No horse has won the Triple Crown -- the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes -- since Affirmed in 1978. J. Paul Reddam says he hadn't envisioned his stable star ending that drought. Until now, anyway.
"Well, you know, we certainly didn't know we would win the race today," the Southern California financing baron said after Saturday's Kentucky Derby victory. "But we were confident the horse was going to run well. We never really talked about what happens next.
"Of course, subconsciously that was always the plan, certainly. We gave the horse only two preps this year. Part of the idea was we knew we had a good horse, and we wanted to make sure he was fresh because the Triple Crown is a gamble and it looks like it paid off," Reddam added.
"We've only run three times this year, so Preakness, here we come!"
I'll Have Another, a son of Flower Alley, who stands at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby en route to victory Saturday at Churchill Downs. After racing in an ideal spot behind the speed, jockey Mario Gutierrez kicked I'll Have Another into gear at the top of the lane and he ran by pacesetting Bodemeister in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Dullahan and Went the Day Well finished third and fourth after troubled trips.
Winning trainer Doug O'Neill said Sunday morning I'll Have Another ate up well after the race and "looks great." He said the horse will ship to Pimlico Monday and begin preparations for the May 19 Preakness Stakes.
"I get goose bumps just thinking about it," O'Neill said of the Triple Crown prospects. "I think he is the kind of horse who can maintain his form and keep it going."
Bob Baffert, said he will decide in a few days about the Preakness prospects of Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister and Liaison, who finished sixth in the Derby at 56-1 odds.
"I'll let him [Bodemeister] tell me if he's ready, like I did with Lookin At Lucky," Baffert said of the colt who finished sixth as the favorite in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, then went on to win the Preakness. "With Lookin At Lucky, the day after the Derby I told them, 'We're not going to run.' The next Monday I said, 'Not only are we going, we're going to win this.' I've got to wait and see if he shows me a spark."
Dullahan's trainer, Dale Romans, who also saddled the winners of two major stakes on the Derby undercard, said of the Peakness, his group "won't even talk about it for a couple more days. Gotta get over this hangover first."
Other Derby runners listed as possible for the Peakness include Went the Day Well, Hansen (a fading ninth Saturday) and Optimizer (11th).
The Preakness will be a tough call for Union Rags, who had a horrible trip in the Derby and still finished seventh, said trainer Michael Matz, who also handled Barbaro.
"It kind of puts you in a tough situation," Matz said Sunday morning. "If you go to the Preakness and he runs good, then you'll say, 'He has to go to the Belmont.' If he goes to the Preakness and runs bad, you'll say, 'I should have waited until the Belmont.' So it's kind of a no-win situation right now."
A footnote to the Kentucky Derby: My Adonis was No. 21 on the list of entrants for the race and did not draw in. So trainer Christopher Grove sent him on to Baltimore for Saturday's $50,000 Canonero II Stakes for 3-year-olds, where his third-place finish as the odds-on favorite did not inspire confidence in his Preakness chances. My Adonis led for a while but Pretension got the better of him late and won by a neck over Brimstone Island. My Adonis continued to battle and finished third, just another neck back. Pretension, a Bluegrass Cat colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.70 with Javier Santiago up. Trainer Chris Grove said Pretension could be a Preakness candidate. Trainer Kelly Breen said My Adonis "will not run in the Preakness off that effort."
While the Kentucky Derby enjoyed its 138th running, Newmarket in England Saturday staged the 204th renewal of the 2,000 Guineas, the first English classic of the year, a part of the British Champions series and the logical stepping stone to next month's Epsom Derby. At the end, it was Ballydoyle's favorite, Camelot, who emerged from the pack alongside French raider French Fifteen, then won the battle to the wire by a convincing neck. It was 2 1/4 lengths back to Hermival in third. With Joseph O'Brien riding for his trainer/father Aidan, Camelot finished the mile on good-to-soft going in 1:42.46. "He wasn't in love with the ground," Joseph O'Brien reported. Camelot, a Montjeu colt, won both his starts last season and the 2,000 Guineas was his seasonal debut. "We always thought he was special," Aidan O'Brien told Racing Post. "The lads will speak about his next target. But, looking at him, you would think the Derby would suit him." The Epsom Derby, by the way, was first run in 1780.
