On the weekend between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, the racing world holds its breath, hoping something good is about to happen.
But the actual racing schedule is by no means devoid of action.
While Triple Crown hopeful Orb hones his edge in New York under the watchful eye of trainer Shug McGaughey, a field of 3-year-old late-bloomers is set to go 9 furlongs in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Peter Pan over the sweeping Belmont Park layout.
In Europe, the 3-year-olds are in the final stages of sorting themselves out for the May 31 Epsom Oaks and June 1 Epsom Derby. Fields are taking shape for Singapore's international Grade I races May 19.
And Camelot has taken his first step back onto the world stage.
Read all about it.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb stretched his legs Thursday morning over a sloppy Belmont Park track. "Everything was good," said McGaughey, transitioning from euphoria over his first-ever Derby win to the hard work of preparing for the May 18 Preakness.
"The first thing we've got to do -- and what we've been doing -- is getting him over his last race, try to get him back on his feet the best we can, get him fresh and happy again," McGaughey said. "We just want to put him back in the game ... Then, we'll get him to Pimlico and get him acclimated. There's not much else we can do."
Goldencents, the Santa Anita Derby winner who finished 17th in Louisville, already is at Pimlico and jogged once around the track Thursday morning under jockey Kevin Krigger, who elected to stay with the horse rather than return to his regular assignments in California.
"Everything was good," Krigger said after the light work. "He was smooth, graceful on the track and relaxed. That's all the factors you're looking for."
Of the Derby disappointment, Krigger added: "We had a lot of factors in the race that could have been the reason. We're here trying to regroup, gather him back up and get back on the winning trail."
Goldencents is the only likely Preakness runner currently stabled at Pimlico as the field for the second jewel of the Triple Crown continues to evolve.
Elsewhere around the nation's tracks:
Saturday's Peter Pan is loaded with 3-year-olds hoping to make their mark outside the hoopla of the Derby and Preakness. Fear the Kitten was on the bubble for the Run for the Roses but did not draw in because Black Onyx was scratched about two hours too late. The Kitten's Joy colt, out of a Dynaformer mare, finished fifth on the all-weather tracks in the both the Grade III Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park and the Grade I Blue Grass at Keeneland but arguably has been more impressive on real dirt. My Name is Michael can make the same claim. Declan's Warrior has three wins and a second from four starts and the wins include the Grade III Bay Shore at Aqueduct April 6. He stretches out beyond a mile for the first time. Abraham was third in the Grade III Sunland Derby and fourth in the Grade III Illinois Derby. Narvaez was fourth in the Florida Derby, some 10 lengths behind Orb after setting the pace. Battier has four wins and two seconds from six starts but takes a serious jump in class. Infinite Magic raced in England, then stepped up to win an allowance event at 1 1/16 miles on the grass at Keeneland in his first U.S. start. It's a tough race to figure but well worth watching with an eye toward the big 3-year-old events this summer.
Weekend racing at the LAX neighbor was overshadowed by the sad but expected announcement Thursday that the track will close at the end of the year. The land will be developed for residential and commercial uses.
Meanwhile, the Saturday feature is the $100,000, Grade III Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile on the grass. With half of the eight-filly field imported from across the Atlantic, the race easily could be mistaken for a British fixture. Lilbourne Ezra makes her second U.S. start after racing in England last year. Disko Dasko ran on the continent and in England as a 2-year-old. Need You Now spent last year on a tour of English tracks. Charlie Em was even more traveled, visiting eight tracks in Great Britain and the European mainland, amassing three wins, a second and a third. Unless one of the imports is a tigress in disguise, the likely one is Scarlet Strike, a Smart Strike filly who has never missed the trifecta in 10 career starts and won the Grade III Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita in her last outing. Rafael Bejarano will guide Scarlet Strike from the outside post position.
Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian), Grade II Eclipse Stakes drew a field of just five to tackle 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather course. Don Cavallo, a 6-year-old son of El Prado, has had an occasional good outing and ran well early in last year's Woodbine season. But he has not looked sharp in two previous starts this year. Alpha Bettor, seventh in this race last year, returns from his winter vacation. James Street did not fare well in New Orleans this winter but finished second in his Canadian seasonal bow on April 21. Delegation was third in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last fall and then loved returning north of border, winning the race in which James Street settled for second.
Early last year, Camelot looked a worthy successor to the now-retired Frankel. But after a shocking loss in the St. Leger and a drubbing over unsuitable going in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the Montjeau colt's reputation was a bit tarnished. Add in surgery this winter for a bad case of colic, and the future was very much in question. However, Aidan O'Brien charge made a first step back on Wednesday, easily handling much lesser competition with a 1 1/2-lengths win in the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh. Stablemate Triumphant was second in a short field. O'Brien said his jockey son, Joseph, reported the 4-year-old was about 70 percent fit for his comeback run. The trainer said he plans to keep Camelot in Ireland for his next start, then target the Prince of Wales's Stakes on June 19 at Royal Ascot -- if all goes well.
There are plenty of contenders still looking for spots in the Epsom Derby and Epsom Oaks and many of them will be on various tracks during the weekend.
Longchamp in Paris on Sunday hosts the Poule d'Essai des Poulains for 3-year-old colts, including Havana Gold, who was second to Toronado at Newmarket. Sunday's Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, for 3-year-old fillies, has 22 entered. Both are Group 1 events.
On Thursday at Chester, it's the Group 3 Chester Vase at 2,400 meters for colts and geldings with O'Brien sending out Ruler of the World in search of his second straight win. The Galileo colt won at first asking at the Curragh a month ago. Chester's headliner on Friday is the Group 3 Dee Stakes for colts and geldings at 2,000 meters.
On Friday, Lingfield has Derby and Oaks trials, both listed races. And on Sunday in Ireland, the 2,000-meters Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown has attracted Aidan O'Brien's Battle Of Marengo. The Galileo colt is the winner of the Ballysax Stakes in his 3-year-old debut and one of the leading candidates for the Epsom Derby. O'Brien also has five others on tap for the Leopardstown race. The Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial has lured a big field of 3-year-old fillies to go 1,600 meters.
Already in the books:
Banoffee rallied from last to win Wednesday's listed Weatherby's Bank Chester Oaks by 1 1/4 lengths over Gertrude Versed. Jathabah finished third. Banoffee, trained by Hughie Morrison and ridden by Kieren Fallon, is a daughter of Hurricane Run. She did not race until last month, when she won at first asking at Newbury. Moth, third-place finisher in the recent 1,000 Guineas, is the lukewarm favorite with most UK books.
The fields continue to take shape for the May 19 Group 1 international races. It now appears the winners of both Hong Kong spring international Group 1 events will participate in the Singapore Airlines Singapore Cup at Kranji. But the Singapore Turf Club announced Wednesday local star Rocket Man will not make it to the KrisFlyer International Sprint because of a nagging injury. Rocket Man has not raced since winning last year's Lion City Cup. Earlier in his career, he was a Group 1 winner in Dubai and Group 1-placed in Hong Kong.
"We would love to be there but, unfortunately, we can't," trainer Patrick Shaw said of the May 19 race. The Cup itself is headlined by Red Cadeaux, who arrived in Singapore Thursday from Japan after finishing third in the Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) last month. Before that, he chased Animal Kingdom home to finish a good second in the Dubai World Cup March 30 in Dubai.