- Road to the Kentucky Derby
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Hopeful S. (G1) runner-up STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini), who kicked off his sophomore campaign with a 3 1/4-length victory in the Gotham S. (G3), breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 over the fast track at Palm Meadows Training Center on Sunday.
After watching the move in company with a stablemate, trainer Todd Pletcher will likely make an equipment change for next Sunday's $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Godolphin's KHAWLAH (Cape Cross [Ire]) became the first filly to garner the $2 million U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) at Meydan Saturday, outdueling Coolmore's Master of Hounds (Kingmambo) in a dramatic showdown between the world's rival Thoroughbred superpowers. Adding further piquancy to the battle, Coolmore's trainer Aidan O'Brien was sending out his first runner in Dubai for six years, and very nearly upstaged Godolphin on its home court. Khawlah saved the day for the royal blue silks, and in the process, gave trainer Saeed bin Suroor his seventh U.A.E. Derby victory.
The $100,000 Rushaway S. was the lead-in race to the Spiral S. (G3) at Turfway Park on Saturday, and James Covello and James Dolan's SWIFT WARRIOR (First Samurai) easily captured his synthetic debut when posting a geared down two-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile test.
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.