Weekend Stakes Preview 1/8

Oaklawn Park opens on Friday

Oaklawn Park in Hot Spring, Arkansas will kick off the annual winter/spring meeting on Friday afternoon. Great racing and full fields are what players can expect every Thursday thru Sunday throughout the season, which runs until Saturday April 11th. Closing day also happens to be Arkansas Derby Day, which is the day all the three year olds are pointing to. The Arkansas Derby is the feature day of the year but big days will also go on Monday February 16th when the Presidents’ Day holiday card includes the $300,000 Southwest Stakes for three year olds. The $750,000 Rebel Stakes will go to post on Saturday March 14th and is the final prep for the Arkansas Derby.

The stakes season at Oaklawn kicks off Friday with the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for three year old fillies and on Saturday with the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older runners. The Dixie Belle Stakes drew eleven runners to go six furlongs including the undefeated Promise Me Silver. Promise Me Silver has won four races on four different tracks and generally stalks the leaders from just off the pace. She should have plenty of pace to track including Toutsie Rules who is 2 for 2 and has won both races on the engine. Toutsie Rules drew the rail and expect jockey James Graham to try and send for the early lead. Sarah Sis is another who has good early foot and won impressively in her first start on the dirt last time out.

The $100,000 Fifth Season on Saturday features eight older runners going a route of ground. Zee Bros. is coming off a big in the DeFrancis Dash, a sprint race that he was 29/1 in. He’s won two straight for D. Wayne Lukas and looks to be easily the controlling speed. The question for him is whether or not he can keep it going. Carve will return to Oaklawn for the Fifth Season, a track he’s relished in the past with 3 wins from 6 starts. He’s drawn the rail and will once again be ridden by Jesus Castanon for the Fifth Season. Serendip will be coming form off the pace but could be a price play to look for as he jumps in class for this one. Selections for the Dixie Belle (Friday)

  1. Toutsie Rolls
  2. Promise Me Silver
  3. Lil Super Bear

Longshot: Super Saks Selections for the Fifth Season (Saturday)

  1. Zee Bros
  2. Code West
  3. Carve

Longshot: Serendip

Sham Stakes starts road to the Santa Anita Derby

Three year olds will be routing on Saturday at Santa Anita with goals of making it further down the Kentucky Derby trail. The horse who ends up being favored could be a maiden as Calculator is 0 for 4 in his career, but has finished second in Grade 1 races in his last two efforts. He finished second behind American Pharoah in both the Del Mar Futurity and the Frontrunner Stakes and he won’t have to take on anyone as tough as that horse here. In fact there isn’t a stakes winner in the field, so someone will have to step it up on Saturday to earn their first. St. Joe Bay could be one who deserves some attention as he is graded stakes placed. He has good tactical speed and in a race without a ton of speed on paper, he could be forwardly placed which is always an advantage at Santa Anita. Doug O’Neill has taken over the training Rockinatten who is coming off a huge win in a maiden event. He could be a horse that appreciates the added distance and that win could have given him the confidence he needs.

Older runners will take center stage in the $200,000 Grade 2 San Pasqual. Hoppertunity will make his first start since winning the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill in November. He doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down since his injury and he should be really cranked up for this race. Graham Motion will ship over Quadrivium who is a perfect two for two here in the States. Motion got the horse from Ireland two starts back and he’s won both his North American dirt starts and will now try graded company. Big Cazanova will be the possible pacesetter as he comes off a smashing victory in the Native Diver Stakes. He seems to be at his best when he can get to that early lead so expect him to send in this spot. Selections for the Sham Stakes

  1. Joe Bay
  2. Calculator
  3. Papacoolpapacool

Longshot: Rock Shandy Selections for the San Pasqual

  1. Hoppertunity
  2. Big Cazanova
  3. Majestic Harbor

Longshot: Quadrivium

A Stakes Trifecta at Gulfstream on Saturday

Gulfstream Park’s big Saturday card will be headed up by $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale as well as a pair of Grade 3 stakes events. The Ft. Lauderdale is at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass and drew thirteen runners including Za Approval. Za Approval will be making his first start for trainer Mark Casse and will be returning to Gulfstream Park where he has three wins on his ledger. He’s competed against some of the best grass horses around like Wise Dan and figures to be tough in this spot. Mshawish won the El Prado last time out in his first start at Gulfstream, but he’ll be stretching out a bit in this event as the El Prado was at seven and one half furlongs.

The $150,000 Marshua’s River features talented runners like Parranda competing on the Gulfstream lawn. Parranda is 6 for 12 at Gulfstream and is coming off a sixth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She should appreciate the class drop and should be prominent throughout. She’ll have to beat foes like Strike Charmer who won the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap last time out. Chad Brown will send out Summer Moon who ships over from France. Brown excels at winning with first time runners in North America and the horse has been training well at Palm Meadows in the mornings for Brown.

The Grade 3 Hal’s Hope Stakes sees the return of Lea who was last seen winning the Grade 1 Donn Handicap here at Gulfstream last year. He could be using this as a prep for the Donn Handicap and his trainer Bill Mott scores well with runners off a layoff. Lea will have to contend with the likes of Valid who is coming off a tremendous 2014 campaign. Valid has never been out of the exacta in 5 starts at Gulfstream Park and he should be prominent early on. Selections for the Ft. Lauderdale

  1. Lochte
  2. Grand Tito
  3. Za Approval

Longshot: Mutin Selections for the Marshua’s River

  1. Strike Charmer
  2. Parranda
  3. Pappascat

Longshot: Skylander Girl Selections for the Hal’s Hope

  1. Valid
  2. Lea
  3. Golden Lad

Longshot: Confrontation 

Saturday Stakes Action at


Race 3                  Busanda Stakes                        1:23pm EST

Delta Downs

Race 2                  Big Drama Stakes                      6:57pm EST

Fair Grounds

Race 4                  Pan Zareta Stakes                    3:55pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 7                  Hal’s Hope Stakes                     3:34pm EST

Race 8                  Marshua’s River Stakes           4:03pm EST

Race 10                Ft. Lauderdale Stakes                5:01pm EST


Race 8                  Fifth Season Stakes                   4:49pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 6                  Sham Stakes                              6:00pm EST

Race 8                  San Pasqual Stakes                   7:00pm EST

Tampa Bay Downs

Race 8                  Turf Dash                                3:56pm EST


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