Last weekend was a relatively quiet one in regards to the number of graded stakes held around the country, and as a result, there were just a few changes in the American Graded Stakes Standings.
The trainers list saw the most significant activity this week, as Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher continued to wage their own private battle at the top of the AGS trainer chart. Buoyed by the victories of Old Tune and Verrazano, Todd Pletcher moved into first in the standings, with eight graded stakes winners, the same as Baffert. Pletcher edged past the Hall of Fame trainer by virtue of the number of winners he has trained – 10 as compared to nine for Baffert.
Old Tune remained undefeated in the U.S. with a sharp 1 ¼-length victory in the G3 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The 5-year-old mare by Wild Event has shown an affinity for the Tampa Bay turf course, having also won the G3 Endeavour Stakes over the same strip in February. Racing as a homebred for Haras Internacional (Stud TNT), Old Tune was a four-time Group 1 winner in her native Brazil, and looks like she'll be a force to be reckoned with in the female turf division this year.
The 3-year-old Verrazano didn't disappoint in his stakes debut, as he easily handled eight rivals in winning the G2 Tampa Bay Derby by three lengths. The son of More Than Ready picked up 50 points for the victory, placing him alongside Orb, Vyjack, and Hear the Ghost as the leaders in the Kentucky Derby points standings. Pletcher indicated earlier this week that Verrazano would target the G1 Wood Memorial for his next start.
There was one other change among the leading trainers, as Jerry Hollendorfer moved into a four-way tie for fifth with two graded stakes winners. The Hall of Fame trainer sent out Hear the Ghost to upset favored Flashback in the G2 San Felipe Stakes. The son of Ghostzapper relished the stretch out to 1 1/16 miles, coming from off the pace to win by a half-length.
The San Felipe win also moved Hollendorfer into a first-place tie with Calumet Farm on the owners list. In addition to Hear the Ghost, Hollendorfer also conditions two-time graded stakes winner Sahara Sky. Hollendorfer owns both runners in partnership – Sahara Sky is with Sweetwater Stables, and Hear the Ghost is in partnership with Halo Farms.
Among the leading jockeys, Mike Smith and John Velazquez each won a graded stakes race to remain deadlocked at the top with seven victories. Velazquez was aboard Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby, while Mike Smith piloted Rumor to victory in the G3 Las Flores Stakes at Santa Anita. Javier Castellano's win on Discreet Dancer in the G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap moved him into a tie with Edgar Prado with four victories apiece.
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