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From Sunday's Keeneland notes:
WinStar Farm's AMERICAN LION (Tiznow), who captured Saturday's Illinois Derby (G3), was scheduled to return to Keeneland on Sunday afternoon.
American Lion's victory gave WinStar three horses with enough earnings to be guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, along with Sunland Derby (G3) hero ENDORSEMENT (Distorted Humor) and multiple Grade 3 winner RULE (Roman Ruler), who was third in the Florida Derby (G1) last out.
From Sunday's Keeneland notes:
EVENING JEWEL (Northern Afleet), gritty winner of Saturday's Ashland S. (G1) at Keeneland, is heading back to her home base at Santa Anita on Monday, according to trainer Jim Cassidy.
"We can keep her happier out there rather than leaving her here with someone else," Cassidy said Sunday morning. "Hopefully, we will be back in two weeks."
Evening Jewel held off IT'S TEA TIME (Dynaformer) by a neck to stamp herself as one of the prime contenders for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run April 30 at Churchill Downs.
After attempting to rate unsuccessfully in his first two starts this year, WinStar Farm's AMERICAN LION (Tiznow) went right to the lead in Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby (G2) and never surrendered, securing a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) starting gate with a 2 3/4-length decision. The Eoin Harty-trained colt completed 1 1/8 miles over the fast, drying-out Hawthorne track in 1:51 1/5.
A little while after Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway) routed the competition in Saturday's Wood Memorial S. (G1) at Aqueduct, SIDNEY'S CANDY (Candy Ride [Arg]) offered a rebuttal on behalf of the West Coast Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls with a front-running, 4 1/2-length romp in Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Barring the unforeseen, Zayat Stables' ESKENDEREYA (Giant's Causeway) should march into Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May as the solid favorite in the Kentucky Derby (G1) after another blowout prep victory, this time in the $750,000 Wood Memorial S. (G1). An outstanding 8 1/2-length victor the Fountain of Youth S.
Braly Family Trust's EVENING JEWEL (Northern Afleet) has been knocking on the door of a graded win in her past two starts, but on Saturday broke through in style with a gutsy neck victory in the $400,000 Ashland S. (G1) at Keeneland. With Kent Desormeaux guiding her on the front end, the James Cassidy-trained lass ran 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack in 1:43 2/5 to earn her shot in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on April 30.
EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY (Forest Camp) put the dreadful experience of his stakes debut behind him in Saturday's $196,000 Bay Shore S. (G3), leading wire to wire for a 2 1/2-length decision. The Gary Contessa-trained sophomore colt was never threatened over the main track at Aqueduct, reeling off splits of :22 3/5, :45 and 1:08 4/5 before finishing seven furlongs in 1:21 4/5, and paid $3.20, $2.60 and $2.10 as the 3-5 choice over five rivals.
Multiple Grade 1 queen BLIND LUCK (Pollard's Vision) successfully pulled off the win in her final prep for the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (G1) when rallying late in Friday's $285,000 Fantasy S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park. With Rafael Bejarano sitting confidently the entire time, the chestnut lass ran in rear of the four-filly field before coming with a strong run down the middle of the track to score by 2 1/2 lengths.
INTERACTIF (Broken Vow) and AIKENITE (Yes It's True), top contenders for next Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass S. (G1) at Keeneland, put in their final preparations for Todd Pletcher on Saturday morning.
"They both went well," Pletcher said from New York, where he was on hand to see Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway) run in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct. "Interactif worked five-eighths at Churchill Downs in a minute and four-fifths. He was on his 'A' game and worked in company with (maiden) Marenzio (Giant's Causeway)."
Jill Byrne analyzes the upcoming Kentucky Derby prep races