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The Risen Star (G2) was a major prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1) last weekend, but the biggest storyline came from the San Vicente (G2), which featured up-and-coming sensation THE FACTOR (War Front).
"Freakishly fast" is a common description for the Bob Baffert trainee, and his next probable start, the Sunland Derby (G3) on March 27, represents a litmus test for the exciting colt. The Factor is slated to make his two-turn debut in the 1 1/8-mile event, and if he wins impressively, the gray colt will greatly enhance his status for the Kentucky Derby. But that's a big if.
HARLAN'S RUBY (Harlan's Holiday), the runner-up in the Alcibiades S. (G1) two starts back at Keeneland, will revert to Polytrack for her three-year-old debut in Saturday's $50,000 Valdale S. at Turfway Park. Only eighth when last seen in the November 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on the dirt at Churchill Downs, the Ken McPeek trainee figures to enjoy the surface switch.
Under a pitch-perfect ride by master tactician Frankie Dettori, Godolphin's KHAWLAH (Cape Cross [Ire]) struck the front while prohibitive favorite Mahbooba (Galileo [Ire]) was still awaiting room, and the Saeed bin Suroor filly proved more than capable of springing the upset in Thursday's $250,000 U.A.E. Oaks (UAE-G3). Staying on powerfully for the length of the stretch, Khawlah fended off the prolonged challenge of Mahbooba by 1 1/4 lengths in a stakes-record 1:58 2/5 for about 1 3/16 miles on Meydan's Tapeta.
Although Godolphin didn't have any luck in Thursday's $150,000 Meydan Classic, the team's secondary trainer/jockey tandem of Mahmood al Zarooni and Ahmed Ajtebi prevailed with Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed al Maktoum's INTROVERT (Iffraaj). The Dubai turf test is unlikely to have a bearing on the Kentucky Derby (G1), but it could still yield a contender for the March 26 U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2).
Continuing a commitment to new Kentucky Oaks Day traditions established two years ago, Churchill Downs Racetrack, the home of the world-famous Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, have renewed their partnership to raise funds to aid in breast cancer awareness and research through events on Friday, May 6 – the day prior to the famed “Run for the Roses.”
POMEROYS PISTOL (Pomeroy) handed DANCINGINHERDREAMS (Tapit) a first career loss when holding that rival by three parts of a length in the January 30 Forward Gal S. (G2), and on Saturday will attempt to prove that victory was no aberration when going in the $250,000 Davona Dale S. (G2) back at Gulfstream Park.
Looking to derail her chances will be the returning Dancinginherdreams, third-placer EVIL QUEEN (Hear No Evil) and fourth-place R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi), along with five newcomers.
TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini), among the leading winter book favorites for the Kentucky Derby (G1) off an impressive three-for-four juvenile campaign, will take his first step toward the Run for the Roses when he breaks from post 7 in Saturday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
INDIAN WINTER (Indian Charlie) will test his mettle at two turns when he lines up for Saturday's $50,000 Turf Paradise Derby. Winner of the 6 1/2-furlong San Pedro S. in his 2011 debut, the three-year-old colt was re-directed to the 1 1/16-mile event after being scratched from last Sunday's seven-furlong San Vicente S. (G2) at Santa Anita. Martin Pedroza opted not to accompany him to Arizona, giving local rider Juan Rivera the mount, and Indian Water will break from the rail in the 10-horse field.
This week's 2011 Dubai International Racing Carnival meeting will feature a seven-race, all Thoroughbred, card highlighted by the 10th running of the UAE Oaks (UAE-G3) on Thursday.
Bob Baffert still has reservations about the 1 1/4-mile trip of the Kentucky Derby (G1), but he is willing to give THE FACTOR (War Factor) a chance at longer distances following Sunday's victory in the seven-furlong San Vicente S. (G2).