If you got to watch the Risen Star Stakes from the Fairgrounds on Saturday you were not let-down! With some great race riding and bumping down the stretch, the heavily favored El Padrino caught Mark Valeski and narrowly beat him to the wire to win the money. The long-stretch seemed to help this horse as he needed every stride to pull off the victory, and looks to give Pletcher another big shot in the Derby. Finishing off the triactor was Z Dager and the trainer combination of Pletcher/Jones/Assmusen payed a hefty $48.
Futures Derby Pool favorite Union Rags was a clear and decisive winner in the Fasig Tipton’s Fountain of Youth stakes at Gulfstream Park on Sunday. Very confidently ridden by Julien Leparoux, he just sat off the leaders most of the race and when it was time to run with a little encouragement from the jockey, Union Rags looked like a champion! With what was expected to be co-favorite Algorithms scratched because of popped splint (which is supposed to have surgery on and be out of the Derby trail) Union Rags was to be the chalk at post time but ended up second choice to the eventual third place runner Discreet Dancer. Long shot News Pending run a game second. The story here is Union Rags, paying more than even money, quite possibly the athlete to don the garland of roses in 2012!
Every track in America wants their shot at hosting the next Derby winner. This weekend it’s Aqueduct Race Track in New York’s turn. The Gotham Stakes, purse $400,000, where 13 of the finest the east coast has to offer go at it on Saturday, the largest field this race has ever had. The heavy favorite Hansen drew the far outside post, hole 12, with his early speed he should be able to get into a comfortable position going into the first turn and barring any mishaps will be tough to beat. Second choice (my long shot pick for the Derby) My Adonis coming out of the same race as Hansen and beaten only half a length with a very poor beginning should be able to tuck in behind the leaders and hopefully be full of fun when turning for home! Many other top trainers in this race include Romans, Pletcher, Dutrow, Mclaughlin, and Casse. Home is where my heart lays as I know I’ll be cheering for the Woodbine connection of Casse and Contreas with their 12-1 shot Stealcase!
…..and that is the last word.