Verrazano and Flashback bid to press Derby claims
Preview: USA, Saturday 10.15pm GMT (live on ATR)
Tampa Bay Downs: Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo
VERRAZANO and Flashback, vying for favouritism in British ante-post lists for the Kentucky Derby, are in action on opposite sides of the country on Saturday.
Verrazano (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez), part-owned by the Coolmore team, takes in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, a race his trainer won three years ago with subsequent Kentucky victor Super Saver.
The unbeaten son of More Than Ready comes here off a near 17-length victory in allowance company at Gulfstream Park "He trained so well before his maiden race, we anticipated he would run well," said Pletcher.
"Then he trained just as good or better for his second race. When you have one that trains as well as he does and has run as well as he had, you want to see more of the same."
Rivals in the $350,000 contest are headed by Sam F Davis Stakes one-two Falling Sky (John Terranova/Jose Espinoza) and Dynamic Sky (Mark Casse/Joel Rosario).
Tampa Bay Derby
Ladbrokes: 4-6 Verrazano, 5 Dynamic Sky, 8 Honorable Dillon, 10 Falling Sky, 16 Purple Egg, Park City, 20 Java's War, 33 Eton Blue, Offlee Fast.
Also on Saturday
Santa Anita: San Felipe Stakes (Grade 2) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo (11.35pm GMT)
A clash in this $300,000 contests between Flashback (Bob Baffert/Julien Leparoux) and Goldencents (Doug O'Neill/ Kevin Krigger), the leading west-coast contenders for Churchill Downs.
Flashback, a runaway winner over course and distance last month, is attemtping to extend his unbeaten sequence to three. He is drawn two, one inside Goldencents, a Grade 3 winner on each of his last two starts.
San Felipe Stakes
Ladbrokes: 5-4 Flashback, 5-2 Goldencents, 6 Hear the Ghost, 12 Carving, Salutos Amigos, 16 Omega Star, 20 Tiz a Minister, 25 Kochees.
Also on Saturday
Fair Grounds: New Orleans Ladies (ungraded) 1m½f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m (9.58pm GMT)
Last year's Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can (Larry Jones/Rosie Napravnik) is drawn on the outside of six on her second run of the year, having last month scored by ten lengths over course and distance.
Oaklawn Park: Honeybee Stakes (Grade 3) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo fillies (10.09pm GMT)
A crucial test for Flashy Gray (Bill Mott/Mike Smith), who bids to confirm her status as early favourite for the Kentucky Oaks on her stakes debut in which she is stretching out to two turns for the first time.
Gulfstream Park: Gulfstream Park Hcap (Grade 2) 1m, dirt, 4yo+ (10.35pm GMT)
Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned (Ian Wilkes/Brian Hernandez) gives away 6lb and more to five opponents as he makes his five-year-old debut. Rivals are headed by top sprinter Fort Loudon (Nick Zito/Jose Lezcano) and Discreet Dancer (Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano), a one-time Derby contender who came back with victory in lesser company after a long injury layoff.