Hall of Fame trainer Phil Johnson tried to out-think Breeders' Cup Classic (gr.I) winner Volponi Wednesday. He was at least partially successful.
Godolphin Racing's Moon Ballad took advantage of his brilliant speed to capture the $6 million Dubai World Cup in front-running style Saturday night at Nad Al Sheba, giving the Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum-owned stable and jockey Frankie Dettori three victories on the rich card.
Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor appears to have all options covered for the way Saturday's Group I Dubai World Cup will be run. Now it is a question of whether Moon Ballad and Grandera have what it takes to secure the stable their fourth win in the race.
In his first serious tour of Nad al Sheba racecourse, Blue Burner worked six furlongs on Monday morning under exercise rider Amin Azar, getting the distance in 1:14 while preparing for Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1).
The U.S. will field a team of 13 horses at the Dubai World Cup meeting on Saturday, March 29. All the intended runners, including Harlan's Holiday and Blue Burner in the World Cup, have now arrived in Dubai. All but Xtra Heat, who shipped in a week early, landed in Dubai late on Sunday March 16.
Starlight Stable's Harlan's Holiday, who won last year's Florida Derby (gr. I), tries to complete a unique parlay at Gulfstream Park Saturday in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I).
Their names used to slide off the tongue with such ease – Siphonic, Repent, Saarland, Nokoma, just to name a few. Those were supposed to be the sounds of spring, not War Emblem, Sarava, Magic Weisner and Proud Citizen.
With Buddha scratched out of Saturday's Kentucky Derby due to injury, trainer Bill Mott moved quickly Friday to secure the services of Hall of Famer Pat Day to ride Blue Burner in the classic.
An ecstatic D. Wayne Lukas jumped off his pony and declared, "We are very much in the Derby." Lukas was referring to Lexington Stakes winner Proud Citizen, who had just worked 5 furlongs in a quick :58 4/5 in the pre-dawn darkness of Churchill Downs in preparation for Saturday's 128th Kentucky Derby.
Gary and Mary West's Buddha dueled though the Aqueduct stretch with Medaglia d'Oro and Sunday Break en route to a head-length win in Saturday's exciting renewal of the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I). Under Pat Day, the gray son of Unbridled's Song completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.61 on a fast track.
The Kentucky Derby trail heads into the unknown Saturday, as eight 3-year-olds attempt to sort themselves out and prove they belong in the Run for Roses.
Several key players in this weekend's Triple Crown prep races had workouts Thursday morning. On Saturday, the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) will be run in Kentucky at Keeneland, the Wood Memorial (gr. I) will be contested at Aqueduct in New York, and the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) will close out the meet at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.
The horse is named for a brand of espresso coffee, and in his last
start, he woke up as if he had swallowed a double shot of the stuff.
Saturday afternoon, Medaglia d'Oro will try to keep his Triple Crown
hopes brewing when he steps onto Aqueduct's main track for the 78th running of the grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial.
Sunday Break, winner of his last three starts, worked a sharp six furlongs in 1:15 3/5 at Aqueduct Monday, in preparation for Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial, while Saarland breezed a half in :48 at Belmont.
There were no big 3-year-old stakes this weekend, and the void proved too difficult for us to cope with. We need our Derby fix. So, our mind started racing – how do we put this unwanted respite to good use? Turn to the Derby gods.
Following his Florida Derby (gr. I) victory, Harlan's Holiday is now favored in pool two of the Kentucky Derby future wager offered by Churchill Downs.
Trainer Kenny McPeek works hard, saddles Starlight Stable's Harlan's Holiday to a Florida Derby victory.
Eleven horses were entered Wednesday for Saturday's $1-million Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park, but the focus clearly was on two: Florida-bred Booklet and Harlan's Holiday.
In a surprise move, Classic Contenders Stable on Thursday plunked down the $3,000 fee to nominate Puck, a 3-year-old colt who has won or placed in all four career starts, to the March 16, $1-million Florida Derby.
Although the Florida Derby still is a little over three weeks away, it appears as if at least seven 3-year-olds are pointing for the $1 million, grade I event at Gulfstream Park on March 16. Booklet and Harlan's Holiday, who finished one-two in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth Stakes, are expected to renew their budding rivalry, with a few new faces ready to join the fray.
Stop us if you've heard this one before. Booklet, a tiny colt trainer John Ward calls "a walk-on, non-scholarship type of player," spurts to an open lead, and when finally collared late by Harlan's Holiday, refuses to yield, holding off that rival by a desperate nose.
The blurry Kentucky Derby picture should begin clearing up Saturday, as a number of Triple Crown hopefuls meet to determine who makes that all-important leap forward. The grade I Fountain of Youth Stakes, which drew a field of eight, is split right down the middle, with four stakes winners facing off against four up-and-coming stars. And in supporting allowance races, two promising colts lock horns in a prep for the Florida Derby, and a former Coolmore colt makes his U.S. debut.
From Gulfstream Park:
Kinsman Stable's Blue Burner breezed three furlongs in :38 at Payson Park Feb. 12 in a final blowout for Saturday's grade 1 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.
Harlan's Holiday turned in another sharp work for Saturday's grade I Fountain of Youth Stakes, drilling a half in :47 1/5 Wednesday with jockey Tony D'Amico aboard. In other Fountain of Youth developments, Elliott Walden has decided run Speed Hunter, and Shug McGaughey will run only Maybry's Boy, who worked a half Wednesday in :48 3/5.
Maybry's Boy closed from seventh-place to win the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III) on opening day of the 2002 Gulfstream Park meeting. One race earlier on the card, Bill Mott-trained 3-year-old Blue Burner earned a victory in a mile and 70 yard allowance race.
Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier's Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Johannesburg begins 2002 as the future-book favorite for both the Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) and the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Both races will be run on May 4.