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R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi), a smashing 7 1/4-length winner of the February 26 Davona Dale S. (G2), tops a field of seven three-year-old fillies in Saturday's $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (G2) at 1 1/8 miles. The Todd Pletcher pupil figures to be a strong favorite in her final tune-up for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6.
Repole Stable’s unbeaten champion Uncle Mo (#22), who has yet to be challenged in his four career races, looms as a strong favorite when the third and final betting pool in Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) opens its three-day run on Friday, April 1.
Thirteen (13) 3-year-old Thoroughbreds have joined the list of horses eligible to compete in the three spring classic races that make up the 2011 Triple Crown series. Those horses were nominated at a cost of $6,000 each during the Triple Crown’s late nomination period and are now eligible to run in the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at Churchill Downs, the $1 million Preakness (GI) at Pimlico and the $1 million Belmont Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park.
The solid gold trophy that will be presented to the winning owner of the 3-year-old Thoroughbred that wins the 137th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) has arrived at Churchill Downs – its first step on busy schedule of special appearances before the trophy’s big moment in the winner’s circle following America’s greatest race on Saturday, May 7.
SOUTH (Arkansas, Louisiana) / DAISY DEVINE HOLDS ON TO WIN FAIR GROUNDS OAKS – Four of the past six winners of the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (Grade II) have won the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI).
SOUTH (Arkansas, Louisiana) / PANTS ON FIRE, SIZZLING NAPRAVNIK EARN KENTUCKY DERBY TRIP WITH LOUISIANA DOWNS UPSET – Pants On Fire, the more lightly regarded of two starters owned by George and Lori Hall, surged to the lead at the head of the stretch under sizzling jockey Rosie Napravnik, turned back favored Mucho Macho Man in mid-stretch and held off longshot Nehro to win Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (Grade II) by a neck.
Decisive Moment, the runner-up to Animal Kingdom in Saturday’s Grade III, $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral at Turfway Park, was the first Kentucky Derby 137 contender to arrive at Churchill Downs when his van pulled through stable gate Monday morning – 40 days in advance of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.
With $400,000 up for grabs to the winner of Sunday's $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3), a field of 11 sophomores lined up in the starting gate, each hoping to stamp his ticket to the first Saturday in May. When the dust had settled, the connections of TWICE THE APPEAL (Successful Appeal) found themselves basking in the New Mexico sun as their dark bay colt had his picture taken in the winner's circle following a 1 1/2-length victory.
Robert and Lawana Low's regally-bred filly ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway) stamped herself a serious contender for the April 10 Fantasy S. (G2) with an impressive front-running victory in a one-mile allowance at Oaklawn Park on Sunday. The daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year and three-time Apple Blossom (G1) winner Azeri remained undefeated after two career starts, winning the 10TH race by 2 1/2 lengths over Hidatsa (Proud Citizen).
There could have been no double about who was best in Sunday's $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, not after PLUM PRETTY (Medaglia d'Oro) asserted her dominance in the 1 1/16-mile test. All jockey Martin Garcia had to do was stay in the saddle as the bay lass drew off to a whopping 25-length victory as the 1-20 favorite.