The Triple Crown trail came to Turfway Park today, with two prep races on the card. The Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes is the highlight of Turfway's winter meeting, with a field of nine going to post in this $500,000 event over 1 1/8 miles. Sent off as the lukewarm 2-1 favorite was Spanish Chestnut, shipping in from California for trainer Patrick Biancone off a win in the San Rafael and a third place finish in the Santa Catalina.
Flower Alley winner of the Lane's End at Turfway Park.
Jockey Gary Stevens took Spanish Chestnut to the front right away, and led the field through 1/4 in 23.00 and 1/2 in 46.68, while being stalked by 5-1 third choice Magna Graduate. Into the lane, Spanish Chestnut tired and dropped back to an eventual sixth place finish, as 9-1 shot Mr. Sword inherited the lead, getting 3/4 in 1:11.16. 10-1 shot Flower Alley, who stalked the pace the whole way, kicked into gear in mid-stretch under Jorge Chavez and got up for the 1/2 length victory over 6-1 late-running Wild Desert in a time of 1:50.33 over the muddy track. It was 2 more lengths back to Mr. Sword in third, and another 1/2 length to Magna Graduate in fourth. Robby Albarado aboard Wild Desert claimed foul against Chavez for interference in upper stretch but the stewards disallowed the claim.
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Those maiden races at Gulfstream, at times, are some of the toughest 3-year-old races around. He trained well since then, and I trained him with Bandini and Ashado and he finished right there with those two. We are on a tight schedule now. I think the Arkansas Derby or Blue Grass will be next."
Winning rider Jorge Chavez said, "He was green, but he can run great, and he looks like a Derby horse."
Trainer Patrick Biancone of beaten favorite Spanish Chestnut said, "Nothing happened, really. He just didn't stay. He was attacked early, and it was just a little too far for him. We are going to go another program with him."
On the undercard of the Lane's End was the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. The overwhelming 2-5 favorite in the field of 10 was Proud Accolade, off his dominating win in the Hutcheson Stakes last time out. Replacing regular rider John Velazquez on the favorite was Jerry Bailey. When the race got underway, jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. took 15-1 shot Daddy Joe to the front, and he was loose on the lead through quick fractions of 1/4 in 22.82, 1/2 in 46.48, and 3/4 in 1:11.20. Daddy Joe held the lead to the 1/8 pole, when 39-1 bomb Cat Shaker, coming from the back of the pack and out in the three path, closed strongly to get up by just 1/2 a length at the wire, in a time of 1:44.49 in the mud. It was 6 3/4 lengths back to 7-1 shot Catch Me in third. Proud Accolade raced in mid-pack early and was in striking position around the turn, but failed to respond when asked at the 3/8 pole and gave way through the stretch, finishing a disappointing sixth.
Trainer Todd Pletcher of beaten favorite Proud Accolade said, "He looked like he didn't like the dirt in his face or the off going. He never really got in his rhythm."
Blues and Royals winner of the UAE Derby at Nad al Sheba.
The $2 million U.A.E. Derby is the local prep on Dubai World Cup day at Nad al Sheba for the classics in both Europe and America, with 3-year-olds going 1800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on the main track. However, Southern Hemisphere 4-year-olds are also allowed to enter since they are born 6 months later than northern hemishere horses. This race was meant to be a public workout for European juvenile champion Shamardal, who was Godolphin's main hope for the Kentucky Derby, but the 3-2 favorite stopped badly at the top of the stretch and finished ninth. 50-1 stablemate Blues and Royals raced in mid-pack down the backstretch, then grabbed the lead just outside the quarter pole and drew off to a commanding 12-length victory over Marenostrum in a time of 1:50.05. It was another length and a half back to another Godolphin entrant, 2-1 second choice Parole Board.
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said, "We were surprised, we thought Shamardal would be the better horse tonight. Shamardal has not been ruled out (for the Kentucky Derby). You can forget what you saw tonight." Shamardal's jockey Frankie Dettori added, "He was too fresh and always going too fast. If he had have kept up that speed he would have been a motorbike not a racehorse. I just could never get him to relax and not surprisingly he didn't get home."
A close finish in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Parkwith Interpatation winning on the outside.
At Gulfstream Park, a field of eight 3-year-olds went to post in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes, a $100,000 event over 1 1/8 miles on the turf. 4-5 favorite Tadreeb set the pace and was 2 lengths clear with a furlong to go, but the 38-1 longest shot on the board, Interpatation, closed on the far outside with a late rush to just get up by a nose at the line, in a time of 1:47.12 over the firm course. It was another 1/2 length back to 26-1 shot Fishy Advice in third.
Winning trainer Robert Barbara said, "We tried to break this horse's maiden last time but he got beat. Anyway, I thought he was better than the horse that beat him (Fishy Advice) and that horse was in this race today so I went ahead and put him in against him. I always liked this horse on dirt as well as grass but I just couldn't get him in a race."
Winning jockey Tommy Turner said, "The trainer told me to put him on the lead and I was all set to do it, but there were two horses inside me and two horses outside me. I wasn't going to get into a four-horse speed duel in a $100,000 race, so I took back and waited for a spot. We came around and a seam opened up at the top of the lane and he just exploded through there."
Malibu Moonshine winner of the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park.
Finally, Laurel Park was the site of the $50,000 Private Terms Stakes at a mile on the main track. 3-1 second choice Malibu Moonshine closed from last place early on to just get up by a neck in a time of 1:40.04 over 53-1 shot Hello Jerry. 5-2 favorite Flaminsun was fifth.
Winning rider Steve Hamilton said, "The race set up pretty good. We were stuck down on the inside and the horse doesn't particularly like being down there. He overcame a lot today. A horse ran up on the inside of him and he picked it right up on his own. It all came out well in the end. He is getting better all the time and hopefully he'll keep progressing."
Winning trainer King T. Leatherbury said, "He had to come from way back today. He's a nice horse. I don't think he'll have any problem stretching out [in distance] as the year goes on. If he shows that he's worthy of it, we'll point for the Preakness. We have another 3-year-old race coming up in Maryland. We'll probably wait for that." Leatherbury will nominate Malibu Moonshine for the Triple Crown.