Weekend Stakes Preview 8/8

La Jolla Handicap tops Del Mar weekend

The La Jolla Handicap is the final local prep for the Del Mar Derby which comes up at the end of the meet.  Nine three year olds have signed up for the mile and a sixteenth turf event on Saturday.  Grade 3 winner Dice Flavor will return to the turf after four straight races on the all-weather surface.  Garrett Gomez is listed to ride Dice Flavor for the first time on Saturday, but he still hasn’t received clearance to ride as of press time.  Dice Flavor was last seen in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes finishing in third.  Numerous runners are coming out of the two divisions of the Oceanside on opening day.  Greeley Awesome ran a good second in his division of the Oceanside, and that was his first trip out for trainer John Sadler who claimed him for $40,000.  Freakin Rocket was third in that same division of the Oceanside, and had the lead in mid-stretch for Mike Smith.  Smith is back on board and Freakin Rocket could be tough, as he’s making just his third career start, so he still has tons of room to improve.  Den’s Legacy is a Grade 3 winner on grass and was an even sixth in his division of the Oceanside.  Si Sage will be making his second start in the United States and he picks up Edwin Maldonado for the La Jolla.  The La Jolla is the 8th race on Saturday’s card at Del Mar and post time is 8:40pm EST. Selections for the La Jolla

  1. Freakin Rocket
  2. Si Sage
  3. Greeley Awesome

Longshot: Uno Dos Adios

Groupie Dolls shows up in the Grade 3 Gardenia at Ellis Park

The Grade 3 Gardenia at Ellis Park is the signature race of the summer meet, and they drew one of the top sprinters in the country to go the mile distance, as Groupie Doll headlines a full field of twelve.  Groupie Doll is a multiple Grade 1 winning runner who took home last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.  She followed that up with a heart breaking loss in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile against the boys, where she was beaten a nose.  She’s been on the sidelines since that effort last November and now returns for trainer William Bradley.  Rajiv Maragh will make the trip to Ellis to ride Groupie Doll who is a perfect two for two at Ellis Park, including a win in the 2011 Gardenia Stakes.  Groupie Doll will have to best eleven rivals, many of whom are strong Grade 3 type horses.  Ice Cream Silence won the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland three starts back and was fourth in the Grade 2 Fleur De Lis Stakes last time, behind some really good horses, including Royal Delta.  Dixie Strike was just second up at Woodbine in the Sweet Briar Too Stakes and even won a Canadian Triple Crown race last year.  She’s making her first trip to Ellis Park, but trainer Mark Casse always deserves a serious look when he ships one in.  Awesome Flower drew the rail which can be a good spot since the mile trip at Ellis essentially starts on the turn.  She’s 12/1 on the morning line and is coming off a win in the $100,000 Lady Canterbury.  The Gardenia Stakes is the 8th race at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon and post time is 5:10pm EST. Selections for the Gardenia

  1. Groupie Doll
  2. Awesome Flower
  3. Devious Intent

Longshot: Magic Hour

Evangeline Mile is part of a full field card Saturday at Evangeline Downs

The $125,000 Evangeline Mile is always a nice race that seems to slide under the radar and this year’s event is no different.  Seven horses have entered including race favorite Sabercat.  A Grade 1 placed runner, Sabercat hasn’t won a race in a long time, however he does consistently run decent races on the board.  He was third in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and most recently finished third in the $100,000 Golden Bear at Indiana Downs.  Gerard Melancon will take over the riding duties and Sabercat will look to get back in the winner’s circle for the first time since 2011.  It Happened Again is 5/2 on the line and is coming of a big optional claiming win at Indiana Downs.  He is making his first journey down to Evangeline for trainer Tom Amoss and gets jockey Richard Eramia, a 19% winning rider at the meet to take the reins.  Unitas could be interesting at an 8/1 morning line, simply because other than Smoke It Right on the far outside, there is no early speed in this event.  So if Unitas can get the distance, which he is 1 for 5 at in his career, he could be upset minded.  The Evangeline Mile is the 10th race at Evangeline Downs on Saturday night and post time is 10:25pm EST. Selections for the Evangeline Mile

  1. Unitas
  2. Sabercat
  3. Smoke It Right

Longshot: Arkansas Martini

Two year olds take center stage in the Ontario Debutante at Woodbine

Six two year old fillies will line up to go six furlongs on Saturday at Woodbine in the $125,000 Ontario Debutante.  Five of the six already have their maiden breaking wins in their back pocket, so unlike some two year old stakes this time of year it’s not jammed with maidens or first time starters.  Skylander Girl is already a stakes winner as she took home the My Dear Lady Stakes against open rivals.  She came back last time out and ran a dull fourth as the favorite in the Shady Wells at Woodbine.  Sid Attard will send out Questera who he claimed for $40,000 of an impressive maiden claiming win.  Luis Contreras who is having another fantastic meeting at Woodbine will be in the saddle.  Madly Truly really exploded last time out when Gary Boulanger got aboard and he’s back again for trainer Mark Casse, who is always tough in these two year old stakes events. Selections for the Ontario Debutante

  1. Madly Truly
  2. Questera
  3. Skylander Girl

Longshot: Sweetsoutherndame

Saturday Stakes Action at

Canterbury Park

Race 7                  Minnesota Derby                    5:30pm EST

Race 8                  Minnesota Oaks                     6:00pm EST

Charles Town

Race 8                  Sadie Hawkins Stakes           10:25pm EST

Del Mar

Race 8                  La Jolla Handicap                    8:40pm EST

Delaware Park

Race 8                  Vincent Moscarelli Memorial S. 4:45pm EST

Ellis Park

Race 8                  Gardenia Stakes                      5:10pm EST

Emerald Downs

Race 9                  Washington Oaks                     9:09pm EST

Evangeline Downs

Race 10                 Evangeline Mile                       10:25pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 9                  TaWee Stakes                           5:15pm EST

Indiana Downs

Race 10                Hoosier Park Classic Stakes       9:45pm EST

Monmouth Park

Race 11                Monmouth Oaks                          5:59pm EST

Northlands Park

Race 2                  2 year old Filly Sales Stakes        3:30pm EST

Race 7                  2 year old Sales Stakes                6:00pm EST

Prairie Meadows

Race 7                  Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile      10:11pm EST

Ruidoso Downs

Race 10               Aspen Cup                                      6:54pm EST

Santa Rosa

Race 9                  Jess Jackson Owner’s Handicap    8:15pm EST


Race 8                  Last Dance Stakes                          4:40pm EST


Race 7                  Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes        3:55pm EST


Race 8                  Ontario Debutante                            4:19pm EST


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