Having already faced some of Southern California’s outstanding prospects for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), Mayor Marv was relatively battle-tested for a horse that had only one win in six races heading into Saturday’s $100,000 Turf Paradise Derby at Arizona’s Turf Paradise.
His first trip out of Southern California and initial step into stakes company was a rousing success as Mayor Marv drew away in the stretch for an easy 4 ½-length victory over Hidden Bounty. David Flores was aboard Mayor Marv as he notched his second consecutive win after five career-opening losses that included solid efforts behind Kentucky Derby contenders The Pamplemousse, the winner of the San Rafael (GII), and Robert B. Lewis (GII) runner-up Papa Clem.
Pioneerof the Nile Works – Baffert’s major Kentucky Derby contender, Zayat Stable’s Pioneerof the Nile, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita on Sunday. Eclipse Award winner Garrett Gomez was aboard for the prep for Santa Anita’s San Felipe (GII) on March 14.
The Empire Maker colt won the CashCall Futurity (GI) and the recent Robert B. Lewis (GII).
Field Takes Shape for Sham – The Pamplemousse heads a prospective field of five or six horses for Saturday’s Sham Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita. Baffert will have a presence in that 1 1/8-mile race as he saddles Ventana, who was fourth to the filly Evita Argentina in last week’s San Vicente (GII). The race will also attract Take the Points, a recent allowance winner at Florida’s Gulfstream Park.
EAST/IMPERIAL COUNCIL TO GOTHAM
Veteran trainer Shug McGaughey will send the promising Imperial Council to New York for a run in the $250,000 Gotham (GIII) at Aqueduct on March 7. The son of Empire Maker is coming off an impressive allowance win at Gulfstream Park.
McGaughey said the Wood Memorial (GI) is the major near-term goal for Imperial Council.
“It’s not one of those win-or-else-type of deals,” McGaughey said. “We just want to see a decent race that will move him forward and set him up for the Wood.”
SOUTHEAST/BIG DRAMA BACK TO WORK
Delta Jackpot (GIII) winner Big Drama returned to serious training on Sunday with an easy half-mile work over his home track at Calder Race Course.
The David Fawkes-trained son of Montrbrook covered the distance in :50. Big Drama won his last five starts in 2008, but his recent training was hampered by a bone bruise.
Kentucky Jockey Club runner-up Giant Oak worked five furlongs in 1:02 on Saturday at Fair Grounds. Trainer Chris Block said he is leaning toward the March 14 Louisiana Derby (GII) for the colt’s next race. … Highly regarded Maryland shipper Perfect Song was upset on Saturday in an allowance race at Turfway Park. Trainer Mike Trombetta’s odds-on favorite lost by a head to 17-1 shot He Ain’t Right in the 6 ½-furlong race on Polytrack. It was Perfect Song’s first race on a synthetic track.