Weekend Stakes Preview 1/23

Holy Bull Stakes gets the Florida Derby Series underway 

Some of the top three year olds on the East Coast will converge at Gulfstream Park on Saturday for the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes.  The Grade 2 event will be at a mile and a sixteenth and is the first prep for the Florida Derby, the other being the Fountain of Youth Stakes.  Cairo Prince is a two time winner and already has a Grade 2 win on his ledger by virtue of his score in the Nashua Stakes in November at Aqueduct.  He followed that up with the most narrow of defeats, losing to Honor Code by just a nose in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, a mile and one eighth event.  He came to South Florida after that race and has been working nicely for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.  Undefeated Coup De Grace will get the riding services of John Velazquez who has returned from injury.  The Chad Brown trainee has been perfect in two starts, both of which were on the early lead and both of which weren’t huge margin wins.  He’ll have to contend with some other speedy types in this race including Almost Famous.  Almost Famous has two nice wins and both of them came in wire to wire fashion so you can be sure jockey Calvin Borel will be sending this one to the front.  An interesting participant could be the number 6 runner Mr. Speaker who is coming off a big win in the Grade 3 Dania Beach.  All four of his races have been on the grass, so he will be making his dirt debut, but he’ll be running for trainer Shug McGaughey who trained last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

The Grade 2 Forward Gal is for the three year old fillies and will be run as the seventh race on the card.  Six runners will line up to go seven furlongs including the Todd Pletcher trained Onlyforyou will certainly be a tough contender.  She’s an undefeated two for two and will be making her stakes debut.  Javier Castellano will once again be on board as this filly has employed a winning stalking style in both her two wins.  Resistivity has just a maiden win from three career starts but she’s been very fast in her races which could make her tough in here. Selections for the Holy Bull

  1. Coup de Grace
  2. Cairo Prince
  3. Our Caravan

Longshot: Wicked Strong Selections for the Forward Gal

  1. Onlyforyou
  2. Resistivity
  3. Aurelia’s Belle

Longshot: Stately Defence

Houston Ladies Classic and Connally Turf Cup headline huge Saturday night at Sam Houston

Racing at Sam Houston just got underway last week, but the track is wasting no time bringing out some top rate talent.  Saturday night the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the $200,000 Grade 3 John Connally Turf Cup headline a stakes loaded card.  Rose To Gold has been tabbed as the 5/2 morning line favorite in the Houston Ladies Classic and she’s already a multiple Grade 3 winner.  Her last two starts weren’t great but both were on turf so she’ll return to her preferred surface on Saturday night.  Rose To gold will break from the inside post, and right to her outside is Unusual Way who is coming off a huge win in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks.  Unusual Way has racked up over half a million in earnings and is Grade 2 placed.  The Zia Park Oaks was her return to dirt and saw her run one of the biggest races of her career.  Mike Maker will send over Awesome Flower who will once again be paired up with Rosie Napravnik.  Awesome Flower used to employ a stalking style and was very successful, however in her last two starts she’s been way off the pace early on.  So it will be interesting to see if she returns to her old tactics and stays closer up.

The John Connally Turf Cup drew a couple of monsters in Admiral Kitten and King David.  Both are Grade 1 winners and Admiral Kitten hasn’t been out of the exacta in three straight Grade 1s.  Admiral Kitten employs a closing style but he figures to be a very low price in this spot.  King David was second in this race last year so having experience over the Sam Houston Turf Course could be to his advantage as most of the field has never raced there before.  Vertiformer returns after a year on the side lines and comes back for trainer Christophe Clement.  He only has one win Stateside but he’s got some serious ability on his best day. Selections for the Houston Ladies Classic

  1. Class Included
  2. Unusual Way
  3. Awesome Flower

Longshot: Moon Philly Selections for the John Connally Turf Cup

  1. Admiral Kitten
  2. Vertiformer
  3. King David

Longshot: Fredericksburg

Santa Monica/Sunshine Millions/Cal Cup Day on Saturday at Santa Anita

Santa Anita has lumped together numerous stakes events on Saturday to make for a huge card with six added money events on the program.  The Grade 2 Santa Monica for the older filly and mare sprinters is the lynch pin of the card that also includes the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint as well as four Cal Cup races.  The Santa Monica features recent Grade 1 winner Heir Kitty who was a smashing winner of the La Brea Stakes back on opening day.  Grade 1 winner Teddy’s Promise actually won this race last year and she’s always a contender at Santa Anita, a track she’s 5 for 10 at.  One thing has been that she hasn’t been putting together back to back winning efforts recently and she’s coming off a huge win.  So she could be vulnerable of putting up another top shelf effort.

