Saturday Insights: Zandon Makes His Return

8th-AQU, $84K, OC, 4yo/up, 1m, 5:06 p.m. ZANDON (Upstart), last seen running fourth Dec. 3 in the GI Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, returns to the scene on Saturday in this spot for owner Jeff Drown. Receiving Lasix for the first time, the Chad Brown trainee will be ridden by Flavien Prat and will leave from gate two. Zandon's 3-year-old campaign included a victory in the GI Toyota Blue Grass S., and a pair of third-place finishes in the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Runhappy Travers S. His dam Memories Prevail...

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Red Route One Stamps His Preakness Ticket With Victory In Bath House Row S.

While currently ranked 28th in points and on the outside looking in for the GI Kentucky Derby, Red Route One punched his ticket to the second jewel of the Triple Crown with a win Saturday in the Bath House Row S. After bursting onto the scene with a third to Derby favorite Forte (Violence) in the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity last fall, Red Route One earned a pair of placings in both the GIII Southwest S. and the GII Rebel S. before faltering to sixth when last spotted in the...

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Background Check: Apple Blossom

In this continuing series, we examine the past winners of significant filly/mare races by the lasting influence they've had on the breed. Up today is the GI Apple Blossom H., Oaklawn's signature distaff event. The Apple Blossom is such a mainstay in the older filly and mare ranks that it might be a surprise to all but those with the longest memories that the first several winners were males. It's the last 50 years that have been devoted exclusively to the ladies, resulting in a steady diet of champions in...

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One Last Derby Bullet to Fire

Currently on the GI Kentucky Derby bubble with 40 points, rallying GII Louisiana Derby runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Disarm (Gun Runner) will look to punch his ticket to the big dance in Saturday's GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. at Keeneland. The Stonestreet Lexington is the final race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and carries 40 points that will be awarded on a 20-8-6-4-2 basis. A top-three finish by Disarm would secure the Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. The...

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Angel of Empire Sprouts Wings in Arkansas Derby

Fourth choice at 9-2, but the only runner in the GI Arkansas Derby field with a win at nine furlongs, Angel of Empire (c, 3, Classic Empire--Armony's Angel, by To Honor and Serve) used that overlooked experience to his advantage and emerged looking like a world-beater. Racing midpack early, he ranged up and burst clear to win in hand and by daylight. King Russell (Creative Cause) was second, while Reincarnate (Good Magic) finished third. The Arkansas Derby was a GI Kentucky Derby points race and awarded points on a 100-40-30-20-10...

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From Last to First, Blame's Wet Paint Takes the Fantasy

It's hard to fault Wet Paint (f, 3, Blame--Sky Painter, by Street Cry {Ire}), who can win on wet or dry, has improved with each start, looks to like a distance, is unbeaten on dirt, and has been unstoppable in Oaklawn Park's 3-year-old filly series, with her latest conquest Saturday's GIII Fantasy S. in Hot Springs. The late-running Godolphin homebred won her third straight as she marches to the GI Kentucky Oaks as the current points leader with 170. The Fantasy divvied up points on the Road to the Kentucky...

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Lookin At Lucky's Eyeing Clover Rebounds in Hot Springs

Fresh off a fourth-place finish behind Raise Cain (Violence) in the Mar. 4 GIII Gotham S. at Aqueduct, Eyeing Clover (c, 3, Lookin At Lucky--Floral Park, by Forest Wildcat) got a black-type win of his own in Oaklawn's Hot Springs S. Saturday. It was blinkers off for the chestnut, who encountered his share of trouble throughout. He broke like a shot, leaping straight to the early lead for a few brief strides until the pair of Rocking Rocket (American Pharoah) and Cactus (Twirling Candy) hounded him with the latter coming...

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Wide Draw and All, Forte an Overwhelming Presence in Florida Derby

Big Brown (Boundary) took no prisoners from post 12 with a powerful, wire-to-wire performance in the GI Curlin Florida Derby before capturing the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2008. It's champion Forte (Violence)'s turn now. Last term's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, an eye-catching winner while kicking off his sophomore campaign in the GII Fountain of Youth S. Mar. 4, towers over his 11 rivals on paper in Saturday's Florida Derby. But with a well-documented short run to the first turn going 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream...

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Reincarnate Named 5-2 Morning-Line Favorite For Arkansas Derby

Entries were drawn Sunday morning for next Saturday's GI Arkansas Derby and GIII Fantasy S., with Tim Yakteen's Reincarnate (Good Magic) and Wet Paint (Blame) for Brad Cox taking on the roles of morning-line favoritism at 5-2 and 8-5 respectively. Reincarnate drew the eight position with second choice Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) inside of him in gate six. Wet Paint also drew the six slot. Making his first start for Yakteen since switching from the Bob Baffert barn, Reincarnate won the GIII Sham S. at Santa Anita Jan. 8...

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The Week In Review: A Wayne Lukas Renaissance

As Hall of Famer Wayne Lukas entered his mid-eighties, his longevity and his persistence became one of racing's best feel-good stories. A trainer who belongs in the conversation as one of the best of all time, he was still out there every day, physically active, mentally sharp. There didn't seem to be anything stopping him. But there was a missing ingredient. Lukas, now 87, simply wasn't winning many races, especially important ones. Lukas won the 2018 GII Risen Star S. with Bravazo (Awesome Again) on Feb. 17, 2018. He didn't...

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This Side Up: Veterans' Day at Oaklawn

When it comes to ageing, as the wiseguys remind us, it's when you're over the hill that you begin to pick up speed. And it's true: the magnolia trees where I live are coming into blossom, and I swear that each passing year compresses both the duration of those brief candles and, above all, the intervals in between. The inference is a dismal one: time flies when you've had your fun. So on a weekend when we temporarily suspend our search for the adolescent Thoroughbred maturing sufficiently to beat his...

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Smile Happy Victorious In Return At Oaklawn

8th-Oaklawn, $106,000, Alw (NW2$X)/Opt. Clm ($50,000), 3-16, 4yo/up, 1 1/8m, 1:48.95, sy, 1 1/4 lengths. SMILE HAPPY (c, 4, Runhappy--Pleasant Smile, by Pleasant Tap) was a force on last year's GI Kentucky Derby trail as a 'TDN Rising Star', winning the GII Kentucky Jockey Cup S. in just his second start before checking in second twice--to Eclipse champion Epicenter (Not This Time) in the GII Risen Star S. and Zandon (Upstart) in Keeneland's GI Blue Grass S. Last seen beating more than half the field home in eighth under the...

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