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.
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.
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.
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.
Remsen Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Nokoma displayed his fitness for Saturday's $1-million Florida Derby (gr. I) with a fast workout at Gulfstream Park on Monday.
An impressive performance by Take Charge Lady in Saturday's Fair Grounds Oaks could propel the 3-year-old daughter of Dehere into a start against the boys in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), according to trainer Ken McPeek.
Michael Tabor's Nokoma, runner-up in last year's Remsen Stakes, breezed a sharp 5 furlongs in 1:00 4/5 Tuesday for the March 16 Florida Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher called the work "super."
Yes, we have been here before. Two years ago, Japanese-owned Fusaichi Pegasus, trained by Neil Drysdale, broke his maiden sprinting in January, then won a 1 1/16-mile allowance race in February as a springboard to victories in the San Felipe, Wood Memorial, and the Kentucky Derby. Now, we have Japanese- owned Sunday Break, trained by Neil Drysdale, breaking his maiden sprinting in January, then winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance race in February.
Michael Tabor's Nokoma waited behind a wall of horses on the second turn, then utilized an opening along the rail to rally to a three-quarter length win in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
Michael Tabor's Nokoma, runner-up in the Remsen Stakes to Saarland, will attempt to rebound from a disappointing effort in the Holy Bull Stakes when he takes on 12 opponents in a mile and 70-yard allowance race at Gulfstream Saturday.
Normally, a weekend that features the Lecomte Stakes from Fair Grounds and a pair of allowance races from Gulfstream is not going to cause any great tremors on the Derby trail. While this past weekend was no exception, we did have several impressive performances, by losers as well as winners, that could have an impact in the weeks ahead.
Booklet and Harlan's Holiday, the respective first and second place finishers in Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes, are expected to meet again Feb. 16 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I), the next step on the road to the Florida Derby (gr. I).
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.
Trainer Todd Pletcher had two of his best horses, Nokoma and Graeme Hall, out for morning trials on Sunday and was pleased with the way both horses went.
This is the time of the year to keep close tabs on 2-year-old maiden races. Whether trainers admit it or not, they are well aware that no Kentucky Derby winner has failed to start as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882. Recently, we've seen several intriguing prospects break their maiden, and now is as good a time as any to start planting the seed.
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