Eleven runners will go down the hill in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint.  Multiple stakes winner Unusual Hottie hasn’t done her best work down the hill but she has been sharp for much of the last year, with the exception of her last start in the Grade 3 Ken Maddy.  This Means War could be an interesting player and she’s 3 for 6 down in her career.  Joe Talamo will be aboard and he’s proven over the years to be a solid downhill turf runner. Swiss Lake Yodeler headlines a big field in the Cal Cup Oaks and she’ll be making her first start on grass for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.  Sprague River is two for two and will be making her stakes debut and was a big winner in her first grass start last time out.

Cyclometer took home a stakes last time and could be the one to beat in the Cal Cup Sprint.  Big Macher is making his stakes debut, but he’s been in very sharp form as of late.  Summer Hit might be a big favorite in the Cal Cup Turf Classic as he’s coming off a big win in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap up at Golden Gate.  Summer Hit is 2 for 3 at Santa Anita and drew a comfy rail spot.  Grade 1 winner Tamarando will get a lot of attention in the Cal Cup Derby as he’s coming off a third place finish in the Grade 1 Cashcall Futurity last time out behind the monster Shared Belief. Selections for the Santa Monica

  1. Heir Kitty
  2. Teddy’s Promise
  3. Winding Way

Longshot: Iotopa Selections for the Sunshine Millions FM Turf Sprint

  1. This Means War
  2. Mark’s Mine
  3. Unusual Hottie

Longshot: Journey On Selections for the Cal Cup Oaks

  1. Swiss Lake Yodeler
  2. Rovenna
  3. Kukaluka

Longshot: Anniversary Kitty Selections for the Cal Cup Sprint

  1. Big Macher
  2. Cyclometer
  3. Spirit Rules

Longshot: Follini Selections for the Cal Cup Turf Classic

  1. Summer Hit
  2. Stoney Fleece
  3. Maybe Tuesday

Longshot: China Prince Selections for the Cal Cup Derby

  1. Tamarando
  2. Lucky Views
  3. Aotearoa

Longshot: Electric Eddie 

Saturday Stakes Action at


Race 8                  Whippleton Stakes                            4:00pm EST

Fair Grounds

Race 9                  FW Gaudin Memorial                        5:55pm EST


Race 7                 Forward Gal Stakes                            3:34pm EST

Race 10               Holy Bull Stakes                                 5:03pm EST

Laurel Park

Race 4                  Wide Country Stakes                         1:59pm EST

Race 6                  Miracle Wood Stakes                          2:56pm EST

Race 7                  Native Dancer Stakes                         3:25pm EST

Race 8                  What a Summer Stakes                      3:55pm EST

Oaklawn Park

Race 8                  American Beauty Stakes                     5:38pm EST

Sam Houston

Race 6                  Allen’s Landing Stakes                        10:15pm EST

Race 7                  Champion Energy Stakes                    10:45pm EST

Race 8                  John Connally Turf Cup                       11:15pm EST

Race 9                  Houston Ladies Stakes                       11:45pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 4                  Santa Monica Stakes                          4:30pm EST

Race 5                  Sunshine Millions FM Turf Sprint       5:00pm EST

Race 7                  California Cup Oaks                            6:00pm EST

Race 8                  Cal Cup Sprint                                     6:30pm EST

Race 9                  Cal Cup Classic                                   7:00pm EST

Race 10                Cal Cup Derby                                   7:30pm EST

Sunland Park

Race 10             El Paso Times Stakes                          6:04pm EST

Tampa Bay Downs

Race 7                  Pelican Stakes                                   3:25pm EST

Race 8                  Endeavor Stakes                               3:53pm EST

Race 10              Lightning City Stakes                          4:52pm EST

Turf Paradise

Race 4                  Swift Stakes                                     4:10pm EST


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