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Team Valor International's Kentucky Derby (G1) star ANIMAL KINGDOM (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) took an early morning walk around Barn 22 at Churchill Downs on Monday as he prepared to spend his last day of the spring in the shadow of the Twin Spires.
"We are going to leave early, sometime around 5:30 or 6 (a.m. EDT)," assistant trainer Dave Rock said of the journey to Fair Hill training center in Maryland. "He is doing good and eating good, as always."
J P'S GUSTO (Successful Appeal) never fully convinced a trainer with Triple Crown credentials or a reigning Eclipse champion jockey that he could turn his Grade 1-winning two-year-old form into the stuff of Kentucky Derby (G1) contenders. After the colt blasted through his final workout before the April 16 $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), his current trainer, Joe Petalino, feels the impressions could change next Saturday.
Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno) dazzled during a morning workout at Gulfstream Park Saturday, breezing five furlongs in :58 1/5 under exercise rider Mike Herra. The clocking was the fastest of 14 recorded at the distance over the fast main track.
SANTIVA (Giant's Causeway) and WILLCOX INN (Harlan's Holiday), the respective second- and third-place finishers from the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last fall, each posted works on Saturday in advance of their rematch in the 87th running of the Blue Grass S. (G1) on April 16.
Since 2000, only four runnings of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) have featured full 14-horse fields. In fact, Rachel Alexandra only faced six rivals in her record-setting Oaks victory in 2009. When the year opened, the 2011 edition of the "Run for the Lilies" appeared destined not to fill all the stalls on the first Friday in May.
Multiple Grade 2 winner TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini) exited last Sunday's Florida Derby (G1) with a suspensory injury that rules him out of Kentucky Derby (G1) consideration, according to a Friday afternoon report in Daily Racing Form.
Trainer Bill Mott indicated that the Live Oak Plantation colorbearer will be sidelined until later in the season, when he is eligible to return to his top-class form.
Mott said that To Honor and Serve sustained a sprain to the suspensory ligament in his left front leg, a "very common" injury.
Sunday's $300,000 Fantasy S. (G2) is far from a compelling wagering affair with only four betting interests, but the sporting aspect of the 1 1/16-mile test for three-year-old fillies at Oaklawn Park should still give hard-core players a reason to watch as the Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep pits Honeybee S. (G3) winner JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit) against the blue-blooded stakes newcomer ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway).
The Santa Anita Derby (G1), which lost its original morning-line favorite Premier Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus) to injury Thursday, lost its replacement morning-line favorite, JAYCITO (Victory Gallop), on Friday.
Trainer Bob Baffert told Daily Racing Form that the Grade 1 winner has been dealing with a hoof bruise since late March. While initially intending to wait until Saturday morning to make a decision, the Hall of Famer ended up scratching the colt Friday afternoon.
With confidence that he wanted to do more, trainer Donnie Von Hemel and jockey Eddie Razo Jr. were content with an "under control" five-furlong workout by dual stakes scorer CALEB'S POSSE (Posse) Friday morning over Oaklawn Park's fast dirt. They feel there's plenty of gas left in the tank for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in eight days.
"He went nice and steady," Razo said shortly after breezing the Rebel S. (G2) runner-up in 1:02. "He's ready for action and was waiting for my hands to do something, but he stayed relaxed."
MIDWEST (Illinois, Kentucky) / KATHMANBLU THE EARLY CHOICE IN ASHLAND – Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu carries a three-race winning streak and the role of morning line favorite into Saturday’s 74th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (Grade I) at Keeneland.