With a Kentucky Derby victory firmly on his resume, Super Saver now is ticketed for Pimlico and the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
For trainer Todd Pletcher, with a Kentucky Derby win finally on his resume, it's also on to Pimlico. But Super Saver might not be his only starter in that event. Pletcher said Sunday Aikenite, who finished second in the Derby Trial, also is a potential Preakness runner.
As usual, all eyes will be on the Kentucky Derby winner as preparations continue for the 135th running of the Preakness Stakes. And the inevitable question: Will Super Saver be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978?
If he continues to run like he did Saturday for jockey Calvin Borel, it could happen. Both colt and jockey lived up their names -- or in Borel's case, his nickname of "Bo-rail."
Super Saver, a Kentucky-bred son of Maria's Mon, broke cleanly and Borel quickly put him behind the leaders and on the rail. He stayed there, glued to the paint, until the top of the stretch, when he had to circle one horse. Then, he was back on the shortest path home.
The well-planned -- and, of course, fortunate -- trip was a clear indication why Borel now has won three of the last four runnings of the Kentucky Derby. And the conditioning that got Super Saver the 1 1/4 mile in the slop in a credible 2:04.45 is a tribute both to his breeding and to trainer Todd Pletcher, who finally won the Derby after saddling 24 previous losers.
Borel said he learned early in his career the virtues of the inside position. "I was just taught that it's the shortest way around and I love to ride the fence," he said. "I think a horse is very comfortable there because they are always there all the time … I was riding when I was 7 years old, you know, so I was taught everything before I knew how to really ride, and before I even got on a horse, I was taught everything. That helped me a lot."
Ice Box, who was flying at the end, raced near the back of the 20-horse field and was stuck in traffic at a critical point or he might have made up the 2 1/2 lengths between his second place and the winner. The favorite, Lookin At Lucky, broke from gate No. 1 and was immediately crowded back, then forced to check sharply before the first turn when he was cut off again. He wound up threading his way through traffic in the middle of the track and finished sixth.
Others had similar stories. But only Super Saver eyes Pimlico with a chance to end the 31-year Triple Crown drought.
Asked after the Derby to confirm he plans to take Super Saver to the Preakness, Pletcher drew laughter with the comment, "Well, we certainly hope so. Calvin already said he's going to win the Triple Crown, so I guess we'd better go there."
Sunday, Pimlico officials said they expect the Derby winner to ship from Kentucky to Baltimore on Wednesday, May 12, three days before the race. And Pletcher said Aikenite, owned by Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stable, also is likely to be there at "Old Hilltop."
"After the Derby trial, Mr. Campbell was excited about the way he ran and wanted to take a look at the Preakness," Pletcher said.
Others likely for the Preakness include Dublin, who ran seventh Saturday, and seven others besides Aikenite who did not start in the Run for the Roses. A handful of other Derby horses, including Ice Box, are more likely to resurface in five weeks' time in the Belmont Stakes.
In Saturday's $50,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, site of the Preakness Stakes, Bank the Eight pressed the pace, then outran Regal Warrior down the stretch to win by a nose. London Lane finished third. Bank the Eight, a Kentucky-bred Distorted Humor colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:52.11 for jockey Mario Pino. "I thought I got beat," Pino said. "But he dug in the last 70 yards in a gutsy performance." Trained by Tony Dutrow, Bank the Eight won for the third time in six starts. He finished second to possible Preakness starter Rule in his debut at Belmont Park last October and faced top sophomore Eskendereya at the allowance level in January.
Blind Luck provided more thrills than her backers wanted in Friday's $500,000 Kentucky Oaks, coming from last of 14 on the backstretch to catch Evening Jewel in the final stride and win by a nose. Pace-setting Tidal Pool salvaged third.
Blind Luck, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Pollard's Vision, settled at the rear of the field early under Rafael Bejarano. She kicked into gear approaching the stretch turn and quickly advanced on the outside but still seemed to have too much to do passing the sixteenth pole.
