American Turf Magazine
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Apr 01, 2011



On March 26th there were two Kentucky Derby prep races, the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes, a Grade III with a purse of $500,000 run over 1 and 1/8th miles and the Louisiana Derby run at the Fair Grounds, a Grade I with a $1 million purse run over 1 and 1/8th miles. On Sunday the 27th Sunland Park hosted the Sunland Derby, a Grade III with an $800,000 purse run over 1 and 1/8th miles.

            At Turfway in the Spiral Stakes there was a field of 11 that went postward with POSITIVE RESPONSE going off as the 8-5 favorite based a big win in the prep for this race back in early March. As the race unfolded early there was a three way duel between, POSITIVE RESPONSE, SON OF POSSE and DECISIVE MOMENT who was caught three wide into the final turn. As they continued towards the stretch, DECISIVE MOMENT took over from the other two rivals with ANIMAL KINGDOM, the second choice in the race not far off the lead at that point. Into the lane, ANIMAL KINGDOM who raced well back early on, was able to save all the ground and went from 11th to 4th while never leaving the rail, he moved outside and was able to wear down DECISIVE MOMENT who ran a great race after dueling for the lead three wide and easily outlasting those other pace rivals. ANIMAL KINGDOM has now run his record to two for two over a polytrack after breaking his maiden back at Keeneland in October. He would still have to prove that he can handle conventional dirt against better. DECISIVE MOMENT on the other hand has run well over a conventional dirt track and is an interesting sort heading towards the Derby if he does make it there.

            Moving to the Fair Grounds a full field of 12 went postward with MUCHO MACHO MAN going off as the 3-2 favorite on the strength of his win in the Risen Star Stakes back on February 19th. As the race unfolded, longshot LION DRIVE held the lead right from the start setting a decent pace getting to the half mile in 47:2 with PANTS ON FIRE right on his heels. As they entered the final turn, PANTS ON FIRE took over that lead with MUCHO MACHO MAN moving right with him into the lane. As they continued through the lane PANTS ON FIRE dug down deep holding off MUCHO MACHO MAN but had to face another late challenge from longshot NEHRO a 36-1 shot coming off his maiden win at Oaklawn Park. PANTS ON FIRE a three year old by Jump Start showed much improvement over his sixth place finish in the Risen Star Stakes over seven lengths behind MUCHO MACHO MAN. MUCHO MACHO MAN who was the beaten favorite may have had an excuse as he lost his right front shoe at the start of the race. Trainer Kathy Ritvo said that he seemed to come out of the race in good order despite losing his shoe. NEHRO on the other hand was coming off a big maiden win at Oaklawn and then ran very well in his first try with winners, he is an improving sort for the Steve Asmussen barn and is one to watch as the Derby approaches.

            The last prep of the weekend was the Sunland Derby at Sunland Park. There was a field of 11 that went postward with SINAI going off as the 2-1 favorite. As the race unfolded SINAI was sent right to the lead setting a very sharp pace getting to the half mile in 45 flat. NACHO SAINT who was stalking the pace couldn’t go on with it and began to tire a bit as ASTROLOGY, the second choice in the race moved to take over the lead with longshot TWICE THE APPEAL right on his flank. Into the lane ASTROLOGY looked like he was going to hold off TWICE THE APPEAL but he did seem to get tired in the final 1/8th and TWICE THE APPEAL went on for the win at 25-1 with ASTROLOGY holding off the late closing RULER ON ICE for the place spot. ASTROLOGY who has never been off the board in six career starts may have needed that race coming off a November layoff and is another that should be followed closely for the Steve Asmussen barn.

            In the Dubai World Cup VICTOIRE PISA from Japan ran on well through the lane to notch a half length victory over TRANSCEND another Japanese runner. This was the first Japanese horse to win the World Cup. FLY DOWN and GIO PONTI from the U. S.  didn’t finish on the board despite some trouble especially for FLY DOWN. TWICE OVER the favorite in the race, was in mid-pack but had no rally and checked in ninth.

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