A field of seven is set for Monday's $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III) at Philadelphia Park, with Starlight Stables' Harlan's Holiday installed as the morning line 2-1 favorite.
<b>Saratoga Notebook: </b>Medaglia d'Oro Recovering Nicely; Roaring Fever Rarin' to Go; Harlan's Holiday Back; Affirmed Success Takes Time
Trainer Bobby Frankel said Travers (gr.I) winner Medaglia d'Oro's injured left foot is healing well.
<b>Saratoga Notebook: Pletcher's Harlan's Holiday, Invisible Ink Near Returns; Clement Takes His Time; Lukas Breezes Holiday Runner</b>
Harlan's Holiday, off since running fourth in the Preakness May 18, had an easy five-furlong breeze Saturday morning on the Oklahoma Training Track.
Trainer Todd Pletcher didn't have any trouble ranking Left Bank's victory in the 75th Whitney Handicap on 5-year-old horse's lengthy list of accomplishments.
It was a professional ride from a professional rider. After classic setbacks--a disappointing seventh aboard Kentucky Derby (gr. I) favorite Harlan's Holiday, and fourth aboard him again in the Preakness (gr. I)--Edgar Prado finally landed the big one aboard Sarava. While he's always been on the stage, this is Prado's first moment under the heat of the spotlight.
After War Emblem, Wiseman's Ferry, Proud Citizen, and Perfect Drift exited a plane Wednesday morning that had carried them from Kentucky to New York for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), a surprise passenger walked off and was loaded into a van. His name: Harlan's Holiday.
A war zone. That's what posts 8 through 12 are going to be in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, as a five-horse stampede is going to come charging out of the gate and down the Pimlico stretch for the first time. And it's all the result of Bob Baffert and Company choosing post 8, resulting in the connections of the other speed horses to all select outside posts.
On the eve of Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the buzz around Baltimore's Pimlico Racecourse is which horses will be on the lead or pressing the pace so that War Emblem does not get an uncontested victory as he did in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
With Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey aboard, Preakness Stakes favorite Medaglia d'Oro sizzled three furlongs in :35 at New York's Belmont Park as he prepared for Saturday's second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland.
Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem and Harlan's Holiday, who was unplaced as the Derby favorite, both worked at Churchill Downs on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's Preakness Stakes. Meanwhile at Pimlico, final works were turned in by Crimson Hero and U S S Tinosa.
James Cassels and Bob Zollars' Easyfromthegitgo, runner-up in the Louisiana Derby and a troubled third in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, breezed five furlongs over a "sloppy" track on Monday at Churchill Downs.
The first three finishers in the Kentucky Derby returned to the track for the first time on Wednesday.
Two planeloads of horses are scheduled to arrive in Baltimore next Wednesday, and then the 127th Preakness Stakes can officially begin. Until then, the Pimlico backstretch will remain relatively quiet.
With just under $252,000 wagered Friday, Saarland is the early favorite for Saturday's 128th renewal of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
With so many classy speed horses and stalkers in this year's Derby, we were particularly interested in the final works by two of the closers whom we feel have a good chance to come charging late and who have the pedigrees to get the mile and a quarter.
Starlight Stable's Harlan's Holiday, the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and Florida Derby (gr. I) winner and likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby, underwent his final workout for Saturday's classic when he breezed a half-mile in :49 3/5.
Once again, we had leading Kentucky Derby contenders turning is totally dissimilar works, which just adds to this year's complicated Derby picture.
Probable Kentucky Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday turned in a fast workout at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, with trainer Ken McPeek expressing satisfaction in how the colt is coming into the season's first classic.
As difficult to believe as this may seem, we're actually going to keep it relatively short this week, as everyone saw what transpired on Saturday and has formed their own opinions. We are starting from scratch and tossing the past performances. We've looked at them so many times over the past four months, they no longer register in our brain.
Harlan's Holiday stalked the early pace then pounced in the stretch to pull clear to a 4 1/2-length win in Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
The rivalry between Booklet and Harlan's Holiday will be renewed for the fourth time Saturday when the two 3-year-olds hook up again in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
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.
