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Hot favorites were ambushed in both of Saturday's "Derbies" in the Southwest. Mary C. and Robert L. Zollars' FUSA CODE (Fusaichi Pegasus) was twice beaten by Special Kid (Lemon Drop Kid) at home at Santa Anita, but turned the tables on that 3-2 favorite in the $100,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park.
Fresh Start Stable's J J'S LUCKY TRAIN (Silver Train) outdueled Bandbox (Tapit) by a neck after a rousing stretch drive in Saturday's $51,500 Miracle Wood S. at Laurel Park. Just as the pair dominated in the wagering, with Bandbox the 4-5 favorite and J J's Lucky Train the 6-5 second choice, so did they lord it over their rivals on the track, drawing 8 1/2 lengths clear of third-placer Wicked Thunder (Thunder Gulch). (Photo courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club/Jim McCue.)
Up-and-coming sophomores ARCH TRAVELER (Sky Mesa) and LEFT (Arch) cleared their entry-level allowance conditions on Saturday and likely punched their tickets to stakes company.
E Paul Robsham Stables LLC's homebred R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi) scooted through on the rail in Saturday's $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park and pulled away to be 7 1/4 lengths clear on the wire of the one-mile test. Sent off the 5-2 second choice in the nine-filly field, the Todd Pletcher trainee stopped the clock in 1:36 1/5 to return $7, $3.20 and $2.40 to her backers.
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained SOLDAT (War Front) was second choice behind To Honor and Serve (Bernardini) for much of the wagering for Saturday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, but a late surge of support resulted in the dark bay closing as the 7-5 favorite in a field of eight three-year-olds. The pari-mutuel wave proved entirely justified as Soldat took command from the start, set a moderate pace, and held off challenges from To Honor and Serve and Gourmet Dinner to register a two-length win in the nine-furlong prep for the April 3 Florida Derby (G1).
Peachtree Stable's FLASHPOINT (Pomeroy) easily overtook 3-5 favorite Travelin Man (Trippi) and drew off to a stunning 7 1/4-length victory in Saturday's $150,000 Hutcheson S. (G2), remaining perfect in his second lifetime start.
KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) was the big story over the past two weeks, but a couple of new shooters have popped up and could offer that one a real challenge come Kentucky Oaks Day. They'll have to move forward, but anything can happen in the two months leading up to the big day.
FLORIDA / DANCINGINHERDREAMS LOOKS TO REBOUND IN DAVONA DALE – John C. Oxley’s Dancinginherdreams suffered her first career defeat in her 2011 racing debut, but that has not deterred admirers who are expected to make the nearly white filly 3-year-old favorite in Saturday’s $250,000 Davona Dale (Grade (GII) at Florida’s Gulfstream Park.
FLORIDA / FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH SETTING FOR DEBUT FOR TO HONOR AND SERVE … UNCLE MO POINTED TO TIMELY WRITER – Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park is usually a heavily scrutinized prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), and this year’s renewal clearly ranks as the event of the weekend as it provides the setting for the 2011 debut of major Derby hope To Honor and Serve.
Owner Mike Repole will be well represented in Aqueduct's graded Triple Crown preps as the native of Queens, New York, plans to send out STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) in the $250,000 Gotham S. (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on March 5 and last year's unbeaten champion two-year-old UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie) in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on April 9.
"I've been watching the Gotham and the Wood for years, and I want to run horses where my friends and family can come out and cheer," said Repole, who races under the Repole Stable banner.