Sunday Morning Stakes Runner Round-Up

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Essential Quality | Coady Photo

  • Trainer Brad Cox was plenty pleased with how champion juvenile and 'TDN Rising Star' Essential Quality (Tapit) exited Saturday's hard-fought decision in Keeneland's GII Toyota Blue Grass S. “He looks good this morning and I am happy with the way he came out of the race,” Cox said Sunday. “I liked that he got a test yesterday. It was not like he just galloped up to the leader and went on by.” Essential Quality will join Cox's string at Churchill Downs after training Monday to prepare for the GI Kentucky Derby.
  • Blue Grass runner-up Highly Motivated (Into Mischief) was also no worse for wear according to trainer Chad Brown's assistant Whit Beckman: “He is good this morning. He put in a valiant effort yesterday going two turns for the first time. He took all the heat and kept battling… I am not sure [how long he will stay at Keeneland], but knowing Chad I would not be surprised to see him go to Churchill for a couple of works.”
  • Conditioner Mike McCarthy told the Keeneland notes team that Blue Grass third finisher Rombauer (Twirling Candy), who is right on the Derby points bubble currently, might wait for the May 15 GI Preakness S.
  • Fourth-place Hidden Stash (Constitution), 23rd on points for now, may also be Preakness, or Belmont-bound. “He is good this morning,” trainer Vicki Oliver said. “We will see what the owners want to do–either the Derby or, if he looks tired, wait for the Preakness or [GI] Belmont [S.].”
  • GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. winner Keepmeinmind (Laoban)'s fifth-place run in the Blue Grass had his trainer Robertino Diodoro scratching his head: “I don't know what to tell you. Obviously we don't have enough points [to make the Derby] and what's next, that's the million-dollar question.” Diodoro also sent out Ava's Grace (Laoban) Saturday to a runner-up finish in Oaklawn's GIII Honeybee S. “We are pretty excited about her,” he said of the lightly raced GI Kentucky Oaks prospect. “I don't know if she will come [to Keeneland] first and then go to Louisville, but either way we have to get her up here ASAP from Oaklawn.”
  •  Trainer Todd Pletcher's productive Saturday at both Keeneland and Aqueduct included victories in the GI Central Bank Ashland S. with 'Rising Star ' Malathaat (Curlin) and with Jouster (Noble Mission {GB}) in the GII Appalachian S. Presented by Japan Racing Association. “They are all good this morning,” said Amelia Green, who is overseeing Pletcher's string at Keeneland.
  • Ashland runner-up Pass the Champagne (Flatter) will ship back to Florida before returning to Kentucky. “I thought we had it won, but I know Todd has been very high on Malathaat,” said trainer George Weaver. “She is doing fine this morning and will ship back [to Palm Beach Downs Monday] morning.”
  • Wesley Ward won two sprint stakes on Friday's Keeneland card, and two more on Saturday with GI Madison S. heroine Kimari (Munnings) and GII Shakertown S. scorer Bound for Nowhere (The Factor). “They are both fine this morning,” Ward said, adding that neither will be back for races on Kentucky Derby weekend. “That is too quick.”
  • Bell's the One (Majesticperfection) dead heated for second behind Kimari and will look to defend her GI Derby City Distaff S. title May 1 at Churchill. “She's got a few nicks, but nothing we can't manage,” trainer Neil Pessin said of Bell's the One. “I still wouldn't trade horses with anyone.”
  • The aforementioned Pletcher ran one-two in Aqueduct's GII Wood Memorial S. with longshots Bourbonic (Bernardini) and Dynamic One (Union Rags), and both were in fine fettle Sunday according to the Hall of fame finalist's New York-based assistant Byron Hughes: “They both look good. They both ate up last night and are walking around here this morning with a purpose.”
  • Florida-based trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. has 12 stalls at Belmont this spring, and the barn got its New York endeavor off to a hot start Saturday at Aqueduct with three wins from as many starts, including with Mischevious Alex (Into Mischief) in the GI Carter H. and Drain the Clock (Maclean's Music) in the GIII Bay Shore S. “Everyone looks great and ate up all their food,” said assistant Sabine Langvad. “I'm super happy with how they came back and they took to traveling really well. Shipping back and forth from Aqueduct didn't seem to bother them at all.”
  • Klaravich Stables and Chad Brown have a serious GI Kentucky Oaks contender on their hands with unbeaten Search Results (Flatter), who saw out nine panels with aplomb in the GIII Gazelle S. at the Big A. “She looks great this morning,” said Brown's assistant Dan Stupp. “She ran well yesterday and she still has room to move forward. She certainly handled the distance well.” The same connections were represented in the Wood by third finisher Crowded Trade (More Than Ready) and seventh-place Risk Taking (Medaglia d'Oro). “He tried and ran well,” said Stupp of the former. “Everyone is fine this morning. We'll see what Chad wants to do moving forward with them.”
  • Trainer John Sadler was still savoring Rock Your World (Candy Ride {Arg})'s breakout victory in the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Sunday morning. “We're still enjoying this win,” Sadler said when asked about plans for shipping to Kentucky to ahead of the Derby. “This is Easter Sunday, so Monday we'll look at the calendar, but he would have a traditional California pattern where we'll train here and go to Kentucky the week of the race.”
  • It'll also be on to Louisville for Santa Anita Derby runner-up Medina Spirit (Protonico). “He ran a game race like he always does,” trainer Bob Baffert said of GIII Robert B. Lewis winner and now three-time graded stakes runner-up. “The winner was very impressive, but our horse showed up, he ran his race, he came out of it well and we've got four weeks to sharpen him up… He'll be right there. He's always going to be tough; he tries hard all the time.”

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