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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).
Undefeated Hutcheson S. (G2) romper FLASHPOINT (Pomeroy) motored five-eighths in a bullet :59 4/5 Friday at Gulfstream Park, best of 14 works at the distance on the fast track.
Trainer Rick Dutrow expects the up-and-coming gray to contest the April 3 Swale S. (G2), held over the same seven-furlong trip as the Hutcheson, but has not completely ruled out a tilt at the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby (G1) on the same day.
UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie) launched his three-year-old season with an easy victory in the Timely Writer S. at Gulfstream Park and the unbeaten champ will receive his final prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1) in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G1). Saturday's performance won't change many opinions about him -- his supporters were thrilled with the impressive showing while his detractors still don't like his chance at 1 1/4 miles.
Final Day to Submit Online Nominations for Kentucky Oaks Day Survivors Parade is Friday, March 18 at 5 p.m. ET
The final day to nominate someone to march in this year’s Survivors Parade on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs is Friday (March 18) at 5 p.m. ET.
To borrow Bill O'Reilly's tag line, the spin stops here in Saturday's $300,000 Rebel S. (G2) for the brilliantly-speedy THE FACTOR (War Front): will the Bob Baffert pupil pass his two-turn audition? Or might he fail to live up to the hype and burst his Kentucky Derby (G1) bubble? Either way, The Factor is entering the no-spin zone at Oaklawn Park.