Grand Sonata, Ready To Purrform Headline Overflow Field For Sunday's Dueling Grounds Derby - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Grand Sonata, Ready To Purrform Headline Overflow Field For Sunday’s Dueling Grounds Derby

Grand Sonata after his win in the Kitten’s Joy

Graded-stakes winners Grand Sonata and Ready to Purrform head an overflow field for Sunday's $750,000 Big Ass Fans Dueling Grounds Derby on the third day of racing at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs. The 1 5/16-mile turf race will be run as a Grade 3 stakes for the first time.

Churchill Downs' Grade 2 Edgewood winner New Year's Eve, a good third in the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks in her last start, and Turnerloose, a stakes-winner on turf and dirt, headline the co-featured $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks on the 11-race card. Also in the Dueling Grounds Oaks is California Angel, who won her debut at Kentucky Downs last year and went on to take Keeneland's Grade 2 Jessamine.

First post Sunday is 12:25 p.m. Central, with the DG Oaks carded as the ninth race (4:57 p.m. CT approximate post) and the DG Derby the 10th (5:31 p.m. CT).

Trainer Todd Pletcher will try to win the Dueling Grounds Derby for the third time with Whisper Hill Farm's Grand Sonata, winner of the Grade 3 Kitten's Joy and another turf stakes at Gulfstream Park over the winter. While he didn't fare well in his last start in the Saratoga Derby (G1), Grand Sonata finished fourth – losing by a total of a length at 32-1 odds — in the Belmont Derby (G1) the race before.

Donegal Racing's Ready to Purrform, trained by Brad Cox, comes into the Dueling Grounds Derby off victory in Saratoga's Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes.

Others in the overflow field of fourteen 3-year-olds: Churchill Downs' Audubon winner Kitodan; stakes-placed Double Clutch, a competitive fifth in the Hall of Fame; Running Bee, winner of a 1 3/16-mile maiden race at Saratoga in his last start; Texas Turf Mile winner Red Run, who was fourth in last year's Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile; Dripping Gold, coming out of a narrow allowance defeat at 1 3/16 miles at Saratoga; stakes-placed Speaking Scout; Mountaineer Park allowance winner Russian Tank; and maiden winners Tallahatchiebridge (owned by Kentucky Downs' all-time win leader Ken Ramsey and Sarah Ramsey Stable), Always Above and Mount Rundle.

Western River, winner of a 1 1/2-mile Churchill Downs allowance on dirt, and Camp David, an Indiana allowance winner on dirt, need defections by 9 a.m. CT Sunday to run.

The 1 5/16-mile Dueling Grounds Oaks attracted the capacity field of 12 in the body of the race, with the maximum four more horses on the also-eligible list needing scratches by 9 a.m. Sunday to compete. Two other entries were excluded and did not make the overnight sheet when entries were taken and post positions drawn Tuesday.

The Cox-trained Turnerloose won last year's Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies by five lengths, then finished third as the heavy favorite in Keeneland's Jessamine. She started her 3-year-old season on dirt in New Orleans' prep series for the Kentucky Oaks, winning the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra and finishing fourth in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) before taking seventh in the Kentucky Oaks. Back on turf after a freshener, Turnerloose was a close and fast-flying second in Ellis Park's Centennial Turf Distaff against older fillies and mares in a change of plans after Churchill Downs canceled a scheduled turf stakes.

New Year's Eve, trained by Brendan Walsh, was a good third in the Saratoga Oaks (G3) two races after taking the Edgewood. The George Leonard-trained California Angel competes for the first time since she was second in the March 12 Black Cat Lacombe Memorial at the Fair Grounds.

Others: Canterbury Park's Curtis Sampson Oaks winner Schlofmitz, Ken and Sarah Ramsey Stable's Beechnut Trophy (a daughter of the Ramseys' Kentucky Downs stakes-winner Real Solution); Indiana Oaks (G3) third-place finisher Silverleaf; Woodbine's Colleen (G2) runner-up Vergara; Indiana's Horseshoe Indianapolis Stakes winner Heavenly Hellos; Woodbine's Selene (G3) runner-up Catiche; Alcibiades (G1) runner-up Sequist; and Grade 2 stakes-placed Skims. Allowance winners Fancy Martini, Princess Pauline and Therearenorules, along with maiden-winner She's Gone are on the also-eligible list.

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