With California taking a break from Triple Crown prep action, the eyes of the racing world stayed east this weekend, with major events being run at Aqueduct in New York, Turfway Park in Kentucky, and Oaklawn in Arkansas.
Saratoga County and Javier Castellano winning the Gotham over Pomeroy.
Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I had a good hold of him and he broke clean. We stayed behind Chavez (jockey Jorge Chavez on Deputy Storm) and followed him until he gave it up and then we went by."
Winning trainer George Weaver remained non-committal about the Derby. He said, "I pretty much just put the bridle on him and let him go. We knew there would be a good pace in here, and all we wanted was a clean break and a chance to stalk the leaders. This was a terrific win for him. Now, we will probably consider the Lexington [Keeneland, Saturday, April 17]. Everything with him so far, including the Gotham, has been logical progression. Those three big races on April 10th (Wood Memorial, Toyota Blue Grass, Arkansas Derby) are all two turns and a mile and an eighth, but they come up too soon for this horse. The Lexington is the right next step; plus his pedigree doesn't exactly scream, `mile and a quarter.'"
Mike Smith, aboard second-place finisher Pomeroy, said, "He ran dynamite. He hadn't run in a long time. He was a little rank early; a little fractious in the gate. But he ran good. They were moving, and this will set him up good. Hopefully, he will come back big for the next one." Trainer Patrick Biancone added, "I liked his race today because he was aggressive. He was a bit fresh. He is going back Tuesday to California; it's too cold here. But I am very pleased with him. He ran exactly the way I expected."
Edgar Prado, aboard beaten favorite and third place finisher Eddington, said, "He got knocked out coming out of the gate - big time. After that, he was just back. When I turned his head loose, he lost his footing a little bit. The combination of getting hit out of the gate and the track being a little wet, I don't think it helped him. I'm more than happy with him."
Sinister G winner of the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway.
Winning jockey Paul Toscano, commenting on the wet-fast sealed track, said, "I was a little concerned once it was sealed. I thought the strategy had to change. I had the lead, so that was fine.''
Winning owner John Toscano III said, "We'll take him back to New York and play it by ear. This is a great win for our family." Sinister G will make his next start in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
On the undercard of the Lane's End Stakes was the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. 39-1 longshot Brass Hat stalked the pace out four wide early, then came on strong down the lane to draw 3 3/4 lengths clear of 7-2 second choice Tales of Glory in 1:44.36. 3-5 co-favorites El Prado Rob and Pies Prospect (coupled in the wagering) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Smarty Jones winning the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn.
Winning jockey Elliott Stewart said, He finished strong. Early on he settled a little more, and at the end he was a stronger horse." Trainer John Servis said he would start next in the Arkansas Derby. Should the Rebel Stakes winner, Smarty Jones go on to win both the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby, he would win Oaklawn's Centennial Bonus, a $5 million payoff.
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