Galilean stormed to an easy victory Monday in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita, boosting his stock as a Kentucky Derby prospect, while a 62-1 longshot won the 'official' Presidents Day Derby prep at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.
The Cal Cup Derby and the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn completed a busy weekend on the Road to the Roses which also saw Will to Win capture the Risen Star Stakes in New Orleans on Saturday.
Galilean, an Uncle Mo colt making his first start of 2018, rated nicely through the early furlongs of the Cal Cup Derby, quickly shot to the lead when given his cue by jockey Flavien Prat at the top of the lane and won off by 4 1/2 lengths. Feeling Strong and Whooping Jay, neither of whom are likely to be mistaken for Triple Crown contenders, filled out the trifecta spots. The race was restricted to California-bred 3-year-olds.
Galilean, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.43. He now is 3-for-4 with a second but has yet to run in open company -- a situation that's about to change.
"There are a lot of races everywhere for him and we're nominated everywhere, so we'll try to make a good decision as to where to run next," Hollendorfer said. "We wanted to take advantage of him being a Cal-bred, take advantage of giving him another race and running here. That's what we wanted to do and that's what we did."
Galilean was the heaviest of odds-on favorites in winning his race. The story was dramatically opposite in Arkansas.
Super Steed, off at odds of 62-1, came five-wide around the leaders turning for home in Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, quickly opened a big lead and held on to win by 3/4 length over Sueno. Long Range Toddy and Six Shooter were the next two home as the favorites faded through the lane.
In his two previous races, the Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds and the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, Super Saver had finished seventh, each time behind the winner, Gray Attempt. Gray Attempt showed the way Monday but had nothing left in the stretch and finished last of 11. The favorite, Cutting Humor, reported seventh.
Jones said Super Steed wasn't quite ready for the Sugar Bowl. "We needed to have another race under his belt. In the Smarty Jones, the race played to a merry-go-round finish. But we liked the way he trained coming in here.
"I'm fortunate to get to gallop him in the morning and I thought, 'My goodness, he's never been better,'" Jones said.
Despite his confidence, Jones said he did not have a wager on the long shot. "I never bet on my horses," he said. "I can jinx 'em. With 15 cents, I can stop 'em."
Super Steed earned 10 points toward a Kentucky Derby start via his Southwest victory. The logical next race for him at Oaklawn Park, the Rebel, on March 16, grants 50 points to the victor.
In other President's Day racing action:
Coal Front, under John Velazquez, overcame the outside post position, vied for the lead from the first turn and prevailed at the end in Monday's $500,000 Grade III Razorback Handicap. Copper Bullet, after a stalking trip from the inside gate, held on for second, a neck behind Coal front and 1 1/4 lengths to the good of long shot Rated R Superstar. Coal Front, a 5-year-old Stay Thirsty ridgling, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.45 on a fast track.
"He's very quick so I wasn't worried too much about being out there," Velazquez said of the outside gate, ruling Coal Front's performance, "impressive."
Coal Front now has six wins from eight career starts. Four of the wins were in graded stakes, all at different tracks. Todd Pletcher trains the horse for Robert LaPenta and Sol Kumin's Head of Plains Partners.
She's a Julie dueled into the stretch with Remedy, then quickly drew off in the final furlong to win Monday's $200,000 Grade III Bayakoa at Oaklawn Park by 2 3/4 lengths. Promise of Spring was along late to overtake Moonlit Garden for second. She's a Julie, a 4-year-old filly by Elusive Quality, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.55 with Ricardo Santana Jr. up for trainer Steve Asmussen -- the fourth win of the day for the jockey-trainer combination.
She's a Julie won the Grade III Iowa Oaks and the Grade III Remington Park Oaks last season, while finishing second in the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga between those engagements. The Bayakoa was her first start of 2019.
"She's a very special filly, named after my wife," Asmussen said. "That's probably the best race of her life. Good things to come."
At Laurel Park in Maryland, Enchanted Ghost assumed the early lead in Monday's $100,000 Maryland Racing Media Stakes, gave up the advantage briefly to Indy's Lady at the top of the stretch, then came again to win by 1/2 length over that rival. The favorite, Timeless Curls, settled for third, lacking any late punch.
Enchanted Ghost, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a muddy, sealed track in 1:44.84 under Jevian Toledo. It was her first win since taking the Wide Country Stakes one year and one day earlier.