Sunday, Homecoming Queen jumped right to the lead in the Group 1 1,000 Guineas, opened a comfortable lead and then shook clear emphatically in the final few hundred meters to win by 9 lengths at odds of 25-1. Another long chance, Starscope, finished second and previously undefeated Maybe settled for third. Homecoming Queen, also trained by O'Brien but ridden by Ryan Moore, finished the mile over going rated good-to-soft in 1:40.45. She now has four wins from 14 career starts. The losses included a last-place finish in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf at Churchill Downs.
In Asia, Hong Kong runners continued their dominance of the BMW Champion's Mile on Sunday in Hong Kong, potentially setting the stage for a bang-up day of racing in two weeks in Singapore and, later, adding spice to Royal Ascot. And in Japan, Sunday's test for 3-year-old milers also may be a contributor to next month's royal meeting.
The Champions Mile at Sha Tin was opened to international competition in 2005 but local runners have won every subsequent edition anyway. Many thought this was the year the home-team domination would end with the likes of Dubai winners Cityscape and African Story in the field. Not so. Instead, Xtension rallied from behind the pace to win by a half length from Glorious Days with Lucky Nine another half length in arrears in third. Ambitious Dragon, the reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year, finished fourth. Cityscape, who easily handled Xtension while winning the Dubai Duty Free March 31, got a slow start Sunday and finished 10th. African Story, who won the Godolphin Mile last time out, was sixth in the Champions Mile and Aussie hope King's Rose was 11th. With James McDonald up for trainer John Moore, Xtension finished in 1:35.23 over "good" going. "We didn't really get daylight until the last furlong and he just felt really good," McDonald said. Moore said he is hoping to take Xtension back on the road. "It he's OK, we'll consider heading to Singapore next week for the 2,000 meter," he said, referring to the May 20 Singapore Airlines International Cup. "After that, we'll make a decision whether to go on to Royal Ascot for the Prince of Wales' Stakes."
Sunday's Group 1 NHK Mile Cup for 3-year-olds at Tokyo Race Course also may have turned up a contender for Royal Ascot. Curren Black Hill went out to the lead under jockey Shinichiro Akiyama and hit the needed gear in the late going, winning off by 3 1/2 lengths over Alfredo. Clarente was third. Curren Black Hill covered the mile in 1:34.50 over turf rated firm. Trainer Osamu Hirata said his Daiwa Major colt could be pointed to the St. James's Palace Stakes during the royal meeting. He now is 4-for-4 in his young career after going unraced as a 2-year-old. "He's the type of horse that if you're just a bit out of step with him he gets upset," said Hirata. "But Akiyama has done a real good job riding him. The colt has speed, stamina, and good balance."
Back in North America:
As usual, the hoopla surrounding the Derby stole the thunder of many races that would have headlined a normal weekend.
Little Mike shot quickly to the lead in the $500,000, Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and went on to post the upset win by 2 1/2 lengths. Another long shot, Slim Shadey, finished second and Brilliant Speed was third. The favorite, Turallure, never got going and finished seventh. Little Mike, a 5-year-old Spanish Steps gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:48.81 with Joe Bravo handling the reins. He was sent to the post at odds of 12-1 despite having won five of his last six races. "I thought he was the fastest horse in the race, period," winning trainer Dale Romans said.
