Centennial Farms' Wicked Strong uncorked a terrific late kick in Saturday's $1 million TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial, blowing past favorites Social Inclusion and Samraat to win by a widening 3 1/2 lengths. He stamped his ticket for the Kentucky Derby, earning 100 points for his first stakes victory, and completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 1/5 on the fast Aqueduct track.
A thrilling stretch-long duel between Rosalind and Room Service resulted in the two game fillies hitting the wire together in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland at Keeneland.
Trainer Todd Pletcher's domination of East Coast preps for the Kentucky Oaks continued Saturday when My Miss Sophia led throughout in winning the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle at Aqueduct by an emphatic 7 1/4 lengths.
Arnold Zetcher LLC and Michael B. Tabor's Fashion Plate continued to make a name for herself on the West Coast, adding a front-running victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $400,500 Santa Anita Oaks to her resume with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Steven in the irons.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Bobby's Kitten, the possible favorite for the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass on April 12 at Keeneland, worked five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 over that venue's Polytrack Saturday morning with Marino Garcia aboard for trainer Chad Brown.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens hopes to add to his record of nine Santa Anita Derby victories when he rides 9-5 morning-line second choice Candy Boy in Saturday's much-anticipated Grade 1, $1 million race that awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner.
English-based Toast of New York, winner of last Saturday's Group 2 U.A.E. Derby, is becoming ever less likely to line up at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. Owner Michael Buckley told Racing UK Friday that it would be "unfair" to send the still-progressing colt off on further international travels to the Kentucky Derby.
With the two principal speed horses lined up on the far outside of the Aqueduct starting gate, trainer Richard Violette likes his draw for Saturday's $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
Coastline put in his final major work for next Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass by working five furlongs in company in 1:00 2/5 at Keeneland on Friday. With jockey Stewart Elliott aboard, the gray Speightstown colt posted fractions of :12 2/5, :23 4/5 and :35 1/5 while racing on even terms with Noble Bird, a three-year-old maiden.
On the strength of his outstanding breeze March 29, Conquest Stables' Conquest Titan remains on target for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn April 12. The colt is currently one of seven horses leaning toward the 1 1/8-mile race. The other likely starters are Tapiture, Strong Mandate, Ride On Curlin, Bayern, Commissioner and Danza.
It's the Golden State vs. the Bluegrass State Saturday.
California Chrome, bred in California, takes on seven rivals, all bred in Kentucky, in the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, the West's major steppingstone to the 140th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 3.
The first round of major prep races is in the books, with Constitution proving to be a gutsy winner in the Florida Derby and Vicar's in Trouble leading wire to wire in the Louisiana Derby.
By Gary West, special to KentuckyDerby.com
Is this the year that the oldest Derby shibboleth goes down? To win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, a horse must have raced as a 2-year-old, the conditioning and foundation of that juvenile campaign being essential to spring-time success. Right?
California Chrome, a spectacular winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe on March 8, will look to carry his form forward when he lines up against seven rivals in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby. The Art Sherman-trained colt has a lot going for him but will be facing a couple of dangerous challengers in Candy Boy and Hoppertunity, who exit respective wins in the Grade 2 Bob Lewis and Grade 2 Rebel Stakes.
The Santa Anita Derby offers a total of 170 points to the top four finishers (100-40-20-10) as part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series. It will air on NBCSN from 5:30 to 7 p.m. (EDT).
Despite the relentless winter, Grade 1-winning filly Sweet Reason never missed a single scheduled breeze at Belmont Park, according to trainer Leah Gyarmati.
Following a successful return to the races on March 7 after four months on the sidelines, the daughter of Street Sense is now ready to begin what Gyarmati hopes will be a major campaign, starting Saturday with the 119th running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle for three-year-old fillies at Aqueduct.
Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial shapes up to be a tremendous race. Samraat and Uncle Sigh, who exit a pair of thrilling battles in the Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 3 Withers, are the most accomplished members of the 11-horse field, and there is an exciting new face in the form of the unbeaten Social Inclusion, who will make his stakes debut following a pair of runaway wins at Gulfstream Park.
Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks will see one filly trying to validate her past Grade 1 triumph and another looking for a return to the form that saw her win last November's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. The race is also the ticket for one filly to earn a guaranteed berth in the Kentucky Oaks starting gate as part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, offering up 100 points to the winner.
A baker's dozen of sophomore fillies has been entered to go 1 1/16 miles over Keeneland's Polytrack on Saturday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland. The race is part of Churchill Downs' Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, and will award points to the top four on a 100-40-20-10 scale toward a starting berth in the May 2 Oaks.
Sugar Shock, Euphrosyne, Please Explain and Kiss Moon crossed the wire in that order on March 8 in Oaklawn Park's Honeybee, and on Saturday the quartet will line back up against one another in the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy going 1 1/16 miles. The race is worth 100 points to the winner as part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series.
Unbeaten Social Inclusion arrived at Aqueduct at approximately 3 a.m. (EDT) on Monday after departing Gulfstream Park by van on Sunday, according to a tweet from owner Ron Sanchez.