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Monday, February 21, 2005

Notes: President's Day Evening

- Steve Haskin’s latest Derby roundup.Wilko joins the two-prep club as his trainer Wally Dollase says that his colt will return in the March 19 San Felipe, go three weeks later in the Santa Anita Derby, then on to Kentucky. Sort It Out will make his Baffert debut in the Louisiana Derby on March 12, and High Fly his Zito debut in the Fountain of Youth March 5. So Long Birdie, a half brother to Birdstone who was claimed for $40,000, and ran second by a nose to subsequent Sham Stakes winner Going Wild in the San Miguel and is now pointing to Kentucky, is owned by a group called Alaska Great Eagle, which is named after and includes Sen. Ted Stevens, the senior GOP senator from Alaska.

- Closing Argument and Bandini also possible for the Fountain of Youth, and they both worked out at Gulfstream. It would be Bandini's stakes debut.

- Saint Liam will not go to the $6 million Dubai World Cup and will head for the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, for a paltry $1 million. Dutrow also noted the prestige and purse of the Santa Anita Handicap. "We’ll be very happy if he wins that race," Dutrow said. [Thoroughbred Times]

- Awesome race at Laurel today, the Grade 2 General George, 7 furlongs at Laurel; Don Six (Wild Escapade), Scott Lake’s latest sprinting reclamation project, went as far as he could go and dug in gamely to try and get the extra furlong in a thrilling finish, but just failed to hold off Saratoga County (Valid Expectations) in the shadow of the wire. The winner has improved suddenly and explosively for trainer George Weaver, taking his third straight, with the prior being a Grade 3, the Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream, earning Beyers of 107 and 108, and winning in a quick 1:23.2 today.

After winning the Gotham last March, Saratoga County lost eight consecutive races, though several of his performances were respectable. Things began to turn last fall when trainer George Weaver decided to change his colt's training methods. Instead of working him in company where he would lay on horses and get lazy in the stretch, Weaver put blinkers on Saratoga County in his works and had the rider get after him. Five of his last six workouts have been bullets.[Daily Racing Form]
Weaver also notes that extra time between races seems to have helped too. Whatever it is, he seems certain to figure in the sprint division in the near future. The two best races of the weekend were at Laurel, this and Coast Line’s narrow win over Offlee Wild on Saturday in the John Cambell.