he Rebel Stakes isn't the only significant stakes event occurring at Oaklawn Park this weekend as eight fillies and mares, including Blind Luck and Havre de Grace will contest the Grade 3 Azeri at 8 1/2 furlongs.
Out in California, Mailbu Pier, 2010 Beverly D. winner Eclair de Lune (GER), and Turning Top (IRE) will contest the Grade 2 Santa Ana on the turf course.
At Gulfstream Park, Hilda's Passion garners heavy favoritism on the morning (9/5) in the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes at seven furlongs.
|Day||Post Time||Race||Track||Condition||Dist.||Surf.||Winner||$2 Win|
|3/19||5:15 ET / 2:15 PT||G3-Cicada||AQU||3yo, f||6.0||Dirt||Quantum Miss||$5.80|
|3/19||5:25 ET / 2:25 PT||G2-Inside Information||GP||4up, f&m||7.0||Dirt||Hilda's Passion||$3.20|
|3/19||6:20 ET / 3:20 PT||G3-Azeri||SA||4up, f&m||8.5||Dirt||Havre de Grace||$5.20|
|3/19||6:37 ET / 3:37 PT||G2-Santa Ana||OP||4up, f&m||8.0||Turf||Malibu Pier||$6.00|
|3/19||6:56 ET / 3:56 PT||G2-Rebel||SA||3yo||8.5||Dirt||The Factor||$4.80|
|3/20||5:03 ET / 2:03 PT||G2-San Luis Rey||SA||4up||12.0||Turf||Juniper Pass||$11.20|
|3/20||5:25 ET / 2:25 PT||G3-Orchid||GP||4up, f&m||12.0||Turf||La Lune de Miel||$19.80|
|3/20||7:07 ET / 4:07 PT||G3-Santa Paula||SA||3yo, f||6.5||Dirt||Mildly Offensive||$3.00|
UPDATE #4: Lone speed is always deadly, as The Factor just demonstrated in the Rebel. No one went with the Baffert trainee in the early stages, allowing him to roll the field over the 8 1/2 furlong trip. Nice win for The Factor.
UPDATE #3: Havre de Grace wins the Azeri in fairly easy fashion over Blind Luck and the rest of the field at Oaklawn Park. Sitting about four lengths off leaders in the early going, Havre de Grace moved to the lead on the turn and easily withstood the late charge of Blind Luck.
UPDATE #2: Cal Nation, a nice looking maiden winner for Todd Pletcher last time out, lost out to stable mate Dance City in head bob at the wire of the 3rd race at Gulfstream. I'm not sure that was the best ride by Johnny V. in that spot; it was one of those "look around a lot" jobs and then wait too long to ask the horse for any run, only to come up short. At the same time, he just didn't have a big burst of speed in the stretch.
UPDATE #1: Elite Alex will scratch from the Rebel and head to the Fair Grounds next weekend for the Louisiana Derby.
Below is a look at Saturday's Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn:
Blind Luck and Havre de Grace grab the majority of the attention in the Azeri but I'm inclined to look elsewhere to find a winner in this spot. Blind Luck is starting to develop a reputation of a filly that just isn't going to get it done on the wire. I suppose we should give her a bit of a break since she has been trying to close on the Santa Anita main track, something that's difficult to do this spring. At the same time, it's been quite a while since she's won a race (821/ @SAR, G1-Alabama) and she's dropped four contests in a row.
Havre de Grace has been in fine form since the day she stepped on the track to make her career debut in August of 2009. Since that time, she's never finished worse than 3rd in any races she's entered. We haven't seen her since she finished behind Unrivaled Belle and Blind Luck in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic back on November 5th. Trainer Larry Jones takes over for Anthony Dutrow, and he's quite good when sending out a new member of the barn over the last five years (16-for-58, 28% Win, 57% ITM, $2.78 $2 ROI).
While Blind Luck and Havre de Grace are clearly the class of the field, I'm going to go in a bit of a different direction and pick a couple of fillies that figure to up front in the early going.
5-Spacy Tracy (5/1) looked very good when winning the Grade 2 Top Flight in late November at the Big A. She's taken a bit of time off since then but I like the work pattern and he running style. With the two favorites typically coming from well off the pace, a mare like Spacy Tracy might have an opportunity to get the jump on those two in the stretch.
1-Tidal Pool (6/1) really went off-form at the end of 2010, but she seems to be rounding back into the form that saw her finish 2nd in the Fantasy and 3rd in the Kentucky Oaks last spring. She's got a good deal of gate speed at her disposal and she's facing the field that really doesn't have a filly that wants to take command in the early stages. Might she get bold on the front end if left alone? If the odds are right, she might be worth a play to find out.