But, gaining with every stride, she hit the wire a nostril ahead, the diametric opposite of Rachel Alexandra's 20-length score in last year's Oaks. She finished the 9 furlongs in 1:50.7.
"I knew she was going to kick in for me and show me that run," Bejarano said. "She always does. She tries so hard. The stretch here is very long but she kept trying hard until the end and never stopped trying. She's amazing."
Blind Luck also beat Evening Jewel by a nose in the Feb. 13 Las Virgenes with a similar closing rush. Evening Jewel's trainer, James Cassidy, said Friday's loss was harder. "Toughest beat of my career, no question. I've been beaten some dirty noses in Grade I's at other tracks, but given the context here -- Kentucky Oaks, all that money, huge crowd, this was the toughest one of all."
In other weekend racing:
Makfi, invading from France at long odds, rallied past pace-setter Dick Turpin in the late going to win Saturday's Stanjames.com Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket by 11/4 lengths. Makfi, by freshman sire Dubawi, finished the straight mile on good turf in 1:36.35. Dick Turpin held second over stablemate Canford Cliffs. Previously undefeated European 2-year-old champion St. Nicholas Abby disappointed with a sixth-place showing as the heavy favorite. Makfi came into the race undefeated in two starts and fresh from a victory in a French Group 3 event last month at Maisons-Laffite. Trainer Mikel Delzangles said he may consider bringing Makfi back in two weeks for the French Two Thousand Guineas at Longchamp. He also said to watch for the colt in the St. James's Palace Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting.
Special Duty was posted the winner of Sunday's Stanjames.com One Thousand Guineas at Newmarket as a result of the disqualification of Jacqueline Quest. The duo fought to the wire but the stewards ruled that Jacqueline Quest had drifted out late, impeding her rival sufficiently to merit the rare disqualification. The 1 mile on "good to soft" going took 1:39.66.
Cutlass Bay rallied from off the pace in the stretch run of Sunday's Prix Ganay at Longchamp in Paris, caught pace-setting Shalanaya and went on to win by 3/4 length. Cutlass Bay, with Maxime Guyon up, ran the 2,100 meters over good going in 2:11.8. The victory, his first in a Group 1 event, left the 4-year-old Halling colt undefeated in five starts for Godolphin Racing.
On the first anniversary of her smashing victory in last year's Kentucky Oaks, Rachel Alexandra suffered her second straight defeat in Friday's $400,000 La Trioenne Stakes, losing by a head to Unrivaled Belle. Since her selection as 2009 Horse of the Year over undefeated Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra now has been defeated in both of her starts and ducked a showdown with Zenyatta. In Friday's race, Rachel Alexandra was hooked down the backstretch by longshot Be Fair and that duo contested the lead into the turn. At that point, jockey Calvin Borel sent Rachel Alexandra to the lead, only to find Unrivaled Belle ranging up alongside. After a long duel, the latter prevailed. Morena finished third, 5 lengths farther back, and Zardana, who defeated Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds earlier this year, finished far back in the La Trioenne. Unrivaled Belle, a 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.97. She came into the race off a victory in the Rampart at Fair Grounds on March 20. "Oh, man, my mare was breathing fire today," said winning rider Kent Desormeaux. "I feel like the mouse that stole the cheese." Rachel Alexandra's trainer, Steve Asmussen, was philosophical. "She's just not been as fast as last summer," he said. "She ran a good race, but not a great race … What we have to realize is there has been improvement since her last race. We don't need a knee-jerk reaction."
Lou Brissie ran his record to 2-for-2 with an off-the-pace score in Friday's $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile. After relaxing through the early furlongs, the Kentucky-bred Limehouse colt rallied through the stretch to take the lead and drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Boys at Tosconova, making his first start, rallied from last to finish second and pace-setting favorite Twelve Pack Shelly faded to finish third. Lou Brissie, with John Velazquez in the irons, ran 5 furlongs in 57.89 seconds. The $68,386 winner's share from the Grade II event gives Lou Brissie and owner Dogwood Stable a jumpstart on eligibility for the 2011 Kentucky Derby. "Once I got him in the clear at the five-sixteenths pole, he got into a good rhythm and I just kept him there," Velazquez said. "Down the lane, I just had to keep his mind on running. The way his personality is, in the future going longer will be better."
