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California Chrome polishes off San Felipe foes

Stabled at Los Alamitos, a hotbed of Quarter Horse-style speed for decades, the three-year-old California Chrome demonstrated his own Thoroughbred twist on early flash with an electric score in the Grade 2, $300,500 San Felipe at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Cairo Prince, General a Rod work for Florida Derby

Cairo Prince, likely favorite for the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 29, took another step toward the race with a half-mile work on Saturday.

Top Billing off classic trail with cracked cannon bone

Top Billing, one of the most celebrated prospects for the $1 million Florida Derby and Triple Crown, sustained an injury during a workout at Payson Park Saturday morning that has knocked the Shug McGaughey-trained colt off the Triple Crown Trail.

Honor Code entered in Gulfstream allowance

Remsen hero Honor Code, who had been mentioned as a candidate for the March 15 Rebel at Oaklawn Park, will instead make his reappearance in Wednesday's 8TH race at Gulfstream Park. The Kentucky Derby hopeful will meet only four foes in the 1 1/16-mile allowance race, including flashy debut maiden winner Social Inclusion.

General a Rod confirmed for Florida Derby

Gulfstream Park Derby winner General a Rod will make his next start in the $1 million Florida Derby on March 29, trainer Mike Maker confirmed Friday morning.

Bayern out of San Felipe

Undefeated morning-line favorite Bayern has been withdrawn from Saturday's Grade 2 San Felipe because of a bruised hoof, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Thursday afternoon.

\"Bayern out of San Felipe," Baffert tweeted. "Bruised inside quarter. Was looking forward to seeing him run Saturday. Be OK soon."

Blue Grass attracts 191 nominees

The 90th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass has attracted an all-star list of 191 nominees, Keeneland announced Thursday. Scheduled for April 12, the 1  1/8-mile Blue Grass is one of the country's premier three-year-old preps, offering 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Honor Code on schedule for Rebel

As long as there are no bumps along the way, highly regarded Honor Code's road to Louisville for the first Saturday in May is coming through Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Vinceremos continues bonus bid in Tampa Bay Derby

Vinceremos' bid for a $1 million bonus continues on Saturday when he faces nine rivals in the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby over 1 1/16 miles.

Bayern faces nine in San Felipe

A runaway winner in both career starts, Bayern will step up to make his stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita. The 1 1/16-mile test is part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" scoring series and offers points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers.

Kentucky Derby Report -- March 6

The Gotham featured an exciting three-horse stretch duel on the inner track at Aqueduct and Samraat posted an outstanding victory.

After traveling wide on both turns, Samraat surged to the lead in upper stretch and gamely repulsed stubborn foes Uncle Sigh and In Trouble to the wire. The 1 1/16-mile Gotham didn't answer any questions surrounding his effectiveness at 1 1/4 miles two months from now, but Samraat continues to distinguish himself.

Velazquez to ride Wildcat Red in Florida Derby

For the fifth time in as many starts, Wildcat Red will have a new rider when he returns in the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 29.

Gary West's Kentucky Derby Championship Series Review: Gotham Stakes

By Gary Wesy, special to KentuckyDerby.com

For now, he’s just the King of Queens, but don’t underestimate him. In May, with his place in the Churchill Downs starting gate virtually reserved, he could attempt to extend his dominion to Kentucky.

Samraat, whose name is an ancient Indian title meaning “king” or “emperor,” jumped to the top of the Kentucky Derby leaderboard after winning Saturday’s Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. He’s not one of the more celebrated 3-year-olds perhaps, but the 50 points he earned Saturday bumped his total to 60; and so he’s just ahead of Intense Holiday, the winner of the Risen Star Stakes, with 53 points, and Wildcat Red, the winner of the Fountain of Youth, with 50.

In finishing second in the Gotham, Uncle Sigh earned 20 points, giving him a total of 24; and In Trouble, making his first start in five months, picked up 10 points for finishing third. Within a half-length of each other at the wire, all three ran well enough to suggest they could improve and could indeed become contenders for the 140th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. In fact, Samraat’s winning time for the 1 1/16 miles, 1:44.44, was about three lengths faster than Teen Pauline’s a race earlier, in the Top Flight Handicap.

Although unbeaten in five races, Samraat seems to be approaching the Kentucky Derby quietly, inconspicuously even. But pundits should be forgiven for underestimating him, if they consider him at all, because few Derby horses, generally speaking, ever emerge from a snow-encrusted winter in Queens, N.Y. Except for his debut at Belmont Park, he never has raced outside of Queens, where some horses, like some guys with oysters, develop an inexplicable fondness for the winterized inner track. And in the first three races of his career, Samraat defeated New York-breds.

But it’s impossible to watch his effort Saturday and not be impressed. As his trainer, Rick Violette, said, in the Gotham, Samraat “proved he’s a racehorse.” In fact, the King of Queens is a racehorse of quality.

And, as with any athlete performing at a high level, his intelligence adds to effectiveness. A speedster in his first three outings, where his talent enabled him to dominate, Samraat has learned to accept the cues of his rider, Jose Ortiz. When he didn’t break sharply, Samraat willingly cruised into a stalking position. And so he raced four-wide in the first turn, behind In Trouble and Uncle Sigh, who took the field through an opening half-mile in 48.30 seconds.

That might seem uncommonly slow, but actually was moderate. Over the dull Aqueduct surface, the half-mile splits for the other two-turn races that day were 47.89, 49.90, 48.41 and 49.45.

