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Arkansas Derby Top 3 Headed to Kentucky Derby 2012

On a quiet and sleepy Sunday at Oaklawn, the top three finishers in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) were just that the morning after they each secured their place in the Kentucky Derby (G1) in three weeks in Louisville.


By 8 am, a quartet of dynamite performers for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert were lazily munching breakfast as super impressive Arkansas Derby-winner Bodemeister and runner-up Secret Circle, himself a dual stakes winner this season, will join Wednesday’s $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2)-winner Mamma Kimbo and third-place finisher Jemima’s Pearl on a flight to Churchill Downs tomorrow morning. The latter have dates in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 4.


Assistant trainer Jim Barnes returned to California early Sunday morning with $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap winner Plum Pretty and $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes runner-up Drill. Baffert shipped six horses to this year’s Racing Festival of the South and came away with three Graded stakes victories (including two Grade 1s), two runner-up finishes and a third-place result.


“We took some really nice horses there,” said Baffert Saturday. “They all ran well and had been training well.”


On that same flight will be Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Sabercat, who bounced back from a disappointing seasonal debut in the Rebel Stakes (G2) last month to finish third for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Corey Nakatani. As the winner of the lucrative Delta Jackpot (G3) late last year, Sabercat already had secured enough Graded stakes earnings to make the Kentucky Derby field, but the son of Discreet Cat was under pressure Saturday to prove that spot was deserved.


“I was very pleased with it. It was encouraging,” said Asmussen on Saturday on an otherwise spectacular day for him and Nakatani where they combined to win five times and secure a fourth career Oaklawn training title. “It was the step in the right direction we were expecting and looking for – the move forward we needed. It looked like a very good experience for him. We needed to see improvement and at this time of year, that’s the important thing in each start.”


Saturday was closing day at Oaklawn. Live racing resumes Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 for a 56-day meet.




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