FIRST EMPRESS (February 21): Three year old filly for Peter Eurton was dropped to the bottom for her second start in her career in Friday’s opener, a maiden claimer for $30K at a mile on the main track. Bet heavy right from the start from a M/L of 3/1, she went off at 6/5 and made it look like an overlay. She broke running under Rispoli and vied for the lead right from the start, put away the other speed at the ¼ pole, and waltzed home to win by nine under a hand ride. There were no claims in for this daughter of Cairo Prince who brought $50K at the Keeneland yearling sale. She can win the starter allowance condition non winners twice off this performance and the newcomer Rispoli continues to impress.

BROTHER REID (February 21): Three year old colt for Vladimir Cerin, who had not been to the post since September, and was a private purchase out of Florida, made the 2nd start of his career in Friday’s finale at a mile on the turf for maidens with a tag of $75K. Off at 6/1 in a full field, he got caught wide into the clubhouse turn out of the 9 hole, and was four wide all the way, including the back stretch and into the top of the stretch. He was sixth down the back side, five lengths off the pace, moved at the ¼ pole to reach contention, then finished with good energy out in the middle of the course to gain third at the wire. He was only beaten two and was very wide his entire trip. He had worked well coming into the race and will get a lot out of this one. He’ll be tough in his next start, especially if they keep him in for a tag. He cost a $180K at the Fasig Tipton yearling sale so this son of Empire Maker was cut out to be a nice horse. Tab and follow.

DIVINE ARMOR (February 22): Three year old colt for John Sadler made the 4th start of his career and first with blinkers in Saturday’s 4th, a maiden special weight at a flat mile on the main. Off at 3/1 in a 7 horse field, he made the running right from the get go under Cedillo and was second into the clubhouse turn behind the odds on favorite. He tracked the favorite down the back side, put him away at the top of the lane, then couldn’t hold off a perfect tripper who got this colt in the very last few jumps. It was 4 lengths back to the 4 to 5 favorite. “Armor” ran his heart out pressing a fast pace and winning the battle but ultimately losing the war. This was his 3rd straight second place finish, but this one is a fighter and he’s knocking on the door for his diploma. Sadler might go back to Rosario for his next start. Be ready.

K P INDY (February 22): Three year old colt for Jeff Mullins, off since October 5th, came back running in Saturday’s finale, a maiden special weight event at five and a half on the turf. Off at 2/1 in a full field, he stalked the pace from the get go through fractions of 22.57 and 45.68, put the other speed away turning for home, then was very game down the lane and hung on to win by a head over the fast closing favorite, who never did get by, even after the wire. This was just his 4th career start and he can go short or long, turf or dirt. Lots of options for a barn that seems to be back on the beam in 2020. Abel Cedillo was aboard and this was his 5th winner for Mullins in just 7 races. Up the ladder.

PRINCESS MO (February 23): Three year old filly for Ruben Gomez made her first start around two turns in Sunday’s opener, a mile on the main track for maiden special weights. Off at 60/1 in an 8 horse field, she broke running under Geovanni Franco and pressed the pace of the 6/5 favorite throughout. She was never off of her flank and looked to be second coming down the lane, but then just out gamed the Baffert favorite and got up by a nose to pay $138. It was 3 lengths back to the third horse. This field was salty, as John Shirreffs had the co-favorite, and Baffert had 3 expensive maidens in the field. “Mo” will probably go in the first allowance condition against winners and that field will probably be easier than this one. She had run well sprints, but this daughter of top sire Uncle Mo obviously found her hole card today. Up the ladder for these low profile connections.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)