Favored Vekoma cruises to Blue Grass victory at Keeneland

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Favored Vekoma pulled away down the stretch to earn a 3 +-length victory in the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday and take a big step toward the Kentucky Derby.

The chestnut colt followed up last month’s third-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes with his third win in four career starts. Vekoma started from the No. 2 post and was among the leaders throughout before gaining room from Somelikeithotbrown and Signalman nearing the final turn. Win Win Win charged down the stretch, but the George Weaver-trained horse was in control of the Grade 2 race by then and earned 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Ridden by Javier Castellano, Vekoma covered 1 1/8th mile in 1:50.93 and paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.60.

Win Win Win returned $4 and $3.20 for second and earned 40 points, while Signalman paid $3.60 to show and earned 20 points. Somelikeithotbrown earned 10 points for fourth.

Stradivarius, 3-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, retired to stud

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LONDON – Stradivarius, one of the most famous racehorses in Britain and Ireland after winning the Gold Cup at Ascot three times, has been retired to stud.

Bjorn Nielsen, the owner of Stradivarius, said he felt it would be unfair to make the horse come back next season as a 9-year-old after time away with a bruised foot.

“It has been a fairytale from start to finish,” Nielsen told British newspaper The Racing Post.

Stradivarius, bred in Ireland and the son of Sea The Stars, won 20 of his 35 races – including seven Group One races – and earned almost 3.5 million pounds (now $3.8 million) in prize money.

Stradivarius won four Goodwood Cups, three Yorkshire Cups and two Doncaster Cups.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.