- Road to the Kentucky Derby
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In the $195,084 Natalma S. (Can-G3) at Woodbine, Robert S. Evans' homebred NEW NORMAL (Forestry) led throughout to take the one-mile feature by 1 1/2 lengths under Javier Castellano. Establishing splits of :23 4/5, :47 4/5 and 1:12 1/5, New Normal maintained a one-length advantage much of the way, turned back a brief challenge by Dos Lunas (Hennessy) a furlong out, and pulled away again to finish in 1:36 2/5.
Eldon Farm Equine's JUST LOUISE (Five Star Day) prevailed in a thrilling 110th running of Saturday's $108,800 Debutante S. (G3), winning by a neck over the fast-closing Tristanme (Bwana Charlie) following a prolonged stretch battle with 3-5 favorite Salty Strike (Smart Strike). Making her stakes debut for Dale Romans, the juvenile filly remained perfect in two starts at Churchill Downs and completed six furlongs in 1:11 4/5 beneath Robby Albarado.
E. Paul Robsham Stable's homebred R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi) was content to allow the rest of the field to go on during the early running of Sunday's $250,000 Spinaway S. (G1) at Saratoga, but was determined to be first under the wire for trainer Todd Pletcher.
In an explosive move reminiscent of her maiden win at Del Mar on August 15, Ike and Dawn Thrash's TELL A KELLY (Tapit) inhaled 5-2 favorite Wickedly Perfect (Congrats) in midstretch of Saturday's $250,000 Darley Debutante S. (G1) and burst clear to a 4 1/2-length victory. By emphatically brushing aside the hitherto unbeaten Sorrento S. (G3) winner, Tell a Kelly stamped herself as a serious juvenile.
Delta Jackpot (G3) winner GOURMET DINNER (Trippi) tops a field of nine three-year-olds in Sunday's $400,000 Holy Bull S. (G3), and his main top rivals include DIALED IN (Mineshaft) and BLACK N BEAUTY (Devil His Due), a pair of promising colts who will be making their stakes debuts in the one-mile event at Gulfstream Park.
COMMA TO THE TOP (Bwana Charlie) was made the 5-2 favorite in Saturday's $750,000 CashCall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park, but his supporters were probably holding their breaths as word filtered out that the juvenile needed a new shoe for his right hind hoof prior to the running of the 1 1/16-mile test.
Two decades ago, a talented juvenile named Summer Squall captured the Kentucky S. for Dogwood Stable and trainer Neil Howard. On Friday, the same owner/trainer team sent out LOU BRISSIE (Limehouse) in the $110,300 Kentucky Juvenile S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. While Lou Brissie has some way to go before matching the exploits of Summer Squall, the promising colt emulated that past Dogwood star by winning the dash to remain perfect from two starts.
Homebred PREMIER PEGASUS (Fusaichi Pegasus) moved his record to a perfect three-for-three and doubled his earnings to $125,400 when taking Saturday's $100,000 Hollywood Prevue S. (G3) for owner/trainer Myung Kwon Cho. The dark bay colt broke on top of the six-horse field and proceeded to lead through fractions of :23, :46 1/5 and 1:10 before scooting away in the stretch for the 1 1/2-length victory.
Sidelined since his dead-heat third in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained INDIAN WINTER (Indian Charlie) produced a rousing late charge to catch the front-running City Cool (City Zip) in Monday's $80,600 San Pedro S. at Santa Anita. The 10-1 longest shot on the board despite his two-year-old form, the dark bay colt crossed the wire a half-length on top with Martin Pedroza, returning $22, $9.80 and $4.60.
Darley Stable's homebred FORT HUGHES (Henny Hughes) hustled to the early lead and extended his advantage en route to a stakes record-setting score in Monday's $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield S., the Martin Luther King Jr. Day feature at Aqueduct. Dispatched as the 7-5 favorite, the Kiaran McLaughlin pupil blitzed six furlongs on the fast inner track in 1:08.33, bettering Farmonthefreeway's old stakes mark of 1:08 4/5 set in 1993, and not far off the inner track record of 1:07.93.