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Mike Repole's STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) rallied to the lead in midstretch and drew clear late in Saturday's $250,000 Gotham S. (G3), opening his three-year-old season with a 3 1/4-length victory over the inner track at Aqueduct. A well-regarded prospect for the Kentucky Derby (G1), the Todd Pletcher-trained colt took a big step toward the starting gate at Churchill Downs with his first stakes win.
Rand Metoyer and Benard Chatters' SMOKE IT RIGHT (Smoke Glacken) advanced his undefeated streak to four races with a wire-to-wire score in Saturday's $58,800 Mountain Valley S. at Oaklawn Park.
Blinkers On Racing Stable et al's TURBULENT DESCENT (Congrats) gained a measure of revenge on Saturday when holding the late rush of Zazu (Tapit) to take the $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1). The last time the two met, Zazu handed Turbulent Descent her first career loss in the Las Virgenes S. (G1), but Saturday's contest saw their roles reversed as Turbulent Descent got the jump on her rival to post a neck victory under jockey David Flores.
Gem Stables' Grade 1 hero J P'S GUSTO (Successful Appeal) posted a good-looking breeze on a windy Saturday morning at Oaklawn Park as he prepares for the $300,000 Rebel S. (G2) on March 19.
Under Oaklawn's leading jockey Cliff Berry, the three-year-old logged six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 over a track that was drying quickly from overnight rains. It was his first breeze since making his seasonal bow a troubled second in the $250,000 Southwest S. (G3) on February. 21.
MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno), a leading contender for this year's Kentucky Derby (G1), breezed four furlongs at Gulfstream Park Saturday under exercise rider Mike Heera. Mucho Macho Man was clocked in :48 2/5 in preparation for a start in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds on March 26. It was the eighth fastest clocking of 32 recorded at the distance.
During training hours Friday morning at Fair Grounds, conditioner Neil Howard reported all systems still "on go" for appearances by the talented sophomore duo of Gaillardia Racing's WILKINSON (Lemon Drop Kid) and Courtlandt Farms' MACHEN (Distorted Humor) in the upcoming 98th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26. (Photo of Machen courtesy of Hodges Photography.)
Jockey Eibar Coa received a visit Thursday evening from a special friend with a special gift.
R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi) returned to form when trouncing her Davona Dale S. (G2) rivals last Saturday at Gulfstream Park and is looking good for this year's Kentucky Oaks (G1). DANCINGINHERDREAMS (Tapit) gained a measure of revenge against POMEROYS PISTOL (Pomeroy) when holding that rival to third by a head in the one-mile test, but neither could withstand the Lightning strike.
Besides the Davona Dale, last week didn't yield much in the way of Oaks contenders, though a nice new maiden winner did pop up at Gulfstream on Wednesday.
CHAMPION AWESOME FEATHER HEADS 117 FILLIES NOMINATED TO $1 MILLION KENTUCKY OAKS -- Awesome Feather, the unbeaten 2-year-old filly champion of 2010 and winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade I), heads a strong roster 117 fillies that are early nominees to compete for the record $1 million purse in the 137th running of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) on Friday, May 6 at Churchill Downs.
FLORIDA / ZITO GETS ALLOWANCE RACE FOR DIALED IN – Owner Robert LaPenta and two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito have found what they’ve been looking for: an allowance race at Florida’s Gulfstream Park that will serve as a prep race for Dialed In, their unbeaten contender for Kentucky Derby 137.