This weekend, most Triple Crown hopefuls are two starts out from the Kentucky Derby. Horses that start early in March are likely to make one more race before heading to Louisville, either in the Santa Anita Derby four weeks out, or one of the big three final preps on the Triple Crown Trail that are run three weeks out, namely the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass, or the Arkansas Derby.
Imperialism just gets up on the outside of Lion Heart to win the San Rafael by a neck.
Lion Heart and 21-1 shot Hosco battled for the lead during the early stages through a quick pace of 22.67, 45.71, and 1:10.10. This set the race up perfectly for the closers. 7-1 shot Imperialism, who was unhurried at the back of the pack early, came out five wide on the turn to circle the field and rallied down the lane strongly to catch the favorite at the line in final time of 1:36.11. It was 4 1/2 lengths back to 44-1 shot Consecrate in third, who also closed well during the stretch drive but was left with too much to do. Results Chart
Victor Espinoza aboard Imperialism in the winner's circle after the San Rafael.
Wining trainer Kristin Mulhall said, "He's matured a lot. He's gone to the track every day with that blinker and he's used to it. He's started going in a much straighter path. He's grown up a lot; he's filled out a lot. Victor (Espinoza) basically knows what to do. He knows the horse. He just has to make that one big run." Mulhall added that Imperialism will start next in the Santa Anita Derby on April 3.
Mike Smith, aboard Lion Heart said, "He wanted to run too much. He was too fresh. And it showed today. You've just got to hope that he'll relax from the experience and run a little better next time. He's really quick. He's naturally quick. Usually there's not going to be a horse in there as fast as him."
The last of the preps this weekend was the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. Eleven went to post in this $600,000 event over 1 1/16 miles. The lukewarm 5-2 favorite was the two-horse entry of Breakaway and Gradepoint from the powerful Will Farish stable trained by Neil Howard.
Wimbledon winner of the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds on Sunday.
Bob Baffert, trainer of Wimbledon.
Winning owner James McIngvale said, "I was nervous all day. This is the biggest horse race I have ever won, and the biggest payday, so it reaffirms what I’m doing, which is putting all my trust in Bob Baffert. He got me to the dance. I knew he was a great horse, and he was with a great horse trainer."
Beau Greely, trainer of second place finisher Borrego, said, "I am very pleased with the race. He's getting to be a very nice horse, and he ran a nice race. Our next stop, if he comes out okay, will be the Santa Anita Derby."
Robby Albarado, aboard beaten favorite Gradepoint, said "He was flat turning for home. He just didn't have his game today."
San Rafael photos courtesy of Tina Hines.
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