Several contenders are well-poised to earn graded stakes status.
Toner himself admits to being guilty of underestimating what Bellavais would be capable of—that is until he witnessed her competitive fire literally jump into someone's face over the Gulfstream Park turf Jan. 7.
Stellar Wind, who defeated Beholder twice last year after earning a divisional championship in 2015, makes her 2017 debut in Oaklawn Park's Apple Blossom Handicap (G1).
The 2017 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In television schedule will include 11 live programs featuring 17 qualifying races and other major stakes on the road to the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
Heart to Heart will try and lead a field of 12 at every point of call in the Maker's 46 Mile (G1T) in an attempt to better his runner-up in this spot one year ago.
Janis Whitham's McCraken arrived at trainer Ian Wilkes' Barn 26 at Churchill Downs the morning of April 10 following a third-place finish in Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
Mike Langford has campaigned two millionaires, but it's a horse with $256,800 in earnings under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen that the Jonesboro, Ark., owner calls his most talented runner to date.
Although L and N Racing didn't start its first horse until June 2015, the partnership has already hit a home run in Lookin At Lee, who was purchased for $70,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.
Alex and JoAnn Lieblong's Rockshaw looks to remain undefeated in 2017 when he lines up against seven 3-year-old males for the six-furlong $150,000 Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn Park April 13.
WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Racing's undefeated One Liner is out indefinitely and will miss his planned start in the April 15 Arkansas Derby (G1) and is off the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) trail.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) winner New Money Honey is scheduled to make her sophomore debut April 13 in Keeneland's Appalachian Stakes Presented by Japan Racing Association (G3T), a one-mile turf race loaded with talent.
What may have looked like a prep race on paper for Ruis Racing's Union Strike turned into an easy victory for the Union Rags filly April 9 in the $75,000 Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Chester and Mary Broman's homebred Highway Star got back to her winning ways April 9 at Aqueduct Racetrack with a half-length victory over Indulgent in the $150,000 Distaff Handicap (G3).
St. Elias Stable's grade 1 winner Sweet Loretta got back to winning form when she took the $150,000 Adena Springs Beaumont Stakes (G3) by three lengths at Keeneland April 9.
Dortmund, who won the Santa Anita Derby with a relentless effort two years ago, has been retired, owner Kaleem Shah said April 9.
Trainer Eddie Kenneally said morning of April 9 that the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) winner Sailor's Valentine, who won by a half-length at odds of 22-1, will be aimed at the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs May 5.
Isabelle de Tomaso's Irish War Cry has settled back into his Fair Hill base in good condition following his victory in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Hall of Fame trainer has 81 grade 1 wins but has never won the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Two of the four group races on Chantilly's April 9 card might have unleashed a pair of serious contenders for the upcoming classics in Gold Luck and Graphite.
The relative quiet surroundings of Keeneland's Barn 43 provided the perfect setting for the connections of Irap the morning of April 9 as they went about digesting what the son of Tiznow pulled off the evening before.
Multiple grade 1 winner Lady Eli was the headline performer during a star-studded morning of turf workers at Keeneland April 9 with the dark bay mare turning in a sharp five-furlong drill in advance of the April 15 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T).
After her trainer's cue, the 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly breezed through the turn and into the stretch for her first timed workout of 2017 and covered three furlongs in the easiest :35 4/5.
Trainer Ian Wilkes had his humor intact and his perspective on point Sunday morning less than 24 hours after McCraken finished third in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) April 8, the colt's first loss in five career starts.
Keeneland officials reported a spike in attendance for this year's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) card and cited improved on-track handle, although total pari-mutuel handle was slightly down.
Joe Turner's hombred Sircat Sally extended her undefeated streak to five when she easily coasted to a win in the $150,000 Providencia Stakes (G3T) April 8 at Santa Anita Park.
Gormley showed a different dimension in a grind-it-out Santa Anita Derby (G1) victory.
