It is said that "one man's feast is another man's famine," and so it was Wednesday when Gore Range Stable's Emmett Park suddenly became part of the field for Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star at Fair Grounds.
Owners and trainers of horses being pointed toward the 140th running of the $1 million-guaranteed Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) on Friday, May 2 at Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) face an early nomination deadline of Saturday, Feb. 22 to make their horses eligible to compete in the 2014 renewal America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies scheduled for Friday, May 2.
Promising three-year-old filly Fiftyshadesofgold lived up to her star billing last Saturday night at Sam Houston by winning the Two Altazano Stakes in effortless fashion.
The top two finishers from the Southwest at Oaklawn Park, Tapiture and Strong Mandate, figure to be heard from again and Bayern emerged as a possible star on the West Coast with a striking allowance victory last week.
Lecomte winner Vicar's in Trouble is expected to break from post 13 in Saturday's $400,000 Risen Star at Fair Grounds following the reported defection of Grade 1 winner Bond Holder from the 1 1/16-mile race.
Trainer Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park, with undefeated Onlyforyou and stablemate Stopchargingmaria looming as the class of the eight-filly field. The local stepping stone to the March 29 Gulfstream Oaks, the 1 1/16-mile affair offers 50 Kentucky Oaks points to the winner.
"They are two nice fillies," Pletcher said. "I hate to run them against each other."
Revenge was sweet but victory was sweeter for Taptiure, who stormed home a dominating winner of his three-year-old debut in Monday's Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest at Oaklawn Park.
Ria Antonia, elevated to first in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, will make her three-year-old debut at Fair Grounds Saturday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra, a 1 1/16-mile prep for next month's Fair Grounds Oaks.
Vicar's in Trouble might be the most aptly-named of the contestants in Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Barring any scratches, the Louisiana-bred winner of last month's Lecomte will have to overcome post 14 in the 1 1/16-mile Louisiana Derby prep.
The Risen Star, the highlight of the five-stakes Louisiana Derby Preview Day in New Orleans, attracted 14 colts and geldings plus two also-eligibles.
Commissioner and Top Billing, who fought out the finish of a key allowance race at Gulfstream Park on January 3, renew rivalry while making their stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth -- this time with significant Kentucky Derby points on the line. The first race on the "Kentucky Derby Championship Series" of preps, the Fountain of Youth offers 50 points to the winner, 20 to second, 10 to third, and 5 to the fourth-place finisher.
Conquest Titan, late-running second to Cairo Prince in the January 25 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29.
Trainer Mark Casse, who will saddle Coastline in Monday's Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, said on Presidents' Day morning that he decided to skip Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth and train up to Gulfstream's signature race.
Kobe's Back lived up to his name with a stylish rebound in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,250 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita. By leaving his debacle in the December 14 CashCall Futurity well behind him, the powerfully-built gray joined stablemate Candy Boy on the Kentucky Derby trail for C R K Stable.
California Cup Derby winner California Chrome worked four furlongs at Los Alamitos Saturday in :47 4/5 in preparation for his foray into open company in the Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 8, where it is expected he will face, among others, the Bob Baffert-trained Bayern, smashing 15-length allowance winner on Thursday.
"I got him galloping out (five furlongs) in 1:00 3/5," said trainer Art Sherman, who had his regular exercise rider, Jay Conklin, aboard the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit.
Brereton Jones' Divine Beauty and Fox Hill Farms' Cassatt will not run in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra, trainer Larry Jones advised Sunday morning during training hours at Fair Grounds.
The Rachel Alexandra is Fair Grounds' designed prep for the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, to be run on Louisiana Derby Day, March 29, on the penultimate day of the current racing season in New Orleans.
Commissioner, who ran his win streak to two races with an impressive allowance victory at Gulfstream Park on January 3, put in his final breeze for the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth on Sunday morning.
With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard, the three-year-old A.P. Indy colt was clocked in :49 for four furlongs on the fast main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
Following the injury to Exit Stage Left, the presumptive favorite for Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer called up the reserves in the form of Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams' homebred Tamarando, and he saved the day for the barn. With Hall of Famer Russell Baze aboard, Tamarando wore down Dance with Fate by a half-length in the shadow of the wire at Golden Gate Fields.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has had a lot of luck preparing his young horses at Oaklawn for Triple Crown race success dating back to 1985 when Tank's Prospect won the Arkansas Derby and then the Preakness Stakes. In 1996, the Lukas-trained Grindstone used a second in the Arkansas Derby as a launching pad to victory in the Kentucky Derby and most recently, Oxbow finished second to his champion stablemate Will Take Charge in the 2013 Rebel Stakes before going on to win the Preakness Stakes.
In Trouble, undefeated winner of the Futurity in his most recent start, will have one more work at Palm Meadows before making his three-year-old debut.
Trainer Tony Dutrow schooled the bay Tiz Wonderful colt in the Gulfstream Park paddock during the first race on Friday.
"He hasn't been in the paddock since late September at Belmont," Dutrow said. "He's nearly ready to run, and we're trying to cover all our bases."
Cairo Prince, the early favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29, breezed a half-mile in :48 3/5 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
The three-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile was posting his first move since his dominating 5 3/4-length victory in the January 25 Holy Bull at Gulfstream. He completed the workout under a tight hold by motionless exercise rider Rob Massey.
Trainer Todd Pletcher may enter as many as three horses for next Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for three-year-old fillies.
"Right now, I'm planning to enter Onlyforyou, Stopchargingmaria and Got Lucky is also under consideration for here and the (Grade 3, $200,000) Rachel Alexandra (at Fair Grounds on the same day)," Pletcher said Saturday morning.