Patricia Cooksey, Aaron Gryder, Edgar Prado and John Velazquez have been named as the finalists for the 2004 Mike Venezia Memorial Award. The Venezia Award was instituted by the New York Racing Association to honor riders who "exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship." Venezia was killed in a tragic spill at Belmont Park on Oct. 13, 1988.
Wando, Canada's 2003 Horse of the Year and Triple Crown champion, defeated seven turf rivals in his first start as a 4-year-old at Keeneland Racecourse in Kentucky on Sunday.
With plenty of down time left before the flood of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps begin on April 3, this is a good opportunity to continue looking for new angles, new faces, and a new perspective on the Derby picture.
German-bred Meridiana, a disappointment in the United States last year after winning the Italian Oaks (Ity-I) in May, took a big step forward with a front-running victory in the $200,000 Orchid Handicap (gr. IIT) Sunday at 12 furlongs on the Gulfstream Park turf course.
Padua Stable's Bohemian Lady got a much better start than she did in her previous outing and easily disposed of five rival 3-year-old fillies Saturday in the $109,100 Cicada (gr. III) at seven furlongs.
Martin L. Cherry's Wynn Dot Comma held off Eurosilver by a head in a frantic finish to Saturday's $150,000 Swale Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park, giving jockey Edgar Prado his 5,000th career victory.
Edgar Prado, Gulfstream Park's jockey champion two years ago and perennially among the local leading riders in recent seasons, rode his 5,000th career victory in Saturday's Swale Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds aboard Wynn Dot Comma.
Jockey Edgar Prado is one victory short of the 5,000-victory plateau after winning five races at Gulfstream Park Thursday.
Buckram Oak Farm's Last Song got the trip she needed to defeat odds-on favorite Society Selection by two lengths in Saturday's $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park.
Brazilian-bred Hard Buck rallied on the outside to get up in the final two strides, defeating favored Balto Star by a head in the $190,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) on the turf Sunday.
With her usual late charge, Juddmonte Farm's Heat Haze gave trainer Bobby Frankel his 25th grade I victory in a scorching finish of the $500,000 Matriarch (gr. IT) for fillies and mares at Hollywood Park Sunday.
Speedster Bossanova opened up a two-length advantage in the stretch and held on under Edgar Prado for a gate-to-wire victory in Thursday's $108,300 Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct.
Trainer Tony Dutrow has gotten into the habit of shipping stakes-quality horses north from his Laurel, Md. base to Aqueduct. Dutrow will be back at it Friday at the Big A, saddling Willa On the Move in the Delta Airlines/Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at a mile.
Better Talk Now drove past Del Mar Show and pacesetter Millennium Dragon to register a gritty half-length victory in the $150,000 Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct Saturday.
Sanford Goldfarb's and Stewart Hoffman's Well Fancied, the post-time favorite of the New York Showcase Day crowd of 10,214, held off the stubborn 7-year-old Gander to win Saturday's $250,000 Empire Classic for New York breds at 1 1/8 mile.
Courtland Farm's Film Maker, in spite of some bumping in the stretch, overcame Maiden Tower by a nose to win the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland on Saturday.
Select Stable's Take Charge Lady overcame a wide trip and had just enough stamina to hold off a never-say-die You in winning Sunday's $500,000 Overbrook Spinster (gr. I) at Keeneland for the second straight year.
Charles E. Fipke's Canadian-based Perfect Soul returned to Keeneland Saturday and showed his affinity for the course, winning the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) by three-quarters of a length over Honor in War, with Touch of the Blues third.
John and Joan Phillips' Wonder Again won for the first time in 2003 and ended a five-race losing streak, taking Saturday's $150,000 Noble Damsel Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at Belmont Park.
As Marylebone and Lokoya battled head-and-head in the stretch, the only thing that was certain in Sunday's $200,000 Matron (gr. I) for 2-year-old fillies at Belmont Park was that trainer Todd Pletcher was going to the winner's circle.
Dogwood Stable's favored Smok'n Frolic gained command on the final turn and cruised to a 3 1/2-length win in Saturday's $175,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III), ending a five-race losing streak. Cajun Beat was the upset winner of the $00,000 Kentucky cup Sprint (gr. III)
Stonerside Stable's Congaree, an earner of more than $2.7 million and winner last out of the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), was installed the 4-5 morning line choice for Saturday's Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) at Turfway Park.
Mineshaft, clearly the class of the field, shook off a stubborn Hold That Tiger in the stretch to draw away to an easy 4 1/4-length triumph in the $500,000 Woodward at Belmont Park Saturday.
Sanford Goldfarb and Stewart Hoffman's Well Fancied became the first back-to-back winner of the General Douglas MacArtur Handicap, powering to a 5 ½-length victory Friday afternoon in the seven-furlong race for New York breds that opens the 38-day Belmont Park Fall Championship Meet.
Bob Baffert said Wednesday that Edgar Prado will ride Hollywood Gold Cup winner Congaree in the $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic on Sept. 13 as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic-Powered by Dodge.
