T-minus 40 days until the Kentucky Derby and we had an exciting weekend of prep races bringing us closer to knowing who will be loading into the starting gates for the Oaks and Derby the first weekend in May.
$1 Million Louisiana Derby (G2)
Unfortunately, it was a rough start to the Louisiana Derby for favorite WAR OF WILL. The colt lost his footing after the break and appeared to "lose his rear end" according to Mark Casse. The colt was significantly off coming out of the race.
The pace was set by longshot LEMNISCATE. The colt set fast fractions of :23.63 and :47.68. BY MY STANDARDS, SUENO and SPINOFF all tailed directly behind him. After a four-wide move by SPINOFF, BY MY STANDARDS, coming off a 4 1/4 length victory in his maiden race, rallied on the inside down the stretch, speeding past SPINOFF to earn the win, 100 points and a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Owner Chester Thomas was ecstatic after the win, which was also his stable's 100th victory.
SPINOFF earned 40 points and moved up to 16th in the Derby ranks. This should be enough to ensure trainer Todd Pletcher will be headed to the Derby for the 16th time. SUENO finished third and earned 20 points. COUNTRY HOUSE was fourth and earned 10 points.
After the race, Mark Casse reported that WAR OF WILL was "feeling a lot better" and stated that it was the colt's patella ligament that caught and made him freeze up after the break. He reported that they will be changing his exercise for a bit to strengthen those ligaments. The trainer is still optimistic about making the Kentucky Derby.
$400,000 New Orleans Handicap (G2)
NOBLE INDY, last year's Louisiana Derby winner, set the pace in a battle with MR. BLUFF. The pair set fractions of :23.56 and:47.26. Sitting in fourth at the half-mile pole, CORE BELIEFS caught them midway and around the turn. They surged to the front at the top of the stretch to steal the lead from SILVER DUST. LONE SAILOR finished three-quarters of a length back for third. The final time for the nine-furlong race was 1:51.26.
$400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2)
Despite a rough break, STREET BAND went in hand while SERENGETI EMPRESS set the pace. STREET BAND rated the front runner just off the pace until the quarter pole where she went three wide. LIORA took the advantage briefly as SERENGETI EMPRESS faded. With a furlong to go, STREET BAND took command steadily urging to the wire while LIORA held on for second and SWEET DIANE finished third. Final time was 1:44.54.
SERENGETI EMPRESS didn't come out of the race well, suffering a bleed as she faded to last. She rode back to the barn in the van but was walking under her own power. She was reported to be 100% sound at the barn.
LIORA now has 71 points towards the Kentucky Oaks, where she currently ranks 2nd. STREET BAND earned 100 points and is currently number one on the leaderboard. SERENGETI EMPRESS has 60 total points and sits in fourth.
$200,000 Sunland Park Oaks
All eyes were on the half-sister to American Pharoah yesterday at Sunland Park. CHASING YESTERDAY made her three-year-old debut in the 1 1/16th mile Sunland Park Oaks. K P SLICKEM led the field after the break with a :24.17 first quarter. ENLISTING took over on the backstretch setting the half at :48. At the top of the turn CHASING YESTERDAY took the lead and extended her advantage down the stretch finishing in 1:43.18. K P SLICKEM held on for second and BACKFLASH finished third.
CHASING YESTERDAY had a bit of a bad start due to a horse acting up next to her, but she gathered herself like a professional and prevailed. The filly is now headed to the Kentucky Oaks where she currently has 60 points and is ranked third on the leaderboard.
$800,000 Sunland Park Derby
MUCH GUSTO broke well in the Sunland Park Derby to set the pace with the early lead. He set a fast first quarter in :22.76. He held his advantage over HUSTLE UP with ANOTHERTWISTAFATE behind him pressing the pace. CUTTING HUMOR rated the leaders in fourth on the outside.
MUCHO GUSTO was still the leader coming into the half and at six furlongs, but CUTTING HUMOR made ahis move in the backstretch and hustled going three wide. He challenged MUCHO GUSTO while ANOTHERTWISTAFATE faded.
At the mile, MUCHO GUSTO faded and CUTTING HUMOR took a half-length lead midstretch. ANOTHERTWISTAFATE wasn't done though and came back with a second wind, storming down the middle of the stretch and managed to finish a neck behind CUTTING HUMOR at the wire. The final time was 1:46.94, a track record. MUCHO GUSTO held on for third six lengths back.
CUTTING HUMOR earned his first win since breaking his maiden in November at Gulfstream Park West and picked up the 50 points he needed to put him firmly on the Road to the Derby. He sits in fifth place on the leaderboard. ANOTHERTWISTAFATE earned 20 points and MUCHO GUSTO earned 10 points. WICKED INDEED picked up 5 points for his fourth place finish.