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Thursday 12 February 2015

American Pharoah set to return next month

Champion American Pharoah recently returned to the track for the first time since injury forced him to miss the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The race was won impressively by Texas Red, a horse that American Pharoah had beaten by nearly five lengths in the FrontRunner Stakes in September.

Bob Baffert’s Kentucky Derby favourite covered only three-eighths of a mile with Martin Garcia aboard but did enough to satisfy connections. The Zayat Stables homebred is on schedule to make his reappearance in the Group 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 14th.

Dortmund battles to RB Lewis victory

Dortmund maintained his unbeaten record with a hard-fought victory over Firing Line in last weekend’s $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park. The son of Big Brown earned a quote of 12-1 for the Kentucky Derby with the runner-up offered at 33-1 for the first leg of the American Triple Crown.

Dortmund raced in company with Tizcano for the first half-mile before locking horns with Firing Line down the backstretch. Firing Line looked to have taken the measure of Dortmund when going a length up in the home straight but the chestnut rallied bravely to get back up on the line. Jockey Martin Garcia felt that the colt may have been idling and is still learning his trade.

Owner Kaleem Shah is looking at the Group 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 7th for Dortmund’s next start and believes that a longer trip will benefit his horse. Baffert suggested that it may be prudent to wait for the $1million Santa Anita Derby on April 4th and a final decision will be made in due course.

Dortmund earned 10 points towards a starting place in the Kentucky Derby field on May 2nd with Firing Line collecting four points. Points are awarded for the Kentucky Derby series in the Prep Season on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the first four to finish in the relevant trials.

The pair finished over 20 lengths clear of Rock Shandy in third and they could turn out to be two very smart colts. Veteran jockey Gary Stevens regretted that he had not delayed his challenge a little longer on Firing Line and blamed himself for the defeat.

Dortmund and Firing Line had clashed previously in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity in December with Baffert’s colt winning by a head in a new track record time. Dortmund was bred in Kentucky by Emilie Gerlinde Fojan and is out of Grade 3-placed Our Josephina.

Far From Over stuns El Kabeir

The Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct was expected to go the way of El Kabeir but the 1-2 favourite was turned over by Far From Over.

The Todd Pletcher-trained colt won his maiden in December and recovered from a sluggish start to readily outpace El Kabeir and earn a 20-1 quote for the Derby. The son of Blame was settled on the rail by Manuel Franco and was given plenty of time to make his way back into the race. He was asked for his effort in the home straight and responded by sweeping past El Kabeir and Classy Class to win by a length and three-quarters. Far From Over was bred by Alexander Groves Matz out of the AP Indy mare Alchemist.

Jockey Chuckie Lopez could offer no excuses on the runner-up and trainer John Terranova also felt that El Kabeir had simply been beaten by a better horse on the day. He has now been pushed out to 40-1 in the Kentucky Derby betting.

Derby scratchings

Leave The Light On and Mawthooq are both out of the Kentucky Derby. An ankle injury has ruled out Leave The Light On, winner of the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. The injury was discovered after the colt had worked well towards the end of January. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has been forced to take Mawthooq off the Derby trail due to a tendon injury.

Upcoming Trials

Upcoming trials include the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate on February 14th and the Southwest at Oaklawn Park on February 16th. The Fountain of Youth will take place at Gulfstream Park on February 21st with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds on the same day. The Tampa Bay Derby is held on the 7th March, the same day as the Gotham at Aqueduct. The Spiral Stakes is on March 21st at Turfway Park followed by the Sunland Derby at Sunland Park the following day.

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