Sent off as the odds-on favorite in Saturday's Tampa Bay feature, the Kentucky-bred son of Distorted Humor finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.27, ridden out by jockey John Velazquez. All I can Get got second and James Wilfred finished third.
Any Given Saturday was making his first start since last November. Now, Pletcher said, he plans to move the colt along to the Tampa Bay Derby March 17 -- the same path he followed with Bluegrass Cat last spring. That schedule was rewarded with a runner-up spot in the Kentucky Derby.
"That's been the plan all along," Pletcher said. "Obviously, he's going to tell us what he needs to do. But hopefully, that's the path."
In other potential Kentucky Derby preps during the weekend:
-- Tie Rod scored a minor upset in Saturday's $100,000 Turf Paradise Derby, winning the pace duel and then drawing off handily to beat the favorite, Gregorian Bay, by 2 3/4 lengths. In to the West finished third. Tie Rod, a California-bred gelding by Old Topper, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.91 for jockey Juan Rivera. Trainer Joe Johnson said Tie Rod likely will go back to running on grass.
-- Takedown wrestled the lead away from Jack Hes Tops at the 16th pole of Saturday's $100,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. Game of Skill finished third and the favorite, Western Prize, finished fifth. Takedown is a Kentucky-bred colt by Point Given. He ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.64 with Glen Murphy up for trainer Steve Asmussen.
-- Banquo came from next-last in a field of 11 Texas-bred colts and geldings to upset Saturday's $125,000 Jim's Orbit Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park. Racing six-wide down the lane, the Magic Cat colt passed the leaders late and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Daddy Warbucks. The favorite, Power Surge, led at the top of the stretch but hung, finishing third. Banquo, with Jose Figueroa riding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:40.56.
Kentucky Oaks preps
-- Autobahn Girl drafted behind the leaders until the field turned for home in Saturday's $75,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, then downshifted and swung out for racing and raced off to win by 3 lengths. Trainee was second and Saint Barbara finished third. Autobahn Girl, a Kentucky-bred daughter of A.P. Indy, ran the "about" 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.39 with Daniel Cenerno up for trainer Nick Zito.
-- Sunday at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, Devil House led from gate to wire in winning the $50,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 5 lengths. Spartan Queen ran second all the way and Time's Mistress made a late run to take third. Devil House, a Kentucky-bred filly by Chester House, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.83 with Terry Thompson up.
-- Staten Island stayed close to the early action in Saturday's $75,000 Arizona Oaks at Turf Paradise, came four-wide around rivals into the stretch and drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Slew o' Platinum. Torrance was third and the favorite, Summertine, took livin' a little too easy and finished fifth. Staten Island, an Arizona-bred filly by In Excess, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.54 with Sandi Gann up.
-- Wrenice stalked the pace in Saturday's $125,000 Two Altazano Stakes for Texas-bred fillies at Sam Houston Race Park, surged to the lead on the turn and drew off to a big lead. At the end, she held on to win by 1/2 length over Stage Stop. Lilly Ladue finished third. Wrenice, the favorite in a field of 11, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.48 with Bobby Walker Jr. in the irons. The filly is by Uncle Abbie.
-- Special Dream had more than enough in the stretch run to win Saturday's $65,000 Dearly Precious Stakes at Aqueduct. Rallying from a pace-stalking position, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Officer ran away from five rivals, winning by 8 lengths. Aspiring was second and Luxury Class third. Special Dream ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.36 on the fast inner track with Alan Garcia up.
In other weekend racing:
Premium Tap won his first race for his new owner, Saudia Arabian King Abdullah, and now is set to take on the expected favorites, Discreet Cat and Invasor, in the March 31 Dubai World Cup. Racing in Friday's King's Cup at King Abdulazid Racecourse near Riyadh, Premium Tap coasted home a 2 3/4-lengths winner under Kent Desormeaux. After stretching out to 1 1/2 miles for the King's Cup and finishing in 2:28.08, Premium Tap will shorten back up to the 1 1/4 mile distance of the World Cup -- the same as the Breeders' Cup Classic, where he finished third last fall behind Invasor and Bernardini. "That was very pleasing," said Frank McGovern, general manager for the horse, "especially as he'd never run over the trip before. We were also worried whether his journey over from America may have unsettled him, as he was delayed for two days. But he showed what a good horse he is and we won't be scared of taking on Discreet Cat and Invasor." The race was a disappointment for the Ian Jory-trained Forty Licks, who finished fourth. But Jory, while admitting he was "disappointed," added, "The trip found him out. A mile and a quarter is his distance."
In Japan, Sunrise Bacchus rolled down the stretch near the middle of the track, collared the tiring leaders and went on to win Saturday's Group 1 February Stakes at Fuchu Race Course by 1 1/2 lengths. Blue Concorde, one of the favorites, also made a bold late move to take second place and longshot Big Grass, always prominent, held on for third. The race was timed in 1:34 4/5. Sunrise Bacchus is a 5-year-old son of Hennessey.
Oprah Winney went quickly to the lead in Saturday's $225,000 Barbara Fritchie Breeders' Cup Handicap and held on well in the stretch to post a 3/4-length victory over Silmaril. Smart and Fancy finished third. Oprah Winney, a 4-year-old, New York-bred daughter of Royal Academy, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.92 with Mike Smith up. "When they came to me at the top of the lane," said Smith, "I just shook the reins at her and she responded and dug right in. She was actually pulling away the last 100 yards."
