Two Top Stakes Feature Variety of Top Runners

by Greg Melikov

posted on April 4, 2012 in Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, News, Other Events | No Comments >>

Two runners from the Gotham Stakes return to Aqueduct with their eye on Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial. The Grade 1 appears fairly wide open since Hansen opted for the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14.

Gotham runner-up My Adonis, beaten three lengths, enters the 1 1/8-mile contest with only one off-the-board finish, while going 2-4-1 in his other seven starts. Tiger Walk, fourth on March 3, is 2-0-1 of 6.

Alpha, one of the more dangerous sophomores, boasts a graded stakes victory in the Withers. The son of ’06 Preakness champ Bernardini, 3-1-0 of 5, also captured a minor stakes this year.

After conferring with his physician about his healing injury, jockey Ramon Dominguez announced he will ride a few horses this week and be aboard Alpha.

“The doctor was happy with the progress I have made and the tests looked great, but he feels that we should take a conservative approach for now,’’ said Dominguez, who suffered a separated collarbone in a spill at Aqueduct on March 18.

The so-called dark horse is Gemologist, unbeaten in five outings, who makes his 3-year-old stakes debut. He did win the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26.

The son of Tiznow turned in his final serious work on Sunday at Palm Meadows Training Center, breezing five furlongs in 1:00 2/5. ‘‘I was really, really pleased,’’ trainer Todd Pletcher told ‘‘He was going well, in hand, throughout.”

Creative Cause Wins 2012 San Felipe Stakes

Creative Cause Wins 2012 San Felipe Stakes

Meanwhile, the top four finishers in the San Felipe led by winner Creative Cause could clash in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.

Creative Cause, entering the Grade 1 with a record of 4-1-2 of 7, took a pair of stakes last year as a juvenile. The son of Giant’s Causeway has never failed to hit the board in seven starts, going 4-1-2.

Runner-up Bodemeister came off a maiden victory in his second attempt, but could opt for the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 14. Third place finisher Midnight Transfer is 2-1-1 of 5. Liaison, who ran fourth, is 3-0-1 of 6, but has captured two stakes.

Mike Smith has picked up the mount on Midnight Transfer because Victor Espinoza suffered a hairline fracture to his left hand in a recent mishap. Smith was aboard Midnight Transfer for the first time on March 30, when the son of Hard Spun posted a bullet 1:11 4/5 for six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track, fastest of 15 works at the distance.

“It was good to have that experience,’’ Smith told ‘‘Midnight Transfer has a nice quick, little turn of foot, and it was nice to feel it. Now I know how to gauge him a little.’’

The dark horse in this 1 1/8-mile contest is I’ll Have Another, who counts the Robert B. Lewis victory in his record of 2-1-0 in four starts.

The son of Flower Alley went seven furlongs in 1:26 over Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track on March 30. “It was exactly what we wanted,’’ trainer Doug O’Neill said. “He galloped out a mile in 1:39 and change and cooled out fine. We’re excited about running next Saturday.’’