Samraat advanced in the second turn, and the leaders entered the stretch three abreast. From there, they all had their chance; but Samraat simply outfinished his rivals, and he did so without alarm or panic. Nor did he receive any encouragement from Ortiz’s whip. Although jostled around between horses, Uncle Sigh finished determinedly, a neck back. And In Trouble, who dug in gamely along the rail while making his first start since winning the Futurity at Belmont in September, was another neck back in third.

They’re all pointed in the right direction, they’re all capable of improvement and they’re all going to meet again April 5 in the Wood Memorial.

A couple horses stepped out of the shadows over the weekend. Making his first start for trainer Nick Zito, Spot won the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream, rallying from fifth and running right by the 2-5 favorite, No Nay Never, in mid-stretch. A son of Pulpit, Spot has a pedigree that suggests he could improve around two turns.

His winning time for the seven-furlong Swale was 1:22.44, which highlights another horse that ran Saturday at Gulfstream. Making the second start of his career after winning his debut in January, Anchor Down won a conditional allowance race in 1:21.67. In other words, the handsome gray son of Tapit ran about four lengths faster than Spot in the Swale. Although far behind the division’s leaders in terms of experience, he’s one to watch.

Bond Holder to miss Tampa Bay Derby

In a Facebook posting Monday morning, trainer Doug O'Neill announced that Bond Holder would not contest Saturday's $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby as originally planned.

California Chrome drills for San Felipe

California Chrome had his final major workout for Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes, going five furlongs Sunday morning at Los Alamitos in 1:00 2/5.

Gotham gladiators to renew rivalry in Wood Memorial

Undefeated Samraat was on his way to Florida Sunday afternoon, one day after running his winning streak to five and landing atop the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with his gritty victory over Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham at Aqueduct Racetrack.

'All Others' Overall Choice, Cairo Prince Gets Narrow Edge as Individual Choice in Derby Futures Pool 3

It was no surprise when the Mutuel Field (#24), or “All Others,” ended up as the overall favorite in the third of four pools in Churchill Downs Racetrack’s 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW), but the small edge that Cairo Prince (#3), the favored individual horse, held over several KDFW rivals underscored the narrow margins that separate major players now working their way toward the famed “Run for the Roses” on the first Saturday in May.

The ‘All Others’ wagering interest, installed as the 6-1 favorite for KDFW Pool 3 in Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia’s morning line odds, was the solid 3-1 favorite when wagering in the Feb. 27-March 1 pool concluded at approximately 4:15 p.m. (all times Eastern) on Saturday.  Betting was halted just before post time for the $500,000 Gotham Stakes (Grade III) at Belmont Park, Saturday’s stop on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” point series that determines the eligibility of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds to be part of the maximum field of 20 horses for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on Saturday, May 3.

But there were close quarters behind the favored Mutuel Field, and Holy Bull (GII) winner Cairo Prince emerged as 9-1 overall second choice and edged several rivals to be the favored horse among 23 individuals in the pool’s 24 wagering interests. Close behind the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Cairo Prince at 11-1 was the Shug McGaughey-trained duo of Top Billing (#20) and Honor Code (#9), with the former being the actual third choice.

Next in line at 12-1 was Candy Boy (#5), the John Sadler-trained winner of the Robert B. Lewis (GII) at Santa Anita; unbeaten 2-year-old champion Shared Belief (#16, 15-1), who has yet to make his 2014 debut for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer; Bayern (#2, 17-1), who romped by 15 lengths in a recent allowance race for three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert; and the Steve Asmussen-trained Tapiture (#19, 17-1), an impressive winner of the Southwest Stakes (GIII) at Oaklawn Park.  Gotham winner Samraat (#15) closed at odds of 30-1.

A total of $334,326 was wagered during three days of KDFW Pool 3 betting that opened on Thursday, Feb. 27 at noon. Win wagering totaled $239,389 and there was $94,937 in the exacta pool.

Combined betting in the first three pools of the KDFW 2014 stands at $952,654. The year’s fourth and final pool is set for March 27-29.

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager, introduced by Churchill Downs in 1999, offers racing fans the opportunity to bet on contenders for America’s greatest race at odds that could be significantly more attractive than those available on the day of the race. The wager is a $2 minimum win bet and exacta betting is also offered. The minimum exacta wager is $2, but is available in $1 increments in the form of an exacta box or wheel or part-wheel combinations that total at least $2.

There are no refunds or scratches in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. If Churchill Downs determines during a pool that injury, illness or some other circumstance would prevent one of its wagering interests from competing in the Kentucky Derby, wagering on that horse would be suspended immediately.

Click here for KDFW Pool 3 final odds and $2 will pays.

For a complete list of KDFW Pool 3 exacta payouts, click here.

Samraat stars in Gotham thriller

After entering the stretch drive on even terms with Uncle Sigh and In Trouble, My Meadowview's homebred Samraat out-dueled his rivals to the wire in Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham, gamely posting a narrow victory on the inner track at Aqueduct. The Richard Violette Jr.-trained colt remained unbeaten in his fifth career start, recording his second straight graded stakes triumph after taking the Withers on February 1, and Samraat essentially guaranteed himself a spot in the Kentucky Derby field.

Shared Belief 'doing well' at Golden Gate

Dan Ward, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, issued a Saturday update on Shared Belief. Last year's undefeated champion two-year-old male continues to recover from a quarter-crack in his right front foot at Golden Gate Fields.

Gala Award earns laurel in Palm Beach

Although Coolmore was out of luck in Saturday's Grade 2 Swale at Gulfstream, with the scratch of Havana and the upset of No Nay Never, the ownership team of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier received some consolation when Gala Award prevailed soon afterward in the Grade 3, $150,000 Palm Beach. Making his stakes debut off a maiden win over the local turf, the Todd Pletcher sophomore held on by a half-length from the closing Mr Speaker.