By Ray Paulick - What fans got this year were three incredible horse races that ended with three very accomplished and deserving winners, punctuated by the history-making performance of Rags to Riches, the first filly winner of the Belmont since Tanya in 1905.
By Dan Liebman - Sure, this is no Bobby Riggs versus Billy Jean King but that's what marketing is all about -- taking something people aren't sure they care about and making them realize they should care about it.
Rags to Riches, who became the queen of racing after she outfought the imposing Curlin in Saturday's 139th Belmont Stakes (gr. I), came out of the race no worse for wear in spite of a bad stumble at the start.
A.P. Indy, the sire of Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Rags to Riches, and Smart Strike, the sire of runner-up Curlin, both stand at Lane's End Farm along with Pleasant Tap, the sire of third finisher Tiago, and Came Home, the sire of fifth finisher C P West.
It's been a wild and crazy Triple Crown (no tip intended) with lots of twist and curves, and it all comes to a rousing conclusion in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Will Curlin finally regress, and if so, how much? How special is Rags to Riches? Will Hard Spun be able to slow down the pace? Stay tuned for the answers to these and other questions.
When all is said and done, the 139th Belmont Stakes (gr. I) has turned out to be a heck of a good race after all, Street Sense or no Street Sense. We have seven legitimate horses, with none of the usual no-hopers that seem to pop out of the woodwork for the third leg of the Triple Crown, and a classic male vs. female showdown.
Jerry Bailey, known as an astute handicapper when he was carving out his Hall of Fame riding career, gave his thoughts on Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) while standing on the track's apron Thursday morning.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will make history when he saddles Rags to Riches June 9 in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The grade I winner will become just the 22nd filly-- and the first since Silverbulletday in 1999-- to challenge the boys in the 1 1/2-mile "Test of a Champion."
As post positions were drawn Wednesday for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the field finally settled in at seven runners after a few horsemen decided that the Belmont would be, then wouldn't be, a fine race in which to run their horses.
Slew's Tizzy and Hard Spun, who figure to be the pacesetters in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), drew next to each other at the post position draw Wednesday morning at Belmont Park. Curlin, the classic-winning morning line favorite in the seven-horse field, drew post three.
The suspense was so thick, you could cut it with a...Well, maybe it wasn't quite that thick, but at least there was a some anticipation to see what Todd Pletcher was going to do regarding Rags to Riches' status in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). After putting off his decision as long as possible, he finally made the announcement at 9:30 Tuesday morning.
Trainer Todd Pletcher announced Tuesday morning that the filly Rags to Riches will contest the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and be ridden by John Velazquez. Also, trainer Greg Fox said Rafael Bejarano has been named to ride Slew's Tizzy.
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders Hard Spun, Imawildandcrazyguy, and Tiago, as well as Todd Pletcher-trained candidates Rags to Riches and Circular Quay, all hit the Belmont main track for work-outs Sunday morning.
Owner Rick Porter and trainer Larry Jones have named Garrett Gomez to ride Hard Spun in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), replacing Mario Pino, who had ridden the colt in all eight of his previous starts. As of now, Hard Spun is considered 98% certain to run, according to Porter.
As the eighth largest crowd in the 133-year history of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) watched post-time favorite Rags to Riches romp to a 4 1/4-length victory over a full field of 14 fillies, Churchill Downs set new records for on-track, off-track and all-sources wagering on a competitive 11-race Oaks Day card, as well as the Kentucky Oaks race itself.
With Friday's 133rd edition of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) coming up quickly, a pair of 3-year-old lassies out of the Todd Pletcher barn did some serious leg stretching Saturday morning at Keeneland on a cloudy and crisp morning.
Trainer Todd Pletcher continued the classic preparations for three of his five probable Kentucky Derby starters when Scat Daddy, Any Given Saturday, and Circular Quay worked over the Polytrack surface at Lexington's Keeneland Racecourse Sunday, April 22.
Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor's Rags to Riches, the winner of the Las Virgenes (gr. I) and Santa Anita Oaks (gr. II), remained an overwhelming 3-2 favorite as the final pool in Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager came to a close Sunday evening.
Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor's Rags to Riches, the winner of the Las Virgenes (gr. I) and Santa Anita Oaks (gr. II), remained a strong favorite at the midpoint of betting in Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.
Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor's Rags to Riches, the Todd Pletcher-trained winner of the Las Virgenes (gr. I) and Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), will be a heavy favorite when the third and final pool Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager ("KOFW") launches its four-day run April 12.
Santa Anita Oaks winner Rags to Riches, who would have been only the fourth filly to start in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) in 70 runnings, will instead go "straight to the Kentucky Oaks," trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning.
Street Sense and Any Given Saturday, the respective 1-2 finishers in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), made the largest moves in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's weekly 3-Year-Old Thoroughbred Poll.
Todd Pletcher is dominating the Derby trail. Todd Pletcher is dominating the Derby trail. Todd Pletcher is dominating the Derby trail. Remember the kid in school who is forced by the teacher to write something over and over on the blackboard? Well, sorry, folks, but Mr. Pletcher is making us all write the same column over and over every week.
Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor's Rags to Riches, the Todd Pletcher-trained dominating winner in Sunday's Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), stood as a solid favorite in Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager when wagering on the four-day pool concluded on Sunday evening.
Sent along by jockey Garrett Gomez near the quarter pole while racing third on the outside, the 2-5 choice Rags to Riches quickly assumed command of Sunday's $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), striding out to an impressive win.
Frank Calabrese's champion filly Dreaming of Anna held a narrow edge over Rags to Riches and the field as the favorite at the midway point of four days of betting in pool 2 of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.
Rags to Riches, who went from a maiden victory to grade I success in the Las Virgenes Stakes, will attempt to further enhance her reputation in Sunday's $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
Rags to Riches has been installed as the morning line choice for Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, which opens its four-day run March 8. The 24 betting interests in KOFW Pool 2 include nine fillies that were not among the horses listed in February's opening pool.
Frank Calabrese's champion juvenile filly Dreaming of Anna and Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor's Rags to Riches, winner of the Las Virgenes (gr. I), head a list of 126 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $500,000 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) April 7 at Keeneland.
Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor's Rags to Riches, winner of the Las Virgenes (gr. I) at Santa Anita in her stakes debut, and Frank Calabrese's homebred Dreaming of Anna, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2006, head a record roster of 192 sophomore fillies nominated to the 133rd running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
An eventful weekend of potential Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) preps that saw star-making performance by Rags to Riches and a surprise setback for reigning 2-year-old filly champion Dreaming of Anna jumbled the odds in Pool 1 of Churchill Downs' 2007 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. But the mutuel field, -- the "all others" bet -- closed as the pool's narrow 3-1 favorite.
Frank Calabrese's unbeaten homebred Dreaming of Anna, winner of the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and the Eclipse Award winner as the champion 2-year-old filly of 2006, continued to draw strong support, but the wagering interest that represented "all other 3-year-old fillies" remained a solid favorite as Pool 1 of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Oaks Future Wager reached the midway point of its four-day run on Friday.