The late nomination period for the classic races of the 2014 Triple Crown concluded late Saturday, March 22 with a total of 10 additional 3-year-old Thoroughbreds added to the roster of horses that are eligible to complete in the 2014 renewal of the prized three-race series.
Tanma Corp.'s Chitu turned back a challenge from stablemate Midnight Hawk in Sunday's Grade 3, $800,110 Sunland Derby, in a finish dominated by the two representatives of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Under a stalk-and-pounce trip engineered by Martin Garcia, the 9-5 favorite earned 50 points toward the Kentucky Derby, bringing his total up to 54.
Kaleem Shah Inc.'s Awesome Baby outclassed her rivals on Sunday in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks to earn another 50 points and move on top of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 110 total points.
Social Inclusion, who was credited with a four-furlong breeze in :49 1/5 on Saturday over Gulfstream Park's fast dirt, will work twice more in Florida before he ships to New York for the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on Saturday, April 5, owner Ronald Sanchez said via telephone on Sunday.
Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason remains on course for her next engagement, the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle on Saturday, April 5, after working a mile in company with Jerome hero Noble Moon Sunday morning over Belmont Park's fast training track.
Appearing not to be making much headway in deep stretch of Grade 3, $523,380 Spiral at Turfway Park, We Miss Artie nonetheless refused to quit. When the dueling leaders, Harry's Holiday and Coastline, began to shorten stride inside the sixteenth pole, We Miss Artie grinded his way into a three-way photo, which the son Artie Schiller won by a nose over Harry's Holiday, with Coastline another head behind in third.
Aurelia's Belle faced stakes rivals on on three occasions prior to Saturday, reputing herself well with placings each time, but it took returning to the synthetic Polytrack for the bay miss to finally break through with her first black-type victory in Turfway Park's Grade 3, $126,000 Bourbonette Oaks.
California Chrome and Candy Boy, who figure to be the top two betting choices in the Santa Anita Derby, had their penultimate workouts Saturday morning for the Grade 1, $1 million race on April 5. California Chrome sped a half-mile at his Los Alamitos headquarters and Candy Boy drilled six furlongs at Santa Anita.
We Miss Artie may have finished more than 17 lengths behind the winner in last month's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, but the story could be different Saturday with the Grade 3 Spiral on the Polytrack. A Grade 1 winner over Keeneland's Polytrack last fall, the Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred by Artie Schiller was installed as the 4-1 morning-line second choice for Saturday's $550,000 race at Turfway Park.
Team Valor International has the pulled the plug on preparing Mexikoma for a Kentucky Derby prep race and will focus instead on the final leg of the Triple Crown, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7.
Bob Baffert continued his mastery of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, winning the 1 1/16-mile event for the fourth time in the last five years as Hoppertunity emerged as a viable Kentucky Derby contender. The Hall of Fame trainer had to be pleased to see his inexperienced colt overcome a rough trip.
Awesome Baby, a wire-to-wire winner of the Santa Ynez and Santa Ysabel at Santa Anita this season, will be heavily favored to give Bob Baffert his fourth consecutive win in Sunday's $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks and his sixth over the past eight years.