New York-breds were in the Kentucky Derby spotlight last weekend at Aqueduct. Samraat recorded a commendable one-length victory in the Withers, remaining perfect in his fourth career outing, and runner-up Uncle Sigh ran well in his first start against winners.
Unbeaten Midnight Hawk will put his perfect mark on the line Saturday when taking on six rivals in the Grade 2, $200,000 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita Park. The 1 1/16-mile race is worth 10 points to the winner toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, but before that it is a steppingstone to the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5.
TwinSpires.com, the official advance-deposit wagering service for Churchill Downs Incorporated and the Kentucky Derby (NASDAQ: CHDN), is offering its players an opportunity to turn $20 into a $1 million prize by betting the Kentucky Derby qualifying races with TwinSpires.com.
With fewer than 90 days remaining before the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia ranks Cairo Prince, unbeaten champion Shared Belief and Honor Code as the most attractive individual horses featured in this week’s second pool of the 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”).
On the morning after becoming a graded stakes winner, Wildcat Red proudly walked the shedrow at trainer Jose Garoffalo's Gulfstream Park barn following his authoritative win in Saturday's Grade 3 Hutcheson.
"He's very smart. He knows that there is something different around him," Garoffalo said. "He looks good, to tell you the truth; very good, very fresh, very full of himself. He ate up everything last night and came out of the stall this morning very nicely. It's all good."
Remsen Stakes winner Honor Code jogged at Gulfstream Park for the second straight morning on Sunday. The highly regarded three-year-old colt was transferred from trainer Shug McGaughey's division at Payson Park in Indiantown, Florida, to the Hall of Fame trainer's barn at Gulfstream Park Thursday.
"I wanted to get him off the deeper track and I wanted to be around him, too," McGaughey said.
WinStar Farm LLC and Twin Creeks Racing Stables LLC's Vinceremos pulled off the upset by a nose in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Sam F. Davis for three-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs. Off as the 12-1 fifth choice, the colt paid $26.80 for the score.
The Todd Pletcher charge vied for the lead from the start down on the inside of pacesetter Cousin Stephen, who led the field through opening fractions of :24 1/5, :48 3/5 and 1:13 3/5.
My Meadowview Farm's homebred Samraat remained unbeaten and joined the Kentucky Derby trail Saturday, posting a one-length victory over fellow New York-bred rival Uncle Sigh in the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers at Aqueduct. With Jose Ortiz up, the Richard Violette Jr.-trained colt completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:46 1/5 on the fast inner track.
A record-shattering army of 42 talented and promising young stars from the stable of six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher and 2-year-old stars of 2013 headed by unbeaten champion Shared Belief and stakes winners Honor Code and Cairo Prince top a roster of 413 3-year-old Thoroughbreds – an 11.9% increase from last year – that are early nominees to compete in the 2014 Triple Crown, the coveted series of American classic races that includes the $2 milli
Daniel Lynch and Merrill Scherer's Quick Indian, one length the best in an allowance and $50,000 optional claiming mile-and-70-yard test for sophomores January 24, is now under consideration for the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes February 22 at Fair Grounds, according to trainer Merrill Scherer.
Cairo Prince, impressive winner of the $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on January 25, may get some extra time before making his next start.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is looking at bypassing the $400,000 Fountain of Youth on February 22 and training up to the $1 million Florida Derby on March 29.
Cairo Prince and Top Billing enhanced their Kentucky Derby prospects with outstanding performances at Gulfstream Park over the weekend. The convincing victories came at least as a small surprise given the competition: Cairo Prince pounded a well-regarded group of rivals in the Grade 2 Holy Bull and Top Billing rolled home under a hand ride in a deep optional claiming event.
The next start from both is eagerly anticipated.
Honor Code's scheduled 2014 debut in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 22 is in serious doubt due to a minor issue discovered by trainer Shug McGaughey.
"We had a little setback. He'll go back to the track on Friday," McGaughey said Wednesday. "He bruised up his back ankles a little bit. I think he'll be fine. I wasn't sure about what was the matter with him. Now I think we have it pinpointed."
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he is considering bringing back Champagne winner and Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Havana in the $150,000 Swale on March 1 rather than the $400,000 Fountain of Youth on February 22.
The Swale is run at seven furlongs, while the Fountain of Youth is contested at 1 1/16 miles. Both are run at Gulfstream Park.
"I think I'm going to be in the Swale with him," Pletcher said. "I just missed too much time and got behind schedule a touch. I'm hoping to make the work tab with him probably later this week and then point for the Swale."
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.