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Hansen, last year's undefeated champion two-year-old male and winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and Union Rags, who won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and finished second to Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, have received the high weight assignment of 126 pounds on The Jockey Club's 2011 Experimental Free Handicap, released Thursday by The Jockey Club.
The filly division is headed by last year's champion two-year-old filly and undefeated Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, My Miss Aurelia, at 124 pounds.
Phantom Fury, who has won his past two by a total of nearly 19 lengths, makes his stakes debut in Saturday's $50,000 W.E.B.N. Stakes at Turfway Park.
Reminiscent of champion Hansen's showy performances at Turfway last fall, the gray Phantom Fury has run his rivals off their feet. The Michael Lauer pupil dominated a maiden before romping in an entry-level optional claimer at this same one-mile distance over the Polytrack.
Sunday was Todd Pletcher day at Gulfstream Park as the 2010 Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner unleashed a pair of rapidly rising prospects in El Padrino and Algorithms. Pletcher also sent out Broadway's Alibi, who romped by 16 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes for fillies.
Thomas F. Conway and Mike Maker's Mr. Prankster trailed in last from his outside post during the opening quarter of Saturday's $50,000 WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park, but steadily made up ground to challenge after six furlongs, take command and easily draw off to score by 7 1/2 lengths under jockey John McKee. In the process, the It's No Joke colt took another step forward to the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes on March 24 while emphatically answering the two-turn question.
Separated by less than a length in two stakes at Hollywood Park last fall, Liaison and Rousing Sermon will renew acquaintance in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, a 1 1/16-mile heat which marks the season debut for both classic contenders.
Alpha opened his three-year-old season with a 2 1/2-length score in the January 7 Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct and will remain on the inner track for Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Withers Stakes, which has been moved up on the calendar and extended to 1 1/16 miles this year. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt tops a field of seven Kentucky Derby hopefuls, including Gulfstream Park Derby third-placer King Kid and multiple New York-bred stakes hero Swag Daddy.
Broadway's Alibi ran lights out in the slop at Gulfstream Park on Sunday when dominating the Grade 2, $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes under jockey John Velazquez. The dark bay daughter of Vindication was making her stakes bow in the seven-furlong contest and frolicked home a 16 3/4 length winner over the sealed dirt for trainer Todd Pletcher.
"She's fast," Pletcher stated. "I don't know about distance. I guess we'll have to find out at some point."
Newly-crowned champion Hansen lost his perfect record in his first start as a three-year-old in Sunday's Grade 3, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, as Starlight Racing's Algorithms blew by him and went on to romp by five lengths on the sloppy, sealed track. Hansen, who got off to a bad start before rushing to the lead, just managed to save second from the late-running My Adonis.
The Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes wasn't the only contest with potential Kentucky Derby implications at Gulfstream Park on Sunday. Three races earlier, promising three-year-olds lined up in an entry-level optional claimer carded as the 7TH, and the Todd Pletcher-trained El Padrino rolled to a good-looking score over Take Charge Indy.
Phil Daniels et al's Willa B Awesome lived up to her name on Saturday with a nice front-running win in the Grade 3, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita. The Walther Solis trainee headed straight to the front when the gates opened and had more than enough in reserve to withstand the late run of 3-1 second favorite Killer Graces in the lane.