On the sidelines for nearly seven months, the Bob Baffert-trained grade II winner Victory U.S.A. returns to action Sunday as the likely favorite in the $100,00 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita.
Undefeated Cajun Pepper will make his 3-year-old debut by leading a dozen sophomores to the gate for Sunday's $100,000 Borderland Derby, going 1 1/16 miles at Sunland Park. The Borderland Derby is the final local prep for the April 2, $500,000 WinStar Sunland Park Derby.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin Wygod's Sweet Catomine, last year's juvenile filly champ, has been nominated to the March 5 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), and could run in the nine-furlong race at Florida's Gulfstream Park if the bad weather in Southern California hampers her training, trainer Julio Canani said Friday.
Fox Hill Farm's undefeated Rockport Harbor served notice that he is fully recovered from the foot bruise suffered last week by working seven furlongs at Oaklawn Park Friday in 1:27 2/5 over a fast track as he progresses toward his 3-year-old debut in the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III).
Robert Bone's Choctaw Nation, who has not started since suffering his only career loss in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar six months ago, has been entered in Saturday's $150,000 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) over seven furlongs at Santa Anita.
Wannawinemall, a four-length winner of a maiden special weight event Feb. 17 at Santa Anita, should make his next start in graded stakes company, according to trainer Kristin Mulhall, who said the long-term goal for the son of Royal Anthem is the Triple Crown trail.
The Ogden Mills Phipps-homebred filly Daydreaming will be making her first start of the year when she leads a field of six fillies and mares, including the top three finishers in Banshee Breeze Handicap, in Saturday's $100,000 Sabin Handicap (gr. III) going 1 1/8 miles over the main track at Gulfstream Park.
A group of 12 3-year-olds has passed the entry box in Saturday's $100,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, a prelude to that track's signature Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) March 19. Trainer Nick Zito sends out two of the top entries in Andromeda's Hero and G P's Black Knight.
Janice and Robert McNair's Stonerside Stable has purchased a controlling interest in the 3-year-old filly Sis City from the partnership of Sanford Goldfarb, New York Yankees' manager Joe Torre, Michael Dubb, and Ira Davis.
Tracy Farmer's Sun King, third in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and Champagne Stakes (gr. I), will make his 3-year-old debut in a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park Feb. 26.
Sweet Catomine, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and the champion 2-year-old filly of 2004, heads a list of 144 3-year-old fillies nominated to the 131st running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on May 6.
Turf-Vivor IV, the 2005 edition of Gulfstream's handicapping contest, begins Friday and concludes Sunday.
Donn Handicap (gr. I) winner St. Liam has joined the probable field for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 5, according to racing secretary Rick Hammerle.
Alaskas Great Eagle Stable's stakes-placed So Long Birdie, a half-brother to Birdstone and Bird Town, suffered a condylar fracture of the left ankle while winning a starter allowance race in the mud at Bay Meadows Feb. 20.
You could say that So Long Birdie has some awfully big wings to fill. Last year, his half-brother, Birdstone, won the grade I Belmont and Travers, and the year before, his half-sister, Bird Town, captured the grade I Kentucky Oaks and Acorn on her way to an Eclipse Award.
Philip and Marcia Cohen's Closing Argument, winner of the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 5, "worked great" at Palm Meadows Monday morning, according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, speaking shortly after the half-mile move.
Grade III winner Straight Line turned in a strong workout Monday as trainer Harvey Vanier prepares him for the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park March 5.
Rockport Harbor, unbeaten in four starts and the future book favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), is being treated for a bruised left front foot, leaving his planned start in the $250,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) March 19 on hold.
Juddmonte Farms' Intercontinental, winner of the Nov. 28 Matriarch (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park in her last start of 2004, is scheduled to make her 2005 debut for trainer Bobby Fankel in Monday's $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita.
B.B. Best, most recently fourth in Gulfstream Park's $250,000 Sunshine Millions Ocala Stud Dash Jan. 29, worked one mile handily in 1:44 4/5 at Calder Race Course Friday and is being pointed for the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream March 5.
The second annual AmericaTab "Road to the Derby" handicapping contest is set to begin Saturday with the running of the $100,000 Southwest Stakes from Oaklawn Park.
Speedy Don Six, a 5-year-old that trainer Scott Lake feels is good enough to win the 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), takes an important step in Monday's $200,000 General George Handicap (gr. II) at seven furlongs at Laurel Park.
Shadow Cast chases her third consecutive stakes victory when she lines up against seven fillies and mares over the Stall-Wilson turf course in Saturday's $125,000 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Fair Grounds.
Sharon Fitzpatrick's millionaire Continental Red faces seven other turf marathoners as the 9-year-old gelding seeks to regain his winning form in Saturday's San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 1/2 miles over Santa Anita's grass.
