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The first Kentucky Derby prep race of 2018 went off at Santa Anita last Saturday and did not fail to disappoint, as McKinzie cruised to an easy victory. The team of Ryan Stillman and Jon White had plenty to smile about; not only do they own McKinzie, but they also own Mask, who won the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park. While the Mucho Macho Man Stakes was not a Kentucky Derby points race, it still had great importance in terms of future Florida preps.
1. Ryan Stillman/Jon White – The week could not have gone any better for this team as they have jumped out in front in the standings. The number one overall pick in the draft, McKinzie, rolled to victory in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. However, Mask may have been even more impressive in his win at Gulfstream Park in the Mucho Macho Man. News broke last week that Enticed is pointing for either the Withers Stakes or the Holy Bull Stakes, while Untamed Domain has put in a couple of works at Palm Meadows as he prepares for his debut on dirt. The only concern for this team is Montauk, who hasn’t had a workout in quite a while. Overall, this team looks loaded.
2. Aaron Halterman – It’s only the second week in January, but it’s without question a make-or-break week for this team. Almost unbelievably, ALL FIVE of the horses on this team run this week. It starts on Thursday, when Noble Indy runs in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park. On Saturday, Principe Guilherme and Instilled Regard run in the loaded Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. Finally, Mourinho and Combatant are scheduled to make their 2018 debuts in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. This team will either be taking a commanding lead when all is said and done this week, OR will be looking for a group of new horses to claim.
3. Jared Welch – Talk about a tough week for our inaugural number one-ranked team. It started mid-week when news broke that Greyvitos underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his knee. His status on the Kentucky Derby trail is now iffy at best. Dak Attack made his heavily-anticipated return in the Mucho Macho Man but could only muster a fading third-place effort. However, it’s not all bad, as McKinzie’s win in the Sham Stakes flattered Solomini (who technically beat McKinzie in the Los Al Futurity before being DQed behind him), and Zulfikhar continues to put in solid works at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert. Sporting Chance is yet to have a workout, but that could be due to the frozen track at Oaklawn Park that’s caused the cancellation of several morning works.
4. Dan “The Fan Man” Waite – Not a lot of news to report this week for this team. It all still hinges on Catholic Boy, who hasn’t had a workout since his Remsen Stakes score, but that’s by design. Probably the biggest news for the team was the workout on Saturday by Hollywood Star at Gulfstream Park, where he’s preparing for the 2018 season. The maiden duo of Nero and Concur are also both on the workout tab and will look to enter a race soon. Finally, his recent winner, Vino Rosso, will most likely target a Kentucky Derby points race after his allowance win at Tampa Bay Downs.
5. Mike “Saratoga Slim” Spector – Slim is out of last place, as things are starting to look up. Let’s start with the good: Mask’s Mucho Macho Man victory flatters Navistar, who was second to Mask on debut before winning next out at Gulfstream Park. All Out Blitz finishing second in the Sham, flattering Restoring Hope, who just narrowly lost to him on debut at Los Alamitos. Copper Bullet returned to the work tab along with Avery Island, who will be pointed towards either the Withers or the Holy Bull for his next race. Now, the bad news: A muscle pull set back his stable star, Bolt d’Oro, as the colt will now miss a scheduled start in the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita.
6. Curtis “Magic” Kalleward – This team hasn’t done anything wrong… they just haven’t done anything, period. The news is very quiet as of now. The headliner is obviously Good Magic, but he has yet to record a workout since his Breeders’ Cup triumph. His other Breeders’ Cup winner is Mendelsshon, but there is no news on him, either. The same goes for Marconi, who has not had a workout since his maiden special weight victory on December 15. Vision and Curlin’s Honor both recorded recent works that at least gives Magic some hope, but both horses appear to still be a couple of workouts away from actually entering a race. This team could get way behind before ever having a runner.
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