This weekend we had several G2 and G3s from coast to coast ran taking us down the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
$350K Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull Stakes (G2) - Gulfstream Park
EPIC DREAMER went to the front and set fractions of :23.18 and :46.47 followed by MAXIMUS MISCHIEF on his tail. EPIC DREAMER continued to lead through three quarters before MAXIMUS MISCHIEF overcame him. However, on the outside, HARVEY WALLBANGER, who had been hanging out back and rating the field turned on the overdrive and with tremendous momentum gave MAXIMUS MISCHIEF his first loss as he overcame the leader to win by a length. EVERFAST, the 128-1 longshot, put in a final surge of power as well stealing MISCHIEF's second place by a neck. EPIC DREAMER finished fourth with MIHOS behind him in fifth.
The favorite, MAXIMUS MISCHIEF just didn't have his usual move at the end said Jockey Jose Ortiz, "When I asked him, he wasn't going the way I wanted him to. I just had to start riding. I had a hard time catching the horse on the end."
On the other hand, the race went exactly as planned for winner HARVEY WALLBANGER, said Hernandez, "We had a horse that likes to come from behind, and we thought they'd go quick in front. I was able to just kind of sit there. We'd have been happy if he'd been second or third, but for him to jump and win showed that he's a good horse and he's turned into a good 3-year-old."
$250,000 Withers Stakes (G3) - Aqueduct
Despite a stumble at the start, TAX took the lead early in the Withers Stakes and motored to the front behind NOT THAT BRADY. Setting fractions of :23.56 and 1:11.44, NOT THAT BRADY kept the lead to the quarter before OUR BRAINTRUST challenged. Without much room on the rail TAX approached at the eighth pole and darted through an opening to take the lead. Although it TAX was able to take the win easily, NOT THAT BRADY wasn't willing to give up second without a fight and battled OUR BRAINTRUST to the wire taking second.
TAX, the 2-1 favorite, is now on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a great backstory having come up the ranks as a $50,000 claimer. Just three months ago, he was claimed by Danny Gargan for Hugh Lynch at the first race at Keeneland, winning a seven-way shake on the Claiborne-bred gelding by ARCH.
$200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2) - Santa Anita Park
After sitting out the Pegasus, MCKINZIE battled it out with rivals GIANT EXPECTATIONS and BATTLE OF MIDWAY in the San Pasqual at Santa Anita.
Stuck between these two rivals, Mike Smith kept MCKINZIE patient but waiting while Flavien Prat broke out the stick to get BATTLE OF MIDWAY moving to keep up. GIANT EXPECTATIONS faded in the stretch, while the other two dueled to the end. In the final strides, BATTLE OF MIDWAY found just enough energy left to win by half a length.
$150,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G3) - Gulfstream Park
For the fillies, it's not necessarily the Road to the Derby they are after, but the Oaks. After a five and a half month layoff, FEEDBACK showed she was ready to run.
In the seven-furlong sprint for three-year-old fillies, FEEDBACK pressed the pace early, which was set by FASHION FAUX PAS. On the turn, FEEDBACK opened up a lead followed by BYE BYE J on the outside. With pressure from BYE BYE J, FEEDBACK responded to Irad Ortiz Jr.'s urge and took the W. BYE BYE J held on for second with CHAMPAGNE ANYONE.
$150,000 SWALE STAKES (G3) - Gulfstream Park
CALL PAUL broke a little slow in the Swale, allowing COUNTRY SINGER to speed to the front from the outside and set the opening fractions of :21.76 and :44.27. Around the half-mile point, CALL PAUL received his urge to go and that was all he needed, passing HIGH CRIME, ZENDEN and FROSTED GRACE. TOPPER T followed close behind but had no chance to catch him. CALL PAUL took the win by 1 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:23.43. ZENDEN took second with TOPPER T in third.