A nice selection of stakes events over this President's Day weekend, including Kentucky Derby preps at the Fair Grounds (Risen Star) and Oaklawn Park (Southwest Stakes). Santa Anita will also run the San Vicente on Sunday, a seven furlong main track race for three-year-olds.
This weekend's graded stakes schedule appears below.
|Sat||G2-Risen Star||FG||3yo||8.5||Dirt||Mucho Macho Man||$9.20|
|Sat||G2-San Carlos||SA||4up||7.0||Dirt||Smiling Tiger||$4.80|
|Sat||G2-Barbara Fritchie||LRL||3up, f&m||7.0||Dirt||Harissa||$5.00|
|Sat||G2-Mac Diarmida||GP||4up||11.0||Turf||Prince Will I Am||$8.00|
|Sat||G2-San Luis Obispo||SA||4up||12.0||Turf||Champ Pegasus||$5.00|
|Sat||G3-Rachel Alexandra||FG||3yo, f||8.5||Dirt||Kathmanblu||$3.20|
|Sat||G3-Fair Grounds Hcp.||FG||4up||9.0||Turf||Expansion||$66.40|
|Sat||G3-Sabin||GP||4up, f&m||8.0||Dirt||Awesome Maria||$6.40|
|Sun||G2-San Vicente||SA||3yo||7.0||Dirt||The Factor||$3.80|
|Sun||G3-The Very One||GP||4up, f&m||7.0||Turf||Keertana||$7.20|
|Mon||G2-General George||LRL||3up||7.0||Dirt||No Advantage||$23.80|
|Mon||G2-Buena Vista||SA||4up, f&m||8.0||Turf||Cozi Rosie||$13.00|
|Mon||G3-La Habra||SA||3yo, f||6.5||Turf||Cambina (IRE)||$8.80|
(Hey, look at that! I finally figured out how to do a chart in the post editor that doesn't take up the whole damn screen. Only took me a year.)
UPDATE #3: The first big Derby prep of the year at Oaklawn today - the one mile Grade 3 Southwest Stakes. Post time for the Southwest is 5:02 Central.
There are essentially two groups of horses in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn: those that ran in the local prep, the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes on January 17th, and those that are shipping in from other tracks.
If you get a chance, check out the replay of the Smarty Jones Stakes. Everything begins well enough during the first quarter mile, then the field enters the backstretch and a bank of fog that renders viewing the race futile. Hilariously, the cameraman has absolutely no clue where the horses are on the backstretch, he's just shooting fog. This is a race that absolutely needs the little chiklets on the bottom of screen.
From the little we can see of the Smarty Jones, Caleb's Posse seemed to stalk the early leaders and move about three or four wide coming off the final turn. He scored by an easy 2 ¾ lengths under the wire but how the rest of the race unfolded...well, that's anyone's guess.
As for the non-Smarty Jones horses, 5-J P's Gusto (9/5) will get a golden opportunity to prove himself on dirt and at two-turns, something that he wasn't able to do as a juvenile. Class-wise, he's clearly the top contender.
If J P's Gusto doesn't suit your fancy, 3-Ghost Is Clear (8/1) looks like he could be a really nice colt at a price. It took him a bit to win his first race (4 tries) but sons of Ghostzapper have not been winning early. His six furlong score at the Fair Grounds on January 27th was very, very nice...so much so that Michael Maker is throwing him right into graded stakes company for his next start.
Ghost Is Clear is out of a Gulch mare (Tamweel) that did all her winning at two-turns, so the stretch to a mile could be right up this colt's alley.
9-Elite Alex (4/1) is another colt to keep an eye after a couple of nice performance to start his career for trainer Tim Ritchey. A $300,000 son of Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex, Elite Alex should get better as the distance gets longer.
(I should haven't noted with respect to Elite Alex, in his last start he practically tripped over his own feet when coming out of the starting gate. Elite Alex righted himself, was ten lengths back early on, made a huge move on and off the far turn to get into contention, came four or five wide into the stretch and missed by head at the wire to Alternation. You could argue that he was easily the best horse in the field that day.)
I'm going to play against J P's Gusto due to distance questions and look for some large payouts with Elite Alex and Ghost Is Clear.
UPDATE #2: The Factor with an impressive front running performance in the San Vicente, a race that (once again) sports ridiculous fractions on the front-end - 22.20, 43.41, 1:07.31, and 1:20.34. I don't know that The Factor is any kind of a Derby horse as I doubt he could click off a sub-:22.00 2nd quarter and Churchill and end up within sniffing distance of the wire. He does, however, look like a hell of a sprinter, assuming running insane fractions on the obviously rock hard Santa Anita surface doesn't do him more harm than good in the long run.
Sway Away made a nice run in the lane to get up for 2nd.
UPDATE #1: Things are a bit slower on the stakes front today with just a couple of graded events across the country. Gulfstream features the Grade 3 The Very One at seven furlongs on the turf while Santa Anita offers the Grade 2 San Vicente at seven panel on the main track.
The San Vicente really isn't thought of as a Derby prep due to the fact that it's a sprint race but since it offers graded money, so it can have an impact.
The San Vicente features the standout winner of a Maiden Special at Santa Anita in late December, The Factor (8/5), who picked up a 108 Beyer for his 8 1/2 length score. He set extremely quick fractions on the front-end that day (21.61 and 22.49) but he'll have several horses in this field that will try and challenge him in the early going.
If The Factor were to not be at the top of his game today, the 3-Sway Away (4/1) could be a strong choice for the upset. A son of Afleet Alex out of a Seattle Slew mare, Sway Away broke his maiden at Pleasanton last summer and then ran a good 2nd to J.P.'s Gusto in the G2-Best Pal at Del Mar. He's been working like a freight train for Jeff Bonde in the mornings and you would think that an Afleet Alex colt would relish two-turns. On the negative side, Bonde is abysmal over the last five years with horses coming off a layoff of more than 180 days - 4-for-63, 6%, $0.73 $2 ROI.
ORIGINAL POST: A couple of notes for the races at the Fair Grounds today:
- Eibar Coa was injured in a fall yesterday at Gulfstream and will be replaced by Rajiv Maragh on Mucho Macho Man in the Risen Star.
Coa was severely injured in that fall at Gulfstream and will require surgery on his C-4 vertebrae. Best wishes to Eibar for a successful surgery and recovery.
- The rail at the Fair Grounds for all of today's turf races will be ten feet.
- Inglorious, 5/1 on the ML for the Rachel Alexandra, beat a filly named Sense of Pride last time out at Woodbine (Sense of Pride finished 3rd that day); Sense of Pride came back to run 4th in a Maiden Special Weight yesterday at Gulfstream Park. The two stakes wins are nice for inglorious, but she might not have beaten much, if anything.