Groupie Doll had things all her own way in the $300,000, Grade I Humana Distaff, seizing the lead entering the stretch, then easily kicking clear to win by 7 1/4 lengths. She finished the 7 furlongs in track-record time of 1:20.44 with Rajiv Maragh in the irons. Musical Romance, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, finished second and Magical Feeling added value to the trifecta. Groupie Doll, a 4-year-old Bowman's Band filly, now has finished in the money in six straight races. "I told Rajiv to put her in the race early," winning trainer Buff Bradley said. "But he got to the front earlier than I thought he would."
Shackleford stalked the pace in the $400,000, Grade II Chuchill Downs Stakes, dueled with Amazombie through the stretch and finally prevailed by a length over that rival. Gantry was well back in third. Shackleford, also trained by Romans, was fourth in last year's Kentucky Derby but won the Preakness Stakes. He covered the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.06 with Jesus Castanon up in his first win since the Preakness. "He deserves to be back in the winner's circle," Romans said. "We're going to keep him short for a little while now. Maybe we'll try the Met Mile next. He can do just about anything."
Hungry Island split rivals entering the stretch run in the $200,000, Grade II Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile, rallied outside the leaders and got home first by a length over Tapitsfly. La Reine Lionne finished third. Hungry Island, a 4-year-old More Than Ready filly, finished in 1:36.20 over firm going with John Velazquez riding. It was her first graded stakes win and first of any kind since she posted a four-race victory skein last summer at Belmont and Saratoga. "Perfect trip," winning rider John Velazquez said. "Everything worked out great. I asked her and she responded."
Great Attack raced near the back of the pack early in the $125,000, Grade III Twin Spires Turf Sprint, found room between horses turning for home and was up on the outside to beat the favorite, Bridgetown, by 3/4 of a length. Cactus Son finished third. Great Attack, a 5-year-old son of Greatness, covered the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.61 seconds under Joel Rosario. "He's a very special sprinter," winning trainer Wesley Ward said. "I told Joel the instructions were to be 'a cool sitter and a go-getter,' and that's what he did, boy."
Believe You Can swept by Broadway's Alibi in the late going to win Friday's $1 million, Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks by 3/4 of a length as Rosie Napravnik became the first female rider to win the race in its 138th running. Believe You Can picked up her second straight win following a victory in the Fair Grounds Oaks. The favorite, Grace Hall, rallied late to take third. Believe You Can ran the 9 furlongs in 1:49.50. A daughter of Proud Citizen, Believe You Can posted three straight wins on the East Coast last fall before finishing her 2-year-old season with a fifth-place finish in the Grade II Pocahontas at Churchill Downs. She wintered at Fair Grounds, winning the Silverbulletday in her first start of the year but then finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Grade II Rachel Alexandra before her Fair Grounds Oaks triumph.
Juanita hooked up with pace-setting favorite Plum Pretty turning for home in Friday's $300,000, Grade II La Troienne Stakes for fillies and mares, shook clear and went on to win by 2 lengths at nearly 17-1 odds. St. John's River passed Plum Pretty late to take third. Juanita, a 4-year-old Mineshaft filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on the fast Churchill Downs main track in 1:42.82 with Ramon Dominguez riding. "When we got to the half-mile pole," Dominguez said, "I was feeling pretty good just by looking at Plum Pretty and seeing that she was already being encouraged a little bit." Rafael Bejarano, riding Plum Pretty, was mystified. "I was real easy on the lead and she stopped right away in the stretch," Bejarano said. "There was no excuse." Plum Pretty, winner of last year's Kentucky Oaks, came into the race off a dominating victory in the Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
Contested, the odds-on favorite, kicked clear in the stretch run to win Friday's $100,000, Grade III Eight Belles Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 4 3/4 lengths over early leader Good Deed. Always Here Too came from last of eight to finish third. Contested, with Martin Garcia aboard for trainer Bob Baffert, ran the 7 furlongs on the main track in 1:21.29. "I knew I had a lot speed with my horse, and I was in perfect position. I was on the outside and that gave me a lot of big chances to do good things when I asked her run," Garcia said.
