Wise Dan concluded 2011 in smashing fashion, posting big wins in the Grade 2
Fayette Stakes and Grade 1 Clark Handicap, and the Charles Lopresti-trained
gelding will look to make it three straight when opening his five-year-old
season in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000
Ben Ali Stakes
at Keeneland. The versatile
chestnut tops a field of seven in the 1 1/8-mile test over the Polytrack.
Peachtree Stable's undefeated Princess Arabella, who would have been a major
contender in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, has been retired due to injury. Hall of
Fame trainer Bob Baffert revealed the news on HRTV Thursday.
Grade 2 Rebel Stakes winner Secret Circle is out of the Kentucky Derby with a
sesamoid injury, according to the Blood-Horse. The Bob Baffert pupil was
most recently a distant runner-up to stablemate Bodemeister in last Saturday's
Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.
Richard L. Hamilton, a former steward and longtime racing official for the
New York Racing Association (NYRA), died Wednesday night at St. Peter's Hospital
in Albany, New York after suffering a heart attack. He was 76 years old.
The Larry Jones-trained trio of Havre de Grace, Mark Valeski and Believe You
Can arrived at Barn 35 at Churchill Downs in good order at 5 p.m. (EST) Tuesday
night and all three visited the track Wednesday morning to gallop a mile.
Bluegrass Hall LLC's homebred Optimizer, most recently ninth in the Grade 1,
$1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, is still being pointed to the
Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
While trainer Bob Baffert has yet to fully commit Castaway to the Kentucky
Derby on May 5, the white-haired conditioner has given every indication the
Street Sense colt will wheel back off the two-week break if he captures
Saturday's 31st running of the Grade 3, $200,000
Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.
Dede McGehee's St. John's River, who was narrowly defeated by Plum Pretty in
last year's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, is being pointed to a return to the races
after an eighth-month layoff in the Grade 2, $300,000 La Troienne, which is to
be run on the Kentucky Oaks Day undercard on May 4.
Already blessed with the presence of champion Royal Delta in his barn, Hall
of Fame trainer Bill Mott also has another nice older mare in Arena Elvria, who
will seek her sixth consecutive victory Saturday in the Grade 3, $200,000
Sails Handicap at Hawthorne.
After landing a one-two punch in last week's Grade 1 Arkansas Derby with
Bodemeister and Secret Circle, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will attempt to
do the same in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000
Aqueduct with California shippers Stirred Up and Brigand. The one-mile Jerome,
which will be run for the 142nd time, is the final graded stakes of the Aqueduct
spring meet as racing in New York shifts to Belmont Park next weekend.
QIPCO British Champions Series, the Daily Telegraph and Racing Post
have launched a brand new, free-to-enter fantasy game, with players having the
opportunity to score points across all 35 races in the 2012 Series.
Keeneland President and CEO Nick Nicholson on Wednesday announced that
effective September 1, he will retire from Keeneland Association after nearly 13
years at the helm. Bill Thomason, currently Vice President and Chief Financial
Officer, has been selected by the Keeneland Trustees as successor to Nicholson.
Creative Cause, recording his first workout since a nose second in the Grade
1 Santa Anita Derby April 7, completed five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 over the
Cushion Track at Hollywood Park on Tuesday. It was the 16th fastest of 37
works at the distance.
The top-two finishers in last Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby
at Oaklawn Park arrived at Churchill Downs in good order Monday afternoon to
continue their preparations for the 138th running of the $2 million Kentucky
Derby, which is to be run beneath the Twin Spires on May 5.
Pachattack, a leading mare on synthetic surfaces in North America the past
couple of seasons, get back to work Friday at Keeneland in the Grade 3, $100,000
Doubledogdare over 1 1/16 miles. The race will mark her first start for the
Niarchos family's Flaxman Holdings, which purchased the six-year-old for $1.2
million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale.
The $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) is the headliner on Fair Grounds' April 1 program, but the biggest names and most talented horses may be running on the undercard in the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II).
The Factor will face Rocket Man and several other of the world's top sprinters when he goes to the post in the $2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News (UAE-I) at Meydan Racecourse March 31.
Providing a strong sense of deja vu, Team Valor International's Went the Day Well booked his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with a convincing victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Viver Racing Spiral Stakes
Thoroughbred owners and trainers who wish to make their late-blooming
three-year-olds eligible to compete in the 2012 Triple Crown series of classic
American races have until Saturday to add their horses to the roster of late
nominations to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
America's contenders for the $27 million Dubai World Cup program, including champion Royal Delta and multiple grade I winner Game On Dude, have landed safely in Dubai and are in good health after the long flight from Florida.
With its lucrative $800,000 purse, the Grade 3
Derby is an attractive prep race for Kentucky Derby hopefuls lacking graded
earnings, and three-year-olds from the barns of notable trainers Bob Baffert,
Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen have shipped into the New Mexico track this
year in search of a guaranteed berth to the Run for Roses. The 1 1/8-mile race
gained notoriety in 2009 when producing Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.
Oaklawn Park, which has already announced three purse increases this meet, is
increasing the purses of the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and Grade 3 Count Fleet
Sprint Handicap by $50,000, bringing the April 14 events to $400,000 and
$250,000, respectively. Additionally, the track will offer a participation bonus
for the fourth consecutive year on all non-stakes races that attract more than
eight wagering interests for the final three weeks of the season (March 29 ?
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the Spiral Stakes in 2001 with Balto Star and
in 2005 with Flower Alley when it was a Grade 2, will be looking for his third
win in the now Grade 3 race when he sends out the uncoupled duo of Heavy
Breathing and Holiday Promise on Saturday at Turfway Park.
Mark Valeski, runner-up in last month's Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, made a
case for favoritism in the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1,
breezing an impressive five furlongs over the fast main track at Fair Grounds on
Tuesday. He completed the move in :59 2/5 under regular rider Rosie Napravnik,
the fastest of 11 works at the distance by a full second.
South Florida-based Alpha, easy winner of the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct on
February 4, is now considered probable for the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana
Derby on April 1, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin confirmed Tuesday.
Multiple Grade 1 hero Game on Dude and champion filly Royal Delta are among
14 horses projected to compete in the Group 1, $10 million Dubai World Cup on
March 31, according to the
list of probable competitors released Sunday by the Dubai Racing Club.