Weekend Stakes Preview 1/29

Grade 1 Las Virgenes headlines Santa Anita Saturday Stakes Triple

Ten three year old fillies will compete in the Grade 1 $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes which is the anchor of a huge card at Santa Anita on Saturday afternoon. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer doesn’t hold all the cards in the Las Virgenes but he does hold half of them as he’ll saddle 5 of the 10 runners. Majestic Presence is the most experienced of the Hollendorfer quintet with six starts under her belt. Most recently she was fourth beaten just two lengths in the Grade 1 Starlet at Los Alamitos. Lutine Bell, another Hollendorfer charge is coming off a win in the Blue Northern Stakes, a mile event on grass. She’s coming back to the main track and has some success on dirt as she broke her maiden at Santa Rosa. An interesting runner for the Hollendorfer barn is Glory who drew down on the inside. She was a runaway maiden breaker last time out and got a dandy speed figure to go with the effort.

Trainer Bob Baffert as usual is represented as he’ll send out Callback and Maybelline. Callback was second last time out in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez behind Seduire. It was just her third career start so she could certainly come back with a stronger effort this time and be a serious contender. Maybelline was just ¾ of a length behind Take Charge Brandi in the Grade 1 Starlet last time out, a race she ran absolutely huge in. She’ll come back to Santa Anita now where she won an allowance event last time she ran.

Millionaire Za Approval will come back to the west coast to run in the Arcadia Stakes over the grass. The Grade 2 event drew nine runners including Za Approval who has run twice before at Santa Anita, once finishing second to Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Mark Casse recently took over the training on Za Approval and will look to get the seven year old back to his winning ways. Kaigun is coming off a big win last time out in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap, a race in which he beat Za Approval by three quarters of a length. They both figure to be two of the top choices in the wagering along with Home Run Kitten who is coming off a second place finish behind a red hot Alert Bay in the Mathers Bros. Mile.

The Grade 2 Palos Verdes drew just a field of six, but what a talented group of six it is. Former BC Sprint winner Secret Circle is looking to get back to his winning ways as he hasn’t scored since that 2013 score. Big Macher and Wild Dude put on a memorable stretch battle in the Potrero Grande last time out and both will be big contenders in this race. Distinctiv Passion figures to be the speed of the speed and drawing the rail means just another reason for jockey Mike Smith to gun from that inside draw. Selections for the Las Virgenes

  1. Callback
  2. Glory
  3. Maybelline

Longshot: Lutine Bell Selections for the Arcadia

  1. Home Run Kitten
  2. Talco
  3. Za Approval

Longshot: Avanzare Selections for the Palos Verdes

  1. Wild Dude
  2. Big Macher
  3. Distinctiv Passion

Longshot: Conquest Two Step

Sam F. Davis is final local prep for Tampa Bay Derby

Twelve three year olds will look to get on both the Tampa Bay and Kentucky Derby trail on Saturday when they compete in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. The Sam F. Davis has produced some big time winners over the years like Any Given Saturday, General Quarters, and Bluegrass Cat to name a few. This year’s group is made up of mostly lightly raced runners looking to cement their status as stakes contenders. Todd Pletcher will send out a pair and he’s won this race five times previous. Royal Son is still a maiden but the fact that John Velasquez sees fit to come down for the mount hints that he might have more ability than he’s shown in the mornings. G Five has a maiden win only in five starts and picks up Rajiv Maragh for the Sam F. Davis. Kiaran McLaughlin will send out Ocean Knight who was a big maiden winner at Aqueduct in his debut. He’ll be stretching out to two turns in the Sam F. Davis but based on his speed figure he’ll get a lot of support at the windows. My Johnny Be Good goes out for trainer Eoin Harty and was a smashing 14 length winner in his local debut at Tampa last out.

The Grade 3 Endeavour tops the undercard and drew an overflow field of fourteen runners. Testa Rossi will return to Tampa for the first time since dominating the Tampa Bay Oaks last season. She hasn’t won since then but was on the shelf for a while and returns in this spot for trainer Chad Brown. Brown will also send out Rosalind, who he recently got transferred to his barn. She was a Grade 1 winner last year but has been trounced in her subsequent starts and looks to rebound here. I’m Already Sexy will make her Tampa Bay Downs debut and she’s a graded stakes winner and should be prominent on the front end in this spot.

The Suncoast Stakes is for the three year old fillies and drew ten runners to go a mile and 40 yards. Irish Jasper drew the rail and is coming off a win in the Gasparilla Stakes, the prep for this race where she beat several of the rivals she’ll see in the Suncoast. She should be stalking from midpack and should enjoy the stretchout to two turns. Graham Motion will send out Whimsicality who was a nice debut winner at Laurel in her debut and figures to be tough if the well bred daughter of Arch can improve on the stretchout. Selections for the Sam F. Davis

  1. My Johnny Be Good
  2. Ocean Knight
  3. Ami’s Flatter

Longshot: G Five Selections for the Endeavour

  1. Principessa Ava
  2. Testa Rossi
  3. Maria Maria

Longshot: Why Katherine Selections for the Suncoast

  1. Whimsicality
  2. Irish Jasper
  3. AP’s Glory

Longshot: Blue Eyed Babe 

Take Charge Brandi returns in the Martha Washington at Oaklawn

Take Charge Brandi will kick off her three year old campaign on Saturday afternoon in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The 3 year old D. Wayne Lukas trainee finished her first year as a racehorse with three straight big wins including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She’s a speed horse who likes to be up front early on, but she could have some company in the Martha Washington. Sarah Sis drew right alongside Take Charge Brandi and is coming off a good second place effort in the Dixie Belle Stakes behind the very tough Promise Me Silver. Perfect Fit ships to Oaklawn from Remington Park and is another speedy sort and drew the rail for the Martha Washington. She just missed last time out in the Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park and figures to be part of what could be a hot early pace in the Martha Washington. Selections for the Martha Washington

  1. Take Charge Brandi
  2. Perfect Fit
  3. Sarah Sis

Longshot: Sweet Corinna

Saturday Stakes Action at


Race 3                  Ladies Handicap                        1:43pm EST


Race 9                  H. Allen Jerkins Stakes               4:34pm EST

Oaklawn Park

Race 8                  Martha Washington Stakes        5:38pm EST

Sam Houston

Race 9                  Tomball Stakes                         10:46pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 6                  Palos Verdes Stakes                 6:00pm EST

Race 7                  Arcadia Stakes                         6:30pm EST

Race 8                  Las Virgenes Stakes                7:00pm EST

Tampa Bay Downs

Race 9                  Suncoast Stakes                       4:20pm EST

Race 10       Endeavour Stakes                            4:50pm EST

Race 11       Sam F. Davis Stakes                         5:20pm EST


Turfway Park

Race 6                  96 Rock Stakes                        8:40pm EST



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