Whoopi Cat worked hard to get past Unbridled Beauty but did so to win the Adirondack (gr. II) at Saratoga on Monday.
Saratoga Notebook: Bird Town Off Schedule; Friday Jog for Funny Cide?; Volponi's Blood Test; Shug on Possibility
A scheduled work for Bird Town was interrupted by weather; Funny Cide may jog Friday; Volponi is undergoing a blood test; trainer Pletcher and owner Dogwood face decisions; plus lots of other news and notes from the Spa.
Still unsure of the cause, trainer Barclay Tagg said Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide was on the improve after spiking a fever of 102 Monday morning.
Jockey Edgar Prado will ride Haskell Invitational runner-up Sky Mesa in the Aug. 23 Travers Stakes. Prado took off Sky Mesa, whom he had ridden in the colt's four previous career starts, to ride Peace Rules to victory in the Haskell.
Peace Rules, ridden by Edgar Prado, was an easy front-running winner of Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Monmouth Park, giving owner Edmund Gann and trainer Bobby Frankel a sweep of the nation's weekend grade I stakes.
Marylou Whitney Stable's 2-year-old homebred Birdstone, a half-brother to multiple grade I winner Bird Town, won his debut at Saratoga Saturday by 12 1/2 lengths.
Saratoga Notebook: Top 3-Year-Olds Work; Prado Opts for Peace Rules; Volponi Ready for Whitney; Alabama Target for Awesome Humor
Empire Maker, Peace Rules and Sky Mesa all worked Saturday morning on the main track at Saratoga Race Course in preparation for their scheduled starts in stakes races on Aug. 3.
Uncharacteristically, trainer Kenny McPeek was a man of few words Wednesday as he talked about Ohio Derby (gr.II) Wild and Wicked's work over the Oklahoma training track.
Edgar Prado rode four winners, including Ashado in the $150,000 Schuylerville (gr. II) on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, opening the 135th Saratoga Race Course season with a strong start in his bid to defend his Spa jockey title.
On Thursday, July 24, the second day of the meet, all fans (with paid admission), will take home an Edgar Prado bobblehead doll in honor of Saratoga's leading jockey from 2002.
In the much-anticipated return of Sky Mesa, it was Eugene and Laura Melnyk's rapidly-improving Strong Hope who held on for victory in Sunday's $150,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) by a head over Nacheezmo, with Sky Mesa settling for a non-threatening third.
James F. Edwards' Princess Dixie controlled the pace with a gate to wire victory in Sunday's $114,300 Mount Vernon Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares at Belmont Park.
Edgar Prado turned in a first, second and third-place finish Friday night at Lone Star Park to edge Shane Sellers by a point for the title in the 2003 NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Edmund Gann's Peace Rules, breezed a half mile over Belmont's main track in :48 Friday morning in his first workout since finishing a distant fourth behind Visa Triple Crown hopeful Funny Cide in the May 17 Preakness (gr. I). NYRA clockers caught the colt galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 4/5.
Lightly-raced Dynever collected his third straight win with an impressive 1 1/2-length victory over graded stakes winner Most Feared in Saturday's $500,000 Lone Star Derby (gr. III) at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Buckram Oak Farm's Najran shattered the one-mile track record at Belmont Park on the opening day card with an impressive victory in the Westchester Handicap (gr. III). His time for the one-turn mile was a blistering 1:32.24.
Star Track Farms' colt Grey Comet and Peter E. Mariano's filly Hanselina each won a division of Sunday's $150,000 New York Stallion Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct Park.
It looks like trainer D. Wayne Lukas will be bringing another surprise package to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after his lightly regarded colt Scrimshaw and jockey Edgar Prado scored a three-length victory in Saturday's $363,675 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Keeneland.
Michael Tabor's 7-1 shot Smooth Jazz took full advantage of his inside post, gunning to the front with jockey Edgar Prado and pulling away in the stretch to score a three-length upset over 4-5 favorite Crafty C.T. in Sunday's $273,750 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Keeneland.
With handicap division leader Harlan's Holiday several thousand miles away in Dubai, John Oxley's favored Hero's Tribute took full advantage to tally an easy victory in Saturday's $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II).
Mansell Stables' Quest Star and jockey Edgar Prado dictated the pace from the start and scored a sharp 1 3/4-length victory over 3-5 favorite Man From Wicklow in the $200,000 Pan American Handicap (gr. IIT) on the lawn at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
When The Name's Bond scored his first career added-money victory and shattered a track record at the Ocala Training Center Monday, his trainer, Frank Gomez wasn't surprised.
Gold Mover won her second straight $100,000 Hurricane Bertie Handicap on Sunday, beating favorite Harmony Lodge by 3 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream Park.
Barrister Hall Stable's Midnight Cry, with jockey Edgar Prado showing the way, caught Chimichurri in the stetch and drew off to win Friday's $100,000 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. III) in a mild surprise at Gulfstream Park Friday.
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