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Many were expecting Saturday's $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) to be the coming-out party for Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) runner-up Inglorious (Hennessy), but it was James M. Miller's DAISY DEVINE (Kafwain) who asserted her authority over the 1 1/16-mile contest.
George and Lori Hall's PANTS ON FIRE (Jump Start) stamped his ticket to the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1) with a gutsy triumph in Saturday's $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. The victory was also icing on the cake for jockey Rosie Napravnik, who was running away with the riding title in New Orleans this winter with one day remaining in the 2010-11 meeting.
Team Valor International's homebred ANIMAL KINGDOM (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) vaulted into the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture with a smart victory in Saturday's $500,000 Spiral S. (G3) at Turfway Park, drawing clear to a 2 3/4-length decision in his stakes debut. A maiden winner two starts previously for trainer Graham Motion, the chestnut colt rated in last among 11 three-year-olds before offering a stirring turn of foot leaving the backstretch, flying past rivals on the far turn to reach contention in upper stretch.
Wahoo Partners LLC & Bret and Brereton C. Jones' SUMMER SOIREE (War Front) took the lead when the gates opened on Saturday's $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway Park and never looked back en route to a dominating 10 3/4-length victory under Gabriel Saez. The bay filly was never challenged in the one-mile Polytrack test, posting splits of :24 4/5, :48 2/5, 1:12 3/5 and 1:25 2/5 before stopping the clock in 1:38 3/5 for trainer Larry Jones.
Last week was pretty light in terms of Kentucky Oaks (G1) preps, but this weekend more than makes up for it. With the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), Bourbonette Oaks (G3) and Sunland Park Oaks all scheduled, the Oaks trail is heating up again.
The Santa Paula S., which was downgraded from Grade 3 status this year, featured a field of six fillies last Sunday and turned into yet another easy win for the up-and-coming MILDLY OFFENSIVE (Sharp Humor).
SOUTH (Arkansas, Louisiana) / INGLORIOUS FAVORED IN FAIR GROUNDS OAKS AS KATHMANBLU PASSES – Carl Moore Management LLC’s Inglorious made an unexpected transition from major contender to morning line favorite for Saturday’s$500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (Grade II) when the connections of Kathmanbludecided to pass on the New Orleans race in favor of Keeneland’s Grade I Central Bank Ashland Stakes for her final prep for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI).
SOUTH (Arkansas, Louisiana) / MUCHO MACHO MAN A STRONG FAVORITE IN $1 MILLION LOUISIANA DERBY – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One’s Mucho Macho Man, an impressive winner of the Risen Star Stakes (Grade II) in his first visit to New Orleans, will look to make an even stronger impression in his return to the Crescent City when he faces 11 rivals in Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds.
Saturday's $2 million U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) could witness its first female winner, for three of the prime threats are fillies. Godolphin's highly-regarded KHAWLAH (Cape Cross [Ire]) benefited from a perfect trip to thwart Mike de Kock's number one MAHBOOBA (Galileo [Ire]) in the February 24 U.A.E. Oaks (UAE-G3) at this 1 3/16-mile trip.
With an emphatic 6 1/4-length win in the Rebel S. (G2), THE FACTOR (War Front) became a dangerous contender for the Kentucky Derby (G1). The rest of the field will have to catch him.
Distance remains a potential stumbling block for The Factor -- it's difficult to imagine a colt running six furlongs in 1:06.98 winning the Kentucky Derby at 1 1/4 miles four months later -- but give him credit for a terrific performance in his two-turn debut.
Three graded races, including the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2), will be offered this weekend. The Derby is six weeks from Saturday.
MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno), hero of Fair Grounds' Risen Star S. (G2) a little less than five weeks ago and the strong favorite for Saturday's $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2), arrived back in New Orleans Wednesday from his Gulfstream Park home base and galloped once around the Crescent City oval Thursday morning immediately after the track renovation break.