Highly Motivated

Rombauer Confirmed for Preakness

John and Diane Fradkin's Rombauer (Twirling Candy), third in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. in his most recent start, is headed to the May 15 GI Preakness S. at Pimlico Race Course. "That's the plan," trainer Michael McCarthy told the Pimlico notes team Monday. The homebred automatically qualified for a starting berth in the 146th Preakness with his victory in the El Camino Real Derby Feb. 13 at Golden Gate Fields. He was third, beaten 5 3/4 lengths in the Blue Grass behind champion Essential Quality (Tapit) and Highly...

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The TDN Derby Top 20 for Apr. 29

by T.D. Thornton The last couple of anticipatory days prior to the GI Kentucky Derby can seem like a longer wait than the six-month prep season that preceded it. Here are the final TDN rankings, listed in "likeliest winner" order: 1) ESSENTIAL QUALITY (c, Tapit--Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality) O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-Brad Cox; J-Luis Saez. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Colt & MGISW, 5-5-0-0, $2,265,144. Last Start: 1st GII Toyota Blue Grass S., KEE, Apr. 3 Accomplishments: 'TDN Rising Star', 1st GI TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile, KEE, Nov. 6, 1st GI...

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Essential Quality Tops Loaded Derby Worktab Saturday

Godolphin's Essential Quality (Tapit) headlined a quintet of hopefuls that put in their final major works at Churchill Downs Saturday morning ahead of next weekend's Run for the Roses. Also working on an overcast morning were Juddmonte Farms' Mandaloun (Into Michief), Klaravich Stables' Highly Motivated (Into Mischief), Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen's Super Stock (Dialed In) and Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm's King Fury (Curlin). Heading the Brad Cox Derby team, last season's juvenile champ worked five furlongs in 1:00.40. With exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard, the likely...

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The TDN Derby Top 20 For April 13

The long prep season is over, but some jostling for a starting spot remains among the horses on the cusp of the qualifying points cutoff. Please note the rankings below are independent from the "Road to the GI Kentucky Derby" points leaderboard Churchill Downs uses to determine starting berths. That list can be accessed here. 1) ESSENTIAL QUALITY (c, Tapit--Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality) O/B-Godolphin (KY). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Colt & MGISW, 5-5-0-0, $2,265,144. Last Start: 1st GII Toyota Blue Grass S., KEE, Apr. 3 Accomplishments: 'TDN...

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Taking 'Flight': Brown Barn Reloaded for Spring

Not to be lost off the heels of a very productive weekend of GI Kentucky Derby/Oaks preps for the Chad Brown barn--more on that in a bit--the four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer recently unveiled a pair of ultra-impressive, stakes-quality Euro imports for allowance victories. Juddmonte homebred Pocket Square (GB) (f, 4, Night of Thunder {Ire}), heroine of Deauville's G3 Prix des Reservoirs at two for trainer Roger Charlton, turned in an eye-catching, 2 1/4-length come-from-behind tally in her U.S. bow over the Keeneland lawn Wednesday, rocketing home in :28.21. She was...

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The TDN Derby Top 20 for April 6

The first Saturday in April's "power trio" of nine-furlong qualifying preps is in the books. We also learned last week that no Japan-based horse will be accepting the "Road to the GI Kentucky Derby" invitation this year, and that none of the qualifying European horses are nominated, meaning they'd have to supplement $200,000 to get in. So at this time it appears that all 20 starting spots will go to American horses. The rankings below are independent from the "Road to the Derby" points leaderboard Churchill Downs uses to determine...

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Essential Quality Guts It Out in the Blue Grass

Godolphin homebred Essential Quality (Tapit) gave his connections a few anxious moments in the stretch, but, in the end, he proved why he is a champion with a gutsy score in Keeneland's GII Toyota Blue Grass S. Saturday evening. Hustling up to contest the early pace, the 1-2 favorite allowed Highly Motivated (Into Mischief) to take control, settling on his outside hip through a :23.83 first quarter and :48.21 half-mile. The top two continued to duke it out as three-quarters went in 1:12.08 with the rest of the field watching...

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Blue Grass Homecoming for Cox, Essential Quality

'TDN Rising Star' Essential Quality (Tapit) looks to maintain a spotless record as he stretches out to nine furlongs for the first time while facing a field of nine in this Saturday's GII Toyota Blue Grass S. at Keeneland. If this 3-5 morning line favorite were to score a win this weekend, he would, by most accounts, be considered a top choice heading into the GI Kentucky Derby as an undefeated dual Grade I winner. And yet, history would still be working against the Godolphin homebred come the first Saturday...

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Pioneerof the Nile Colt Lights Up Tote Board in Gotham

Chiefswood Stables homebred Weyburn (Pioneerof the Nile), last seen breaking his maiden going seven panels in the local slop Dec. 5, slipped past the bettors and into the winner's circle to post a 46-1 upset in Aqueduct's GIII Gotham S. He fended off Chad Brown trainee Crowded Trade (More Than Ready) to take the head bob, with that one's stablemate Highly Motivated (Into Mischief) a non-threatening third as the 4-5 chalk. Away well from his outside draw, Weyburn locked on to California invader Freedom Fighter (Violence) through splits of :24.29...

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West Coasters 'Highly Motivated' to Invade Gotham City

After capturing Aqueduct's GIII Withers S. with Risk Taking (Medaglia d'Oro), Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown will continue on the road to Louisville through New York with the talented Highly Motivated (Into Mischief) in Saturday's GIII Gotham S. The one-turn mile contest awards the top-four finishers GI Kentucky Derby qualifying points via a 50-20-10-5 scale. Highly Motivated defeated subsequent GII Remsen S. third-place finisher Known Agenda (Curlin)--a recent 11-length optional claiming winner at Gulfstream--in his Belmont maiden breaker at second asking Sept. 27, then most recently posted an ultra-impressive...

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New Stakes Winner for Into Mischief in Breeders' Cup Friday Opener

Highly Motivated (Into Mischief) led home a 1-3 finish and became the 81st black-type winner for his sire, establishing a new track record in the opening race of Breeders' Cup weekend. Quick Tempo (Tapizar) won the break and set a slick early pace, as Javier Castellano had the favorite settled from a midfield fifth while glued to the inside. Pinching ground on the turn, Highly Motivated popped off the fence and went on the attack three wide off the home corner, grabbed the front-runner at the sixteenth pole and pulled...

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