Stephanie's Kitten had to fight for position through the crowded first turn in Friday's $150,000, Grade III Edgewood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, stalked the pace down the backstretch and then rallied by the early leaders in the stretch to win by 2 lengths. Firehouse Red also ran well late to finish second and pacesetting Welcome Dance saved third. Stephanie's Kitten, a Kitten's Joy filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.94 with John Velazquez up. She went to the post as the even-money favorite after winning last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and finishing third in her only earlier start this year, the Grade I Ashland over Keeneland's all-weather track.
Successful Dan powered by Fort Larned in the late going of Friday's $300,000, Grade II Alysheba Stakes and went on to post a mild upset win by a length over that rival. It was another 6 lengths back to the favorite, Mucho Macho Man, in third. Successful Dan, a 6-year-old Successful Appeal gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in track-record time of 1:41.04 with Julien Leparoux up. Successful Dan came into the race off a win in an optional claimer at Keeneland. Mucho Macho Man, third in last year's Kentucky Derby, was riding a three-race win streak that included the Gulfstream Park Handicap in his last outing.
Silver Max made it three in a row by winning Friday's $200,000, Grade II American Turf Stakes for 3-year-olds, leading all the way and easily holding sway in the stretch. Travel Advisory did his best work late to finish second, 2 3/4 lengths behind Silver Max and 3/4 of a length in front of Howe Great. The favorite, Gung Ho, finished seventh. Silver Max, a Badge of Silver colt, got the 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.12 with Bejarano in the irons.
Essence Hit Man opened up a big lead in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Vigil Stakes, then held off Big Band Sound at the end to win by 3/4 length. Paso Doble finished third. Essence Hit Man, a 5-year-old Speightstown gelding, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.28 with Jesse Campbell up. "He was better loading, he was better in the gate and he was able to get off to a better start," said Campbell, who has Essence Hit Man throughout his current three-race win streak. "He's a tired boy today. He knows where that wire is at. He ran hard."
Beeker Street dueled his way to a clear lead a furlong from home in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Queenston Stakes for Ontario-bred 3-year-olds, then held on gamely to score by a head over Making Amends. Fastestwhogetspaid finished third. Beeker Street, a Belong to Me colt, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.23 for jockey Patrick Husbands. The Queenston traditionally is a key prep for the $1 million Queen's Plate, to be run June 24 at Woodbine. "He's a very relaxed horse," Husbands said of Beeker Street. "He broke sharp and within a few strides he was relaxed. He fought to come home and win the race. He showed you that he's an upcoming champion."
Winter Memories swung four-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Beaugay Stakes for fillies and mares, quickly blew by the leaders and went on to score a 2 1/4-length win over Gitchee Goomie. Principal Role finished third. Winter Memories, a 4-year-old El Prado filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:43.87 with Eddie Castro in the irons. "With no speed -- the turf is really soft, too -- I had to wait, wait," Castro said. "At the top of the stretch, the other horse pushed me in, but I pushed back a little bit. When she was clear and she could run, she took off." Trainer Jimmy Toner said he plans to run Winter Memories back in the Grade I Just A Game June 9.
Boisterous won a stretch battle with Desert Blanc in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Fort Marcy Stakes, getting home a length ahead of that rival. Top Surprize was a long shot third. Boisterous, a 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor, finished the 1 1/16 miles of yielding turf in 1:44.89. "It was a slow pace," winning rider Alan Garcia said. "I know my horse can run the last part, so I wanted to be patient. I was waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting, and turning for home I let him run and he did really well."
I'll Stake You outfinished the favorite, Sportswriter (figures!) to win Sunday's $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes Times Square Division for state-bred 3-year-olds by 3/4 of a length. Western Tryst finished third. I'll Stake You, a Utopia colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.69 with Rosie Napravnik aboard.
