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For the past two days, the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) has provided a roller-coaster ride, with the injury-forced withdrawals of morning-line favorites Premier Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus) and Jaycito (Victory Gallop). As it turned out, those pre-race blows foreshadowed the divisional upheaval that would take place Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby (G1) picture descended further into chaos during the stretch run of Saturday's $1 million Wood Memorial S. (G1) at Aqueduct as unbeaten juvenile champion and Derby favorite Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) wilted through the stretch at odds of 1-10 and could only finish third behind the unheralded pair of TOBY'S CORNER (Bellamy Road) and Arthur's Tale (Bernardini).
Zayat Stables' JOE VANN (Silver Deputy) salvaged one of the three Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races on Saturday for trainer Todd Pletcher, winning the $300,000 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne.
James Covello, Judy Hicks and Kathryn Nikkel's LILACS AND LACE (Flower Alley) dueled for the early lead in Saturday's $400,000 Ashland S. (G1) at Keeneland, took over prior to the backstretch and held the late runs of both Wyomia (Vindication) and 2-1 favorite Kathmanblu (Bluegrass Cat) to score by one-length on the wire. Jockey Javier Castellano guided the John Terranova pupil through 1 1/16 Polytrack miles in a final time of 1:42 3/5.
Harold L. Queen's HOT SUMMER (Malibu Moon) tracked the pace while saving ground on the rail in Saturday's $150,000 Comely S. (G3) at Aqueduct, scooted through coming into the stretch and pulled away to record a 2 1/4-length victory under jockey Luis Saez. The David Fawkes trainee was sent off the 6-1 fourth choice and returned $14, $6.90 and $4 for earning her first stakes victory.
Iroquois S. (G3) winner ASTROLOGY (A.P. Indy) worked six furlongs in company in 1:12 2/5 early Monday morning over a fast track at Churchill Downs. The Steve Asmussen trainee is among the 13 new shooters under consideration for the May 21 Preakness S. (G1), which has a maximum field size of 14.
With Carlos Rosas up and working in company with older Grade 3 winner Awesome Act (Awesome Again), Astrology posted fractions of :13, :25, :37, :48 3/5 and 1:00 2/5, and he galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5 and a mile in 1:39 3/5.
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.