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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.
Augustin Stable's DYNAMIC HOLIDAY (Harlan's Holiday) had to make her way through a full field in Saturday's $105,000 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs, which was being run on turf for the first time in the race's 28 year history, but veteran reinsman Ramon Dominguez never flinched as the bay lass split horses en route to a 1 3/4-length victory.
WinStar Farm's homebred BRETHREN (Distorted Humor) remained unbeaten and enhanced his Kentucky Derby (G1) credentials with an impressive victory in Saturday's $207,500 Sam F. Davis S. (G3), posting a four-length decision in his stakes debut.
Norfolk S. (G1) winner JAYCITO (Victory Gallop), who has not raced since his eventful seventh in the November 6 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), could make his sophomore debut in the February 20 San Vicente S. (G2) at Santa Anita.
"I've been looking for an allowance race for him, but it didn't fill," said Bob Baffert, who took over the colt's training after the Breeders' Cup.
Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner J P'S GUSTO (Successful Appeal) galloped over the Oaklawn Park surface for the first time Saturday morning since arriving from California earlier this week.
Now with trainer Joe Petalino, the ridgling is being pointed for the February 21 Southwest S. (G3), the March 19 Rebel S. (G2) and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 16.
Multiple Grade 2-placed MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno), who most recently finished fourth in the January 30 Holy Bull S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park, could go on the road to Fair Grounds in search of graded stakes earnings in the February 19 Risen Star S. (G2).
"The thinking is the Risen Star might come up an easier spot," trainer Kathy Ritvo said Thursday. "We'd love to stay and run at Gulfstream (in the February 26 Fountain of Youth [G2]) but we're looking for graded stakes earnings. Also, it will be good for him to learn how to ship. We haven't officially decided anything, though."