04/13/2008 11:00PM

Hook and Ladder filly wins twice in nine days

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Aqueduct

On April 5, Like a Rose won a maiden race at 6 1/2 furlongs by 4 1/2 lengths, and this New York-bred 3-year-old filly from the first crop of Hook and Ladder (sire of this year's Tampa Bay Derby winner, Big Truck) so impressed her trainer, Gary Contessa, he ran her back off just eight days' rest to win the seven-furlong New York Stallion Park Avenue Stakes by a nose on April 13. Like a Rose is out of the Tank's Prospect mare Midnight Tank, a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Chores at Dawn.

On April 6, Climb to the Stars, a 3-year-old filly by Hook and Ladder, won a six-furlong maiden claiming race by three lengths and paid $34.60.

* J Be K, a Silver Deputy colt, took charge of the Bay Shore Stakes on April 5 after a half-mile, and the colt rolled to a five-length victory and is clearly among this year's best 3-year-old sprinters. His dam, the Valid Wager mare Major Wager, is a half-sister to Atoned, the runner-up in last year's Remsen Stakes and also to Big Truck in the Tampa Bay Derby. Atoned (by Repent) and Major Wager are out of the Icecapade mare Amidst.

* Tale of Ekati may have won the Wood Memorial Stakes on April 5, but this Tale of a Cat colt is not Kentucky Derby material. Winner of last year's Futurity Stakes, Tale of Ekati descends from a very classy female family and has talent, but his sire suggests he will not be at his best at 1 1/4 miles. Bred to be a superior miler, Tale of Ekati gets a tremendous amount of class from his female line. His dam, who is by Sunday Silence, is a half-sister to champion mare Sky Beauty and the unraced Our Country Place, the dam of Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Pleasant Home, multiple stakes winner Country Hideaway, and Matlacha Pass (dam of Pine Island).

Not surprisingly, War Pass, who finished second in the Wood Memorial, will also find the Derby distance too far. A son of sprint champion Cherokee Run, he should be aimed at the top mile races, such as the Metropolitan Handicap. A colt of high quality, War Pass would be a major sprinter-miler, and it's possible that after a poor outing in the Derby, Nick Zito will turn him into a champion sprinter this year.

Keeneland

What a surprise. Keeneland's first baby race of the year, on April 4, went to a first-time starter from trainer Steve Assmussen. Merkel, a 2-year-old colt by speed influence Forest Wildcat, won a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race, leading from the start and scoring by 3 1/2 lengths. Merkel is out of the Silent Screen mare Lady Blockbuster and descends from Persian Maid, the uber-broodmare whose daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters produced such notable horses as champion Go for Wand, Gone West, and the sire Atan (sire of Sharpen Up, a top sire of broodmares).

* Honest Pursuit won a nine-furlong maiden race on April 4. A 3-year-old filly by Storm Cat, she comes from a famous female family. Her dam, Honest Lady (Seattle Slew), is one of five stakes winners out of the amazing broodmare Toussaud. Honest Lady is a half-sister to Empire Maker, Chester House, Chiselling and Decarchy. Honest Pursuit returned $12.

* Tiz Now Tiz Then won a nine-furlong maiden race on April 5 and is another example that proves runners by Tiznow, a Horse of the Year and two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner, can get middle distances. Tiz Now Tiz Then is a 3-year-old colt out of the unraced Seeking the Gold mare Trepidation, who carries the RF (Rasmussen Factor), as she is inbred 3x5 to stakes winner Broadway, the dam of the 1967 2-year-old filly champion, Queen of the Stage, the stakes winner Reviewer (sire of champion fillies, Ruffian and Revidere), and Con Game, the dam of Seeking the Gold. Like stablemate Colonel John, another 3-year-old by Tiznow, Tiz Now Tiz Then is trained by Eoin Harty.

* Little Belle, who won the Ashland Stakes on April 5, is closely related to the 2003 Horse of the Year, Mineshaft. Both Little Belle and Mineshaft are by A.P. Indy, and while Mineshaft is out of Prospectors Delite, a daughter of Up the Flagpole, Little Belle is out of Dubai Belle, who is out of stakes winner Flagbird, another daughter of Up the Flagpole, who produced seven stakes winners. Little Belle defeated a star-studded field of 3-year-old fillies, including Bsharpsonata, Proud Spell, and Country Star, and all four of them are headed to the Kentucky Oaks.

* Four-year-old Electricity won an allowance on the grass at nine furlongs on April 5 and is following in the footsteps of his full brothers, the stakes winners Good Reward and Pure Prize. Electricity paid $18.80. All three are by Storm Cat and are out of the champion Heavenly Prize, by Seeking the Gold. Heavenly Prize has an unraced 2-year-old filly by Awesome Again named Distinctively and a yearling colt by El Prado named Fabulous Prize.

Hawthorne

Recapturetheglory went wire to wire to win the Illinois Derby on April 5 at nearly 16-1, and like last year's juvenile champion, War Pass, he is by Cherokee Run. And like War Pass, he should be part of an ever-growing group of front-runners in the Kentucky Derby - assuring a very fast pace - who should find the Derby distance well beyond their scope.

Santa Anita

Neil Drysdale trained Fusaichi Pegasus to a victory in the 2000 Kentucky Derby, and on April 5, Power Blitz, a 3-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus, won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race for Drysdale at 20-1. Power Blitz is out of the Sadler's Wells mare Sunday Wish, a half-sister to 1989 Horse of the Year Sunday Silence.