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Bumped and pinched back in a rowdy start to Sunday's $100,000 Bourbon S. (G3) at Keeneland, Catesby W. Clay's homebred ROGUE ROMANCE (Smarty Jones) would have had an ample excuse if he had failed to fire. Instead, the 3-1 favorite delivered a superb closing kick from the tail of the field to win going away by 2 1/2 lengths.
Zayat Stables' JAYCITO (Victory Gallop) took the overland route down the backside and around the far turn at Hollywood Park in Saturday's $250,000 Norfolk S. (G1), but had enough stamina to overtake even-money favorite J P's Gusto (Successful Appeal) to land the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track feature by a length under Mike Smith.
Gary and Mary West's homebred MAJOR GAIN (More Than Ready) broke his maiden in Saturday's $100,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3), rallying gamely in deep stretch to win by a length. Junior Alvarez had the mount on the two-year-old colt, who provided Arlington's leading trainer, Wayne Catalano, with his second consecutive victory in the event when completing a mile on Polytrack in 1:36 1/5.
Jay Em Ess Stable et al's BOYS AT TOSCONOVA (Officer), one of the more impressive juvenile maiden winners seen in New York this season, backed up his strong graduation race and justified his 2-5 favoritism in Monday's $237,500 Hopeful S. (G1) at Saratoga with a 1 3/4-length victory under a hand-riding Ramon Dominguez. If it looked easy enough by witnesses in the stands and by those viewing on television, Dominguez's description in post-race comments suggests the colt could be something very special.
Harvey Clarke and Craig Robertson III's SOLDAT (War Front) had been slightly unlucky to run into two hot prospects in dirt maidens this summer, but when making his turf and two-turn debut in Friday's $100,000 With Anticipation S. (G3) at Saratoga, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee proved to be a hot prospect himself. After stalking the early leader, the dark bay juvenile shot clear in the stretch and won by three commanding lengths, becoming the first stakes winner for freshman sire War Front.
Gem Stable's J P'S GUSTO (Successful Appeal) and Western Mood (West Acre) dominated the wagering in Monday's $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship S. (G3), and the promising novices lived up to expectations by turning the holiday feature into a virtual match race.
Unbeaten UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie), last year's champion two-year-old male and a convincing winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), received the high weight assignment of 128 pounds on the 2010 Experimental Free Handicap, released Thursday by The Jockey Club. It is the highest assignment since Horse of the Year Favorite Trick received 128 pounds in 1997.
The filly division is headed by last year's champion two-year-old filly and undefeated Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) heroine AWESOME FEATHER (Awesome of Course), at 123 pounds.
Trainer Neil Howard was his usual modest self when accepting congratulations back at his Fair Grounds barn Sunday morning, one day after his latest star sophomore WILKINSON (Lemon Drop Kid), owned by Gaillardia Racing, occasioned a mild upset with his victory by a head in the Lecomte S. (G3).
Saturday's $96,000 Lecomte S. (G3) wasn't originally on the radar screen for Gaillardia Racing's homebred WILKINSON (Lemon Drop Kid), but when his typically cautious trainer Neil Howard reconsidered, and the visiting Garrett Gomez took the mount, it could be taken as a very encouraging sign.
If promising sophomore SOLDAT's (War Front) entry in Friday's 9TH race at Gulfstream Park was something of a reconnaissance mission to gauge his aptitude for dirt, it yielded one conclusive result: the classy turf performer relishes the slop.