It might be a good week to find a Kentucky Derby long shot

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Kate's Kingdom, seen winning the Ontario Matron in October, is back in action in Saturday's Likely Exchange Stakes at Turfway Park. Photo by Michael Burns courtesy of Woodbine
1 of 2 | Kate's Kingdom, seen winning the Ontario Matron in October, is back in action in Saturday's Likely Exchange Stakes at Turfway Park. Photo by Michael Burns courtesy of Woodbine

Jan. 13 (UPI) -- It's a good weekend to look for some long shot Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders as preliminary prep races at Tampa Bay Downs and Aqueduct provide chances for an outsider or two to make a mark.

The relatively light weekend racing program nonetheless also includes some nice fields at Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.


On the international front, the second night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival features promising 3-year-olds in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial and accomplished turf runners in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya.

In Japan, a colt from the tiny last crop of the late Deep Impact ran his record to 2-for-2 in a Grade 3 event early this week while appearing eager for bigger things. See the international section for more.

Here we go, short but sweet:

The Road to the Roses


Saturday's $125,000 Pasco Stakes, 7 furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs, has a field of six. Mark Casse's duo of Grade III stakes winner Champions Dream and Ontario-bred Clarendon Stakes winner Armstrong will be formidable along with Handsome Playboy, who was second in the Dec. 3 Inaugural Stakes over the track.

Champion's Dream, a Justify colt, is the 6-5 favorite on the morning line. We note for the record and mainly because of the name the presence of the Cajun Breeze colt Zydeceaux. Reach for the Clifton Chenier recording!

The Path to the Oaks

Todd Pletcher saddles two of five fillies entered for Saturday's $100,000 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct. New York-bred Gambling Girl was last seen finishing third in the Grade II Demoiselle Dec. 3 -- her first start against open company and her first at the Busanda distance of 1 1/8 miles.

Aniston, a Curlin filly, got her maiden win in her last start. Pletcher's Princess of Slymar won the 2013 Busanda and went on to win the Kentucky Oaks, upsetting Beholder. Affirmative Lady, by Arrogate, exits a second-place finish in the Demoiselle. Sweetest Princess and Occult also are recent maiden winners.


Saturday's $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes, 7 furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs drew eight fillies, including the 1-2 finishers in the Dec. 3 Sandpiper Stakes, Dorth Vader and Awesome Pic. Dorth Vader, a Girvin filly trained by Michael Yates, is the 3-2 favorite on the morning line.

Classic / Dirt Mile

Ginobli is the 7-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 10 set for Saturday's $150,000, 1-mile Fifth Season at Oaklawn Park. The 6-year-old Munnings gelding finished second in the 2021 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, 5 3/4 lengths in arrears of Life is Good, and then was sixth in the Grade I Cigar Mile before dropping off the radar for nearly a full year.

He returned to finish second in a Del Mar allowance Nov. 20 and ships in off a steady string of works at San Luis Rey Downs.

The Fifth Season field also includes 10-year-old Rated R Superstar, last year's winner and recently victorious in a Remington Park stakes event. Old guys rule.


Saturday's $125,000 Likely Exchange at Turfway Park is carded at 1 mile on the all-weather track for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up. In fact and coincidentally, all 11 entries are 5-year-old mares.

It's a competitive bunch although Kate's Kingdom has back-to-back wins on artificial surfaces in the Grade III Matron at Woodbine and the My Charmer Stakes at Turfway.


Bella Conchita was last seen winning a $30,000 claimer at Saratoga last summer and ran well enough at Turfway last season.

Turf Sprint

The logjam facing would-be turf runners at Fair Grounds continues as the entry box overflowed for Saturday's $100,000 Nelson J. Menard Memorial for fillies and mares.

With the field limited to eight because much of the turf course is unusable, five were left on the also-eligible list, several of them likely to be among the favorites if they could start.

Of the favored eight, the 2-1 morning-line pick is Oeuvre, an Illinois-bred filly trained by Chris Block who ventured down from Hawthorne Race Course to win the Pan Zaretta Stakes Dec. 3. Proven on the green course, her last three starts have been on the dirt.

Around the world, around the clock


Friday's second night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival features the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, with a trio of South American horses entered and the Group 2 Al Rashidya Stakes at 1,800 meters on the turf with some prospects for the $5 million Group 1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night, March 25.

