As long as there are no bumps along the way, highly regarded Honor Code's road to Louisville for the first Saturday in May is coming through Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Vinceremos' bid for a $1 million bonus continues on Saturday when he faces nine rivals in the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby over 1 1/16 miles.
A runaway winner in both career starts, Bayern will step up to make his stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita. The 1 1/16-mile test is part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" scoring series and offers points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers.
The Gotham featured an exciting three-horse stretch duel on the inner track at Aqueduct and Samraat posted an outstanding victory.
After traveling wide on both turns, Samraat surged to the lead in upper stretch and gamely repulsed stubborn foes Uncle Sigh and In Trouble to the wire. The 1 1/16-mile Gotham didn't answer any questions surrounding his effectiveness at 1 1/4 miles two months from now, but Samraat continues to distinguish himself.
For the fifth time in as many starts, Wildcat Red will have a new rider when he returns in the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 29.
By Gary West, special to KentuckyDerby.com
For now, he’s just the King of Queens, but don’t underestimate him. In May, with his place in the Churchill Downs starting gate virtually reserved, he could attempt to extend his dominion to Kentucky.
In a Facebook posting Monday morning, trainer Doug O'Neill announced that Bond Holder would not contest Saturday's $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby as originally planned.
California Chrome had his final major workout for Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes, going five furlongs Sunday morning at Los Alamitos in 1:00 2/5.
Undefeated Samraat was on his way to Florida Sunday afternoon, one day after running his winning streak to five and landing atop the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with his gritty victory over Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham at Aqueduct Racetrack.
It was no surprise when the Mutuel Field (#24), or “All Others,” ended up as the overall favorite in the third of four pools in Churchill Downs Racetrack’s 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW), but the small edge that Cairo Prince (#3), the favored individual horse, held over several KDFW rivals underscored the narrow margins that separate major players now working their way toward the famed “Run for the Roses” on the first Saturday in May.
After entering the stretch drive on even terms with Uncle Sigh and In Trouble, My Meadowview's homebred Samraat out-dueled his rivals to the wire in Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham, gamely posting a narrow victory on the inner track at Aqueduct. The Richard Violette Jr.-trained colt remained unbeaten in his fifth career start, recording his second straight graded stakes triumph after taking the Withers on February 1, and Samraat essentially guaranteed himself a spot in the Kentucky Derby field.
Dan Ward, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, issued a Saturday update on Shared Belief. Last year's undefeated champion two-year-old male continues to recover from a quarter-crack in his right front foot at Golden Gate Fields.
Although Coolmore was out of luck in Saturday's Grade 2 Swale at Gulfstream, with the scratch of Havana and the upset of No Nay Never, the ownership team of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier received some consolation when Gala Award prevailed soon afterward in the Grade 3, $150,000 Palm Beach. Making his stakes debut off a maiden win over the local turf, the Todd Pletcher sophomore held on by a half-length from the closing Mr Speaker.
Susan Moulton's Solitary Ranger set all the pace in Saturday's $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park, posting a 4 3/4-length decision under jockey Florent Geroux. Stablemate Poker Player came rolling late to provide trainer Wayne Catalano with a one-two finish in the 1 1/16-mile event.
Cairo Prince continued his preparations for the $1 million Florida Derby on March 29 by breezing a sharp five furlongs Saturday morning at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park's satellite training facility.
Mr Speaker will get back on turf for the Grade 3, $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park Saturday. The dark bay colt made a dashing rally up the fence to win the Dania Beach Stakes on the sod in December, but trainer Shug McGaughey opted to experiment with the main track for the Holy Bull Stakes on January 25. Though forwardly placed early in that competitive test, the three-year-old son of Pulpit didn't find another gear and tired to finish seventh, 10 3/4 lengths behind the romping winner Cairo Prince.
Darley has announced that it has purchased a majority interest in the three-year-old colt, Cairo Prince, a runaway winner of the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on January 25. The colt will stay in the barn of current trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and race in the colors of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Stable, along with owners Terry Murray, Paul Braverman, Harvey A. Clarke and Craig W. Robertson III.
Smart Cover, injured running second to stablemate Cleburne in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs last fall, returns to the races in Saturday's Grade 3 Palm Beach on the Gulfstream Park turf.
Trained by Dale Romans for Donegal Racing, Smart Cover drew post seven of 13 in the nine-furlong Palm Beach, and will be ridden for the first time by Corey Lanerie. On Wednesday, Lanerie was named winner of the George Woolf Memorial Award in a nationwide vote of his peers.
Wildcat Red and Intense Holiday guaranteed themselves a spot in the Kentucky Derby, earning 50 points for their respective wins in the Fountain of Youth and Risen Star, and the contrast between races was extreme.