Silver Timber came around the leaders on the turn in Friday's $100,000 Churchill Downs Turf Sprint, closed resolutely and got home first, a neck better than Chamberlain Bridge. Central City showed the way and was only another nose back under the wire. Silver Timber, a 7-year-old, New York-bred Prime Timber gelding, ran the 5 furlongs on firm going in 55.45 seconds with Julien Leparoux riding. He came into the race off a similar successful outing in the Shakertown at Keeneland in his seasonal debut after a sixth-place finish in last fall's Breeders' Cup.
Arson Squad burned up the track in the stretch run of Friday's $150,000 Alysheba Stakes, clearing his rivals at the top of the lane and winning off by 2 1/4 lengths. Flying Private was second with Enriched finishing third. Arson Squad, a 7-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred Brahms gelding, got the 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:43.28 with Paco Lopez up. In his last outing, Arson Squad won the Skip Away at Gulfstream Park. Prior to that, he had not won since October of 2008. "This jockey must get along great with this horse," said winning trainer Rick Dutrow. "Arson Squad usually comes from way off of it and with this rider -- I don't know if the horse puts him there or the jock puts him there and I'm going to try to find out -- but he's just run so big these last two times with this rider when he's been close to the pace."
Doubles Partner got through on the inside in the second turn of Friday's $175,000 American Turf Stakes for 3-year-olds, then slipped away from the field, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Asphalt. Guys Reward finished third and Setsuko, who was excluded from the Kentucky Derby field by the earnings requirement, settled for fourth. Doubles Partner, a Florida-bred Rock Hard Ten colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.05 with Garrett Gomez up, notching his first stakes win and third from seven overall starts. "He's a rapidly improving colt and he has some exciting and big turf races to come on the schedule this summer," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
Buckleupbuttercup kicked off the stakes portion of the Derby Day undercard with an impressive stretch run in the $100,000 Eight Belles Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The Kentucky-bred Najran miss started well back, circled five-wide and accelerated through the stretch to win by 6 1/4 lengths over Visavis. The odds-on favorite and pace-setter, Hot Dixie Chick, finished third. Buckleupbuttercup, with Julien Leparoux up, ran the 7 1/2 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:29.49 in her first stakes try. She now has four wins from seven starts and has never finished off the board. Leparoux said trainer Eddie Kenneally "just told me to get her to relax behind them as much as I can and she finished very good. That's a good surprise. She just loved it and that was good."
Phola started behind all six rivals in the $200,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, was sent around the field on the turn by jockey Ramon Dominguez and outran Hot Cha Cha in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Miss Keller finished third. Phola, a 4-year-old daughter of Johannesburg, finished in 1:38.35 over yielding ground. She now has won three straight, including two stakes. The last was the Hillsborough at Tampa Bay. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher commented, "She's just a filly who's finding herself and getting good. She's getting better and better with every race. We'll probably run her in the Just A Game at Belmont on Belmont Day."
Mona de Momma swept around the leaders to the lead at mid-stretch in the $300,000 Humana Distaff, then held off Pretty Prolific to win by 3/4 length. The favorite and defending champion, Informed Decision, got going late from the back of the pack and just nipped Free Flying Soul for the show. Mona de Momma, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Speightstown filly, finished the 7 furlongs in the slop in 1:22.73. Trained by John Sadler, she won the Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita in her last previous stop. Saturday's effort was her first outside California and first on real dirt. Winning rider Joel Rosario said Sadler told him "to stay outside and start picking them off coming to the quarter-pole ... The last race she ran really good and that gave us a lot of confidence in her."
