Week of March 5, 2012
Hansen makes the most of the Gotham Stakes (NYRA/Adam Coglianese)

Hansen made a strong showing in the Gotham Stakes but much of the weekend action was centered around older horses.

The first clue about Ron The Greek, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (chart | replay), should have been that trainer Bill Mott rarely ships to California. The second clue should have been the decent, but not winning, effort in what turned out to a prep in the Sunshine Millions Classic (chart). Mott recently used this approach with Drosselmeyer in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (chart). The race itself was a cross between a quarter horse race and a rodeo with incredibly fast fractions (22.26, 44.55, 1:09.08, 1:34.14) and plenty of bumping in the stretch. Ron The Greek made an impressive wide move going into the stretch and pulled clear in the final sixteenth. No word on what’s next for the newest “improving with age” member of the Handicap Division. UPDATE: Both Ron the Greek and second place Setsuko are considering the Charles Town Classic on April on 14.

Several 4-year-old campaigns got off to a great start this weekend. Pants on Fire kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with an eye-catching win in a stacked allowance race at Gulfstream (chart) on Saturday. Finishing forth was Dialed In, who was making his first start since the Preakness (chart). Soldat also made a triumphant return in his first start since last year’s Kentucky Derby (chart) in an allowance over the turf at Gulfstream (chart). And It’s Tricky kicked off her 4-year-old campaign with a win in the Grade 2 Top Flight at Aqueduct (chart). Her next start is either the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on April 13 at Oaklawn Park or Grade 2 Distaff at Aqueduct on April 14 with the goal of the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on May 28. No word on what’s next for Pants on Fire or Soldat but the later will be pointed to major turf stakes according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Former $40K claimers claimed stakes victories on Saturday when Calibrachoa brought his Aqueduct inner track record to 5-5 in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Stakes (chart) and Willyconker held off a game Mr. Commons in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (chart | replay) at Santa Anita. Calibrachoa successfully defended last year’s Tom Fool win by holding a fast closing Caleb’s Posse, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (chart). The two could meet again on April 7 Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct.

Eden’s Moon, who’s only prior loss was to Reneesgotzip, returned the favor in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes (chart | replay) at Santa Anita Park, bringing an end Reenesgotzip’s winning streak. Reneesgotzip had an eventful trip, taking herself wide on the first turn and getting into a bumping match with Eden’s Moon going into the stretch. Her trainer, Peter Miller, lodged a claim foul that the stewards ruled against based on the age-old reason: “you started it” (Reneesgotzip initiated the bumping). Miller and jockey Corey Nakatani also claimed that Reneesgotzip was hit in the face with Martin Garcia’s whip but stewards did not agree. No word on how she, or anyone, came out of the race but both fillies are likely pointing towards the April 1 Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks.

As it turns out, the 2011 Eclipse Juvenile champ Hansen did not need a blue tail to add excitement or be seen in the Grade 2 Gotham Stakes on Saturday at Aqueduct (chart). After being floated wide in the first turn and forced to rate for the first time, Hansen handled the adversity with ease, cruising to a three length victory. He’ll ship back to Kentucky to train for the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7. He closed at 9-1 in pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Futures with Union Rags closing at 4-1 and the field remaining favored at 3-1. In the only futures pool for the 2012 Kentucky Oaks the field closed as the favorite at 4-1 with Princess Arabella not far behind at 6-1, Grace Hall at 8-1 and Las Virgenes winner Eden’s Moon at 9-1.

Updates
Top Kentucky Derby contender Out of Bounds was declared off the Derby trail this morning when an injury was discovered after what was characterized as “fantastic” workout. Trainer Eoin Harty was quoted as saying “Unbelievable. His work was sensational. Beyond belief. This is just horrible timing.” The injury is not life-threatening or career-ending but will require surgery.

Find out what the second week of March has in store in our current The Month Ahead post, plus be sure to check Understanding Luck later today for the last night’s installment. Did you see any of the horses this weekend that you’d like to follow? Check out our post on Notification Services and find out how it easy it is to stay current on your favorite horses!

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 Top Flight Handicap Replay
It’s Tricky makes a successful return


Pants on Fire Allowance Race Replay
Pants on Fire looks ready to make his next move.


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


Soldat Allowance Race Replay
Soldat looks equally ready to make his next move.


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


2012 Tom Fool Handicap Replay
Calibrachoa holds off the late charge of Caleb’s Posse


2012 Gotham Stakes Replay
Hansen reminds everyone that he likes to win.


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Last 5 posts by Dana Byerly
Charts and PPs provided by Brisnet


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