02/22/2016 4:15PM

The week that was in racing, Feb. 16-21, 2016

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Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography
Gun Runner punches his ticket to the Kentucky Derby in winning the Grade 2 Risen Star

Here's a collection of some of the biggest stories in horse racing, all in one place. Unless noted, all of the links here are to free stories on DRF.com.

Kentucky Derby preps heating up

Saturday marked the start of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, meaning the points awarded to the winner of the Derby preps increase. Gun Runner came into the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds with just one point for the Derby, but he left with 51 points after his half-length win in which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

Graded stakes action around the country

The Risen Star was the only race last week that awarded points toward the Kentucky Derby, but there were four other graded stakes races over the weekend. Three of those four graded stakes were Saturday at Fair Grounds. In the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra, Venus Valentine ran more like Zenyatta, lagging well behind the rest of the field early before closing with a rush up the rail to post a $150 upset as the longest shot in the race.

The longest shot in the field also won the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap, but Majestic Harbor paid just $15 to win as only four horses competed. It was the first stakes win for the 8-year-old son of Rockport Harbor since June 2014 when he won the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

On the turf course, Chocolate Ride won the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap in wire-to-wire fashion as the 6-5 favorite. It was the sixth win and fourth graded stakes win for Chocolate Ride since being claimed for $40,000 in November 2014 by trainer Brad Cox.

Out at Santa Anita, Paulina’s Love took the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes, earning her first graded stakes win in her first start as a 4-year-old.

Other news

Jockeys Rafael Hernandez and Joel Rosario will be sidelined indefinitely after being injured in a frightening chain-reaction spill that took place in early stretch of Saturday’s Melody of Colors Stakes. Hernandez broke several ribs, fractured a collarbone, and sustained internal injuries that required surgery Sunday to remove one of his kidneys. He remained in intensive care at Hollywood Memorial East Hospital as of Monday. Rosario underwent surgery Monday to repair a broken wrist. Edgard Zayas, who also was involved in the incident, took off his mounts Sunday due to a swollen ankle but was expected to be back Wednesday.

Other notable performances

The top performance by a 3-year-old last week did not occur in the Risen Star, at least not from a Beyer Speed Figure standpoint. Unified, a first-time starter by Candy Ride for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and owner Centennial Farms, earned a 99 for his wire-to-wire win in Sunday’s second race at Gulfstream Park. It’s the second highest figure earned by a 3-year-old this year, behind only the 100 earned by Nyquist in the San Vicente Stakes.

Gulfstream’s Sunday card also featured the successful return of Off the Tracks, who improved to a perfect 3 for 3 in winning the Margate Handicap. It was the first start of the year for the 3-year-old daughter of Curlin and her first start since winning the Grade 3 Schuylerville last July at Saratoga.

Ziconic, 3-year-old son of Horse of the Year Zenyatta, did something in his debut Saturday that his mother never did. He finished third. After the race, trainer John Shirreffs said that Ziconic will start in a maiden race around two turns in his next start.

Breeding news

Candy Ride had a huge day at Fair Grounds on Saturday. The Ride the Rails stallion who stands at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky., sired a pair of stakes winners: Gun Runner in the Grade 2 Risen Star and Chocolate Ride in the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap. He just missed getting a third stakes winner on the card as his Eagle finished second by a head in the Grade 3 Mineshaft.

Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training last week as did former major leaguer Rocco Baldelli. Now a coach for the Tampa Bay Rays, Baldelli has dabbled in breeding racehorses over the past few years.

Horses to watch

Aqueduct:
PRAIRIE STONE
Trainer: Steve Klesaris
Last race: Feb. 18, 6th
Finish: 4th by neck
Beyer: 79
New York-bred mare returned from a 53-day layoff, switched from turf to dirt the second time for her current trainer, and recorded a lifetime-top Beyer Speed Figure despite breaking in the air and encountering some traffic in the stretch against second-level optional-claiming types.

DRF Plus subscribers can see the rest of Dave Litfin’s horses to watch from last week by clicking here.

Santa Anita:
ONE MORE ROUND, by Discreet Cat
Trainer: A.C. Avila
Last race: Feb. 20, 3rd
Finish: 4th by 2 1/2
Beyer: 63
In his second career start and his first off the $75,000 claim, this speedster ran super against maiden special weight foes. He set the meet’s fastest (44.34 seconds) half-mile for seven furlongs and only weakened late.

DRF Plus subscribers can see the rest of Brad Free’s horses to watch from last week by clicking here.

reporting by Steve Andersen, Bob Fortus, Mike Hogan, Marcus Hersh, Jay Privman, Nicole Russo, and Mike Welsch