Kentucky Derby and Oaks Contenders Update

Derby Contenders

Tax entered the Withers stakes on a third-place finish in the Grade II Remsen on Dec. 1. That race was won by Maximus Mischief, who shortly thereafter raced to Florida, where he finished third in Saturday’s Holy Bull.

The Grade II Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull results broke the chalk bettors. The winner was Harvey Wallbanger at odds of 25-1 and Everfast ran second, at 99-1, to pay 81.40 for running second. Maximus Mischief, odds on favorite ran third.

Harvey Wallbanger was well back in third as the field turned for home. But found running room on the inside, he moved by the leaders winning by only a single length. Harvey Wallbanger will be nominated to the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby although the Fountain is questionable.

Mucho Gusto had no trouble running over the sloppy conditions for an easy victory in the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes. He took immediate control of the race, and easily moved to the front on the turn for home and moved clear in the final furlong to win going away by 4 3/4 lengths. Gunmetal Gray finished second and Easy Shot ran third.

Mucho Gusto now is 3-for-4 with the only loss a second-place finish behind undefeated stablemate Improbable in the Grade I Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity.

Gunmetal Gray received a cut on his left front heel during the race. He will need some time off from training to let the wound to heal.

Caul Paul continued his sprint dominance with an off-the-pace, 1 1/4-lengths triumph in Saturday’s $150,000 Grade III Swale at Gulfstream Park. He waited for the turn for home to start running. He gradually moved up on the field, at the top of lane he drew off from the field down the lane. Call Paul is 3-for-3 at distances less than 1 mile but finished third in both the Grade I Champagne and the Grade III Nashua, both times tiring late.

Tax, Mucho Gusto and Harvey Wallbanger each earned 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby scoreboard. Game Winner, who has yet to make his 3-year-old debut, leads the with 30 points. Knicks Go, Signalman and Gunmetal Gray are tied for second with 18 points.

Coming up on the Derby trail: John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park,  Grade III Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs and Grade II San Vicente at Santa Anita.

Oaks Contenders

Feedback pressed the pace in Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park, moved smoothly to the lead and won by 1/2 length. With Bye Bye J running second and Champagne Anyone third. Feedback ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.51. She was making just her second start, following an 8-lengths win at Saratoga in August and a long rest. Despite the inexperience, she was the odds-on favorite in the Forward Gal.

Power Gal won the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park by 1/2 length over Marathon Queen. Taylor’s Spirit, who set a pressured pace, ran third and the favorite, Sunset Wish, finished fourth. Power Gal ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.82. She has won two race out of her fourth career starts.

Iva  rallied to win the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes at Turfway Park, chased down the leaders and won by 1 1/4 lengths. Workaholic was second, 1/2 length in front of Malibu Party. Iva ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:18.82. She exited a second-place finish behind Bye Bye J in the House Party Stakes on the Gulfstream Park dirt after winning her first two starts on the Indiana Grand turf and the Belterra dirt.

Always Shopping won the Busanda at Aqueduct. She was followed across the wire by Filly Joel and Afleet Destiny. Always Shopping went off as the betting favorite. She was able to stalk the leaders until the turn for home. She took control around the quarter pole to pull off for a l 1/4 length victory. The Busanda was her first stake race. She was awarded 10 Kentucky Oaks points for her victory.

Feedback and Power Gal each earned 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks scoreboard The current top three Oaks points leaders are: Jaywalk with 30 points, followed by Restless Rider and Bellafina are tied for second with 22 points.

Coming up on the Oaks trail: Grade II Las Virgenes at Santa Anita and  Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.


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