Trying to piggyback on the phenomenal success of televised poker, the racing industry has high hopes for ESPN's one-hour program covering the National Handicapping Championship, which will air Sunday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m. ET.
Mike Pegram's grade II winner Preachinatthebar is back in full training, trainer Bob Baffert said, and the son of Silver Charm may start before the end of the current Santa Anita meeting.
The Feb. 19 Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park should be one for the record books when a pair of heavy hitting 4-year-old fillies – Madcap Escapade and Society Selection-- clash for the first time in the seven-furlong race.
Hard to believe that it's been precisely a year since Smarty Jones scored a hard-fought victory in the $100,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
A majority interest in Sort it Out, winner of the Whirlaway Stakes, has been sold to Robert and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable, who have turned the New York-bred over to trainer Bob Baffert. The colt's previous owner, Preferred Pals Stable, has retained a minority interest.
Bear Fan has been installed as the even-money morning-line favorite by Laurel Park handicapper Frank Carulli as the 6-year-old daughter of Pine Bluff attempts to defend her title in Saturday's $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II).
San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) winner Spanish Chestnut remains on schedule for his next start in the March 5 Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) and the Florida-bred tuned up for the 1 1/16-mile event with a six-furlong work in 1:14 from the gate on Wednesday morning over a fast track Santa Anita.
Mercedes Stables' grade II winner Twice as Bad, sidelined since finishing seventh in the Carry Back Stakes (gr. III) at Calder Race Course last July 10, is back to work and is considered possible to make his return to racing before the end of the current Santa Anita meeting, trainer Vladimir Cerin said.
Stronach Stable's Ghostzapper, Horse of the Year in 2004, continues to progress in his training, working a handy five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 on Monday at the Palm Meadows Training Center in preparation for a possible start in the April 9 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II).
Cash Is King Stable's Afleet Alex, winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) and runner-up in the voting for 2-year-old champion, had his first work of the year at Oaklawn Park Wednesday, drilling a sharp half in :47 flat with jockey Jeremy Rose aboard. It was the second fastest of 40 works at the distance.
James "Mattress Mac" McIngvale's Actxecutive is in training at Fair Grounds with trainer Steve Asmussen for a 3-year-old campaign that the owner hopes will include a start in the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Simply put, this has been a relatively uneventful Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Until Feb. 12, no 3-year-old had done anything exciting enough to infiltrate the top spots, occupied by last year's stars, none of whom have even run yet in 2005. Then, along came Scipion.
Trainer Tim Ritchey confirmed Monday morning that Afleet Alex, runner-up for the 2-year-old championship, will have his first work of his 3-year-old season later this week at Oaklawn Park.
Reigning juvenile filly champion Sweet Catomine emerged as a narrow favorite over "all others" as four days of betting on the opening pool of Churchill Downs' 2005 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager drew to a close on Sunday evening at racetracks and simulcast centers across North America.
The favorite in the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Pool, which ended Sunday, is the mutuel field – for the seventh consecutive year.
Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) candidate Borrego should be nicknamed "The Rainmaker."
Multiple grade I winner Star Parade will attempt to repeat last year's victory in the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Sunday, but she figures to be severely tested in her first start since August.
A game second in last month's El Encino Stakes (gr. II), grade I winner A.P. Adventure tries to put an end to a year-long victory drought in Saturday's $200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park.
The jury may still be out on Real Quiet as a sire, but as far as Bob Baffert is concerned, when it comes to the fast-developing Pussycat Doll, the verdict is nearly in.
Madcap Escapade and Society Selection, two of the nation's best 3-year-old fillies last year, head a list of 17 named to the $150,000 Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at seven furlongs Feb. 19 at Gulfstream Park.
A competitive field of nine older horses has passed the entry box for Saturday's one-mile Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the newly designed turf course at Gulfstream Park. Weighing in with a top impost of 120 pounds is the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Millennium Dragon, stakes winner on two continents including last year's Appleton.
German-bred Binya, who captured last year's The Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, will be toting high weight of 118 pounds against 10 rivals in Saturday's Suwannee River Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream.
The first leg of Oaklawn Park's stakes program for older runners will kick off with Saturday's $100,000 Essex Handicap (gr. III). Discreet Hero will be seeking his first 2005 victory as the 115-pound topweight in the 1 1/16 mile-event.
Pollard's Vision makes his 4-year-old debut Saturday as the morning line favorite in the $100,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III), part of a four-stakes card at Fair Grounds.
Summerly, a dominating allowance winner for trainer Steve Asmussen in her last start, is the morning line choice in Saturday's $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds.
The regally-bred Harlington, a $2.8 million yearling purchase who has won his two races to date, is the 3-1 favorite in a field of 11 sophomores entered for Saturday's $150,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds.
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