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Kentucky Derby road winds to New York –



Fierceness, shown winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is working toward a return to the Kentucky Derby trail in the Feb. 4 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Photo by Casey Phillips/EclipseSportswire, courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

Jan. 5 (UPI) — The Road to the Kentucky Derby winds through New York this weekend as five hopefuls are entered for the $150,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

The road to the Breeders’ Cup takes a big detour — to South Africa for two of that country’s Group 1 races. And the World Cup Carnival heats up in Dubai, including an early prep for the UAE Derby, in itself a qualifier for the Run for the Roses.

The Road to the Roses

Drum Roll Please could only manage third in his last start but looks to bounce back while taking on four rivals in Saturday’s 1-mile Jerome Stakes at the Big A.

The Hard Spun colt is trained by Brad Cox, whose horses already hold two of the top 10 spots on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” leaderboard.

Drum Roll Please was competitive in the last-out Remsen on Dec. 2 until Dornoch and Sierra Leone drew off in the stretch. He could benefit, therefore, from the cutback from that 1 1/8 miles to the Jerome’s straight mile.

Trainer Todd Pletcher brings Calumet Farm’s recent maiden winner Khanate. New York-bred El Grando O comes off a win in the Sleepy Hollow for state-breds.

Regalio and Sweet Soddy J are entered off victories at Laurel Park although the latter is cross-entered in Saturday’s 6 1/2-furlong Turfway Prevue.

Meanwhile, seven are entered for the Prevue on the Turfway all-weather track. Should Sweet Soddy J opt for the Big A, he probably would leave Vote No as the favorite among six, although several others look capable of moving forward.

Vote No, a Divisidero gelding, won his first two starts — on the all-weather course at Presque Isle Downs and the turf at Kentucky Downs — before finishing a good third in the Grade II Bourbon Stakes on the Keeneland greensward.

First World War came back from that to finish second on the dirt in Saturday’s Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park.

Three-year-old turfers try Saturday’s $125,000 Dania Beach Stakes and $125,000 Ginger Brew Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Both are 1 mile.

Fierceness, who tops the “Road” leaderboard on the strength of his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is working at Palm Meadows in Florida and expected to start his Derby campaign in the Feb. 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.


Saturday’s $150,000 Ladies Stakes at Aqueduct drew a field of six ranging from a recent Brazilian import to a recent maiden winner at Aqueduct. Another Brad Cox trainee, Comparative, looked impressing while winning an allowance race over the track in November after a layoff.

Five turned out for Saturday’s $150,000 Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn Park, including last year’s winner, Lovely Ride. Others look stouter this time around, including the winner and third from the recent Mistletoe Stakes, Butterbean and Ice Orchid.

Around the world, around the clock

South Africa

Two Group 1 races set for Saturday at Kenilworth Racecourse offer “Win and You’re In” berths for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 2 at Del Mar.

The winner of the 1 1/8-mile Cartier Paddock Stakes gets a freebie into the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and the winner of the 1-mile L’Ormarins King’s Plate snags the Annie Oakley for the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Ongoing international quarantine rules, under review by the European Union, make it very difficult and time-consuming for South African horses to travel for international competition.


The World Cup Carnival soldiers on with two Group stakes and the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial on the Friday night card. The Guineas Trial at 1,400 meters and the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes at 1,200 meters are both on the dirt. The Zabeel Mile is run on the turf. It’s early innings, but some quality horses are among the older runners.

The Trial goes with a field of just seven. Perhaps others were scared off by Mo Yetal, a Flameaway colt who won his career debut by 13 1/2 lengths Dec. 16 at Jebel Ali. He is among six of the seven starters bred in America. The seventh, Quartier, was 3-for-3 in his native Uruguay before shipping out.


Catching up with the first of two Trials Days for the All-Weather Championship finals: Six £45,000 races run on New Year’s Day at Newcastle offered free entry to the corresponding Finals Day race at the same course, plus a £30,000 bonus bonus for doubling up with a win in the final.

A horse winning in the same category on both Trial Days and Finals Day will score a total bonus of £75,000.

Penzance pirated the 1 1/4-mile test for the Easter Classic on Finals Day, edging Storm Catcher by a short head with the favorite, To Catch a Thief, a fading eighth. The winner, a 4-year-old Wootton Bassett gelding, scored his third straight win, all at the distance on all-weather.

Zeelandia, a 7-year-old Sea the Moon gelding, defeated Enemy by a neck at the end of the extended 2 miles in the qualifier for the Finals Day Marathon on Good Friday. The favorite, Duke of Oxford, was another 5 1/2 lengths back in third.

Dear My Friend was a 2-length winner in the 1-mile trial for Good Friday. Master Zoffany reported sixth. They were joint favorites. Dear My Friend, a 4-year-old by Pivotal, was making his first start since gelding and throat surgery.

In the fillies division, Shades of Summer, with Laura Pearson riding for trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam, defeated Nine Tenths by 3/4 length, with favorite Julia Augusta fifth.

Blue Prince took the 7-furlong feature for newly turned 3-year-olds by 1/2 length from Sommelier, with the 5-4 favorite, Brave Empire, next-last of 10. Blue Prince, a Blue Point colt, made it back-to-back wins on the all-weather.

Albasheer salvaged the day for favorites with a victory in the 6-furlong sprint for older horses, defeating Fivethousandtoone by 1 1/2 lengths with Hollie Doyle back from her interational engagements to take the mount.

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