In the companion $100,000 Park Avenue Division for 3-year-old fillies, Sunny Desert put a nose in front of Hot Splash on the wire. Seven lengths farther back, Lenders Way finished third. Sunny Desert, a Wild Desert filly, finished in 1:17.10 with Ramon Dominguez riding.
Morning Line was quickly out front in Saturday's $150,000, Grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap and was not challenged. At the wire, the 5-year-old son of Tiznow held on by a half length over the belated run of Prayer for Relief. Kettle Corn finished third and the favorite, Awesome Gem, finished next-last of nine. Morning Line, with Joe Talamo up, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.42. He was making his first start in nine months. "When I saw Joe just getting a little higher on him going to the three-eighths, you could see he was taking a good breather just then," winning trainer John Shirreffs said. "You can see from his past races that when horses come to him, he really fights. He's very classy horse."
Bobina hit the wire a nose in front of My Gi Gi in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, but then broke down and fell just past the wire. She suffered what was called "catastrophic" damage to her right front fetlock and was euthanized. After a claim of foul by My Gi Gi's rider, Kevin Krigger, the stewards let the result stand, ruling the contact was mutual. Byrama finished third. Bobina, a Florida-bred Malibu Moon filly out of the Dynaformer mare Maliziosa, got the mile on firm turf in 1:35.18. "She was running unbelievable, as hard as she could," winning rider Victor Espinoza said. "She bobbled a little for one step before the wire and I tried to hold her together. Next thing I know, she just went down." Espinoza was not seriously injured.
Flightofalifetime battled to the lead in Saturday's $70,000 Cool Frenchy Stakes, then opened a big lead and coasted home first, 1 1/4 lengths better than Silver Summation. Obviously finished third. Flightofalifetime, a 4-year-old Werblin colt, got the 5 furlongs on the all-weather track in 57.22 seconds with Talamo riding.
Teddy's Promise rallied four-wide to the lead in Sunday's $75,000 Time to Leave Stakes for fillies and mares, survived some bumping in the stretch and went on to win by a half length over Rumor. Pink Lollipops was third and the favorite, Izzy Rules, faded to finish fifth. Teddy's Promise, a 4-year-old Salt Lake filly, completed 5 furlongs on the all-weather track in 57.41 seconds with Victor Espinoza up.
Golden Gate Fields
Stormy Lucy circled pacesetter Oh Molly Brannigan turning for home in Sunday's $75,000 Golden Poppy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and scooted off to a 2 1/2-length win over that rival. Sweet Nothings got home third. Stormy Lucy, a Stormy Atlantic filly, finished the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.31 with Russell Baze in the irons.
Calder Race Course
Cash Rules stalked the speed in Saturday's $50,000 Sumter Stakes, took over the lead turning for home and won by 1 1/2 lengths over late-running Ducduc. Dream Maestro finished third. Cash Rules, a 5-year-old Peace Rules gelding, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.17 with Luis Saez up.
Clear the Runway went by pacesetting Unquiet when called upon in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Jim Coleman Province Stakes for 3-year-olds and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over that rival. Time Goes On finished third. Clear the Runway, a Broken Vow gelding out of the Dynaformer mare Smokey Diplomacy, got the 6 1/2 furlongs over a wet-fast track in 1:16.32 with Pedro Alvarado in the irons.
Taylor Said worked to the lead in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) John Longden "6000" Handicap, then extended the advantage all the way to a 4 1/2-lengths victory over St Liam's Halo. Senor Rojo finished third. Taylor Said, a 4-year-old Stephanotis gelding, finished the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.77 for jockey Fernando Perez.
Justanoldsong rallied wide around the leaders in Saturday's $50,000 SunRay Park & Casino Handicap for 3-year-olds and kicked clear in the stretch to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Flame Broiled. Casa de Cambio finished third. Justanoldsong, an Unbridled's Song colt, finished the mile on a fast track in 1:38.04 with Macario Rodriguez riding.
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