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Rather than staying home at Gulfstream Park to face the impressive To Honor and Serve (Bernardini) for a third time in next Saturday's Fountain of Youth S. (G2), trainer Kathy Ritvo decided to ship MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno) to Fair Grounds for the $300,000 Risen Star S. (G2).
Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables' KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) was touted as the filly to beat in Saturday's $147,000 Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) at Fair Grounds, and didn't disappoint her numerous backers when pulling off the 1 1/4-length victory under jockey Julien Leparoux.
The last time J P'S GUSTO (Successful Appeal) attempted dirt, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs in November, the Grade 1-winning ridgling finished more than 15 lengths behind divisional leader Uncle Mo. Needless to say, the connections of the Del Mar Futurity (G1) hero hope for better in Monday's $250,000 Southwest S. (G3), the first in Oaklawn Park's triumvirate of graded preps leading up to the Kentucky Derby (G1).
'All Others' Favored Over Unbeaten Champion Uncle Mo After Opening Day of First Kentucky Derby Futures Pool
One of the unintended consequences of this weekend's soaking rainstorm forecast for Southern California is that Monday's $100,000 La Habra S. (G3) has the potential to develop into a prep for the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Scheduled for about 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf, the La Habra might have to be moved to the main track if the turf does not dry out sufficiently.
Jockey Joe Bravo rode PANTS ON FIRE (Jump Start) for the first time at Monmouth Park in the summer of 2010. That didn't last very long.
"That afternoon in the post parade he shied from something," Bravo recalled. "He's so powerful and strong, next thing I knew, he dropped me on my keister. He's real talented, just a big playboy."
Three Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races were offered last Saturday and BRETHREN (Distorted Humor) proved to be the biggest star, recording an easy four-length victory in his stakes debut, the Sam F. Davis S. (G3). We'll take a closer look at his performance below, as well as a recap of the Robert B. Lewis (G2) and El Camino Real Derby (G3).
We also have a dynamite race to preview this Saturday, the Risen Star S. (G2) at Fair Grounds.
THE FACTOR (War Front), who set a new track record for six furlongs when breaking his maiden in 1:06.98 at Santa Anita on December 26, will make his highly anticipated stakes debut against eight rivals in Sunday's $150,000 San Vicente S. (G2) at Santa Anita, and the Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful will pick up a new jockey in Martin Garcia, who replaces Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.
Sham Stakes (G3) winner TAPIZAR (Tapit), a tiring fifth as the odds-on choice in last Saturday's Robert B. Lewis S. (G2) at Santa Anita, has been removed from Kentucky Derby (G1) contention after being diagnosed with a bone chip in his knee. Trainer Steve Asmussen revealed the news to Daily Racing Form on Tuesday.
"It's very, very disappointing," Asmussen said. "I feel bad for everybody involved."