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Just a few days ago, barely more than a handful of horses were committed to Saturday's 98th running of the Louisiana Derby (G2), but come entry time, the hefty $1 million purse ended up luring a bumper crop of 13 aspiring three-year-olds at Fair Grounds. As expected, MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno) returns to the scene of his impressive victory in the February 19 Risen Star S.
It was water, water everywhere at Santa Anita Sunday morning as the heavens unleashed yet another winter storm, but it did not rain on Bob Baffert's parade.
The Hall of Fame trainer was basking in the glow of THE FACTOR's (War Front) devastating win in Saturday's Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, and said that all options were open for the colt's next race.
Fog City Stable and George Bolton's THE FACTOR (War Front) made a successful two-turn debut in Saturday's $300,000 Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, winning in such an emphatic style as to ensure his continued presence along the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail for the immediate future.
Bourbon S. (G3) star ROGUE ROMANCE (Smarty Jones) has been taken off the Triple Crown Trail with a fracture in his left forefoot, according to a report on Runnymede Farm's website.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out two of the six starters in Saturday's 3RD race at Gulfstream Park, a one-mile allowance event for three-year-olds, and most of the attention was focused upon his Cal Nation (Distorted Humor), who was favored at 2-5 off a smashing 7 3/4-length debut maiden score in his previous start. But it was unheralded stablemate DANCE CITY (City Zip) that wound up proving best in a photo finish, re-rallying to the lead in deep stretch to post a nose decision.
After drawing an outside post for Saturday's $300,000 Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, trainer Tim Ritchey plans to scratch Elite Alex and reload next week in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.
The Kentucky Oaks (G1) lost a starter on March 5 following TURBULENT DESCENT's (Congrats) victory over ZAZU (Tapit) in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1). However, it's not the loser who has bowed out. Turbulent Descent's connections indicated that she would bypass the first Friday in May and instead point for a summer campaign in New York. Her main goals at this point appear to be the June 11 Acorn S. (G1) and August 6 Test S. (G1).
Trainer Todd Pletcher is taking things one step at a time with smashing debut maiden winner CAL NATION (Distorted Humor), who tops Saturday's 3RD race at Gulfstream Park.
"He's doing well. He's training up to the race well and is ready to go," Pletcher said of the colt, who has been rated as the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the entry-level allowance.
Pletcher hasn't caught Derby Fever just yet with Cal Nation.
"We're not going to look beyond (Saturday)," said Pletcher, noting that his next race has not yet been picked out.
Trainer Neil Howard commented Friday on MACHEN (Distorted Humor) and WILKINSON (Lemon Drop Kid), his duo bound for the March 26 Louisiana Derby (G2).
Machen, fourth in the Risen Star S. (G2) in his stakes debut, drilled five furlongs in a bullet :59 3/5 at Fair Grounds Tuesday.
"He did it on his own," Howard said. "There was another horse with him -- an older horse -- but we didn't ask (Machen) to do any more than he wanted to do."
Wilkinson, last seen landing the Lecomte S. (G3), worked the same distance in 1:00 3/5 Monday.
Trainer Steve Margolis will likely run both LITTLE MISS HOLLY (Maria's Mon) and SWITCHING GEARS (Tapit) in the March 26 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
The Margolis filly who might have been expected to take part, BOUQUET BOOTH (Flower Alley), will skip the Fair Grounds Oaks after finishing fourth in the February 19 Rachel Alexandra S. (G3). Bouquet Booth had previously won the Silverbulletday S. at Fair Grounds and the Delta Downs Princess S. (G3).