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The pressure is off Art Sherman. By earning 50 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby with California Chrome's dazzling victory in Saturday's Grade 2 San Felipe, the door to Louisville, Kentucky, and the Run for the Roses on May 3 was opened wide.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Thank You Marylou swept past Whomping Willow and 2-5 favorite Sweet Whiskey to return a convincing winner in Sunday's $75,000 Any Limit Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Unraced since placing in a roughly-run Adirondack at Saratoga last August, the Mike Maker filly showed no rust as she drew off by 2 1/2 lengths.
Honor Code, who will make his much-anticipated 2014 debut on Wednesday at Gulfstream Park, breezed four furlongs in :47 4/5 Sunday morning over the fast main track. Out of action since defeating Cairo Prince in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on November 30, the son of A.P. Indy schooled in the paddock Sunday afternoon, and will face four rivals in an 8 1/2-furlong allowance test on Wednesday.
Charles Fipke's Unbridled Forever, who emerged as the 8-1 third choice in the wagering when the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager closed earlier this month, breezed six furlongs Saturday morning in 1:12 2/5 in preparation for the upcoming Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day March 29 at Fair Grounds.
Paul and Andrena Van Doren's Delta Jackpot winner Rise Up worked with blinkers on when he posted a four-furlong move in :48 1/5 on Mardi Gras morning, and 10-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss advised Saturday afternoon that his colt will have blinkers on for his next start, which has yet to be determined.
St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds' Ring Weekend grabbed the early lead and never looked back in Saturday's Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, springing the 14-1 upset in his first start outside of maiden company. Trained by Graham Motion and ridden by local ace Daniel Centeno, the Tapit gelding paid $30 to win and earned 50 points toward the Kentucky Derby.
Stabled at Los Alamitos, a hotbed of Quarter Horse-style speed for decades, the three-year-old California Chrome demonstrated his own Thoroughbred twist on early flash with an electric score in the Grade 2, $300,500 San Felipe at Santa Anita on Saturday.
Euphrosyne finished second in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park, but was presented with the win following the disqualification of Sugar Shock by the stewards. Sent off the 8-1 fourth choice, the bay daughter of Harlan's Holiday paid $19.20 with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons.
Cairo Prince, likely favorite for the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 29, took another step toward the race with a half-mile work on Saturday.
Top Billing, one of the most celebrated prospects for the $1 million Florida Derby and Triple Crown, sustained an injury during a workout at Payson Park Saturday morning that has knocked the Shug McGaughey-trained colt off the Triple Crown Trail.