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MIDWEST (Illinois, Kentucky) / CALIFORNIA EXPORT LILACS AND LACE STUNS ASHLAND FIELD AT 48-1 – Lilacs and Lace, dismissed at odds of 48-1 despite stakes success in Northern California, led most of the way and held off Wyomia in the stretch to score a major upset in Keeneland’s 74th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (Grade I) and earned a start in Churchill Downs’ $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI).
EAST (Maryland, New York) / UNCLE MO STILL DERBY-BOUND DESPITE WOOD LOSS, TOBY’S CORNER EARNS TRIP TO RUN FOR THE ROSES. Although his once-perfect record is now scarred with its first setback, Repole Stable’s Uncle Mo is still bound for Churchill Downs and an expected start in the 137th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 7.
Fox Hill Farm's JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit) patiently bided her time in third on the backstretch of Sunday's $285,000 Fantasy S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, put in a three-wide rally rounding the turn and easily drew off from the highly regarded Arienza (Giant's Causeway) to take her second straight graded contest for trainer Larry Jones. With Mike Smith aboard, the gray dynamo cruised under the wire seven lengths the best while finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 3/5 over the fast dirt.
"We've got two more preps," trainer Bob Baffert said on a frenetic Sunday morning at Santa Anita, where he worked Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful THE FACTOR (War Front) among others before hopping a plane for the Keeneland two-year-old in training sale that starts Monday.
San Vicente (G2) and Rebel (G2) winner The Factor worked six furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track in 1:12 1/5 under regular rider Martin Garcia, who will be at Oaklawn Park Saturday to ride the colt in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
When James Covello bought a majority interest in LILACS AND LACE (Flower Alley), trainer John Terranova said they "wanted to get a good filly to bring back east."
Consider it mission accomplished.
Lilacs and Lace scored a front-running victory in Saturday's Ashland (G1) and earned the right to move on down the road to Louisville, Kentucky, and a shot in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6.
In her first start for Terranova, Lilacs and Lace finished fourth in the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway Park on March 26 after a nearly three-month layoff.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning that UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie), who suffered his first career defeat from five starts when finishing third in Aqueduct's Wood Memorial S. (G1) on Saturday, came out of the race in good order.
"Physically he seemed OK this morning," Pletcher said of Mike Repole's juvenile champion, who was bright-eyed and happy to see visitors Sunday morning. "He walked the shed row this morning.
Wood Memorial S. (G1) winner TOBY'S CORNER (Bellamy Road) took the $600,000 first prize on Saturday at Aqueduct and shipped back to his home base at Fair Hill in Maryland the night of the race. With Spiral S. (G3) winner Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]), trainer Graham Motion now has two strong prospects for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was all smiles on Sunday morning after NEWSDAD (Arch) turned in an impressive work in advance of Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland.
With exercise rider Rodolphe Brissett aboard, the Grade 3-placed colt sped six furlongs in 1:13 on Keeneland's Polytrack, suggesting that he's adapting well to a synthetic surface after three consecutive starts on turf.
"He worked very well," Mott said of the colt, whose last breeze was at Gulfstream Park on March 31. "He seems like he's handling the Polytrack just fine."
For the past two days, the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) has provided a roller-coaster ride, with the injury-forced withdrawals of morning-line favorites Premier Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus) and Jaycito (Victory Gallop). As it turned out, those pre-race blows foreshadowed the divisional upheaval that would take place Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby (G1) picture descended further into chaos during the stretch run of Saturday's $1 million Wood Memorial S. (G1) at Aqueduct as unbeaten juvenile champion and Derby favorite Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) wilted through the stretch at odds of 1-10 and could only finish third behind the unheralded pair of TOBY'S CORNER (Bellamy Road) and Arthur's Tale (Bernardini).