flight from South Florida, where she had been training at Palm Meadows
Training Center for a start in Friday's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.
A pair of grass stakes for three-year-olds attracted overflow fields on
Friday's Kentucky Oaks Day undercard at Churchill Downs. The Grade 2, $200,000
Turf at 1 1/16 miles, features a wide-open cast of males, while Breeders'
Cup heroine Stephanie's Kitten looks to be favored in the $150,000
for fillies, also at 1 1/16 miles.
Increased purses, larger fields, great weather and placement of races led to
a very strong spring thoroughbred meet at Hawthorne as the season concluded on
Sunday. With the release of the impact fee funds prior to the start of last
fall's Thoroughbred meet, an increase in overnights of 50 percent helped to keep
more horsemen on the grounds through the winter dark period in preparation for
the spring meet.
Brereton Jones' homebred Believe You Can was in tip-top shape
the day after her bullet five-eighths work for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in :58
2/5, according to trainer Larry
Jones, who gushed about both the breeze and her demeanor 24 hours later.
Shivananda Parbhoo's Trinniberg open-galloped two furlongs under jockey
Willie Martinez through the stretch at Churchill Downs Monday morning. The
planned leg-stretching exercise was not an official recorded workout.
Churchill Downs and TwinSpires.com have partnered to guarantee the Pick 6
pools on Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby days. The Kentucky Oaks Day Pick 6
will carry a $200,000 guaranteed pool and the Kentucky Derby Day Pick 6 will
feature a $500,000 guarantee.
Unbeaten Group 1 Racing Post Trophy winner Camelot heads 22 horses going
forward in the Group 1 Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, while 21
fillies remain in the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas on Sunday.
The Irish-bred Quiet Oasis, who nearly doubled her bankroll to $122,413 from
her 8-3-1-1 line, had previously shown glimmers of talent. Originally based with
Brian Meehan in England, the daughter of Oasis Dream finished a close fourth in
her stakes debut in the Group 3 C.L. Weld Park Stakes and seventh in the
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
After a brief scare Thursday, Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011,
was declared fit and ready by trainer Don Warren and could run in the Grade 2,
$150,000 Mervyn Leroy Handicap Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Brereton Jones' homebred Mark Valeski galloped 1 1/2 miles Sunday during the
Derby and Oaks training period under trainer Larry Jones, who said it's not a
given they'll enter the Kentucky Derby unless the Proud Citizen colt impresses
in his final breeze Monday.
The Empire Maker colt named for trainer Bob Baffert's youngest child -- who
in turn is named for American Alpine skiing star Bode Miller -- worked in
company with stablemate Jemima's Pearl, who is headed to Friday's Grade 1
Kentucky Oaks. Jemima's Pearl completed her five-eighths in 1:00 2/5.
Believe You Can turned in her final official workout prior to Friday's Grade
1 Kentucky Oaks, a bullet five-furlong breeze in :58 2/5 during the Oaks and
Kentucky Derby training session over the muddy main track at Churchill Downs on
After winning Grade 1 turf races in 2011 with European imports Stacelita and
Zagora, trainer Chad Brown is primed to make a similar assault on major grass
events in America this year after receiving an influx of talented international
Stonestreet Stables LLC's Hierro rallied four wide in the stretch to run down
favored Paynter to win the 88th running of the Grade 3, $232,600
Trial by 1 1/2 lengths before a crowd of 26,527 on opening night of
Churchill Downs Friday.
Willa B Awesome might have bypassed on running in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks,
but the Walther Solis trainee didn't find the $288,000
Melair Stakes to be a
walk in the park on Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Chappell Alpine Farm's Hudson Landing, who had shifted barns five times via
the claim box since last July, is unlikely to be moving away from trainer Blaine
Wright anytime soon after a half-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000
San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields. Overcoming a wide journey down the
backside, the five-year-old gelding caught 2011 Mile runner-up Gallant Son
inside the eighth pole and held off a belated rally by 1-2 favorite Jeranimo to
register his second stakes win in a time of 1:37 1/5 over good ground. He
returned $19.60, $5.20 and $3.80 at odds of 8-1.
Endorsement made a name for himself when taking the Grade 3 Sunland Derby by
three lengths in 2010 but an injury sidelined the son of Distorted Humor until
December 2011. Following three conditioning starts at Gulfstream Park, the Casner
Racing colorbearer returned to stakes competition on Saturday and easily went
two-for-two against black-type company with a two-length victory in the Grade 3,
Mile Stakes at Lone Star Park.
Live Oak Plantation's To Honor and Serve coasted in his comeback in
Saturday's Grade 3, $142,500
Westchester Stakes at Belmont Park, stamping himself as the horse to beat in
the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap over the same mile trip on Memorial Day. Under
confident handling by regular rider Jose Lezcano, the 3-5 favorite took over
with a minimum of effort turning for home and won easing up by 5 1/4 lengths.
With jockey Julien Leparoux aboard, Union Rags breezed the distance in :59
4/5, third fastest of 53 moves at the distance on the fast main track. The
Michael Matz colt posted fractions of :12, :23 3/5 and :47 1/5 and galloped out
six furlongs in 1:13 4/5.
Australia's unbeaten wonder mare Black Caviar returned from a two-month
holiday to dust an overmatched field in Saturday's Group 1 Robert Sangster
before a packed house of 30,000 at Morphettville. As her fans waved flags with
the color scheme of her silks -- salmon pink and black dots -- the world's best
sprinter registered her 20th straight win, breaking the Australasian record for
a winning streak at metropolitan (as opposed to bush) tracks.