Trainer Ken McPeek, who saddled KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) to win Fair Grounds' Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) February 19 and ROGUE ROMANCE (Smarty Jones) to run third in the Risen Star S. (G2) on the same day, indicated Sunday morning that both the filly and the colt would be returning to New Orleans to run back in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and the Louisiana Derby (G2), respectively, on March 26.
"Everything is fine with both of them," McPeek said Sunday morning from South Florida, "and we're planning on coming back with both of them."
Prior to the Rachel Alexandra, Kathmanblu had won Gulfstream's Sweetest Chant S. January 22 in her 2011 debut, but Rogue Romance had not raced since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) last November 6 at Churchill Downs.
Nine years ago, McPeek saddled Take Charge Lady to win the Fair Grounds Oaks and Repent to capture the Louisiana Derby.
With the Louisiana Derby having its purse boosted to $1 million for its 98th running in less than five weeks, it will become the richest Thoroughbred race ever run in New Orleans.
On the morning after the Risen Star, winning trainer Kathy Ritvo estimated that it would be about a week before a decision would be made about when and where MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno) would make his next start, but on Sunday morning she demurred.
"Mucho Macho Man is doing great today," Ritvo said, speaking from South Florida, "but we just need a couple of more days to decide what's next. We'll probably have something decided by Wednesday."
DECISIVE MOMENT (With Distinction), fifth in the Risen Star after making the pace, has completely recovered from a slight soft tissue injury in his left hind, trainer Juan Arias said Sunday morning at Calder.
"We X-rayed him and did an ultrasound on him and he came out clean," Arias said. "He's back in training now and we're looking for another race for him at the end of March.
"The Louisiana Derby is definitely one of the races under consideration for him," Arias said of Decisive Moment, who won the Jean Lafitte S. two back at Delta Downs on January 14. "We were treated very well by everyone at Fair Grounds when we came down there for the Risen Star and would love to come back to New Orleans."
In Derby news from the Oaklawn Park front, trainer C.R. Trout is hoping that DREAMINOFTHEWIN (Successful Appeal), who has finished second both to the well-regarded Alternation (Distorted Humor) in an allowance last Monday and previously to Caleb's Posse (Posse) in the January 17 Smarty Jones S., will get into the March 19 Rebel S. (G2).
"It's going to be a good race," Trout said of the Rebel. "But we are doing great. I will probably put a breeze into him here soon and then about a week out (from the race) really work him hard."
One complication for Trout was a quarter-crack that cropped up earlier this winter. Dreaminofthewin ran in the allowance race with a bar shoe, but the crack has been patched and hasn't bothered the colt for some time. The specter of cracks in hooves of prominent three-year-olds in recent years like Big Brown in his Belmont S. (G1) flop in 2008 and Quality Road just prior to the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) makes Trout cautious, but he is optimistic with how his colt has come along.
"Quarter-cracks can be tough," he said. "I think it probably was the main reason Big Brown ran the way he did, but as far as my horse goes, he's never taken a sore step even with the crack. We will just keep our fingers crossed."
With the hooves pushed to the back of his mind, Trout can focus on keeping Dreaminofthewin on edge. He says it will take a little coaching.
"He's an easy horse to train," he said. "He's just a little lazy. He gives you just what he needs to in the mornings. We will be sure to push him hard when we have to in that workout before the race."