Zayat Stables LLC’s American Pharoah, the Eclipse Award winner for champion 2-year-old colt of 2014, and Willis D. Horton’s Take Charge Brandi, who mounted a year-end charge to earn the honor of America’s 2014 juvenile filly champion, head an accomplished roster of 429 3-year-old Thoroughbreds made eligible to compete in the 2015 Triple Crown during the early nomination phase for the series of three classic races that includes the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the $1.5 million-guaranteed Preakness (GI) and the $1.5 million-guaranteed Belmont Stakes (GI).
Gulfstream Park played host to last week’s lone scoring race, the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2) on January 24, and Upstart proved to be a smashing winner, romping home to a 5 ½-length decision in the 1 1/16-mile contest.
Ralph M. Evans' Upstart zoomed up on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard Saturday, thanks to a 5 1/2-length conquest of the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream.
Forum Racing's Birdatthewire was facing a big class test off a maiden win last out, but the Dale Romans trainee passed with flying colors in Saturday's $200,000 Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream.
In the races prior to Saturday's Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, a couple of up-and-comers stamped themselves as three-year-olds to follow.
The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 three-year-old Thoroughbreds and a points system determines eligibility, with a series of 35 select races awarding points on a sliding scale to the top four finishers. The point values increase as we get closer to the first Saturday in May.
Upstart (Flatter), the New York-bred ridgling who held his own against some of the leading juveniles in the country last fall, might go off a slight favorite when he returns to the track Saturday for the $400,000 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Eleven three-year-old fillies will travel seven furlongs in the $200,000 Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, a prelude for the Davona Dale (G2) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
In an eventful running of the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on Monday, Far Right (Notional) flew up the inside to seize victory in the one-mile race for three-year-olds when even-money favorite Mr. Z (Malibu Moon) blew a commanding lead by veering out badly in the stretch.
International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus) is increasingly living up to his moniker. The three-year-old colt registered the second Grade 3 win of his career on Saturday with a 9-1 upset score in the $200,000 Lecomte at Fair Grounds.
It was the second win in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series for International Star, who also landed the Grey (G3) at Woodbine in Canada last fall. The 10 qualifying points he earned for Saturday's win now puts him in a tie for first with 21 points.
To read the entire Handicapper's Edge recap, click here.
Fletcher and Carolyn Gray's homebred I'm a Chatterbox sprang a front-running upset in Saturday's $125,000 Silverbulletday S. at Fair Grounds, earning 10 points toward the Kentucky Oaks.
Repole Stable's Overprepared (Quality Road) was one of the three new entrants when Friday's Busanda S. at Aqueduct was redrawn, and ended up wiring the mile-and-70-yard event under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
The Todd Pletcher-trained bay filly stopped the clock in 1:44 3/5 and earned 10 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs.
With five stakes placings to his credit, Mr. Z is still on the lookout for his first black-type victory. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee's first ship might come in Monday when he heads a field of nine in the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park.
The deadline for owners and trainers of promising 3-year-old Thoroughbreds to make their horses eligible for the coveted races of the 2015 Triple Crown series is approaching quickly. The window to the early nomination phase for the trio of American classic races that includes the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the $1.5 million-guaranteed Preakness (GI) and the $1.5 million-guaranteed Belmont Stakes (GI) will close on Saturday, Jan. 17.
Top Decile, a half-length second in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Alcibiades last fall, kicks off her sophomore campaign in the $125,000 Silverbulletday for three-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds on Saturday. Contested over one mile and 70 yards, the Silverbulletday is a prelude to the $150,000 Rachel Alexandra on February 21 and $300,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 28.
A field of 11 three-year-olds, including Will Farish's promising homebred Eagle, will take part in the Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte on Saturday as part of Fair Grounds' Road to the Kentucky Derby Kickoff Day.
"I didn't expect him to be this good (today)."
That was what trainer Peter Miller had to say after his gray sophomore charge Calculator broke his maiden with a 4 1/4-length romp in the Grade 3, $100,750 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
Regis Racing's Seduire made her debut on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard Saturday thanks to a 2 1/4-length wire victory in the Grade 2, $201,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained filly ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the fast track in 1:15 1/5 under jockey Rafael Bejarano. She turned back challenges from both Xoxo and Callback to secure the win, which awarded her 10 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks.