Scratched Derby favorite penalized for 2022 positive drug test

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Perform (L), shown winning the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park, has been supplemented to the Preakness Stakes at a cost of $150,000. Photo courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club
1 of 2 | Perform (L), shown winning the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park, has been supplemented to the Preakness Stakes at a cost of $150,000. Photo courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club

May 12 (UPI) -- So, here we are almost a week out from the Kentucky Derby and what do we know for sure about the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes? Well, not much.

The Derby winner, Mage, probably is going to run in the May 20 race at Pimlico, but his connections continue to go out of their way to leave themselves wiggle room.


And the colt who was the favorite and scratched on the morning of the Kentucky Derby, Forte, is caught up in an administrative tangle and a 9-month-old failed drug test.

On the other hand, we do know there will be some impressive "new shooters" in the Preakness.

More on all that anon. In the meantime, there are some nice races this weekend to keep us occupied as Monmouth Park returns to the mix.


On the international front, Juddmonte turned up a nice one for the Derby and, wow, did Coolmore's Savethelastdance ever confirm her status as Oaks favorite Wednesday at Chester in England! How much did she win by? See the "around the world" section Hint: a lot.

The lineups for Royal Ascot are starting to come together with a pair of 2-year-old races Saturday at Gulfstream Park set to provide a few new pieces of the puzzle.

And the white filly Sodashi, now a mare, makes her 5-year-old debut Sunday in the Victoria Mile at Tokyo Racecourse

Let's wade right in.

The Triple Crown

Will Kentucky Derby winner Mage run in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20? His owners and trainers say yes ... if ....

"The plan is, if he works satisfactorily on Friday, as he has all week, that we would go to the Preakness," assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr. said on a media call Thursday. "If he trains well, he'll be on his way to Baltimore for the Preakness."

The flip side of that cautious statement is obvious.

Will Forte make an appearance in Baltimore? It looks unlikely although that question remained in limbo as the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority jockeyed for position about whether the Derby scratch necessitated a mandatory 14-day layoff for Forte -- and, if so, when that started and what conditions will be needed to bring it to a close.


That issue was compounded when Forte was disqualified from a victory in last summer's Grade I Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga because a post-race test found a miniscule amount of a banned drug in his system. Trainer Todd Pletcher and the colt's part-owner, Mike Repole, said they will appeal and take the issue to court, if necessary, arguing the finding could have come only through accidental contamination.

Pletcher said Forte will be shipped to New York on May 13, and Repole said he will be considered for the Belmont Stakes.

Those issues came on the heels of seven equine deaths a Churchill Downs in the lead up to the Kentucky Derby, a situation addressed on the same media call by Tom Rooney, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Rooney said the situation is "challenging for all of us who know and love our sport .... The clearest action we can take to show the public and fans we are committed to safety in our sport. We need to own this issue, every race, every day at every track.

"Fatalities are at their lowest level since we started tracking them. But we have to do better and we all know that," Rooney said, adding, "Risk is impossible to eliminate in any sport. That's just a fact."


Meanwhile ...

The Preakness field gained an expensive addition this week as trainer Shug McGaughey said Perform, winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park, will be supplemented to the race at a cost of $150,000.

Like Mage, Perform is a son of Good Magic. He could have been made eligible to the entire Triple Crown series at the early nomination price of $600 or for $6,000 by the late-nomination deadline of March 27.

At the latter date, however, he was 1-for-5. Once he got good, McGaughey said, the supplement was "not a concern" for the ownership group.

"Obviously, we talked about it. If you feel like it's worthy of doing, we're ready to go. That's what they're in the game for -- these kinds of situations. I didn't have to twist any arms," the veteran trainer said.

Meanwhile, Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Peter Pan Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park has an interesting mix of late developers, world travelers and Triple Crown refugees.

Bishops Bay, an Uncle Mo colt trained by Brad Cox, is undefeated after two starts in New Orleans. Go Soldier Go won twice in Dubai for trainer Todd Pletcher, but finished a distant fifth in the Group 2 UAE Derby.


Classic Catch (Pletcher) and Slip Mahoney (Cox) were fifth and sixth in the Grade II Wood Memorial. Summer Cause was a good third in the Federico Tesio at Laurel Park. And Henry Q was third in the Grade II Sunland Park Derby.

The 1 1/8-mile heat doesn't look like a Belmont Stakes prep, but watch and learn for Saratoga.

Welcome back to Monmouth Park. The New Jersey shore track has eight 3-year-olds, including a cross-entered Slip Mahoney, set for Saturday's $100,000 Long Branch Stakes at 1 mile, 70 yards.

Hayes Strike was last seen finishing seventh in the Grade I Blue Grass at Keeneland. Watch this for later, too. It is definitely not too early to be thinking about the Haskell, Jim Dandy and Travers.


Charlie Appleby and Godolphin look for their second straight big New York turf win in Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Man o' War at Belmont Park.

After capturing last weekend's $200,000 Grade II Fort Marcy with Ottoman Fleet, the blue-clad minions send Warren Point, a 4-year-old Dubawi gelding, after even bigger game.

He will line up against seven locals to take on 1 3/8 miles while competing at the top level for the first time. He finished second in the H H The Amir Trophy, a local Group 1, in Doha, Qatar, in his most recent start.


The Americans in the Man o' War are a bit long in the tooth with Channel Maker and Red Knight both age 9 and none is likely to strike fear into Frankie Dettori's heart when he legs up on Warren Point.

Verstappen looks best, coming off a win in the Grade II Elkhorn at Keeneland, albeit just a head in front of Red Knight, who breaks from the inside gate in the Man o' War.

Channel Maker, lining up for the 52nd time, was fourth in the Elkhorn. Value Engineering was on a roll in Florida but finished eighth in the Elkhorn.

Saturday's $100,000 Grade III San Luis Rey at Santa Anita is a wide-open affair with a well-matched field of eight set to go 1 1/2 miles. Among the morning-line favorites are Offlee Naughty, Dicey Mo Chara, Opry and Midcourt.

Turf Sprint

Gaslight Dancer and Private Creed top the morning line for Saturday's $225,000 William Walker Stakes for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs. It's a tough call, though, with six of the eight entries listed at single-digit odds on the line.


Sunday's $100,000 Serena's Song Stakes at Monmouth Park drew a field of seven. Of note, Shotgun Hottie last year finished second in both the Grade II Delaware Oaks and the Grade II Monmouth Oaks, but comes off a bit of a clunker in the Doubledogdare at Keeneland in her last trip.


Similarly, Leader of the Band was second in last year's Grade III Molly Pitcher on the shore, but has been less impressive since and comes off a layoff. Distinctlypossible is distinctly possible for trainer Chad Brown.


Six 3-year-olds are entered for Friday's $150,000 Gold Fever Stakes at 6 furlongs at Belmont Park. Squire Creek, undefeated after victories at Fair Grounds and Keeneland, is a lukewarm favorite on the morning line. Drew's Gold also is undefeated with wins at Churchill Downs, Laurel Park and Aqueduct.

Six older horses are set to go 6 furlongs in Saturday's $175,000 Grade III Runhappy Stakes at Belmont Park.

The outcome could depend on whether Candy Man Rocket can rebound from a too-bad-to-be true last place finish in his last outing in Arkansas. Before that, he had come back from an 11-month layoff to easily win twice at Gulfstream Park.

If he's not back up to snuff, note Twisted Ride is riding a four-race winning skein, all accomplished at Parx Racing. Nine-year-old Drafted gives it another go.

Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Grade III Jacques Cartier on the Woodbine all-weather has a mixed field with several coming back from winter layoffs.

Ironstone finished fourth in last year's Queen's Plate and second in the Prince of Wales before winning the Grade III Ontario Derby. He last raced Nov. 13.


Anarchist comes from California with four seconds in his last four starts. And trainer Mark Casse saddles the sweet-tooth exacta bet of Candy Overload and Ice Chocolat.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Casse also has three of the eight set for Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Grade III Whimsical on the Woodbine all-weather, including the even-money favorite on the morning line, Our Flash Drive. Miss Speedy and Ambassador Luna complete the trio.

Dr B jumped up to win the Grade III Go For Wand Stakes on Dec. 3 in her first-ever graded stakes start. After a nice rest, she returns Sunday in an eight-horse field for the $175,000 Grade III Vagrancy Stakes at Belmont Park.

Funny How won five straight before finishing second in her graded stakes debut, the Grade III Distaff Handicap April 4 at Aqueduct. Carmel Swirl finished second in the Grade I Ballerina at Saratoga last August after winning the Grade II Raven Run at Keeneland the previous fall.

Juvenile Turf / Royal Ascot

Gulfstream Park on Saturday offers two turf races for 2-year-olds that carry not only $100,000 purses but also guaranteed slots in races at Royal Ascot next month.

Wesley Ward, a pioneer at taking U.S.-based horses to the Royal meeting has a candidate for each heat -- one owned by his long-time client and Royal Ascot patron Barbara Banke and the other by former superstar jockey Steve Cauthen, who rode Affirmed to sweep the 1977 U.S. Triple Crown and then went on to a fabulously successful career in Europe.


Both were purchased specifically to compete at the Ascot meeting but, because opportunities are limited in the Colonies, both will be making the first career start.

Cauthen will be represented in the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile by Holding the Line. Banke's Stonestreet Stables has Ocean Mermaid in the $100,000 filly companion heat.

Holding the Line is an Irish-bred colt by Soldier's Call. He didn't get a chance to compete earlier at Keeneland because, as Ward explained, "There was only one race, and every trainer was allowed only one horse in the race if it oversubscribed."

Ward entered another Ascot-bound Stonestreet runner, Fandom, who won the race by 6 3/4 lengths."

Cauthen's Ocean Mermaid, a Kingman filly, is unraced because the juvenile filly turf race carded during the Keeneland meeting was rained off that course.

In addition to the purse money and Ascot entry, each winner gets a $25,000 travel allowance to head across the Atlantic. The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association is offering an additional $25,000 to a Florida-bred winner of either race.

Around the world, around the clock


Arrest, with Frankie Dettori aboard, tracked the pace in Wednesday's Group 3 Chester Vase, inherited the lead when Hadranius tired and loped home an easy winner.


Adelaide River and Ryan Moore chased futilely through the final furlongs but could only manage second, 6 1/2 lengths adrift of the winner.

Arrest, a Frankel colt racing in the Juddmonte colors, was having his first start of the season and now has to be given a Derby chance by trainer John and Thady Gosden.

The elder Gosden said Arrest would prefer that the Epsom ground resemble the soft footing he seemed to relish at Chester, but he already was looking further forward as quoted by Racing Post, "We put him in the Arc yesterday and he's got the scope to train on at three, four and five even if you wanted to."

Moore and the Coolmore connections did better -- a lot better -- in the Cheshire Oaks.

Savethelastdance had only one rival beaten with a half mile to run and must have been wondering when she'd get the go-ahead. When it came, she took off like a rocket roaring off the launch pad and won by 22 lengths for her second win in as many starts this year.

Next, she's headed for the for the Epsom Oaks, where as things stand, she will be a strong favorite.


"I was very impressed," Racing Post quoted Moore. "You can only be impressed by what she's done there. They kind of all gave up with half a mile to go and she was just getting going."


Sunday's Poule d'Essai des Poulains & Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Lonchamp are the equivalent of the Guineas elsewhere, both Group 1 events, important pointers for later stardom on the track and in breeding.

Pending final confirmations, both races have full fields including solid international competiton, notably from the Coolmore lads and trainer Aidan O'Brien.


Sodashi, the pure white mare, seeks her eight win and fourth at the Grade 1 level in Sunday's Victoria Mile at Tokyo Racecourse.

Now 5, Sodashi seems best at the mile distance and will have to be at her best as she faces some serious competition.

The main threat seems to be Stars On Earth, winner of last year's Oka Sho or Japanese 1,000 Guineas, and Yushun Himba or Japanese Oaks. She comes off a second in the Grade 1 Osaka Hai on April 2 while Sodashi makes her season debut.

Songline also is a Grade 1 winner although she finished fifth in last year's Victoria Mile.


Meanwhile, back in the States ...

Will Rogers Downs

Ghost Hero dueled for the lead in Monday's $55,000 Will Rogers Stakes for Oklahoma-bred 3-year-old, finally got clear and zoomed off to win by 5 lengths. Rowdy River held second after applying the early pressure.

Ghost Hero, a Shaman Ghost colt, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.96 with Floyd Wethey Jr. up.

Tom's Girl bided her time in Monday's $55,000 Cinema Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, set out after pacesetter Doudoudouwanadance on the far turn and got there first by 1 length over that rival.

Tom's Girl, a daughter of Liaison, reported in 1:40.14 with Alfredo Triana Jr. in the irons.

Tuesday, Number One Dude, the overwhelming favorite, ran away with the $55,000 Cherokee Nation Classic Cup, winning by 8 1/4 lengths over five outclassed rivals. The 5-year-old American Lion gelding was second in the Cup in both 2021 and 2022.

Gotta See Red took over in the stretch to win Tuesday's $55,000 More Than Ever Stakes for Oklahoma-bred distaffers by 1 length from Kachina. The favorite, Dicey, was third.

Gotta See Red, a 5-year-old Pollard's Vision mare, made it back-to-back wins.


Candlelight Hours gained the lead in the lane in Thursday's $75,000 J. William Petro Memorial for Ohio-bred fillies and mares and won by 1 1/2 lengths from Sally Strong.


Candlelight Hours, a 4-year-old Dominus filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.64.

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