Three-year-olds Take Center Stage on Saturday

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Ted Black

May 7th, 2017

Weather conditions may not have been ideal for Saturday's 143rd edition of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, but it hardly impacted the enthusiasm for the latest edition of the run for the roses on a day when three-year-olds of both breeds enjoyed the spotlight.

After bypassing several stakes earlier this season, Always Dreaming (John Velazquez) lived up to his role as the tepid 9-2 favorite when he splashed to a three-length score in 2:03.59 in the latest running of the Kentucky Derby. Hero of the Grade I Florida Derby in his previous start for trainer Todd Pletcher, Always Dreaming fended off early pressure and splashed home several lengths clear of his foes for his third straight score to emerge as the leader in a mediocre group of sophomores.

That same afternoon at Freehold Raceway in New Jersey, Lord Cromwell (John Campbell) served notice that he will be among the primary contenders for the trotting Triple Crown when he captured the $145,000 Dexter Cup final by five lengths as the 4-5 favorite. A sophomore son of Chapter Seven trained by Ed Hart, Lord Cromwell brushed to command down the backside and simply drew clear as much the best to a five-length score in 1:55 for his fourth win in six career outings.

That same afternoon at Freehold, Princess Aurora and Romancing Rachel both won $37,000 divisions of the Lady Suffolk for three-year-old filly trotters and both with catch driver Yannick Gingras in the bike. Princess Aurora prevailed by five lengths in 1:57 for trainer Jimmy Takter, while Romancing Rachel scored by five lengths in 1:57.3 for trainer Ron Burke.

That same afternoon at the Meadows near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a quarter of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions for three-year-old pacing colts helped shed some light on the early sophomore stars. Several were making their seasonal debuts on Saturday at the Pennsylvania five-eighths mile oval, but one of them delivered the undisputed best performance of the day.

In the opening PASS split, Fear The Dragon (Trace Tetrick) actually scored as the 2-1 second choice when he brushed to command down the backside and held sway late for a length score in 1:52.1. Three races later on the card, Filisbuster Hanover prevailed as the 3-5 choice in 1:52.2 for trainer Ron Burke and Downbytheseaside scored by a length in 1:52.1.

But one race earlier it was another son of Somebeachsomewhere who delivered the best performance of the year among this group. Last year's juvenile champion, Huntsville (Tim Tetrick) quarter moved to command, rolled by the half in 55.4 and three-quarters in 1:22.3 and romped home 10 lengths clear in 1:50.3. Trained by Ray Schnittker of Deweycheathumnhowe fame, Huntsville made quick work of Highalator (Victor Kirby) - winner of nine of his previous 10 starts - and served notice that he is again the best three-year-old colt pacer in the land.

That same evening at Rosecroft Raceway