Week of March 19, 2012
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

Most of the weekend action was centered on fillies and mares with Horse of the Year Havre de Grace taking center stage as she kicked off her 2012 campaign.

Current Horse of the Year Havre de Grace eased into her 5-year-old campaign at Fairgrounds on Saturday in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap (chart), easily defeating a small field. The champ never appeared to be asked for run and, according to Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form, still managed to run the fasted time at the distance for the meet. When asked about future plans in the post-race interview, trainer Larry Jones said that after seeing how she performed that “she’ll have to go depend her title.” Owner Rick Ported noted that he’d like to win “as many big Grade 1 races as possible”, including running against males. He also said he would love to bring her back as 6-year-old.

2011 Filly & Mare Sprint champion Musical Romance scored her first win of the year in the Grade 2 Inside Information (chart) at Gulfstream Park. As has been the case for many 2011 Breeders’ Cup winners, her first post-BC return did not result in a win, but she returned to form and rallied for the win. According to DRF, she grabbed a quarter coming out of the gate in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint but has since healed up nicely. The Grade 1 Vinery Madison at Keeneland on April 12 is her next target.

Include Me Out continued to rack up Distaff division wins at Santa Anita when she won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap (chart) at Santa Anita. After winning the Grade 2 La Canada in January the team decided to give her a month off so she could come into the race fresh. No word on what’s next. Tapitsfly, the winner of the ungraded 2009 Filly & Mare Juvenile Turf, won her first graded race on Sunday at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 2 Honey Fox. After missing all of 2010 recuperating from an injury, Tapitsfly returned to racing in January of 2011. She raced nine times, winning once, placing three times and showing once (9-1-3-1). 2012 is off to better start with a third in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River and now a win the Honey Fox. No word on what’s next for Tapitsfy.

At Oaklawn Park Tiz Miz Sue exacted her revenge in the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes (chart) after running second to Absinthe Minded in her first two starts of the year. She was forced wide going into the first turn and ran wide throughout but closed with authority to score a three length win. Depending on how she comes out of the race she might target the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 13. Although, if Havre de Grace goes to the Apple Blossom they may look elsewhere.

Secret Circle gave trainer Bob Baffert his third consecutive Rebel Stakes (chart) win on Saturday, narrowly holding off a fast closing Optimizer. The two are likely to meet again in the Arkansas Derby, that might also include third place Scatman and Kentucky Jockey Club winner Gemologist. Gemologist got his 3-year-old campaign off the flying to start by dominating an allowance race at Gulfstream Park that also included Currency Swap. Adirondack King, who finished seventh in the Rebel, developed a case of colic on Sunday morning but everyone seems to have come out the race fine.

Elsewhere on the 2012 Kentucky Derby trail Street Life might have ensured himself a shot at the Derby with his eye-catching win in the Broad Brush Stakes (chart) at Aqueduct. You may remember that he impressed breaking his maiden at Aqueduct in February but his trainer, Chad Brown, wanted to give him one more race before trying graded company. After Saturday’s authoritative win, Brown is “definitely considering” running him in the April 7 Wood Memorial. Hansen, who is likely to be the Wood favorite, put in what was characterized as “an easy” work on Saturday. Count Fleet and Withers winner Alpha is also likely for the Wood Memorial, according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Gusty Risen Star winner El Padrino also put in a work over the weekend in anticipation of a start against Union Rags in the Florida Derby on March 31. According to trainer Bob Baffert, Bodemeister will either go to the Santa Anita Derby or Arkansas Derby.

Jockey Javier Castellano set a new record for wins at the Gulfstream Park meet. With two weeks to go in the meet Castellano should be able to rack up a few more wins! He also launched a new site last week.

With just under two weeks to go probable starters were announced for this year’s Dubai World Cup (pdf). U.S. starters include Game on Dude, Royal Delta, Giant Ryan, The Factor and others. 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare winner Perfect Shirl will not be making the trip as planned as she strained an ankle in a workout over the weekend.

This weekend we’ll roll out two handicapping posts: and Introduction to Pace and a prequel to our How to Handicap post.

View 2012 Kentucky Derby Prep Schedule + Results via Railbird
(includes charts, replays, win place show and archive back to 2003)

Keep with all the commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!


Last Week’s Races


2012 Inside Information Stakes Replay
Eclipse Filly & Mare Sprint champ Musical Romance is back.


Click the “play” arrow and follow the “Watch on YouTube” link to view this replay


2012 Azeri Stakes Replay
Tiz Miz Sue turns the tables on Absinthe Minded.


2012 New Orleans Ladies’ Stakes Replay
Horse of the Year Havre de Grace gets paid to stretch her legs.


2012 Rebel Stakes Replay
Secret Circle makes it three Rebels in a row for trainer Bob Baffert.


2012 Honey Fox Stakes Replay
Tapitsfly closes for her first graded win.


Click the “play” arrow and follow the “Watch on YouTube” link to view this replay


Upcoming Graded Stakes Races

Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker

See you at the track!

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