Starlight Stable's Harlan's Holiday, winner of the Florida Derby (gr. I), breezed four furlongs in :47.60 over a "sloppy" track in his final major training move before a scheduled run in Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Harlan's Holiday closed as the 7-1 favorite in pool three of the Kentucky Derby future wager which closed at 5:30 (EDT) Sunday. Johannesburg, who suffered his first career defeat in Ireland Sunday, was next at 8-1, just ahead of Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Came Home.
Harlan's Holiday, winner of the Florida Derby, and Sunday Break, winner of his last three starts, worked Wednesday for their respective engagements in the April 13 Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial.
Harlan's Holiday, the Florida Derby winner who is headed to the April 13 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on the road to the May 4 Kentucky Derby, was named Ohio Horse of the Year and top 2-year-old colt for 2001.
The third and final pool of Churchill Downs' 2002 Kentucky Derby Future Wager begins its four-day run on April 4 with a pair of horses trained by Churchill Downs-based Ken McPeek -- Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Harlan's Holiday and Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Repent -- listed as its top two betting choices.
Starlight Stable's Harlan's Holiday worked Wednesday morning for the first time since winning the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I). The Ken McPeek-trained son of Harlan breezed five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 under Edgar Prado.
Almost every leading contender for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is among the 102 3-year-olds nominated to the 78th running of the $750,000Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) to be run on Saturday, April 13 during Keeneland's spring meeting.
Though the Kentucky Derby future wager closed before Sunday's San Felipe was run, that race's likely favorite, Siphonic, was the favorite when pool two of the wager closed Sunday afternoon.
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.
Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier's Johannesburg, the 2-year-old champion of 2001, emerged as the favorite after the first day of Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
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.
Harlan's Holiday, who will be one of the favorites for Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby Derby, tuned up for the 1 1/8-mile race with a sharp 5-furlong work in 1:00 3/5. At Hollywood Park, Sunday Break, breezed 6 furlongs in 1:15 4/5 for Sunday's San Felipe Stakes.
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.
With owners Jack and Laurie Wolf looking on, Halran's Holiday breezed five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday as he continued preparations for the March 16, $1-million Florida Derby (gr. I).
First there was John Velazquez, who is the regular rider of Kentucky Derby contenders Saarland and Nokoma. Then it was Jerry Bailey, who already was in great shape with Siphonic and Blue Burner, adding Repent to his roster of live Derby mounts. Now you can add Gary Stevens to the list of top riders doubling up (and even tripling up) on hot Derby mounts.
Trainer Ken McPeek has tabbed jockey Edgar Prado to ride Fountain of Youth (gr. I) and Holy Bull (gr. III) runner-up Harlan's Holiday in the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I).
The seven-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream that had been intended as Saarland's first start of the year has now failed to fill on two occasions. With Sunday's field again drawing only three horses, trainer Shug McGaughey could head up to Aqueduct for an allowance race next Friday.
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.
A record $577,889 was wagered into pool one of the pari-mutuel Kentucky Derby future wager offered this weekend, with the mutuel field emerging as the first-round favorite for the fourth straight year.
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.
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.
Trainer Ken McPeek had Harlan's Holiday on the track for a half-mile workout Feb. 12 and was more than pleased with the stakes-winning juvenile colt's move. Harlan's Holiday was ridden by jockey Tony D'Amico and was clocked in :47 2/5 handily. He runs Saturday in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I).
With jockey Edgar Prado aboard, Graham Motion-trained Grey Beard worked five furlongs Monday in 1:02 4/5 over a Gulfstream Park track labeled "good."
With the Gulfstream surface doing a Jekyll & Hyde transformation, Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Repent blazed 5 furlongs Wednesday in :58 flat, working in company with stablemate Take Charge Lady. The Kentucky Jockey Club winner galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:11 4/5.
- By Steve Haskin
Saturday's seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, recently more of a vehicle for non-Kentucky Derby horses, could provide a fascinating glimpse at the classic picture with the presence of the late-closing Maybry's Boy and the exciting prospect Axis.
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