Atta Boy Roy got the jump on the field in the $250,000 Churchill Downs Stakes and held all the way to a 1/2-length victory over Warrior's Reward. The favorite, Musket Man, rallied late but encountered traffic and settled for third. Atta Boy Roy, a 5-year-old, Washington-bred Tribunal ridgling, got the 7 furlongs in 1:22.54 with last year's Derby-winning jockey, Calvin Borel, up. Atta Boy Roy, more frequently found at tracks such as Canterbury Downs in Minnesota and Emerald Downs in Washington, now has won four of his last six starts for trainer Valorie Lund. Lund said she brought her steed to Churchill Downs for one reason: "The Breeders' Cup. We took him to California because we were going to run in the Breeders' Cup last year. He hated the Polytrack. It was a bad race for him. So we said, 'We've got to come to Churchill and see if he likes the surface. If he does, we'll stay out east here and we'll run in the Breeders' Cup." That worked out well.
In the race before the Derby, General Quarters won a slam-bang stretch duel with Court Vision in the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, prevailing by a neck. Loup Breton, making a belated rush on the outside over the boggy turf course, finished another head back in third. Battle of Hastings was fourth after a nightmarish trip around the final turn and through the stretch. General Quarters, 10th in last year's Kentucky Derby for owner/trainer Tom McCarthy, finished the 9 furlongs in 1:53.42 under Rafael Bejarano. The 4-year-old Sky Mesa colt had been knocking on the door all year, finishing second in each of his four previous starts. Saturday's race was only his second start on the grass. "I'll tell you what," said McCarthy, a Louisville favorite son. "That was a heck of ride by Rafael. He did just what we said, give him a breather, come on and that's exactly what he did. My whole family is here and that makes it so great. And these fans, these wonderful people who last year bet on him and he didn't do very well and got hurt. I hope this year that they double their bets and collected their money back."
On Thursday, Dynazapper tracked the pace in the $62,000 Edgewood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, surged to the lead entering the stretch and held at the end to win by 1/2 length. Negligee was second and pace-setter Hidden Value held on for third. Dynazapper, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Ghostzapper, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.26 with Julien Leparoux up.
Medaglia d'Amour stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Wilshire Handicap for fillies and mares, got to the front turning for home and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Cat by the Tale. You Lift Me Up finished third, just a nose farther back. Medaglia d'Amour, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.31 with Alonso Quinonez riding. The winner now is undefeated in three grass starts. "She's awesome, something very special," Quinonez said. "My instructions were to lay right behind the speed. They were going pretty slow, so I attacked early. When she made the lead, she was going pretty easy. I asked her to go and she was all business."
Cozi Rosie rallied from well back to win Sunday's $100,000 Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 1 length over Andina. City to City finished third. Cozi Rosie, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Pleasantly Perfect, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.11. Mike Smith rode.
Le Grand Cru, at odds of 27-1, pressed the pace in Friday's $100,000 Westchester Stakes, was rebuffed in his first move on the turn but then got to the front for good in the stretch and won by 2 1/4 lengths. Convocation was along for second with pace-setter Ironman Jon third. The favorite and defending winner, Bribon, was fifth with a flat effort. Le Grand Cru, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Dynaformer, ran the one-turn mile on a fast track in 1:34.89 with Cornelio Velasquez up. "My horse broke on the lead and stayed in a good position," Velasquez said. "He relaxed, didn't fight. Ramon Dominguez had a lot of horse (aboard Ironman Jon), but my horse ran a big one. He likes it here at Belmont Park."
Baletti settled well behind the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Fort Marcy Stakes, closed the gap around the far turn and got to the lead inside the sixteenth pole, eventually winning by 1/2 length over Dynamoor. Brother Nick was third. Baletti, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred Gulch gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.36 with Cornelio Velasquez riding. Baletti tossed in a disappointing performance in his last start, the Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap at the Fair Grounds. "His race in New Orleans was a little bit disappointing," said trainer Angel Penna Jr. "But he was closer to the pace than he needed to be and it's difficult to win that close to the pace at the Fair Grounds. We threw the race out, and he came out of it great."
