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Dornoch, Deterministic advance on road to Kentucky Derby in weekend racing

Dornoch returns from victory in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. Photo courtesy of Gulfstream Park
Dornoch returns from victory in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. Photo courtesy of Gulfstream Park

March 4 (UPI) -- Neither a flurry of scratches nor some bad weather could put a damper on weekend Kentucky Derby action, as Dornoch and Deterministic advanced through prep races in Florida and New York.

The Derby prep action was the highlight of global racing schedule from Dubai to Hong Kong.

The Road to the Roses

Some of the most highly regarded Kentucky Derby contenders were scratched from weekend races but the ones who were left put on quite the show.

Imagination edges stablemate Wine Me Up in the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Benoit photography, courtesy of Santa Anita
Imagination edges stablemate Wine Me Up in the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Benoit photography, courtesy of Santa Anita

Trainer Bob Baffert, who is banned from the Run for the Roses, had three of the five original entries for Sunday's $300,000 Grade II San Felipe, but he scratched the favorite, Nysos.

His other two, Imagination and Wine Me up, then dominated the race, dueling down the Santa Anita stretch before Imagination and jockey Frankie Dettori prevailed by a head over Wine Me Up and Juan Hernandez. It was 6 3/4 lengths back to the nearest pursuer.

Helios Express ekes out victory in the Hong Kong Classic Cup, second leg of the Derby series. Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Jockey Club
Helios Express ekes out victory in the Hong Kong Classic Cup, second leg of the Derby series. Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Jockey Club

Baffert and his horses are banned from Churchill Downs, so they will not run in the Derby.

Breeders' Futurity winner Locked, second-favorite Speak Easy, impressive late-bloomer Victory Avenue and long shot Merit all were scratched from Saturday's $400,000 Grade II Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.

After all that, 1-5 favorite Dornoch, gutsy winner of the Grade II Remsen in his last start in December, got the lead on the clubhouse turn and held it, winning by 1 3/4 lengths.

Dornoch, a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage, now could go to either the Florida Derby or the Blue Grass at Keeneland as a final prep.

At Aqueduct, Deterministic, making just his second start, came splashing down the sloppy stretch and outfinished the favorite, Just a Touch, another first-timer, by 2 lengths. El Grande O, second in both the Jerome and the Grade III Withers, led briefly in the lane and settled for third.

All three top finishers are likely to continue on the Triple Crown trail in search of that answer.

The Path to the Oaks

After undefeated 2-year-old champ Just F Y I was scratched, Fiona's Magic showed the way in Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park and then held on to win by 1/2 lengths over Into Champagne.

Jody's Pride chased down early leader Carmelina exiting the stretch turn in Saturday's $200,000 Busher Stakes at Aqueduct, dueled with that one briefly, then got clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

Classic

Newgate tracked the pace in Sunday's $500,000 Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, got busy outside the leaders as the field turned for home and just did catch pacesetting longshot Subsanador, winning by a head. Reincarnate was third.

Newgate and Reincarnate are both trained by Baffert, who had a nice day at the races.

Newgate, a 4-year-old Into Mischief colt, hasn't finished worse than second in six starts since he was fifth in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October of 2022.

Turf / Turf Mile

Du Jour won Sunday's $300,000 Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita by 2 lengths.

Starting Over won Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream Park with a late run.

Emmanuel won the $150,000 Grade IIII Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park for the second straight year.

In 3-year-old action, Abrumar took Saturday's $100,000 Colonel Liam Stakes at Gulfstream Park and Camaro Z won Saturday's $100,000 off-the-turf Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Filly & Mare Turf

Ruby Nell led all the way to a 3/4-length score in Sunday's $200,000 Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita.

R Calli Kim captured Saturday's $150,000 Grade III The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream. While Pounce was victorious in the $200,000 Grade III Herecomesthebride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Dirt Mile / Sprint

Super Chow won Saturday's $175,000 Grade III Tom Fool Handicap on the sloppy Aqueduct main track by 1 1/4 lengths.

Kinetic Sky caught pacesetting Quality Chic in the final jumps of Saturday's $150,000 Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct, winning by a nose.

Steal Sunshine and Tumbarumba battled side-by-side through the final furlong of Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Gulfstream Park Mie with Steal Sunshine prevailing by a nose.

Around the world, around the clock

Dubai

Super Saturday at Meydan sorted out the locals for World Cup night and provided some pointers for summer races in Europe and North America.

Military Law, a 9-year-old Dubawi gelding, earned a spot in the $12 million World Cup itself with a win in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Classic.

Cinderella's Dream got her fourth win by 5 1/2 lengths in the Jumeira 1,000 Guineas even though jockey William Buick hadto cope with a slipped saddle through most of the stretch run.

One-time American star Laurel River showed he's back to his best with a 6 3/4-length score in the 1,600-meters Burj Nahaar.

The Godolphin home team was shut out of the two turf sprints but, as usual, dominated the longer-distance turf races on the final major program before the March 30 World Cup night.

Leading Spirit secured a spot in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen with a late-running 1 1/2-length victory in the Group 3 Mahab al Shimal at 1,200 meters on the dirt.

Hong Kong

Helios Express overcame a slow pace and traffic problems in Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Cup, then put his nose down on the wire first to keep alive hopes of a sweep in the Four-Year-Old Classic Series culminating in the March 24 BMW Hong Kong Derby.

The Toronado gelding earlier won the Classic Mile, now faces the 2,000 meters of the Derby.

England

It was a good day for favorites Friday at Lingfield, host of the second of two Trial Days for the upcoming All-Weather Championships finals on Good Friday.

Favorites or co-favorites won four of the six qualifiers and three of them repeated victories in the first Trial Day, qualifying for a £75,000 bonus if they can win the corresponding divisional final.

Barbados

Portfolio Company edged Cash Equity in a nail-biting finish to Saturday's Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup. The winner, a 5-year-old Kitten's Joy gelding, is trained by Chad Brown in Florida, where he has competed successfully in the allowance ranks.