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.
El Kabeir proved much the best against eight three-year-old rivals in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Jerome at Aqueduct, the first Kentucky Derby prep of 2015.
A plethora of speed in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Ynez at Santa Anita could set things up for a closer in the 6 1/2-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies, which offers the winner 10 qualifying points toward eligibility in the Kentucky Oaks.
“He reminds me of Point Given. He's got a good mind, but he's still filling out and he's still learning."
That’s what trainer Bob Baffert had to say following Kaleem Shah Inc.'s Dortmund victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity.
Take Charge Brandi may have clinched an Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old filly by leading all the way in Saturday's Grade 1, $350,500 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos.
Willis Horton's well-bred filly added 10 more Kentucky Oaks points to her total of 30, which tops the leaderboard. She had scored 10 apiece for her previous victories in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Delta Downs Princess.
The finish came just in time as El Kabeir posted a wire-to-wire decision in Saturday's Grade 2,$233,000 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. Imperia was bearing down on his rival with one final surge, but El Kabeir held the runner-up safe by a head on the finish line.
West Coast Belle has yet to compete on the West Coast, but the Tapit filly is perfect in three starts in the East after taking Saturday's Grade 2, $230,400 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Grabbing the early lead on a track that was favoring front runners, Leave the Light On went all the way in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Remsen at Aqueduct.
Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group's Condo Commando took the lead soon after the start of Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct and never looked back en route to an effortless 11 1/2-length victory under jockey Joel Rosario. The Rudy Rodriguez-trained juvenile lived up to her 3-2 favoritism while finishing 1 1/8 miles over the fast main track in 1:50 2/5.
The Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle, a nine-furlong test for juvenile fillies at Aqueduct on Saturday, attracted a field of eight, including Grade 1 scorers Condo Commando and Angela Renee.
It could be a wild renewal of the Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen at Aqueduct on Saturday with 14 two-year-olds in the field, and a short, wide run into the first turn looms for some of the more highly rated entrants marooned with outside posts in the 1 1/8-mile fixture.
It’s a true reminder that the pace is quickening on the journey to the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I): the first of four pools in Churchill Downs Racetrack’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) will open its three-day run on Friday, Nov. 28 and the “All Others” wagering interest is expected to be a heavy favorite when Derby future betting concludes early Sunday evening.
Ocho Ocho Ocho enhanced his Kentucky Derby credentials with a game win in Saturday's Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, scoring by a nose after a stretch-long duel with Mr. Z. Unbeaten in three starts, the James Cassidy-trained colt had to withstand an objection and steward's inquiry to earn his first graded victory and 10 points toward a possible spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Willis D. Horton's Take Charge Brandi chased a fast pace but would not be denied on Saturday while making her first start since taking the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 1.