The Guineas Trial is 1,400 meters on the dirt. A good performance will open the door to the Group 3 2000 Guineas at 1,600 meters Feb. 10 with the $1 million Group 2 UAE 2000 Guineas then on the horizon.


The Al Rashidya is followed by the Group 2 Singspiel on Feb. 3, and the Group 2 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday March 4, all at the same 1,800 meters.

Eight were drawn for the Guineas Trial with the three highest-rated all coming from Uruguay. Loreley, a Brazilian-bred colt by Kentuckian, won three in a row before hopping a plane to the desert.

Argentine-bred Eye on the Prize and Brazilian-bred Es-Unico, both enter with lesser credentials. Trainer Bhupat Seemar has the two highest-rated locals in Royal Dubai and Morning.

The Al Rashidya enticed 11 turf runners. Dubai Future and Passion and Glory, both trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin, finished first and second in the Group 3 Bahrain International Trophy in their last start Nov. 18.

Charlie Appleby saddles two more Godolphin horses -- Ottoman Fleet and Valient Prince. Both were useful last summer in the U.K. but come off long layoffs.

Also of note in the Al Rashidya, King David represents Scandinavia for the second straight Carnival season off a sixth-place finish in Bahrain and the Doug Watson-trained San Donato, who ran only once in 2021, made a successful return Dec. 4 at Abu Dhabi, defeating Alfareeq by 2 lengths.


The latter came back to finish second in the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan last week.

A footnote: A list of Hong Kong-based horses entered for the World Cup meeting, released on Tuesday, does not include two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year Golden Sixty or either of his two chief rivals, California Spangle and Romantic Warrior.

The entries are Senor Toba for the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at 2,420 meters; Tourbillon Diamond for the Dubai Turf; and Sky Field and Super Wealthy for the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at 1,200 meters.


Forest of Dean, the 2021 winner of the Group 3 Winter Derby, was last of six with 2 furlongs to run in Thursday's All-Weather Championships Fast-Track Qualifier at Newcastle, closed steadily to get the lead well inside the furlong marker and got clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths from Ziggy.

The pacesetting favorite, Harrovian, settled for third. Forest of Dean, trained for Godolphin by John and Thady Gosden, earned a guaranteed spot in the £200,000 Easter Classic over the same course and distance on Good Friday.

The action continues at Newcastle Friday with a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 All-Weather Mile Championships.


The field for that includes Fox Tal, a 7-year-old whose resume includes a fourth in the Group 1 Champion Stakes in 2019 and a third in the 2022 H H The Amir's Trophy in Qatar.

After the Doha run, he missed the rest of the season. This will be his first start as short as 1 mile since August of 2018.


Monday's Grade 3 Fairy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Nakayama Racecourse produced a surprise as Kita Wing started next-last in the field of sixteen, saved all the ground while advancing around the turn and bravely squeezed through a narrow opening on the rail to get the lead inside the 200-meters mark.

The Danon Ballade filly then just did hold off the late run of fellow long shot Make a Snatch, winning by a head.

Owned and bred by Mill Farm Co. Ltd., Kita Wing is out of the I'll Have Another mare Kitsano Ritsumei. She won two of her first three starts at 2, but finished 14th in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies to finish the year.

On Sunday at Chukyo Racecourse, Light Quantum, representing the last crop by super sire Deep Impact, ran his record to 2-for-2 with a 1-length score in the Grade 3 Nikkan Sports Sho Shinzan Kinen.


Jockey Yutaka Take left plenty for the colt to do in the stretch run and found the needed acceleration just in time, snatching the lead inside the 100-meters mark with a charge down the center of the track. Pace Setting, a British-bred colt by Showcasing, lived up to his name but settled for second for the third time in five starts.

Out of the Quality Road mare Illuminant, Light Quantum was bred by Shadai Farm and races for Shadai Race Horse Co. Ltd.

The Japanese database JBIS lists only six foal registrations from two dozen 2019 covers by Deep Impact, whose season was restricted by physical infirmity before his sudden death in July of that year.

His final year also produced August Rodin, out of the Coolmore mare Rhododendron, by Galileo, winner of last autumn's Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

Deep Impact's sire, Sunday Silence, ruled as Japan's top sire in an unbroken string from 1995 through 2007. Deep Impact held the title from 2012 through 2022.

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