Weekend Stakes Preview 12/26

Daytona Stakes headlines first Saturday at Santa Anita as season gets underway

Santa Anita will open up on Thursday December 26th and kick off the huge winter/spring meet.  With the closing of Hollywood Park, Santa Anita will take over many of the spring dates that race all the way until the end of June.  Racing will be conducted at Santa Anita on a Thursday through Sunday schedule with first post usually at 3:30pm EST.  The season at Santa Anita is always loaded with world class racing and some of the top horses, jockeys and trainers competing in great races.  The Daytona Stakes will headline a stakes double at Santa Anita on Saturday afternoon.  The Grade 3 event will feature 8 horses making the six and one half furlong journey down the famed Santa Anita hillside turf course.  Unbridled’s Note looks like a probable favorite in this spot as he’s assembled a solid record over the Santa Anita hillside.  He was second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last season and followed that up this year with a fourth place finish, beaten just a length and a quarter.  He came back earlier this month to finish second as the even money favorite in the Hollywood Express Stakes, beaten just half a length.  Chips All In also finished second in the Hollywood Express Stakes, dead-heating with Unbridled’s Note.  Chips All In also has the added bonus of being a specialist over the Santa Anita hillside, as he’s 4 for 6 over the course.  The pace in the Daytona should come from Truest Legend and El Commodore.  El Commodore has been showing speed at a mile and shortening up might affect his ability to get to the early lead versus a horse like Truest Legend.

Royal Banker tops the list of eight runners in the $75,000 Eddie Logan.  He was a good third in the Grade 3 Generous last time out.  He broke his maiden in Great Britain and he’ll be taking on a couple of good looking European shippers.  Noble Metal was just second in a class 2 event at Newmarket in Great Britain while Morally Bankrupt has won two straight in Britain.  Enterprising was a solid maiden breaker over the grass at Hollywood Park last time and once again will be ridden by Gary Stevens. Selections for the Daytona Stakes

1.      Unbridled’s Note

2.      Chips All In

3.      Ain’t No Other

Longshot: Gallant Son Selections for the Eddie Logan

1.      Royal Banker

2.      Morally Bankrupt

3.      Enterprising

Longshot: My Secret Affair

Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap for marathoners is Saturday at Calder

Eleven horses will line up to go a mile and a half on the grass at Calder on Saturday for the Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap.  Twilight Eclipse is back to defend his title as he won this race in stylish fashion last season.  He followed that race up with a huge performance two starts later in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes at Gulfstream, also at a mile and one half.  His summer campaign included a big second place finish in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga so he’s certainly got a class edge on this field.  Even his recent sixth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf only saw him beaten two lengths.  Slumber is also coming out of Grade 1 races as he competed in the Turf Classic Invitational and Belmont and the Canadian International in his last start, which is always one of the toughest races in North America each year.  Julien Leparoux will be in town for the mount and Slumber could be tough, even though he’s never hit the board at 12 furlongs.

Vertiformer will make just his second start of 2013 in the McKnight, and his first start was nearly a year ago on January 13th in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale, a race he ran seventh in.  He was third in this race last season, which was his only start at Calder so he does seem to have some affinity for the course.  If there is a horse who loves the Calder grass more than anyone it could be Mucho Mas Macho, who is 3 for 7 over the local green.  He is a Grade 2 winner and was second in this race last year behind Twilight Eclipse. Selections for the William M. McKnight

  1. Twilight Eclipse
  2. Mucho Mas Macho
  3. Suntracer

Longshot: Ducduc

Mr. Prospector Stakes headlines Gulfstream Park Stakes Double

Eight sprinters will line up to go six furlongs at Gulfstream on Saturday in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes.  It’s an evenly matched group that features some quick speedsters along with some wily old veterans.  Travelin Man has always fared well at Gulfstream Park as he’s collected 5 wins in 8 career starts there.  He was third in his first start off of the layoff last time out behind a runaway winner in Apriority.  He’ll have to face Apriority again, but that tightener should have him in peak shape for this effort.  Apriority is another who loves Gulfstream Park as he’s 4 for 7 locally.  He had been in pretty lousy form coming into that last start, so maybe the return to Gulfstream was just what he needed to wake up.  As far as the early pace it could be a battle between Singanothersong and Star Harbour.  Singanothersong often will go to the front, but lately has been finding himself in second early on in the races, so don’t be surprised if he yields to Star Harbour.  Star Harbour likes to go quick early and should be out on the early lead under Paco Lopez.

The one mile El Prado Stakes drew fourteen runners to compete on the grass course.  Nikki’s Sandcastle won this race last year and will be looking to defend his title.  He’s coming off one of his biggest career wins last time out, when he took home the top honors in the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland.  Mr. Online doesn’t have the biggest resume in the field but he’s coming into this race hot as a pistol.  He ran a huge second behind Ben’s Cat at Laurel three starts back and two starts back was second in the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes.  Lea drew on the far outside and will certainly get some attention, maybe because just a few months ago he was racing well against the great Wise Dan.  He got away from the turf in his last two and returns in this spot, which will be his first try at Gulfstream. Selections for the Mr. Prospector

  1. Star Harbour
  2. Apriority
  3. Travelin Man

Longshot: Singanotherson Selections for the El Prado

  1. Mr. Online
  2. Guys Reward
  3. Lea

Longshot: Salto 

Saturday Stakes Action at

Calder Race Course

Race 7                  WL McKnight Handicap                       3:30pm EST

Delta Downs

Race 9                  Fremont Stakes                                 10:28pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 8                  El Prado Stakes                                 4:03pm EST

Race 9                  Mr. Prospector Stakes                        4:33pm EST

Hialeah Park

Race 8                  Signature Stakes                               4:04pm EST

Laurel Park

Race 7                  Willa On the Move Stakes                   3:25pm EST

Race 8                  Maryland Juvenile Championship     3:55pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 4                  Eddie Logan Stakes                            5:00pm EST

Race 8                  Daytona Stakes                                 7:00pm EST

Sunland Park

Race 5                  Sunland Park Winter QH Derby         3:55pm EST

Race 10                Red Hedamen Mile                             6:04pm EST

Turf Paradise

Race 4                 Arizona Juvenile Fillies Stakes               4:10pm EST

Race 7                  Lost in the Fog Juvenile Stakes            5:44pm EST


Leave a Reply