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LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike) and NOBLE'S PROMISE (Cuvee) will make their sophomore debuts on Saturday in Oaklawn Park's $300,000 Rebel S. (G2), the final prep before the April 10 Arkansas Derby (G1). This will be the third straight match-up between the two rivals, with Lookin at Lucky finishing in front each time.
Grade 3-placed SOARING EMPIRE (Empire Maker), a smart winner of a seven-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park in his three-year-old debut, will make the fourth start of his career and first around two turns in the March 20 Florida Derby (G1), trainer Cam Gambolati revealed Thursday.
SHE BE WILD (Offlee Wild), last year's juvenile filly champion, will be the second Eclipse Award from 2009 to compete at Tampa this meet when she meets nine others in the $175,000 Florida Oaks (G3) at 1 1/16 miles. The maiden claiming graduate, whose success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Arlington-Washington Lassie (G3) was enough to garner divisional honors, is seeking her first win on dirt following a wide-trip fifth in the Forward Gal S. (G2) at Gulfstream on January 31.
Having already successfully raided the three-year-old stakes pots at Tampa Bay Downs this season when Rule (Roman Ruler) took the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) in February, trainer Todd Pletcher will attempt to do it one more time on Saturday in the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G3). This time, Pletcher's representative is SUPER SAVER (Maria's Mon), who will be making his first start since an authoritative five-length score in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs in November.
On Saturday, the popular duo of jockey Paul Atkinson and CARACORTADO (Cat Dreams) hope to move a step closer to the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1) when they run in the $150,000 San Felipe S. (G2) going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita. Early on, Caracortado and Atkinson flew beneath racing's radar, but after winning the Robert B. Lewis S. (G2) on February 13, trainer Mike Machowsky proclaimed those days were over.
Over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride on Monday, champion LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike) worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5, turning in his last serious drill before Saturday's Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park.
The Bob Baffert colt, who has not raced since capturing the CashCall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park in December, will be trying dirt for the first time. Plans call for Lookin at Lucky to add blinkers for the Rebel, a change of equipment that Baffert decided upon after consulting with regular rider Garrett Gomez.
CALIFORNIA / CRISP REBOUNDS TO UPSET BLIND LUCK IN SANTA ANITA OAKS – A third straight Grade I stakes victory by Blind Luck In Saturday’s Santa Anita Oaks (GI) would have made the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee a near-prohibitive favorite for the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI), America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, at Churchill Downs on April 30.
But the race provided another reminder of why races are contested on track and not on paper.
NEW YORK / BRITISH INVADER AWESOME ACT ROLLS IN GOTHAM – Mrs. Susan Roy and Vinery’s British import Awesome Act displayed a clear affinity for traditional dirt in his first start over the surface and placed himself in contention for a start in the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) with a stylish victory in Saturday’s Gotham Stakes (GIII) at Aqueduct.