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Since 2000, only four runnings of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) have featured full 14-horse fields. In fact, Rachel Alexandra only faced six rivals in her record-setting Oaks victory in 2009. When the year opened, the 2011 edition of the "Run for the Lilies" appeared destined not to fill all the stalls on the first Friday in May.
Multiple Grade 2 winner TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini) exited last Sunday's Florida Derby (G1) with a suspensory injury that rules him out of Kentucky Derby (G1) consideration, according to a Friday afternoon report in Daily Racing Form.
Trainer Bill Mott indicated that the Live Oak Plantation colorbearer will be sidelined until later in the season, when he is eligible to return to his top-class form.
Mott said that To Honor and Serve sustained a sprain to the suspensory ligament in his left front leg, a "very common" injury.
Sunday's $300,000 Fantasy S. (G2) is far from a compelling wagering affair with only four betting interests, but the sporting aspect of the 1 1/16-mile test for three-year-old fillies at Oaklawn Park should still give hard-core players a reason to watch as the Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep pits Honeybee S. (G3) winner JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit) against the blue-blooded stakes newcomer ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway).
The Santa Anita Derby (G1), which lost its original morning-line favorite Premier Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus) to injury Thursday, lost its replacement morning-line favorite, JAYCITO (Victory Gallop), on Friday.
Trainer Bob Baffert told Daily Racing Form that the Grade 1 winner has been dealing with a hoof bruise since late March. While initially intending to wait until Saturday morning to make a decision, the Hall of Famer ended up scratching the colt Friday afternoon.
With confidence that he wanted to do more, trainer Donnie Von Hemel and jockey Eddie Razo Jr. were content with an "under control" five-furlong workout by dual stakes scorer CALEB'S POSSE (Posse) Friday morning over Oaklawn Park's fast dirt. They feel there's plenty of gas left in the tank for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in eight days.
"He went nice and steady," Razo said shortly after breezing the Rebel S. (G2) runner-up in 1:02. "He's ready for action and was waiting for my hands to do something, but he stayed relaxed."
MIDWEST (Illinois, Kentucky) / KATHMANBLU THE EARLY CHOICE IN ASHLAND – Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu carries a three-race winning streak and the role of morning line favorite into Saturday’s 74th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (Grade I) at Keeneland.
(EAST (Maryland, New York) / UNBEATEN UNCLE MO IS ODDS-ON CHOICE IN WOOD MEMORIAL – Unbeaten Uncle Mo, the strong favorite to win the 137th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at Churchill Downs on May 7, is an overwhelming favorite to dispose of nine rivals in his final prep for the Run for the Roses in Saturday’s $1 million Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial (GI) at New York’s Aqueduct.
With his victory in Sunday's Florida Derby (G1), DIALED IN (Mineshaft) will bring momentum into this year's Kentucky Derby (G1). The Florida Derby was the most important Derby prep to date and Dialed In notched his first win at two turns with another stirring late run. He's trained by a two-time Derby winner, Nick Zito, a Hall of Famer who lights up the Derby atmosphere with his positive energy, summoning all the mojo he can with tales of lore and divine intervention.
"He's a gift from God," Zito says with a measure of reverence in his voice.
Daily Racing Form reports that PREMIER PEGASUS (Fusaichi Pegasus), the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (G1), is sidelined with a hairline fracture to his cannon bone.
The winner of the San Felipe S. (G2) by a record margin last time out, Premier Pegasus was ranked as the West Coast's leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.
Assistant trainer Maria Ayala told the DRF that Premier Pegasus stumbled slightly during a routine gallop on Santa Anita's training track Thursday morning. Subsequent X-rays discovered the injury to his left foreleg.
KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) arrived at Keeneland on Wednesday afternoon from Florida, four days after turning in a bullet work at Gulfstream Park in preparation for Saturday's $400,000 Ashland (G1). A victory in the 1 1/16-mile stakes on Keeneland's Polytrack would give the filly her first Grade 1 score in front of a hometown crowd for her connections, a key factor in the decision to run her in the race.