the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby last year, hasn't delivered. Now he goes short
for trainer Doug O'Neill.
At Aqueduct, filly and mare sprinters get their chance in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Distaff Handicap at 6 furlongs. Spectacular Sky is the 119-pound highweight off a second-place finish in the Grade II Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream Park in her last start. The other six are looking for some "black type" in a very soft spot. Cluster of Stars has won all four of her career starts but all have been on the Big A's inner track. Action now has shifted to the main track, which often makes a big difference.
Eleven fillies and mares signed on to tackle 7 furlongs on the Keeneland all-weather track in Saturday's $300,000, Grade I Madison Stakes. Holiday for Kitten won the Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes the last time she set hoof on the Keeneland plastic. But that was in October of 2011 and she hasn't shown much in occasional appearances since. Byrama is in from California with a solid record but few wins. Shumoos has given a good account of herself in England and California, finishing second against males in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint. Fantasy of Flight was second in the Grade III Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream in her last race.
On the grass
Horse of the Year and Breeders' Cup Mile champ Wise Dan makes his seasonal debut Friday in the $300,000, Grade I Maker's 46 Mile over the Keeneland turf. The 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding has been working steadily at the Lexington oval for trainer Charles LoPresti and faces just four rivals in Friday's race. He has won seven of his last eight starts -- all graded stakes. Data Link, last year's winner, is back for another try and has won his last two starts in California and Florida. Silentio has been running well in California, just missing by a nose to Suggestive Boy in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in his last start.
A really nice field of fillies and mares tackles 1 1/16 miles on the grass at Keeneland in Saturday's $300,000, Grade I Jenny Wiley Stakes. Centre Court has not been out of the exacta in any of her last nine races against top company. Old Tune has won six straight, in South America and in Florida. Better Lucky won the Grade I Matriarch at Hollywood Park in her last start but has been idle since November. Quiet Oasis has been on the board in six of her last seven starts. Samitar won the Grade I Garden City Stakes at Belmont last year and finished second in her seasonal debut in Florida. Abaco took nine tries to break her maiden for patient trainer Shug McGaughey but then reeled off four straight wins and a second in the Grade III Suwanee River in her last outing. Daisy Devine has been first or second in nine of her last 10 starts. Hard Not to Like was second in last year's Grade II Ashland Stakes over the Keeneland all-weather track. Solving this puzzle should produce a nice payday.
Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Shakertown Stakes is for the turf sprinter specialists -- 5 1/2 furlongs on the lawn. Regally Ready won the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint but then saw his career derailed after an unproductive trip to Dubai last spring. The More Than Ready gelding makes his seasonal debut against eight rivals. Among them, Perfect Officer won this event last year but hasn't raced since last August.
A half dozen filly and mare turf sprinters take to the Santa Anita lawn Saturday in the $100,000, Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. Mizdirection won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last year and also took her two intervening starts. She also won this race last year and overall shows nine wins from 14 starts and earnings just north of $1 million. The others all have something to prove against a horse of Mizdirection's caliber.
Black Caviar, bidding for her 25th win without a loss, drew the inside position in a field of 11 for Saturday's AUS-Group 1 T J Smith Stakes at Randwick. Also in the field is Hay List, the only Australian rival who has been able to extend the champion mare. But Hay List is coming off a series of injuries and was entered only after a satisfactory midweek work made up for subpar effort last weekend. Black Caviar, meanwhile, will not start if the course is too wet, said trainer Peter Moody. Moody was particularly concerned that the T J Smith was moved to be the last of nine races on the card and eight preceding races could compromise the footing for his star.
The Satsuki So, or Japanese 2,000 Guineas, drew 21 entrants for Saturday's renewal at Nakayama Racecourse. The race is the first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown and, at 2,000 meters, also the shortest. The early favorites include Camino Tassajara, winner of the Jpn-Group 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho, over the course and distance, over two other strong contenders for Saturday's race -- Codino and Epiphaneia. Last year's top 2-year-old, Logotype, also is looking to step forward here and rides a three-race winning streak dating back to last year.
The April 28 Audemars Piguet QE II is shaping up as a crackerjack event, with successful runners from Dubai World Cup night set to clash with a quartet of top local stars. Two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon, rising stars Akeed Mofeed and Military Attack and the brilliant California Memory are the embattled locals and, should they all go in the 2,000-meters event over the Sha Tin turf, their rivalry would be a headliner on its own. However, they also may have to contend with the likes of Sheik Mohammed's feisty mare Sajjhaa, who won the $5 million, Group 1 Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night; South African star Igugu, who finished fifth in the Duty Free; and Treasure Beach, who got home eighth in the $10 million World Cup but is always dangerous. All three are on the list of selected runners two weeks out. Also listed are solid local performers Thumbs Up and Irian. In Addition, Group 1 winner Eishin Flash is listed to represent Japan in the event. "This year's race has again attracted some of the world's highest caliber racehorses and it will be intriguing to see how they match up against what is an outstanding home team," said Bill Nader, executive director of racing for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
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