Without running, Brother Derek solidified his position as the top 3-year-old in the country, while another Kentucky Derby hopeful boosted his own stock in Arkansas.
Some of Brother Derek’s well-regarded classmates were beaten in Derby preps at Santa Anita, Aqueduct and Tampa Bay Downs, but Lawyer Ron continued to demonstrate his legitimacy with another impressive win at Oaklawn Park.
Three runners, including even-money favorite Bob And John, weren’t enough to provide trainer Bob Baffert with a victory in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes in Arcadia. A.P. Warrior, a 7-1 shot making his first start for trainer John Shirreffs, won the Grade II. In doing so, the son of A.P. Indy earned a shot against Brother Derek in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 8.
Despite racing wide throughout, A.P. Warrior, a $1.3-million yearling purchase by owner Stan Fulton who had failed in his first four starts in graded stakes, out-finished the Baffert-trained Point Determined to win the San Felipe by a half-length.
It was the third win in seven races for A.P. Warrior, who finished fourth, almost nine lengths back, in the El Camino Real Derby on Jan. 29 at Bay Meadows in what proved to be his final start for trainer Eoin Harty.
Ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani, A.P. Warrior ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute 42.40 seconds. Bob And John, who had won his first two races of 2006, was third, a nose in front of 8-1 shot Racketeer.
“When [Point Determined] came to me, he pinned his ears and dug in like I thought he would,” Nakatani said of A.P. Warrior. “He’s a very, very versatile horse. I really think the sky is the limit with him. I’m excited.”
Shirreffs won last year’s Kentucky Derby with Giacomo.
A couple of hours before the San Felipe, Bluegrass Cat, who had won all four of his starts since joining trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn, was defeated as the 2-5 favorite in the $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby.
Deputy Glitters, second to Bluegrass Cat in the $121,000 Sam F. Davis on Feb. 18, turned the tables in the Grade III. The 8-1 third choice won by two lengths while completing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.26.
Trained by Tom Albertrani for owner-breeder Joseph Lacombe, the Deputy Commander colt, who was ridden by Jose Lezcano, won for the first time since he beat maidens by 13 3/4 lengths Sept. 1 at Saratoga.
Pletcher also had to settle for second in New York, where Keyed Entry, who had been perfect in his first three races around one turn, couldn’t catch Like Now, a 36-1 shot who led throughout the $200,000 Gotham Stakes.
Ridden by Fernando Jara for owner-breeder John Dillon and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Like Now, a gelded son of Jules, had won three of six entering the Grade III but had never run beyond six furlongs. He ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.17 to beat the 8-5 second choice by a neck.
Achilles Of Troy, the 3-2 favorite, finished fifth and was vanned off after the race with soreness in his right front leg. The gray son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos had won his three previous starts over Aqueduct’s inner track but finished a little more than six lengths behind Like Now.
Owned by the estate of James T. Hines Jr. and trained by Bob Holthus, Lawyer Ron, a Langfuhr colt, won his fifth straight in the $300,000 Rebel.
Three weeks after he had gone wire-to-wire in his Oaklawn debut to win the $250,000 Southwest, Lawyer Ron, the 9-5 favorite, came from off the pace in the Grade III and drew away from stablemate Red Raymond and eight others. He ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.09 and won by three lengths.
Ridden by John McKee, Lawyer Ron would be perfect had he never raced on turf or the Polytrack at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. He is 0 for 7 on those two surfaces, but is six for six at Oaklawn, Keeneland, Louisiana Downs and Evangeline Downs.