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Saturday's Louisiana Derby Preview Day at Fair Grounds will live up to its billing with six stakes, four which are graded and serve as the final preps for the meet highlights on the March 26 Louisiana Derby Day program. The $300,000 Risen Star S. (G2) is the main attraction on Preview Day and there is no shortage of intrigue among the 10 three-year-old colts entered for the 1 1/16-mile test.
Seven three-year-old fillies will do battle in Saturday's $150,000 Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, a tune-up for next month's Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). Renamed this season from the Silverbulletday to honor the 2009 Horse of the Year, the race is lead by Grade 2 vixen KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat), who stole some of the colt Santiva's (Giant's Causeway) thunder at Churchill on November 27 with an 8 1/2-length romp in the Golden Rod.
Highly-regarded three-year-old THE FACTOR (War Front) smoked seven furlongs in a bullet 1:24 2/5 over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track on Monday, punching his ticket to the San Vicente S. (G2) at Santa Anita on Sunday.
The Bob Baffert pupil, who broke his maiden by 8 1/4 lengths in track-record time at Santa Anita on December 26, was battling foot issues last month. As a result, the gray colt shifted base to Hollywood. The Factor was recording his second drill since renewing residence here, having blazed six furlongs in 1:12 last Tuesday.
Uncle Mo, the flashy unbeaten winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November, enters this year’s 3-year-old season atop the Graded Stakes Earnings list that will likely determine the participants in the field for the 137th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 7.
Future plans were on hold Sunday morning for Triple Crown candidate TAPIZAR (Tapit), who finished fifth as the 1-5 favorite in Saturday's Robert B. Lewis S. (G2) at Santa Anita after being extremely rank early.
Headed by unbeaten Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and Eclipse Award champion UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie), a total of 364 three-year-olds have been nominated early as prospects to contest the 2011 renewals of the three classic races that make up American horse racing's Triple Crown.
Undefeated champion UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie) traveled a half-mile in a brisk :47 2/5 at trainer Todd Pletcher's Palm Meadows base on Sunday, posting the strongest of his three works so far this season.
"It was a tad quicker than we expected," Pletcher said of the move in company with stablemate and Hopeful S. (G1) runner-up STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini), who posted the identical time on the fast track.
SILVER MEDALLION's (Badge of Silver) only non-turf race prior to Saturday came as a well-beaten seventh in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) over Keeneland's Polytrack in October. The Michael J. Ryan colorbearer suffered trouble in that event, and was sent out to try an all-weather surface once again in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields.
Drs KK and Vilasini Devi Jayarman's homebred HOLY HEAVENS (Holy Bull) came three-wide into the stretch of Saturday's $75,000 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park and pulled out a one-length victory on the wire. With Israel Ocampo aboard, the Benard Chatters pupil dueled late with leader Scarlet Mist (Pure Prize) and just got the best of that rival when completing the mile test on the fast dirt in 1:42 4/5.
Saturday's $250,000 Robert B. Lewis S. (G2) at Santa Anita scrambled the three-year-old picture in Southern California. As 1-5 favorite Tapizar (Tapit) failed to follow up on his impressive Sham S. (G3) victory, and folded down the stretch, A D K Racing's ANTHONY'S CROSS (Indian Charlie) and Riveting Reason (Fusaichi Pegasus) pulled away to fight out the finish. Knuckling down gamely along the inside, the 8-1 Anthony's Cross prevailed in a photo-finish to improve his standing among Kentucky Derby (G1) aspirants.