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PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
Sky Diva is at the crossroads of an improving sire and an improving family. Sky Mesa started slowly but now runners from his first crop have become graded stakes winners and his second crop of juveniles running this year already includes five stakes winners. At the top is grade I winner Sky Diva. The filly's family has also been improving over the past four years.
Kid Grindstone used a big finish to surprise the even-money favorite Arch Hall in deep stretch, winning the $100,000 Fifth Season (gr. III) for older horses at odds of 9-1 in his graded stakes debut Wednesday at Oaklawn Park.
Edward Sukley's homebred Purim tracked the pressed pacesetter Rockport Harbor and 80-1 shot Chippewa Trail coming off the far turn and assumed command in upper stretch, rolling to victory in the $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park Sunday.
Fox Hill Farm's Rockport Harbor, making his second start of the year, is the horse to beat in Sunday's field of eight for the $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) featuring older horses going 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park.
Even-money favorite Rockport Harbor, making his first start in more than nine months, put away the challenge of Cougar Cat in the final eighth of a mile to post his first win since 2004 in the $100,000 Essex Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park Saturday.
Greater Good and Rockport Harbor, who provided the most exciting finish of the 2005 Oaklawn meet in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III), square off again at the Arkansas track Saturday in the $100,000 Essex Handicap (gr. III).
Lewis Lakin's Greater Good turned in a sharp three-furlong work on Thursday in preparation for his scheduled grass debut in Sunday's second running of the $150,000-added Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs.
Second-crop sire Intidab will stand the 2006 breeding season at Shadwell Farm's Nashwan Stud, according to an announcement made by Shadwell vice president and general manager Rick Nichols.
An ugly, rainy morning, and no Kentucky Derby (gr. I) works made for a funky Friday. The Derby lost one prospective starter when it was announced General John B will not run due to a tendon injury to his left front leg. On the jockey front was the announcement that Pat Valenzuela will ride Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) winner Coin Silver.
Most Kentucky Derby (gr. I) works are pretty uneventful, but that certainly wasn't the case Thursday morning. You had Bobby Frankel calling a last-minute audible and working High Limit in company with Ghostzapper, and you had Greater Good and Greeley's Galaxy turn in two of the strangest Derby works in memory.
Taking advantage of the sunny, dry conditions at Churchill Downs, Thursday's work tab was busy, with five contenders for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) breezing over the fast track.
It's that time of the week when things briefly quiet down before the second wave of workouts. With only Consolidator working under the cover of darkness, this is a good time to reflect on how the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is shaping up so far.
Boy, has this Kentucky Derby (gr. I) picture changed. Suddenly, it's the year of the routs. So, what do you do when you have final Derby preps won by 17 1/2, 9 1/2, 8, and 6 lengths?
Afleet Alex gave Oaklawn Park its second major contender for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in as many years with his smashing win Saturday in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II).
Favored Afleet Alex bounced back from the worst race of his career, a last-place finish in the Rebel (gr. III) a month ago, to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) as much the best Saturday before 71,010 at Oaklawn Park.
A field of 10 was entered for Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and although two of the "Big Three" stabled at Oaklawn this winter will run, it is not quite what the Hot Springs track had envisioned.
With less than four weeks until the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Godolphin Racing's Blues and Royals, winner of the UAE Derby (UAE-II) on the Dubai World Cup card, is still on top of the list of Derby contenders by graded stakes earnings.
Live Oak Plantation's High Fly, whose recent victory in the Florida Derby (gr. I) was his fifth in six career races, emerged as the betting favorite on Friday as Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager ("KDFW") reached the midpoint.
Rick Porter, owner of Rockport Harbor, said that although the colt is doing much better after suffering his third setback of the year, he is 50-50 at best to make the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and that the April 23 Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland appears to be the more likely spot at this time."
Murphy's Law continues to plague Fox Hill Farm's Rockport Harbor, who now has come down with an undetermined ailment, forcing trainer John Servis to cancel his scheduled work Saturday and putting his status for the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) in question.
Should Greater Good win the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), it would make the second time in the past three years the winner cannot stand at stud.
So, where are the best 3-year-olds based? Florida, Arkansas, California, and New York can all make a case for being the hot spot right now following Saturday's stirring and strange turn of events. With Declan's Moon and now Roman Ruler out of the picture, and Afleet Alex and Wilko facing uphill battles, last year's top 2-year-olds are fading fast.
Afleet Alex, who finished last as the 3-5 favorite in Saturday's Rebel (gr. III), was scoped following the race and found to be suffering from a lung infection. Trainer Tim Ritchey said the colt is still being pointed for the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II).
Lewis Lakin's Greater Good rallied from well off the pace to collar runaway pacesetter Rockport Harbor for a half-length victory in the $250,000 Rebel (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park.
The March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park promises to deliver some major fireworks when Afleet Alex, Rockport Harbor, and Greater Good lock horns in the 1 1/16-mile race, which drew a field of six.
Saturday's $250,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., will be televised on ESPNEWS at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Just when it looked as if Rockport Harbor's luck had run out and he'd be unable to make the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III), trainer John Servis, while still cautious, said the foot looked much better Sunday.
Declan's Moon, champion 2-year-old colt last year, and Wilko, winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), are among the 126 nominations for Keeneland's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
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.
Odds-on choice Greater Good trailed the field much of the way but rallied while wide in the stretch to tag pacesetter Munificence in the final strides and win the $100,000 Southwest Stakes for 3-year-olds under showers at Oaklawn Park Saturday.
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.
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.
The Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner and two other Eclipse Award candidates are among 113 early nominees for the 93rd running of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 12 at Fair Grounds.
While the battle raged in the middle of the track Greater Good, ridden by John McKee, slipped through along the inside with a furlong to go and went on to an impressive 1 3/4-length win in the $223,200 Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) for 2-year-olds on closing day at Churchill Downs Saturday.
The Churchill Downs spotlight shines on the 2-year-olds Saturday as the fall meet concludes with the $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) and the $200,000 Golden Rod (gr. II) for fillies.
Straight Line, ridden by Brice Blanc, took the lead on the turn and pulled away from his 2-year-old rivals to easily win the $109,600 Iroquois (gr. III) at one mile at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Veteran trainer Robert Holthus hopes to continue a terrific run with 2-year-olds when he saddles major contenders on Saturday at Churchill Downs in each of the day's stakes races for juveniles.
Lewis G. Lakin's homebred Greater Good, running last into the final turn, closed fast to win the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) in his stakes debut Saturday at Turfway Park.
Graded stakes winners Intidab and Millions were represented by their first winners Aug. 7.
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