Also Saturday, Future Fantasy came from last of eight to win the $75,000 John B. Campbell Breeders' Cup Handicap by 4 3/4 lengths over Due. The even-money favorite, Bank President, finished third. Future Fantasy is a 6-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Future Storm. Dispatched at odds of 13-1, he ran the 9 furlongs in 1:53.74 with Winston Thompson riding.
Any Limit fought for and got the lead in Saturday's $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Handicap for fillies and mares, set a respectable pace and then edged clear in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths over My Lucky Free. Stolen Prayer was a longshot third. Any Limit, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Limit Out, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.16 for Rafael Bejarano. "Today, she showed more speed than I thought she would," said winning trainer Allen Jerkens. "But she broke so well, Rafael just let her stay out there."
In Saturday's $150,000 Sabin Handicap for fillies and mares, another Jerkens trainee, Swap Flipperoo, sat behind a hot pace duel, came wide entering the stretch and proved much the best, running on to win by 6 1/4 lengths over Getcozywithkaylee. Classy Charm finished third while the even-money favorite, Oonagh Maccool, faded badly to finish fifth after contesting the pace. Swap Flipperoo ran the 1 mile in 1:37.73 with Javier Castellano in the irons. She is a 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Exchange Rate. "She rated kindly and I wasn't too concerned if she would rate like that," said winning trainer Allen Jerkens. Added Castellano, "It was like a dream trip."
Latent Heat dueled most of the way around with Proud Tower Too in Saturday's $150,000 San Carlos Handicap, gave up the lead briefly at mid-stretch but then battled back along the rail to win by a neck. Proud Tower Too was 1 3/4 lengths ahead of the third-place horse, Ramsgate. Latent Heat, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Maria's Mon, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.11 with Edgar Prado in the irons. Bobby Frankel trains the colt for Juddmonte Farms. "He broke nice and clean," said Prado, "and I didn't want to rush him. I knew Proud Tower Too is very competitive and that he was going to be tough. Every time I asked my horse to pick it up a little, he gave me a little more."
Night Chapter came out from behind the leaders at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Daytona Handicap and rallied through the lane to win by 3/4 lengths over Roi Charmant. Terrific Storm finished third. Night Chapter, a 6-year-old, British-bred horse by Night Shift, ran the "about" 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:12.57 for jockey Brice Blanc.
In Sunday's $125,000 Sensational Star Handicap, Bedlam Bertie took a short lead on his way down the hillside turf course, extended the advantage as the field neared the main turf course and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Areyoutalkintome. Red Warrior finished third. Bedlam Bertie, a 4-year-old, California-bred gelding by Game Plan, got the "about" 6 1/2 furlongs, aided by gravity, in 1:13.00 under David Flores.
Delicate Dynamite saved ground through the first 6 furlongs of Saturday's $75,000 Chou Croute Breeders' Cup Handicap, made her move as the field swung into the long stretch run and was up in time, winning by 3/4 length over Eyes on Eddy. Culinary finished third. Delicate Dynamite, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Old Trieste, ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:44.90. Gerard Melancon was up to win what surely is the only Breeders' Cup-sponsored race named (well, at second-hand) for preserved cabbage.
Also Saturday, Mi Isabella stalked the pace in the $75,000 Sarah Lane's Oates Stakes for Louisiana-bred, 3-year-old fillies, went to the lead at mid-stretch and got home first, 2 3/4 lengths to the good of Perfectforthepart. Huckie finished third. Mi Isabella, a daughter of Twilight Agenda, ran the "about" 1 mile on firm turf in 1:39.39. Jesse Campbell was in the irons.
Tampa Bay Downs
Cassydora led from the git-go in Saturday's $125,000 Endeavour Breeders' Cup Stakes for fillies and mares, set a measured pace and had plenty left at the end, winning by 3 lengths over Bright Abundance. Warrior Girl finished third. Cassydora, a 5-year-old, British-bred mare by Darshaan, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.05. John Velazquez was aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Introspect stayed right behind the leaders in Sunday's $65,000 Hollie Hughes Handicap for New York-breds, engaged a three-way battle between horses down the lane and was in front by a head at the wire. Ferocious Won finished second and Scary Bob was third. Introspect, a 7-year-old gelding by In Case, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.64 with Eddie Martin Jr. up.
Recognition took the lead during the run down the backstretch in Saturday's $50,000 Dust Commander Stakes, drew clear by the top of the lane, then just held on to win by a head over Esprit Du Roi, who was gaining ground in the final furlong. King of Speed was third and the favorite, Buddy Got Even, made a late run to get fourth. Recognition, a 5-year-old, California-bred gelding by Surachi, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:38.68 for jockey Inosencio Diego. "He was a little closer than we thought he'd be," said winning trainer Jimmy Corrigan. "He broke very sharp and instructions were to just let him get comfortable. When he turned for home, he had plenty to go."
Plaid stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Pippin Stakes for fillies and mares, took over as the field hit the stretch and won by 2 1/2 lengths over Kettleoneup. Angel Flying stayed close until the final stages, then faded to finish third. Plaid, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Deputy Commander, ran the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:44.57. Luis Quinonez rode for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Alfredo Juarez Jr. piloted Nice Inheritance between horses turning for home in Sunday's $50,000 Island Fashion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and went on to win by 1/2 length over Berriestoheaven. Stealth Cat was third as the even-money favorite. Nice Inheritance, a Kentucky-bred filly by Pure Prize, got the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.11.
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