Keeneland achieved several wagering records during its 16-day spring meet that ended April 26.
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.
Ashland Stakes (gr. I) winner Take Charge Lady turned in her final workout in preparation for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) when she worked five-eighths of a mile in :59 3/5 at Churchill Downs on Friday morning.
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.
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.
San Rafael Stakes winner Came Home, scheduled to compete April 6 in the grade I Santa Anita Derby, worked a half-mile in :48.20 the morning of April 2 in preparation for the race, co-owner John Toffan said. Meanwhile, Louisiana Derby winner Repent is galloping up to the grade II Illinois Derby to be held the same afternoon.
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.
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.
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).
In the wild, wacky, wonderful world of cliches, you could say Repent finally showed us a light at the end of the tunnel, giving us something to sink our teeth into; something we can hang our hat on; something to bring a smile to our face and twinkle to our eye. OK, you get the point. In short, Repent's victory in Sunday's Risen Star Stakes finally gave us something to get excited about.
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).
Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) winner Repent breezed a half-mile in :50 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday under regular rider Tony D'Amico.
Harlan's Holiday and Nokoma lead the seven-horse field entering Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/16- mile Holy Bull is a major prep for the $1-million Florida Derby (gr. 1) on March 16. In the past four seasons, Hal's Hope (2000) and Cape Town (1998) have used the event as a springboard to victory in the Florida Derby.
The 2-year-old fillies that figure to be the favorites for the Nov. 24 $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs completed their serious training for the 1 1/16-mile race with Tuesday breezes at Churchill.
Miscellaneous racing news
Manndar and Thesaurus, both slated to go postward in Saturday's $200,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, were on the track for morning trials on Tuesday. Manndar, recently shipped from California for the turf route, had his first workout over the local strip breezing a half-mile in :49 1/5. Trainer Ken McPeek had Thesaurus breeze five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 on Tuesday. A 7-year-old roan gelding, Thesaurus finished second in the GPBC Handicap last year and gets into this edition of the race with 113 pounds.
Trainer Ken McPeek said Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) winner She's A Devil Due, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), will bypass the $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) November 25 at Churchill Downs. Instead, the conditioner said the 2-year-old daughter of Devil His Due will be given some time off and be pointed toward a spring campaign.
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