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BACKTALK (Smarty Jones), one of the early-season juvenile leaders last year when scoring back-to-back wins in the Bashford Manor S. (G3) and Sanford S. (G2), will make his seasonal debut in Friday's $75,000 Sportsman's Paradise S. at Delta Downs.
The Triple Crown nominated colt, trained by Tom Amoss, enters off two unplaced efforts in the Hopeful S. (G1), where he rallied for fourth, and the Breeders' Futurity (G1), where he was a subpar eighth in his Polytrack and two-turn debut.
Champagne S. (G1) hero HOMEBOYKRIS (Roman Ruler) will face six rivals on Saturday in the 3RD race at Gulfstream Park. The Richard Dutrow trainee will be making his second start of the year in the one-mile allowance following a fifth in the Holy Bull S. (G3) on January 23. Homeboykris dueled on the front end of the eight-furlong Holy Bull, but gave way in the stretch run to be fifth of nine on that day.
Smarty Jones S. winner DRYFLY (Jump Start) exited his ninth-place effort in Saturday's Southwest S. (G3) with an injury in his left front knee and will be sidelined through the Triple Crown.
Nearly won a year ago by then unheralded Canadian juvenile champion Mine That Bird (Birdstone), who went on to capture the Kentucky Derby (G1), the $100,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park will be renewed Saturday and serves a stepping stone to the lucrative Sunland Derby (G3) on March 28.
The field of nine three-year-olds set to travel 1 1/16 miles does not include any entrants as decorated as Mine That Bird, however, as only three possess a two-turn win to their credit.
SOUTH / JODY SLEW ARRIVES IN TIME FOR SILVERBULLETDAY USPET – The rapidly improving Jody Slew is developing a reputation for dramatic finishes after completing a last-to-first rally under jockey Miguel Mena to notch an upset victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Silverbulletday (Grade III) at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds.
TRAINER PLETCHER RULES IN WEEKEND’S KENTUCKY DERBY PREPS – Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher’s quest for a victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) is well known, but the dominant performance by his sprawling stable in the weekend’s preps for America’s greatest race provided early evidence that 2010 could finally be his year.\
Richard C. Pell's FLY DOWN (Mineshaft) rallied from last to deny First Dude (Stephen Got Even) in Sunday's 3RD race at Gulfstream Park, an entry-level allowance designed as a prep for the March 20 Florida Derby (G1). Trained by Nick Zito and ridden by Jose Lezcano, the chestnut colt got up by a head while completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 4/5 on the fast track.
Jill Byrne analyzes the Kentucky Derby prep races from this past weekend
Multiple Grade 2 star BUDDY'S SAINT (Saint Liam) has emerged from his troubled ninth-place finish in Saturday's Fountain of Youth S. (G2) in good order, trainer Bruce Levine reported Sunday morning. The 9-5 favorite was slammed when entering the first turn at Gulfstream Park, and bounced around between Aikenite (Yes It's True) and the rail. Although regular jockey Jose Lezcano checked Buddy's Saint out of that dangerous spot and maneuvered him to the outside, he wound up well off the pace and never really recovered.