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Around The Backstretch: Tuesday News And Notes

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With the turning of the calendar to March 20th we can officially say "good-bye" to winter and "hello" to spring. In terms of the racing calendar, the change of seasons brings us ever closer to the 2012 Kentucky Derby and the start of the flat season in Europe. The big Derby preps are one the horizon - Florida Derby, Wood, Arkansas Derby, Blue Grass and Santa Anita Derby - with trainers and owners mapping out the best path to Louisville for their horses.

Let's take a look at the items making news around the world of horse racing on this Tuesday.

2012 Kentucky Derby

Florida Derby shaping up as key classic prep - Thoroughbred Times
With Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) winner Union Rags and Risen Star Stakes (G2) winner El Padrino—two of the top five contenders on the Thoroughbred Times Road to the Triple Crown poll—on target for the Florida Derby (G1) on March 31, the 1 1/8-mile race figures to be the key prep race for the 2012 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).

Possible Alpha, Hansen showdown in Wood - Thoroughbred Times
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Withers Stakes (G3) winner Alpha probably will prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) in the Resorts World New York City Casino Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) on April 7 at Aqueduct.

Kentucky Derby trail: Baffert sending Castaway to Sunland Derby - Daily Racing Form
Bob Baffert is heading south by Southwest. Fresh off a victory by Secret Circle in the Rebel Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park, Baffert will send Castaway to Sunland Park on Sunday for the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby.

Gemologist to Wood; Bode could go to Arkansas - Handicappers' Edge
Undefeated Grade 2 hero Gemologist will use the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7 as his final prep for the Kentucky Derby, owner WinStar Farm confirmed via Twitter on Monday.

Maker to send two to Spiral - Handicappers' Edge
The field for Saturday's Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park is expected to fill or nearly fill the gate as trainers solidify plans for their Kentucky Derby hopefuls. The race's $500,000 purse virtually assures the winner a spot in the Derby gate, as proved true for the 2011 Spiral Stakes and Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom.

Turfway Expects Large Field for Vinery Spiral -
A full field is possible for the $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) March 24, Turfway Park officials said. The race highlights a four-stakes program at the Kentucky racetrack.

$100,000 Kentucky Derby DreamBet Returns -
For the third consecutive year, Churchill Downs and NBC have partnered to give one person the chance to place a $100,000 win bet in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on Saturday, May 5, through the Kentucky Derby DreamBet contest.

The Win Place Show - Mike Harrington
Interview with Creative Cause trainer Mike Harrington on the WIn Place Show with Emerald Downs handicapper Joe Withee.

The Business of Racing

Betfair makes deal for naming rights at Hollywood Park - Daily Racing Form
Betfair has reached an agreement with Hollywood Park that will give the exchange-wagering company naming rights to the racetrack and provide for "major technology, facility, and infrastructure upgrades" at the Inglewood, Calif., oval, according to a release from both companies.

FRANCE: Racing's finances facing scrutiny - Racing Post
The percentage takeout which racing receives from its licensed betting operators will be among the key points to be reviewed by a newly formed government strategic committee.

Beyer: Slots-racing marriage on the rocks - Daily Racing Form
At a time when the horse racing business has suffered serious a decline, one segment of the sport is enjoying a bonanza. These are great times for horsemen in states where purses are subsidized by revenue from slot machines. But what the state gives, the state can take away, and many are taking a fresh look at their largesse to the horse business.

What's Going On Here? The Camel Is in the Tent - By Eric Mitchell - Blog Stable
The U.S. racing industry should watch closely what’s happening with slot machines and racetracks in Ontario because the trend could easily spread south. Some may argue it already has.

International News

Orfevre finishes second in strange performance in 2012 debut - Thoroughbred Times
In a truly bizarre performance, Japan’s reigning Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner Orfevre finished second in his four-year-old debut on Sunday at Hanshin Racecourse after losing his place in 12-horse field amidst some strange antics then rallying furiously from behind to just miss.

AUSTRALIA: Cox Plate becomes two day festival - Racing Post
The Group 1 Manikato Stakes will headline a new Friday night meeting at Moonee Valley on the eve of the Cox Plate, Racing Victoria RV has confirmed with the release of the 2012 13 season race dates.

North American Racing

Remembering Furman Bisher: Sportswriting legend, friend of racing -
Furman Bisher started writing about sports in 1938 when he was hired by the Lumberton Voice in his native North Carolina.

Dialed In to have surgery to remove knee chip - Daily Racing Form
Dialed In, the 2011 Florida Derby winner, will undergo minor surgery to have a small chip removed from his knee, trainer Nick Zito said on Monday.

Gulfstream: Turbo Compressor romps in grass debut - Daily Racing Form
Turbo Compressor dominated a strong allowance field that included the multiple graded stakes winner Boisterous by 5 1/2 widening lengths under leading rider Javier Castellano when he finally made his turf debut in Sunday’s co-featured fourth race at Gulfstream Park.

Aqueduct: Dominguez hopes to return in a couple of weeks after suffering separated collarbone - Daily Racing Form
An optimistic Ramon Dominguez said Monday he is hoping to miss only a couple of weeks of riding, despite suffering a separation of his collarbone in a spill at Aqueduct on Sunday.