Miss Sky Warrior will head to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) on a roll after securing her fifth straight victory April 8 in the $300,000 Gazelle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
After running third in her last two graded stakes attempts, Golden Eagle Farm's Hillhouse High broke through in the $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes (G2T) when holding off a late run from Mokat, giving trainer Richard Baltas the 1-2 finish.
Following in the footsteps of former stablemate Beholder, the lightly raced daughter of Union Rags romped by 11 3/4 lengths April 8 in the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1).
Reddam Racing's Irap moved to the lead turning for home and held off a late challenge from grade 1 winner Practical Joke to upset the 93rd edition of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
Irish War Cry put doubts to rest April 8 in the $750,000 Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets (G2), clearing Battalion Runner by open lengths to rebound from his lackluster performance last out.
Semaphore Racing and Homewrecker Racing's Sailor's Valentine broke through in a big way April 8, upsetting seven other 3-year-old fillies to win the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.
Gaston and Anthony Grant's veteran performer Green Gratto broke through for his first top-level score in his 53rd career start, holding off 4-5 favorite Unified at the wire to pull the upset in the $400,000 Carter Handicap (G1).
Paulassilverlining proved the astute judgment of Juddmonte Farms' advisors April 8 in the $300,000 Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, gamely defeating pacesetter Constellation in her first start for her new connections.
Live Oak Plantation, trainer Mark Casse, and jockey Joel Rosario made it two straight stakes scores at Keeneland when they teamed to win the Shakertown Stakes (G2T) on turf with Holding Gold
Live Oak Plantation's homebred Awesome Slew rallied in the center of the track and ran down favorite A. P. Indian to win Keeneland's Commonwealth Stakes (G3) April 8.
John Oxley's reigning juvenile champion Classic Empire turned in his final serious drill in advance of his expected run in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), breezing an easy half-mile in :50 at Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala the morning of April 8.
Chris Waller trainee Foxplay (AUS) capped a huge day at Royal Randwick April 8 for the conditioner, who also sent out supermare Winx to her 17th straight win earlier on the card.
The wonder from down under put the latest exclamation point on her resume April 8 at Royal Randwick, cruising to a 5 1/4-length victory in the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) with the ease of a Saturday stroll.
Consider this your weekly guide to the best stakes in North America. This week we have massive stakes cards at Aqueduct Racetrack, Keeneland, and Santa Anita Park built around three top Triple Crown preps.
Back to serious training in 2017, the only horse to beat Unique Bella will make her return to racing April 9 in the $75,000 Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita.
From the time he purchased the colt at the 2003 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, George Krikorian believed the day would come when Mr. Big would get an opportunity to showcase some real talent.
His head is still swathed in bandages, a reminder of how close jockey Bryce Alderson came to losing his life during a race at Tampa Bay Downs Dec. 21.
Although he is confident Joe Turner's undefeated Sircat Sally can run on either turf or dirt, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is keeping the homebred Surf Cat filly on the grass April 8 in the $150,000 Providencia Stakes (G3T) at Santa Anita Park.
Repole Stable's homebred Clipthecouponannie's undefeated record will be on the line when she steps up in class and faces five other fillies and mares in the $150,000 Distaff Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack April 9.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced April 7 that the 47th Annual Eclipse Awards will be held Jan. 25, 2018; the Thursday before the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
What is already a successful comeback by any definition could take a storybook twist when jockey Rajiv Maragh pilots grade 2 winner Irish War Cry in Saturday's Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2).
- By Dave Litfin
- Handicapping, Thoroughbred Racing, Southeast Region, Southwest Region, West Region, Kentucky
Horse players will need three sets of eyes to keep track of this week's action, as Aqueduct Racetrack, Keeneland, and Santa Anita Park all run 170-point qualifiers to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).
There was a time in the early 1980s when the quick wit of the late comedian Don Rickles was matched with the speed of the equine Don Rickles.
Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) has announced its schedule for Saturday's vital Kentucky Derby preps.
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