The 139th annual runnings of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum!
Zillah Reddam's Renee's Titan capitalized on a torrid early pace to stun newly-crowned champion Beholder at odds of 20-1 in Monday's Grade 2, $150,500 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita. Well beaten by Beholder in their only prior meeting, and winless from five previous stakes attempts, the Doug O'Neill trainee rallied from last to mug the 1-5 favorite and her stubborn rival Dawn's Charm in the final strides.
A more than two-month layoff proved to be no detriment to Touch Magic on Saturday as the Coteau Grove Farms colorbearer bounded home a three-quarter length winner of the $125,000 Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds.
The score, her first in three stakes tries, provided the Lion Heart filly with 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, and increased her current point total to 14 following a half-length second in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Princess in her last race on November 17.
It looks like the field against presumptive two-year-old filly champion Beholder in Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday feature at Santa Anita -- the Grade 2, $150,000 Santa Ynez -- doesn't hold much challenge, but, as the old saying goes, "They still have to run around the track."
While the boys begin their Kentucky Derby quest in Fair Grounds' Grade 3 Lecomte on Saturday, the fillies will start their journey toward the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in the $125,000 Silverbulletday. The mile-and-70-yard contest will feature a rematch between Seaneen Girl and Gal About Town, the respective top two from the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs last November.
King of Prussia Stable's Princess of Sylmar bided her time while saving ground on the rail in Saturday's $100,000 Busanda at Aqueduct before squeezing between fellow three-year-old fillies and drawing off for a 7 1/2-length victory under jockey Chris DeCarlo. Sent off the heavy 4-5 favorite against her five rivals, the Majestic Warrior filly paid $3.90, $2.50 and $2.10.
Kauai Katie blew past pacesetter Cor Cor at the top of the stretch and drew off to an easy win in Tuesday's Grade 3, $98,000 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park, a six-furlong test for newly turned three-year-old fillies. Under John Velazquez, the Stonestreet Stables lass won by eight lengths and completed the distance in a swift 1:09 3/5 over a fast track.
Saturday's $100,000 Busanda, over one mile and 70 yards at Aqueduct on Saturday, drew a field of six, with Asiya narrowly favored over the Todd Pletcher-trained Princess of Sylmar and Kiss the Lady, a supplementary entry from trainer Rudy Rodriguez.
The Road to the Fair Grounds Oaks kicks off in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on January 19, the same day that Derby hopefuls contest the Grade 3 Lecomte. The Silverbulletday is worth 17 points (10 for first, four for second, two for third, one for fourth) toward Kentucky Oaks qualification.
Below are the leading Fair Grounds fillies to watch, listed alphabetically, based on past performances, published works and interviews with horsemen. Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean that the horse is known to be under consideration for upcoming Fair Grounds stakes.
Kauai Katie will be a prohibitive favorite lining up against four rivals in Tuesday's Grade 3, $100,000 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park, a six-furlong, New Year's Day test which is literally the first opportunity for the daughter of Malibu Moon to enhance her already stellar reputation as a newly turned three-year-old.
Churchill Downs Racetrack has established dates for three wagering pools for its Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) and a single pool for its Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”) in 2013.
Scheduled dates for the trio of three-day, Friday-through-Sunday wagering pools in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are:
Magdalena Racing's Pure Fun came widest of all around the final turn in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Hollywood Starlet and flew home down the stretch at Hollywood Park to take the 1 1/16-mile contest by one length under jockey Garrett Gomez. The Ken McPeek-trained chestnut lass was last entering the lane but easily proved best to return $14.40, $6 and $10.60 as the 6-1 third choice in the eight-filly field.
Seaneen Girl's upset victory in Saturday's Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs had trainer Bernie Flint thinking about the first Friday in May on Sunday morning.
"They're going to run the (Grade 1 Kentucky) Oaks here (at Churchill Downs) and she loves the place," Flint said. "She's second in (Road to the Kentucky Oaks) points (behind Executiveprivilege) and she's just coming around.
"(Her win) meant a lot to me at this stage of the game. I've always been a filly specialist and it'd be great if I could win the Oaks."
Naveed Chowhan's Seaneen Girl battled it out with Gal About Town in the stretch of Saturday's Grade 2, $167,550 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs before just getting up for a half-length score as the 31-1 longest shot in the nine-filly field.
Emollient tried to snatch victory away from Repole Stable's Unlimited Budget in Saturday's Grade 2, $237,500 Demoiselle at Aqueduct, but the Street Sense filly would not be denied, scoring by 1 1/4 lengths on the wire and improving her mark to a perfect two-for-two.
Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti's Rose to Gold held off the determined run of fellow Calder shipper Touch Magic to take Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess by a half-length under jockey Paco Lopez. The Friends Lake juvenile miss was sent off the 5-2 second choice and paid $7.60, $5.60 and $4.60 while finishing the two-turn, fast-track mile in 1:39 1/5.
Saturday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess will feature a nice field of nine two-year-old fillies, led by local star Madame Cactus and Grade 2 runner-up Salamera. The one-mile event offers a hefty payday as well as 10 points toward a possible starting position in next year’s Kentucky Oaks on the new “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series.
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's homebred Sign made a couple of rookie mistakes in her stakes debut in Sunday's Grade 2, $168,150 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs, but the 4-5 favorite easily overcame them to win as much the best.
An 11 3/4-length winner first time out at Saratoga, Sign got off to a slow start in the Pocahontas. The Al Stall Jr. pupil lagged in the rear early, then became rank and fought jockey Rosie Napravnik while advancing to midpack on the outside.
Mr. and Mrs. Marc C. Ferrell's two-year-old filly Madame Cactus rallied strongly in the homestretch to score a two-length victory in Friday night's $150,000 My Trusty Cat Stakes at Delta Downs. The race was part of an opening night program for the track's 2012-2013 meeting.
Jill Byrne reviews the RTTKO Leaderboard after this weekend's Alcibiades, Frizette and Mazarine prep races.