- Road to the Kentucky Derby
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The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained SOLDAT (War Front) was second choice behind To Honor and Serve (Bernardini) for much of the wagering for Saturday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, but a late surge of support resulted in the dark bay closing as the 7-5 favorite in a field of eight three-year-olds. The pari-mutuel wave proved entirely justified as Soldat took command from the start, set a moderate pace, and held off challenges from To Honor and Serve and Gourmet Dinner to register a two-length win in the nine-furlong prep for the April 3 Florida Derby (G1).
Peachtree Stable's FLASHPOINT (Pomeroy) easily overtook 3-5 favorite Travelin Man (Trippi) and drew off to a stunning 7 1/4-length victory in Saturday's $150,000 Hutcheson S. (G2), remaining perfect in his second lifetime start.
KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) was the big story over the past two weeks, but a couple of new shooters have popped up and could offer that one a real challenge come Kentucky Oaks Day. They'll have to move forward, but anything can happen in the two months leading up to the big day.
FLORIDA / DANCINGINHERDREAMS LOOKS TO REBOUND IN DAVONA DALE – John C. Oxley’s Dancinginherdreams suffered her first career defeat in her 2011 racing debut, but that has not deterred admirers who are expected to make the nearly white filly 3-year-old favorite in Saturday’s $250,000 Davona Dale (Grade (GII) at Florida’s Gulfstream Park.
FLORIDA / FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH SETTING FOR DEBUT FOR TO HONOR AND SERVE … UNCLE MO POINTED TO TIMELY WRITER – Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park is usually a heavily scrutinized prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), and this year’s renewal clearly ranks as the event of the weekend as it provides the setting for the 2011 debut of major Derby hope To Honor and Serve.
Owner Mike Repole will be well represented in Aqueduct's graded Triple Crown preps as the native of Queens, New York, plans to send out STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) in the $250,000 Gotham S. (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on March 5 and last year's unbeaten champion two-year-old UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie) in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on April 9.
"I've been watching the Gotham and the Wood for years, and I want to run horses where my friends and family can come out and cheer," said Repole, who races under the Repole Stable banner.
Sebastian Madrid has had a lucrative association with GOURMET DINNER (Trippi), riding the Steve Standridge-trained colt to four victories in seven starts while earning more than $900,000 in purses for Our Sugar Bear Stable. Yet, no mount is safe on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Ramon Dominguez, the Eclipse Award-winning jockey of 2010, has been summoned from New York to replace Madrid for Saturday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
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.