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Last weekend was our final “calm” weekend before the Kentucky Derby Preps and the Pegasus World Cup take center stage. Many tracks in the Northeast had to cancel because of extremely cold temperatures, which left us with a limited number of tracks still running. However, we did see some solid performances at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park that make up this week’s Three Stars of the Week.
After a year of near-misses in big races, it was nice to see Daddys Lil Darling break through and get her first Grade 1 victory. Saturday’s Grade 1 American Oaks at Santa Anita was not an easy field, but the 3-year-old filly by Scat Daddy was tremendous. She sat closer than expected early in the race, then pounced late while holding off a late charge from Madam Dancealot to win by 1/2 of a length. The options for this filly are wide-open going into 2018, as she will most likely run here as well as overseas. Let’s not forget that she is also solid on the dirt, as she was second in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.
When at his best jockey, Kent Desormeaux is as good as they come, and he certainly proved that with his win in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes on Silent Bird. After breaking poorly, Desormeaux made the smart decision to ride the horse hard to get into contention. That move paid off, as he was in a perfect spot when turning for home. He was then able to cut off Calculator‘s clear path up the rail, which helped Silent Bird hold off all late runners in the stretch. For Silent Bird, the win was his sixth overall, and first victory in a graded stakes races. He’s also hit the board in all of his starts but one, which was a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes.
It’s always exciting when a 2 MILE race comes down to a nose! That’s exactly what happened on Saturday in the Grade 3 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes, as Run Time was able to just nose out the the heavily-favored Bullards Alley right at the wire. Run Time dropped to the back early, then made a long and determined run to dig in and pick up the victory. It seems that trainer Mike Maker has a way with winning these long races on the turf, as he won this same race last year with Taghleeb. That horse went on to win the Grade 3 W.L. McKnight Handicap on Pegasus World Cup Day last year, so you have to wonder if Run Time could be on that exact same path this year.
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