Stakes Preview 2/27

Swale Stakes draws big names at Gulfstream Park

Two of the most highly touted three year olds will make their seasonal debut on Saturday in the Grade 2 $200,000 Swale Stakes.  Havana and No Nay Never both come into this seven furlong event with outstanding two year old resumes.  Havana won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and looked a winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in mid-stretch before getting caught late by New Years Day.  John Velazquez will take over the mount on Havana for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Swale Stakes as they cut back in distance.  No Nay Never was a scintillating winner in his debut at Keeneland last April before heading overseas to win at Ascot and get a Group 1 score in France.  He returns to the States for trainer Wesley Ward who has tabbed Javier Castellano to ride No Nay Never in the Swale, which will be the longest race of his career.  Of the remaining contenders in the Swale, it could be Prudhoe Bay who has the most upside.  He’s coming off a narrow win in the OBS Sprint at Ocala last time out and beat two of the rivals he’ll face in this race.  Spot was a well beaten fifth in the Hutcheson Stakes last time out behind some tough customers like Wildcat Red.  He’ll have to step his game up though to improve in this spot.

The other feature on the card comes one race after the Swale Stakes in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes.  Twelve three year olds will compete over the grass with the red-hot Storming Inti drawing the inside and looking for his fifth straight win.  He’s won three straight stakes events and will be making his first foray into Graded Stakes company.  Mr. Speaker won the Grade 3 Dania Beach before getting crunched in the Holy Bull when he tried getting onto the main track.  He’ll return to the grass and will also be getting first time Lasix.  Cabo Cat could be an interesting runner in this spot as he’s only ran four times and last time was a good late closing third in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes.  Joel Rosario sticks around and even though they drew the twelve post, they should be rolling at the end. Selections for the Swale Stakes

  1. Havana
  2. Prudhoe Bay
  3. No Nay Never

Longshot: Spot Selections for the Palm Beach Stakes

  1. Cabo Cat
  2. Mr. Speaker
  3. Gala Award

Longshot: Pleuven

Mountaineer opens up on Saturday night

Racing from Mountaineer Race Track in West Virginia will kick off on Saturday Night for the Marathon ten month meeting.  Regular post time will be at 7pm EST and there will be 210 days of racing through the end of the year.  Full fields are the order of the night for the opener, averaging 9.7 starters per race on the card.  Mountaineer’s signature event will once again be the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby which is part of an all-stakes card on Saturday August 2nd.   The racing schedule at Mountaineer will be Saturdays through Wednesdays racing all the way until December 20th.

Eleven runners to go in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway 

There aren’t any Derby points up for grabs in the John Battaglia Memorial on Saturday, but the $100,000 event is a key prep for the Spiral Stakes which will offer up some big points.  Harry’s Holiday won the prep for the Battaglia when he took the 96 Rocks Stakes by eight lengths.  But he’s drawn the far outside post in the 11 hole for the Battaglia, so look for Rodney Prescott to try and send a little bit early to avoid being too wide going into the first turn.  By contrast, all the way down on the rail is Poker Player who might be one of the favorites in the race.  Poker Player won the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland last fall before finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in his last start.  He’ll return to the polytrack and will also get Blinkers On for this trip.  He’s a stone cold closer so it could be his connections want a little more speed and focus by adding the blinkers.

The speed in the race could come from Grade 3 winner Solitary Ranger.  Solitary Ranger went nearly wire to wire winning the Grade 3 Arlington Washington Futurity at Arlington Park over the polytrack.  He led the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity to the top of the stretch and should be prominent in this spot.  Todd Pletcher is shipping in Canzoni who has a win and a second in his two race career.  He just missed by a nose in the OBS Championship last time out in what was his first try over a synthetic surface. Selections for the John Battaglia Memorial

  1. Canzoni
  2. Laddie Boy
  3. Solitary Ranger

Longshot: General Jack

Maxxam Gold Cup headlines big Saturday night at Sam Houston

Sam Houston will feature three stakes races on Saturday night as part of Maxxam Gold Cup night, one of the biggest nights of the year at the track.  Frac Daddy is the big name in the event and was on the Kentucky Derby trail most of last year.  He turned into a good turf horse the second half of last season, but will return to the main track for trainer Ken McPeek.  Red Rifle who drew down on the rail for the Maxxam Gold Cup has been going against some tough runners in his recent starts, including Bradester who came out of his last race to win a stakes last weekend.  Texas Air will also get some consideration as he won the Star of Texas Stakes last time out in his Sam Houston debut.  Rosie Napravnik will make the trip to Texas to ride Leadem in Ken who won a $40,000 Optional Claimer at Fair Grounds last time out in huge fashion.

Sam Houston racing gets underway at 8:00pm EST and the card also features the Jersey Lilly Stakes and the Texas Heritage Stakes, both $50,000 events. Selections for the Maxxam Gold Cup

  1. Red Rifle
  2. Frac Daddy
  3. Texas Air

Longshot: Magnum Force

Saturday Stakes Action at

Delta Downs

Race 9                  Pelican Stakes                          10:28pm EST

Fair Grounds

Race 4                  Star Guitar Stakes                     3:25pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 9                    Swale Stakes                              5:10pm EST

Race 10                 Palm Beach Stakes                    5:41pm EST

Oaklawn Park

Race 8                  Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes          5:38pm EST

Sam Houston

Race 6                  Texas Heritage Stakes               10:10pm EST

Race 7                  Jersey Lilly Stakes                     10:36pm EST

Race 8                  Maxxam Gold Cup Stakes           11:02pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 8            Santa Ysabel Stakes                    7:00pm EST


Race 5            West Texas QH Futurity            4:35pm EST

Tampa Bay

Race 8           Turf Dash Stakes                      3:55pm EST


Race 10       John Battaglia Memorial             5:22pm EST


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