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– 1st Star: CREATOR – This years Arkansas Derby certainly had the looks of an upset in the making, and Creator did not disappoint us. The improving Steve Asmussen trainee showed signs of being an up and coming horse in the Rebel Stakes, and he confirmed those thoughts on Saturday with a devastating last to first move in the Arkansas Derby. The win gave jockey Ricardo Santana his first Grade 1 victory, and he earned it with a great ground saving trip. The pace of the race set up well for closers, and Creator was able to take advantage. His beyer speed figure of 96 puts him directly in the mix for the Kentucky Derby, and if he can get the pace setup again he could be flying late with a chance. Oaklawn will have several local hopefuls for the big race once again this year.
– 2nd Star: EFFINEX – No hives this time! After struggling through hives in the Santa Anita Handicap Effinex finished a flat third, but on Saturday he looked like the picture perfect race horse both in the paddock and on the track. This time around he put pressure on Melatonin early on, and cruised by him with ease down the lane to take the Oaklawn Handicap. The margin of victory wasn’t devastating, but the ease of which he beat a classy field really jumps out at you. He’ll now be pointed towards all the big Grade 1 races for older horses, and will be tough to beat in all of those races.
– 3rd Star: FOREVER UNBRIDLED – How good has this filly gotten? After just a “so so” 3 year old season, Forever Unbridled has come back as a fantastic four year old. On Friday she captured her first Grade 1 victory in the Apple Blossom, and she did it with class over Streamline and Tara’s Tango. The filly has developed a very solid late kick down the lane, and races like the Breeders Cup Distaff are now reasonable goals for her down the road. Trainer Dallas Steward has done a tremendous job with this one.
– CUPID – Wouldn’t it had just been too easy if Cupid would have wired the field in the Arkansas Derby and stamped himself as the Kentucky Derby favorite? He did quite the opposite…pressed the pace and completely quit when the real running began. Obviously he’s not as bad as that performance, but it will be tough for him to rebound in time to make an impact in the Kentucky Derby.
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