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War Emblem's Victory in Illinois Is Sterling

Horse racing: Jockey guides 3-year-old to fourth win in seven starts in impressive fashion over favored Repent.


The $500,000 Illinois Derby was easy pickings for a certain 3-year-old Saturday at Sportsman's Park.

Only it wasn't the colt everybody thought would win. War Emblem, the 6-1 third choice, controlled things from the outset and dominated 1-2 favorite Repent and seven others.

Winning for the fourth time in seven starts for owner Russell L. Reineman and trainer Frank Springer, the son of Our Emblem completed the 11/8 miles in 1:494/5 and won by 61/4 lengths.

He was ridden by Larry Sterling Jr., who got the mount after Alfredo Juarez Jr., who had been aboard for a 103/4-length victory at the track on March 17, opted to ride California shipper Fonz's, who was third, beaten by nearly 11 lengths.

Seeking his fourth consecutive victory for trainer Ken McPeek, Repent was hampered by the slow fractions (48 for the half-mile and 1:13 for six furlongs), but he failed to finish with a flourish under jockey Jerry Bailey. In fact, he lost ground to the winner in the final eighth of a mile.

"We may be better off going into [the Kentucky Derby] losing today rather than winning," McPeek said. "Nothing is a given in this game. When a horse sets his own fractions like that, they are always dangerous."


While McPeek failed in Illinois, he got the money with favored Take Charge Lady in the $500,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.

Ridden by Tony D'Amico, the 3-year-old Dehere filly earned her first Grade I victory and sixth in eight starts. The 3-5 favorite won by 41/4 lengths over 13-1 longshot Take The Cake in 1:431/5 for the 11/16 miles. Belterra, the 5-2 second choice, was third.

"This filly has really developed," D'Amico said. "She's so much bigger and stronger now. She's incredible."


Local jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye and Mike Smith enjoyed their visit to Arkansas.

Delahoussaye and 2-1 second choice Kudos rallied from last to win the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap going away, and three races later, Smith and favored Azeri overcame a poor start to win the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss and trained by Richard Mandella, the 5-year-old Kudos trailed by 16 lengths after a half-mile, but swung wide and wound up winning by almost five lengths in 1:481/5 for the 11/8 miles.

Azeri, the even-money choice in a field reduced to five after the scratch of Fleet Renee, spotted her rivals a head start by breaking in the air. But Smith kept her in the clear and she caught pacesetter Miss Linda early in the lane and went on to win by 13/4 lengths in 1:423/5 for the 11/16 miles.

Owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust and trained by Laura De Seroux, the 4-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter won for the fifth time in six starts. Affluent, ridden by Delahoussaye, was second and Miss Linda was third.


The Santa Anita Derby wasn't the only stakes victory for owners John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery, trainer Paco Gonzalez and jockey Chris McCarron.

Bosque Redondo, the 6-5 favorite, was pressured throughout, but was able to hold off 7-1 longshot Mysterious Cat to win the $150,000 San Bernardino Handicap by a head.

A 5-year-old son of Mane Minister, Bosque Redondo earned his sixth victory in 13 lifetime starts and completed the 11/8 miles in 1:49, a second faster than Came Home ran the distance in winning the Derby.

"He loves Santa Anita," said McCarron, who added a record-setting third graded stakes victory when 12-1 longshot Seinne ran down favored Irish Prize in the final yards to win the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap later in the card. "He gives me a tremendous amount of confidence. When it comes down to a dogfight, he is there every time."

McCarron became the first jockey to ride three graded stakes winners on the same day in the history of the track on what was the 11th anniversary of McCarron's last three stakes victory day at Santa Anita.

Besides winning the 1991 Santa Anita Derby with Dinard, the hall of famer also won the Jan Jessie Stakes with Suziqcute and the Santa Gertrudes Handicap with Jungle Pioneer. The Jan Jessie and Santa Gertrudes were ungraded races.

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