The Todd Pletcher-trained Commissioner stamped himself as a prime candidate for the 2014 Triple Crown Friday at Gulfstream Park, where he prevailed over a strong field of three-year-old prospects.
The son of A.P. Indy surged between horses in the stretch to defeat Top Billing by a neck in the $48,750 entry-level allowance.
"We're pretty pleased with that -- a horse with a big pedigree like that, good looking," Pletcher said. "It seems like he has all the right ingredients."
Off his hard-fought runner-up finish in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year's Day, Florida-bred Wildcat Red earned his way into the mix for the track's key races for three-year-olds.
Trainer Jose Garaffalo is pointing the D'wildcat colt to the Grade 2, $400,000 Holy Bull on January 25, with an eye on the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) on February 22. Both races are run at 1 1/16 miles.
J. Armando Rodriguez's General a Rod opened his three-year-old season with an encouraging win in Wednesday's $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby, capturing his stakes debut by a head after a hard-fought battle with Wildcat Red. Trained by Mike Maker, the newly turned three-year-old was ridden by Joel Rosario, who won four races on the New Year's Day program including both stakes.
Taste Like Candy, a solid second to Streaming in her stakes debut in last month's Hollywood Starlet, reverts to sprinting for the Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Ynez at Santa Anita. The 6 1/2-furlong dash for three-old fillies only attracted a field of four and will be run as the second race on Saturday's card.
Saturday's $100,000 Busanda features a field of eight three-year-old fillies at Aqueduct. Flipcup, a runaway winner of the recent East View for New York-breds, will tackle open company in the one-mile and 70-yard event on the inner track.
As part of the "Prep Season" portion of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks scoring system, the Busanda will offer points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.
Noble Moon overcame a slow start and a wide trip to finish a good third in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes and the Malibu Moon colt will make his second stakes start in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome at Aqueduct. He heads a field of eight three-year-olds in the one-mile and 70-yard event on the inner track.
As part of the "Prep Season" portion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby scoring system, the Jerome will offer points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner New Year's Day has been retired after sustaining a sesamoid injury, Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form reports. Campaigned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Street Cry was expected to be a major player on the Triple Crown trail.
Instead, New Year's Day will embark upon a new career at stud in 2014. According to Thoroughbred Daily News, he will stand at Hill 'n' Dale near Lexington, Kentucky.
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It was only a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race, but Taste Like Candy's 6 1/2-length debut win at Santa Anita on October 20 suggested the sky was the limit for the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained filly. She will have an opportunity to prove herself against a more seasoned group Saturday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Hollywood Starlet over 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track.
Ron Winchell's Kentucky homebred Tapiture put away the field by 4 1/4 lengths to break his maiden in Saturday's Grade 2, $175,200 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. The Steve Asmussen charge grabbed the public's attention while racking up 10 points in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" race and will head to Fair Grounds for his three-year-old campaign.
"He goes to the Fair Grounds from here," Asmussen said when asked if he would head to Fair Grounds or California next.
Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider's homebred Vexed scored a one-length victory on Saturday in the Grade 2, $169,050 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan aboard.
After appearing beaten in the stretch, Honor Code re-rallied up the rail to edge Cairo Prince in the final jumps of Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. The well-regarded Kentucky Derby prospect earned his first stakes victory with the nose decision.
Owned by Lane's End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm LLC, the Shug McGaughey trainee netted 10 points for winning the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" event, increasing his total to 14. Honor Code was exiting a head second in the Grade 1 Champagne on October 5.
The Mutuel Field (#24), or "All Others", was an overwhelming 4-5 favorite in Poo1 1 of the 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager when wagering in the four-day pool closed at 3:45 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday.
Honor Code (#10) was the favored individual at 10-1 and justified that fan support when he fought back to edge Cairo Prince (#4, 25-1) in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.
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Repole Stable's Stopchargingmaria just got up to take Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle at Aqueduct over stablemate Got Lucky and tenacious pacesetter Penwith. The Todd Pletcher-trained juvenile miss lived up to her 4-5 favoritism in the nine-furlong contest, which was clocked in a pedestrian time of 1:52 3/5 over the fast main track.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey saddled eventual Kentucky Derby winner Orb to a maiden victory on the 2012 Cigar Mile undercard at Aqueduct, and is certainly hoping the future is equally as bright for the similarly blue-blooded colt Honor Code, who will start as the favorite in Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen on Cigar Mile Day at the Big A.
The Remsen, at 1 1/8 miles, features a cast of nine two-year-olds, but much of the pre-race buzz will be on Honor Code and the undefeated Cairo Prince.
Todd Pletcher will be seeking his third win in a row in the $400,000 Demoiselle at Aqueduct on Saturday, and has given himself an excellent shot of doing so by saddling half of the six two-year-old fillies in the 1 1/8-mile fixture.
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Rise Up turned in a dominating performance in Saturday's Grade 3, $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot, leading wire to wire for a six-length decision. Now a three-time stakes victor for trainer Tom Amoss, the two-year-old colt put himself on the leaderboard for next year's Run for the Roses, picking up 10 points for winning the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" event.
Tepin wore down 5-2 favorite Bahnah in the stretch to claim the victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess for two-year-old fillies.
Tracking in fourth under Miguel Mena as Zip On led through fractions of :22 4/5 and :47 2/5, Tepin held her position as Bahnah seized control from that one around the far turn. Given her cue by Mena after Bahnah passed the six-furlong marker in 1:12 2/5, Tepin eventually proved best with a winning stretch bid.