There are number of interesting maiden and allowance races for three-year-olds being held across the country today, some of which have already been run. In today's fifth race at Gulfstream Park, I was very impressed by Mike Maker's first-timer starter Dreaming of Gold, who finished second by a neck going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. The colt was forced to be steadied at the start when Saham ducked inward and lost his rider, and as a result, Dreaming of Gold found himself about a dozen lengths off the early pace. However, through a third quarter-mile that was timed in :24.96, Dreaming of Gold gained a remarkable ten lengths on the leaders, sweeping into contention with a wide bid that carried him into the lead at the top of the stretch. At that point, the Kathy Ritvo-trained gelding Call Me Crazy battled back to win the race, but I believe Dreaming of Gold would have triumphed if not for the incident in the start. He's one to watch for the future!
At Aqueduct, Lehigh Five -- a first-time starter from the barn of Richard Violette, Jr. -- scored an impressive victory in a six-furlong maiden special weight for New York-breds. With Jose Ortiz in the saddle, the son of Birdstone set fractions of :23.56 and :47.86 before being put to strong urging at the top of the stretch, and although it took him a moment to get in gear, he eventually drew off to win by 10 3/4 lengths with a final quarter in :25.16.
Now for a quick rundown of the races that are still to be run!
Oaklawn Park Race 7: This 8.5-furlong maiden special weight has drawn a field of twelve, including Remington Springboard Mile sixth-place finisher Hillbilly Style, who finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of LeComte Stakes (gr. III) third-place finisher Tiznow R J in a Churchill maiden race last November. The morning line favorite is the Mark Casse-trained Kantune, who most recently finished third behind Prospect Park and Cyrus Alexander in an 8.5-furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita.
Fair Grounds Race 8: Originally scheduled to be run on the turf, this 5 1/2-furlong allowance optional claiming race will now be run on the main track. The 7-5 morning line favorite is Bourbon Cowboy, who most recently finished second to four-time stakes winner Cinco Charlie in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds. Also entered in this race is Dekabrist, who finished eighth in the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) last Saturday.
Aqueduct Race 8: Ten horses have been entered in this six-furlong maiden special weight for New York-breds, including the Todd Pletcher-trained first-time starter April Color. Watch the Tie, who finished second in a similar race on December 3rd, is the morning line favorite.
Santa Anita Race 3: Trainer Doug O'Neill has two starters in this one-mile allowance optional claiming race on the turf, including Ernest Shackleton, who finished seventh in the Eddie Logan Stakes last time out. The favorite on the morning line is Willing to Travel, who broke his maiden two starts back going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf (defeating the above-mentioned Kantune, who ran fourth) before finishing fifth in the Eddie Logan Stakes.