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At this time a year ago, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas had a fairly deep bench of classic candidates, including eventual divisional champion Will Take Charge and Preakness winner Oxbow. For the time being, Lukas will be relying solely on Strong Mandate to reach similar heights as the Grade 1-winning son of Tiznow commences his sophomore campaign against 11 rivals Monday in the Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest at Oaklawn Park.
Wildcat Red will have a new rider when he makes his next start in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 22.
Trainer Jose Garoffalo has lined up Luis Saez to ride Wildcat Red, an impressive 4 3/4-length winner of the seven-furlong Hutcheson on February 1 under Javier Castellano. The 2013 Eclipse Award winner and two-time defending meet champion, Castellano is committed to ride Gulfstream Park Derby winner General a Rod in the Fountain of Youth.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sent out two Triple Crown nominees in Thursday's 7TH race at Santa Anita, and one -- Kaleem Shah's Bayern -- flaunted his readiness to join the big leagues. Stretching out from a 3 1/4-length debut victory on January 4, the 3-5 favorite turned the one-mile, entry-level allowance into a 15-length rout. His more experienced, but quirky, stablemate Tap It Rich wound up second best after again racing erratically.
Todd Pletcher-trained Commissioner is training forwardly for his scheduled stakes debut in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 22.
"We're very pleased with him," Pletcher said. "Physically, he's in great order. He holds his weight well. He's a very easy horse to train.
A number of Risen Star hopefuls have put in works over the past week in advance of the Grade 2, $400,000 contest on February 22 at Fair Grounds.
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, whose New Orleans invaders have won three of the last six renewals of the Risen Star, will be sending Intense Holiday to this year's 41st running of the Risen Star, centerpiece event of four graded stakes on the New Orleans oval's Louisiana Derby Preview Day.
Intense Holiday breezed a half-mile Sunday over the fast main track at Palm Meadows in :48.
Larry Collmus Named Track Announcer at Churchill Downs, Now On-Track & Broadcast 'Voice of the Kentucky Derby'
When Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) unveils its 15,224 square foot LED “Big Board” and an enhanced audio system on the “Opening Night” of its April 26-June 30 Spring Meet, a new voice will be calling the action, highlighted by an on-track call of the biggest race of them all: the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I).
Grade 1 winner Tamarando heads a field of eight entered for Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Jerry Hollendorfer originally planned to run California Derby winner Exit Stage Left in the 1 1/8-mile event instead, but called an audible when the unbeaten colt was injured last week.
The El Camino Real Derby offers points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers as part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series.
Candy Boy came to play in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita last Saturday, posting an impressive victory in his 2014 debut. With champion two-year-old Shared Belief still sidelined by a foot injury, Candy Boy made a compelling case that he's the horse to beat for the Santa Anita Derby on April 5.
Gary Stevens had the mount on the John Sadler-trained colt.
"It was a lot of fun and he didn't even take a deep breath after the race. He's a super talent," the Hall of Fame rider said.
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has issued an update on champion two-year-old male Shared Belief, who has been recovering from a quarter-crack on his right front foot.
Shared Belief is "in training again, but won't be breezing for another few days," Hollendorfer said.
Utilizing a strong finishing kick, C R K Stable's homebred Candy Boy captured the Grade 2, $200,000 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita Saturday. The John Sadler-trained colt won going away under Gary Stevens to enhance his Kentucky Derby credentials.