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Post Time: Weekend racing heats up in Florida

By Gene Kershner    

Last Friday I commented in our weekly blog that some element of unpredictability would show its head in one of the two big prep races and I'll Have Another ($88.60) fulfilled that prophecy. He won convincingly in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita at a whopping 43-1. On the East Coast, odds-on favorite Alpha ($2.70) took the Withers going away at Aqueduct.

   It quiets down on the Derby trail this week (on the track) and the older horses take the
forefront on the racing scene. Two of the three Triple Crown race winners from 2011 will face
off in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Rosie Napravnik will seek her first Grade 1
victory aboard Belmont Stakes champ Ruler On Ice, who dons the blinkers for the Donn. The
Preakness champion Shackleford (7-2 morning line favorite) will face off against the Belmont
champ in his first race of 2012.

   The last time two Triple Crown race winners met at Gulfstream Park was in the 1989
Breeders' Cup Classic when arch rivals Easy Goer and Sunday Silence met.

   The Donn, the first big race of the year in the handicap division, did not come up light.
Other horses that could compete for the win are Mission Impazible and Flat Out, two horses
that have won Grade 1 races in the past. It also headlines a great day of racing at Hallandale
Park, which includes the Grade 2 Hutcheson for 3-year olds, the Grade 3 Suwannee River for
older fillies and mares on the turf, and the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap on the turf.

   The $150,000 Hutcheson, a 7-furlong Derby prep race drew six sophomores, including the
highly touted Ever So Lucky (2-1), trained by Jonathan Sheppard. The ever present Todd
Pletcher sends Thunder Moccasin (7-5 morning line favorite) to the gate.

   If you've been wondering where the 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom has been hiding, he's been training for a race on Feb. 25 at Tampa Bay Downs for the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race on the turf. This will be his first after suffering an injury in the Belmont Stakes exiting the gate last June. The Derby champ is pointing towards the $10 million Dubai World Cup, to be run on Meydan's Tapeta surface on March 31.

   The first round of Derby Futures pools opens this weekend (Friday through 6pm Sunday) with
25 betting choices. The "All Others" is the 9-5 favorite over Holy Bull winner Algorithms
(8-1). I explained my feelings in a News article last February, describing the Futures as
basically a sucker bet. The remaining pools are scheduled for March 2-4 and March 30-April 1,
and all Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools feature both win and exacta wagering.

   Good luck this weekend and let's go cash some tickets!

   Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer and handicapper who blogs at and tweets @EquiSpace.



Horse Racing
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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.