Trainer Todd Pletcher has entered two three-year-old fillies in Saturday's $100,000 Busher at Aqueduct, a race he won last year with eventual Kentucky Oaks heroine Princess of Sylmar.
Fierce Boots, who led wire-to-wire in winning the Busanda on January 4, is likely to employ the same tactics from post 2 in this 1 1/16-mile affair. Pletcher's other interest, My Jimmy Chew Girl, has form to find after dropping her last two in starter optional claiming company.
Samraat and Uncle Sigh, both New York-bred three-year-old colts, have yet to run against open company, but that is unlikely to dissuade bettors from actively backing the pair in Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Withers at Aqueduct. Contested at 1 1/16 miles on the inner dirt, the Withers has attracted a field of six and tops a four-stakes card at the Big A.
Owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm has decided to remove Coup de Grace from consideration for the Kentucky Derby following his 10th-place effort in Saturday's Holy Bull in his stakes and two-turn debut. Previously two-for-two, the Chad Brown pupil will now likely shorten up to regroup.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Ria Antonia, who was expected to face males in the February 22 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, will instead stay in her own division in the Rachel Alexandra on the same day, connections announced via Twitter Monday.
Co-owner Loooch Racing Stable and trainer Jeremiah Englehart each noted that this change of plan for her sophomore debut does not affect their major goal of pitting Ria Antonia against males on the Kentucky Derby trail.
As good as he felt after watching Cairo Prince romp to a 5 3/4-length win in Saturday's Grade 2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was just as excited after checking on his stable star Sunday morning.
Stabled at Palm Meadows, Cairo Prince gave McLaughlin every indication that the Pioneerof the Nile colt took the most lopsided Holy Bull victory in 19 years in stride.
Trainer Shug McGaughey is still sorting out the pecking order of his three-year-old colts, but Top Billing stamped himself as one to watch further down the Triple Crown trail. Making only his third lifetime start in an allowance on the Holy Bull Stakes undercard at Gulfstream Park, the chestnut colt caboosed the field early, but circled the field on the far turn and was hand-ridden by jockey Joel Rosario to a 2 3/4-length success over Surfing U S A.
Loooch Racing et al.'s Ria Antonia, the three-year-old filly being pointed for a face-off against male sophomores in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day February 22 at Fair Grounds, breezed a half-mile in company Sunday morning in :48 2/5.
The move, originally scheduled for Saturday, was postponed due to the projected more favorable track conditions Sunday morning.
Six days after being removed from consideration for the Grade 2 Holy Bull with a minor illness, Wildcat Red returned to the worktab on Sunday.
Going out at 7:30 a.m. (EST) just after the first renovation break, Wildcat Red breezed three furlongs on Gulfstream's fast main track in :36 1/5 and galloped out a half-mile in :49 2/5 for trainer Jose Garoffalo.
Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes looked like a competitive Kentucky Derby prep on paper, but 2-1 favorite Cairo Prince turned it into a rout with an imperious, 5 3/4-length victory at Gulfstream Park. Last seen missing by a nose to Honor Code in the November 30 Remsen at Aqueduct -- his only career loss -- the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was an apropos winner of this race, for he is out of a mare by Holy Bull.
Glencrest Farm's Onlyforyou flashed to the front at the start and led all the way in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park, remaining unbeaten with a 2 3/4-length decision in the seven-furlong event. Javier Castellano guided the extremely promising Todd Pletcher-trained filly.
One year after earning his first Kentucky Derby victory with Orb, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has a few bright young prospects who could bring him back to the Run for the Roses -- Remsen winner Honor Code; Dania Beach hero Mr Speaker, who will try dirt in Saturday's Holy Bull; and now Top Billing, who enhanced his status by crushing the 4TH race on the Holy Bull undercard at Gulfstream Park.
As always, it's an intriguing scenario when a filly is matched against "the boys." Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra -- very familiar to fans of Fair Grounds -- did it when she parlayed her 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks win to Grade 1 scores in the Kentucky Oaks and then on against male rivals in the Preakness, Haskell Invitational and Woodward later that year.
The first four scoring races of 2014 are in the books and the Kentucky Derby Report will review the action and take a look at some of the early contenders for the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports."
The criteria for making the Kentucky Derby underwent a massive shift last year with the implementation of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" Series, a tiered points system that places a greater emphasis upon later prep races, and nobody knew what to expect during the inaugural run.
Tanzanite Cat opened up his stakes account with a 9-1 upset of Monday's $150,000 Smarty Jones, the first of four major classic preps at Oaklawn Park for three-year-olds.
For most horsemen, having more than one Kentucky Derby prospect is never too much of a good thing. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who already has Remsen winner Honor Code readying for his three-year-old debut, will see if Mr Speaker fits the classics mold in Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.
Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Indianapolis certainly didn't disappoint in his three-year-old debut in the $75,460 San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Monday. By pulling away in the stretch to score by 4 1/4 lengths, the well-regarded colt had his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert plotting a path to the Kentucky Derby.
Trainer Dale Romans issued an upbeat bulletin on Monday morning about several of his newly turned three-year-olds, including the Donegal Racing trio of Cleburne, Smart Cover and Culprit.
Cleburne and Smart Cover completed the $500 exacta for the syndicate in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill on September 7, only to be sidelined thereafter. Culprit broke his maiden in his third start on October 27, but faded to eighth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 30.
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Cairo Prince tuned up for a scheduled start in Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park during a sharp half-mile breeze at Palm Meadows in :48 2/5 Sunday morning.
"We couldn't be happier. It was exactly what we were looking for," McLaughlin said. "He's ready to go."
Cairo Prince launched his career with a victories in a maiden race at Belmont and the Nashua at Aqueduct before being nosed out by Honor Code in a memorable finish to the November 30 Remsen at Aqueduct.
It's time to stop using the phrase "Louisiana-bred" as a somewhat negative modifier when describing Vicar's in Trouble, who drew off from Albano in Saturday's Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes on Road to the Derby Day at Fair Grounds to beat that rival by 6 3/4 lengths.
"That horse can really run," Larry Jones said as the trainer of the runner-up. "Where did they find him? I thought we were in pretty good position with Albano at the top of the stretch and then that winner just drew off."
Trainer Dallas Stewart has been very high on Saturday's Silverbulletday winner Unbridled Forever ever since she came into his barn, and the bay daughter of Unbridled's Song justified his optimism with the 1 1/2-length tally in the first leg of the local series that concludes with the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day, March 29.