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Weekend Stakes Action: Gotham & Swale Edition

No Nay Never returns at Gulfstream, while Samraat and Uncle Sigh prepare to battle again in the Gotham at the Big A.

No Nay Never winning the Norfolk at Royal Ascot.
No Nay Never winning the Norfolk at Royal Ascot.
Alan Crowhurst

As we usher in the month of March we are treated to a nice collection of graded stakes action at Gulfstream and Aqueduct, with the G3-Santa Ysabel for three-year-old fillies thrown in for good measure out at Santa Anita. Havana has scratched out of the Swale due to a quarter crack, which takes away a lot of the luster heading into the race. It also casts serious doubts about Havana's chances of ending up in the 2014 Kentucky Derby as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up is running out of time to amass the points necessary for a trip to Louisville.

With the bad news out of the way, here are some quick thoughts on today's action around the country:

  • Gulfstream kicks off their card with a nice little MdSpWt affair on the lawn where I really like the first time grass filly for Chad Brown, 3-Make It Anywhere (3/1). Brown hits at a solid 25.4% with horses trying the grass for the first time (59-15-9-4) and is a robust 30% when going from dirt to turf (70-21-13-8) and sports a flat bet profit on both moves.
  • Considering how much I like Make It Anywhere in the opener, I was itching to play the early double at Gulfstream. Then I took a look at race 2 ($12,500 MdClm) and decided, "eh, that might not be the best way to start the day." About the only filly I even remotely like in the field is the chalk rail of Karla and Me dropping down from $32k last time out... but even that doesn't fill me with confidence.
  • It's been a while since Danza (3/1) finished 3rd in the Saratoga Special in his most recent start, but he reappears in the 3rd race at GP today. Todd Pletcher picked a tough spot for his return from the bench as the colt to his inside (2-Anchor Down (2/1)) comes in off of a fine debut win over the track back on Jan. 25th.

    I'm leaning a different direction in this spot as I like the only two-time winner in the field, 4-Joh's Gone Wile (5/1). He qualifies for the N1X level due to his last race coming in under the $62,500 limit for the condition.
  • There looks to be a good amount of speed ready to roll in GP4, which leads me to really liking 3-Crushiing (5/1), a Chad Brown trained gelding that's repeatedly demonstrated he can bring a good late kick at the end of race. He's also possesses enough tactical speed to keep touch early but doesn't have major problems if he's shuffled a bit further back in the pack. And it doesn't hurt to have the combination of Brown and Castellano on his side. 5/1? Yes, please.
  • I wish the temp rail for GP5 was at the 84 foot setting instead of 12 feet because I would love to make a major play on 8-Profetiza (4/1) and what should be her controlling gate speed.I still like her in this spot but the price will have to be right and I'm not sure I'll be able to grab her at 4/1 or even 7/2.
  • I don't know if he'll be any good in his debut, but I'm interested in watching the $1.65 million Shadwell purchase, 9-Heyaarat (4/1) in GP7. McLaughlin typically doesn't have his firsters fully cranked for their debut (230-29-28-21, 12.6%), so this may be just a step in the learning process.

    Heyaarat is by Distorted Humor and is the first foal out of the mare Mushka, a winner of the G1-Spinster Stakes in 2009, along with a second place finish in what was at that time called the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, but we all know as the Distaff.
  • The 8th race at GP today is just awesomely deep. The 4, 13, 14 and 15 scratched out of the field. I went round and round and round on this race and ultimately landed on 8-Hangover Kid, who I can't believe is 15/1 on the ML. But, I suppose, in a field like this it's hard not to have some decent horses at good prices.

    I don't like Newsdad at all in this spot and especially at his ML price of 3/1; seems like he might need a race and probably more ground under his feet.

    I also like the AE 16-Sky Blazer (8/1), who drew into the field this morning.
  • With Havana out of the Swale, there are no excuses for No Nay Never... unless he doesn't like dirt. But even if that's the case, he's probably good enough to beat this bunch on pure class.
  • Back to the lawn for GP10 where I love the rail colt, 1-Storming Inti (3/1), and the Motion colt to the ouside, 11-Can'thelpbelieving (IRE) (12/1). The rail horse should be the controlling speed in a race that appears well suited for a gate-to-wire winner. The Motion horse probably won't get the set-up he needs to catch the speed but he should love the trip and he's shown a good late kick in all of his starts. Given his breeding, I'm guessing Can'thelpbelieving will be looking for longer races in the future.
  • I didn't find a lot of good opinions rattling around in my head with respect to today's Aqueduct card, but I do like the rail horse a bit in the Gotham, 2-In Trouble (5/1). The chalk looks awfully tough on paper but I'm concerned thing might go too fast early, setting things up for anyone that can sit back just a bit off the early fractions. Along those same lines, I'm also interested in 10-Harpoon (10) on the far outside of the field.

    In Trouble is coming in off a long layoff as we haven't seen him race since the G2-Futurity back in late September

Below are the scratches and changes for Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Santa Anita for Saturday afternoon (via NYRA and Equibase):

Aqueduct Scratches & Changes
Gulfstream Scratches & Changes
Santa Anita Scratches & Changes