Dynaslew was quickly on the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Beaugay Stakes for fillies and mares and drew off to win by a comfortable 3 1/4 lengths. Scolara rallied to finish second and Chestoria was third. Dynaslew, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly out of the Seattle Slew mare Slew's Final Answer, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.39 with Eibar Coa aboard. "I couldn't have drawn the race up any better," said winning trainer Seth Benzel. "Eibar was a lot more patient than I was. It was a great ride."
General Maximus led from gate to wire in the $100,000 open division of the New York Stallion Stakes for 3-year-olds, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Make Note. Game Token was third. General Maximus, a chestnut son of Freud, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.49 with Javier Castellano at the controls.
Fanny Freud set the pace in the $100,000 filly division, then drew off easily to win by 7 3/4 lengths. So N So was the best of the rest, a nose better than Freud's Notebook. Fanny Freud, another offspring of Freud, finished in 1:16.15 under Garrett Gomez.
Resentless surged relentlessly to the lead in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Fury Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and extended the advantage to a 5-length victory 7 furlongs later. Roan Inish rallied from far back to take second, a neck ahead of Oil Painting. Resentless, an Ontario-bred daughter of Trajectory, finished in 1:21.66 on the all-weather track. Chantal Sutherland had the call for trainer Ian Howard. Resentless now has three wins from six starts and is a likely contender for the Woodbine Oaks on June 13.
Elusive Warning stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial, came to the pace-setter in the stretch and got away to win by 2 lengths. Toulouse Lautreec was second with GreatLove third. Elusive Warning, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Elusive Quality, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.14 with Rosie Napravnik aboard.
Calder Race Course
Motovato sat just off the speed in Saturday's $55,000 Sumter Stakes, caught pace-setting Causeway's Kin with a furlong to run and won by 1 1/4 lengths. Causeway's Kin held second, 7 lengths better than Gabriel's Hill. Motovato, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Proud Citizen, finished 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.66 with Elvis Trujillo in the irons.
Rail Ridge stalked the pace in Friday night's $50,000 Need for Speed Stakes, rallied to the lead on the turn and proved strongest in the stretch, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Zacaroid. Tortuga Straits finished third. Rail Ridge, a 4-year-old, Louisiana-bred Esplanade Ridge gelding, finished 5 furlongs on a fast track in 57.59 seconds with Billy Patin in the irons.
Seeking Ms Shelley blasted off in the stretch run of Saturday's $50,000 Tellike Stakes for fillies and mares, scoring by 4 1/2 lengths. Elle a Gent was second and Flawless Gold finished third. Seeking Ms Shelley, a 4-year-old, Oklahoma-bred Cactus Ridge filly, got the 5 furlongs on the "good" main track in 57.99. The race originally was scheduled for the grass.
Will Rogers Downs
Fifth Date led all the way to a 1 1/2-length victory in Saturday's $50,000 Clem McSpadden Memorial Route 66 Stakes. Majestic Vintage chased all the way to finish second and Evening Reward was third. Fifth Date, a 6-year-old, Oklahoma-bred Cherokee Five gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:09.84.
Miranda Diane pressed the early pace in Saturday's $50,000 Wilma Mankiller Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares, took over halfway home and won by 5 3/4 lengths. Reel Chrome was best of the rest and Sand Plum finished third. Miranda Diane, a 5-year-old, Oklahoma-bred Fistfite mare, got the 6 furlongs in 1:09.73. The race is named for the late leader of the Cherokee Tribe, who died in April.
No Flies on Doodle dueled her way to the lead in Sunday's $50,000 Hastings Handicap for fillies and mares, then drew clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Hallelujah Trail. Clair Annette provided the initial pressure and held on for third. No Flies On Doodle, a 4-year-old, Washington-bred Storm Blast filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08 2/5 under Gallyn Mitchell.