Seven three-year-old fillies will do battle in Saturday's $150,000 Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, a tune-up for next month's Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). Renamed this season from the Silverbulletday to honor the 2009 Horse of the Year, the race is lead by Grade 2 vixen KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat), who stole some of the colt Santiva's (Giant's Causeway) thunder at Churchill on November 27 with an 8 1/2-length romp in the Golden Rod.
Drs KK and Vilasini Devi Jayarman's homebred HOLY HEAVENS (Holy Bull) came three-wide into the stretch of Saturday's $75,000 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park and pulled out a one-length victory on the wire. With Israel Ocampo aboard, the Benard Chatters pupil dueled late with leader Scarlet Mist (Pure Prize) and just got the best of that rival when completing the mile test on the fast dirt in 1:42 4/5.
Augustin Stable's DYNAMIC HOLIDAY (Harlan's Holiday) had to make her way through a full field in Saturday's $105,000 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs, which was being run on turf for the first time in the race's 28 year history, but veteran reinsman Ramon Dominguez never flinched as the bay lass split horses en route to a 1 3/4-length victory.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) champion Awesome Feather (Awesome of Course) is out of Kentucky Oaks (G1) consideration at this point with tendon issues. Her racing future was very much in doubt for a time, but recent news offers hope the talented bay could return to the track.
Nine sophomore fillies have been assembled for Saturday's $75,000 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park, and a couple of top contenders, GRANDACIOUS (Grand Slam) and SUMMER SOIREE (War Front), will be seeking their first stakes victory in the one-mile event.
At Fair Grounds on Saturday, Winchell Thoroughbreds' WICKED DEED (Harlan's Holiday) survived an early pace scramble in the $56,400 Tiffany Lass S. and proceeded to romp by an impressive 5 1/4 lengths in her stakes debut for Steve Asmussen.
With Anna Napravnik aboard, the 7-5 second choice mixed it up between rivals in the four-filly field, gained a slim advantage, and poured it on down the stretch to win convincingly.
Flash Mash (Smarty Jones), the 4-5 favorite, was parked out wide in fourth throughout, but managed to get up by a nose for runner-up honors.
Saturday was already going to be a big day for Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss at Santa Anita, for they were to accept the inaugural Secretariat Vox Populi Award on behalf of their retired fan-favorite Zenyatta. The popular owners took the spotlight a little earlier than expected, however, with another "Z" -- ZAZU (Tapit) -- who ironically ended the unbeaten run of 2-5 favorite Turbulent Descent (Congrats) in the $250,000 Las Virgenes S. (G1).
TURBULENT DESCENT (Congrats) puts her undefeated mark on the line Saturday while taking on six rivals in the one-mile Las Virgenes S. (G1) at Santa Anita. The Mike Puype trainee broke her maiden at the Oak Tree meet run at Hollywood Park, then remained at that venue to add the Moccasin S. and Hollywood Starlet S. (G1) to her resume. The bay lass is trying a conventional dirt track for the first time in the Las Virgenes, and retains the services of regular David Flores for her sophomore bow.
Turfway Prevue S. winner INHISGLORY (Pure Prize) makes his debut for trainer Mike Stidham in Saturday's $60,000 Black Gold S., one of two sprint stakes for three-year-olds on the Fair Grounds card.
Formerly trained by Wayne Mogge, the bay gelding was purchased by Peter Redekop on the eve of his game score in the 6 1/2-furlong Turfway Prevue, where he just lasted by a nose.
Hardacre Farm LLC's homebred POMEROYS PISTOL (Pomeroy) used her front-running position in Sunday's $200,000 Forward Gal S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park to draw off in the stretch, giving her enough of an advantage to hold the fast-closing Dancinginherdreams (Tapit) by a three parts of a length on the wire. With jockey Pascacio Lopez providing a smart ride, the Amy Tarrant trainee finished up the seven-furlong test in 1:22 4/5 to add a first stakes win to her resume.
With champion Awesome Feather (Awesome of Course) sidelined by a tendon issue, DANCINGINHERDREAMS (Tapit) and R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi) are the leading three-year-old fillies in training in South Florida, and the two runners will open 2011 against each other in Sunday's $200,000 Forward Gal S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park. A total of seven fillies are entered in the seven-furlong test.
KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) burst onto the radar last year with a four-length romp in the grassy Jessamine S. at Keeneland, then found herself in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) spotlight when dominating the Golden Rod S. (G2) under the Twin Spires by 8 1/2 lengths. On Saturday, the Kenny McPeek trainee gave notice she's carried her two-year-old form into the New Year when recording a 1 1/4-length victory in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant S. at Gulfstream Park.
The 2010 Experimental Free Handicap, released Thursday by The Jockey Club, showed the filly division headed by last year's champion two-year-old filly and undefeated Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) heroine AWESOME FEATHER (Awesome of Course) at 123 pounds.
In a virtual reprise of her victoriy in a December 26 stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Cairoli Racing Stable's DEVILISH LADY (Sweetsouthernsaint) romped in Saturday's $73,250 Gasparilla S. The three-year-old filly extended her winning streak to four, and punched her tickets into graded company.
Suarez Racing Inc.'s CALIFORNIA NECTAR (Stormy Atlantic) held off the late run of Zazu (Tapit) to score a neck victory on Saturday in the $150,000 Santa Ynez S. (G2) at Santa Anita Park. With jockey Pat Valenzuela in the saddle, the bay lass set all the pace in the seven-furlong test, drawing off to a 1 1/2-length advantage in the lane before just holding on the line to stop the clock in 1:21 1/5 over the fast dirt.
Right Time Racing LLC's BOUQUET BOOTH (Flower Alley) was the only runner on the stakes undercard of Fair Grounds' Road to the Derby Kickoff Day who ended up justifying the public's faith as favorite when capturing Saturday's $98,000 Silverbulletday S., formerly known as the Tiffany Lass S.
Trainer Bob Baffert summed up Sunday's $92,000 Santa Ysabel S. (G3) at Santa Anita with one simple remark: "It was a good race for her, a good workout for her."
The Hall of Fame conditioner was of course referring to Kaleem Shah's MAY DAY ROSE (Rockport Harbor), who faced only two rivals in Sunday's test following the scratches of Zazu (Tapit) and Plum Pretty (Medaglia d'Oro). The filly proceeded to turn the race into a procession.