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Hollendorfer, Bonde Seek Stakes Wins At Oaklawn Park Saturday
Northern California trainers Jerry Hollendorfer and Jeff Bonde will both gun for graded stakes wins at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., Saturday.
Hollendorfer will send out his champion filly Blind Luck in the Grade 3 $150,000 Azeri Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile contest for fillies and mares. Bonde will saddle his Kentucky Derby hope, Sway Away, in the Grade 2 $300,000 Rebel Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for
Golden Gate Fields, which will present a nine-race card Saturday, will simulcast the action from Oaklawn Park.
Blind Luck will face her old rival, Havre de Grace, in the Azeri. Blind Luck and Havre de Grace faced each other four times in 2010 and Blind Luck beat her nemesis to the wire three times.
Blind Luck defeated Havre de Grace in photo finishes while winning the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks by a nose and the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes by a neck. Havre de Grace returned the favor when she beat Blind Luck by a neck in the Grade 2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes. In their final meeting of the year, Blind Luck and Havre de Grace finished second and third, respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, with Blind Luck taking the place spot by a length.
Blind Luck, voted the Eclispe Award as the top 3-year-old filly of 2010, has finished second in both of her starts this year, losing to Always a Princess in both the El Encino Stakes and the La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita. Havre de Grace will be making her 4-year-old debut Saturday.
Sway Away, a Kentucky-bred son of Afleet Alex, is coming off a second-place finish to the speedy The Factor in the San Vicente Stakes. Sway Away finished only three-quarters of a length behind The Factor, who is also scheduled to run in the Rebel.
Sway Away won his career debut at Pleasanton last summer and then finished second to J P’s Gusto in the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar before going to the sidelines for the remainder of the year. Sway Away, who rallied from last to earn second money in the seven-furlong San Vicente, and The Factor will both try two turns for the first time Saturday.
Entries for the Azeri and the Rebel will be taken Thursday. The Azeri is a prep for the Grade 1 $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race that will be run April 15. The Rebel is a steppingstone to the Grade 1 $1 million Arkansas Derby, a 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep that will be contested on April 16.