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Members of Todd Pletcher's New York contingent took to the fast Belmont training track on Sunday to turn in final breezes in the lead up to Gotham Day, March 1, at Aqueduct.
Master Lightning, one of Pletcher's three sophomore colts under consideration for the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham, breezed four furlongs in :49 2/5. Teen Pauline and Royal Lahaina, both probable for the Grade 2, $200,000 Top Flight Handicap, breezed in company and covered four furlongs in :48 3/5.
Starlight Racing and Jack Wolf's Intense Holiday got up by a nose to win Saturday's Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, and on Sunday morning on his way out of town Wolf was looking forward to coming back with wife Laurie for the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby March 29, especially after dining once at La Petite Grocery and once at Arnaud's during their brief but highly successful Crescent City sojourn.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Untapable looked like a winner as soon as the field of sophomore fillies entered the stretch in Saturday's Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra, and all the Steve Asmussen pupil did the rest of the way was increase her advantage.
Holy Bull hero Cairo Prince breezed over the fast dirt at Palm Meadows Saturday morning in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29. The son of Pioneerof the Nile covered a half-mile in :49 4/5 under the watchful eye of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who offered his thoughts on the Fountain of Youth later in the day at Gulfstream Park.
Wildcat Red and General a Rod, the one-two finishers in Saturday's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, will likely take their nascent rivalry to the next level in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29.
Starlight Racing's Intense Holiday utilized every inch of the long stretch run at Fair Grounds Saturday, closing furiously to catch Albano in the final strides of the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star. By virtue of the nose decision, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt vaulted to the top of the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. Hall of Famer Mike Smith was in for the ride.
Add Mother Nature to the list of challenges facing the talented Harlan's Holiday colt Ami's Holiday, who is being pointed to Oaklawn's series of graded races for three-year-olds and then a potential Triple Crown campaign.
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC's Untapable threw in a subpar eighth two starts back in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, then finished a one-paced third in the Hollywood Starlet over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track on December 7.
The January 1 Gulfstream Park Derby turned out to be the key predictor for Saturday's Grade 2, $415,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes, as Wildcat Red and General a Rod reprised their duel in what developed into a virtual match race. Only this time, Honors Stable Corp.'s Wildcat Red gained revenge in a photo-finish, and took home 50 points toward the Kentucky Derby. Top Billing, the 2-1 favorite, launched a gallant rally from far back to finish a clear third, but couldn't reach the top two on a track that was playing kindly to speed.