Weekend Stakes Preview 1/9/14

Oaklawn Park opens up on Friday

Oaklawn Park will open up it’s doors for it’s 57 day meeting on Friday afternoon.  Oaklawn Park traditionally showcases some of the best racing during the winter months as well as one of the biggest trails to the Kentucky Derby.  The Racing Festival of the South is always the climax of the meet and is a series of huge races in early April that culminates with the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, which will be run on Saturday April 12th.

Opening Day will get underway on Friday at 2:05pm EST and will be headlined by the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for the three year old fillies.  More Than Beauty has the role of 8/5 favorite and is coming off a smashing win in a $75,000 Optional Claiming event at Churchill Downs.  So far her two wins have both come in wire to wire fashion, so it appears she may need to be a need the lead type runner.  However in the Dixie Belle she’ll have to deal with a couple of speedy runners who are drawn to the outside.  Zip On has  drawn the number nine post position and has been on the lead in five of her six starts.  She’s been routing and will be cutting back but early in her career she showed sub :22 speed at Saratoga.  Denali Cat and Xray Vision both also have early speed, but the most dangerous speedster to More Than Beauty could be Street Story.  Street Story won’t likely be right on the pace but she’s shown that she can be really close and should be just a couple lengths at most behind the early gas and might get a good setup.

Saturday’s feature is the $100,000 Fifth Season which is the first race on the road to the Oaklawn Handicap.  Thirteen horses will go the mile and one sixteenth including last year’s winner Donoharm.  Donoharm won another stake after his Fifth Season triumph last year but he’s fallen on tough times in recent starts and drew a tough post out in the twelve hole.  Cyber Secret figures to be the favorite as he is an Oaklawn monster.  He’s 5 for 8 locally and won last year’s Razorback Handicap, a Grade 3, and the Oaklawn Handicap, a Grade 2.  He was given much of the fall off and came back with a nice victory in a small stake at Turfway Park just before Christmas. Selections for the Dixie Belle (Friday)

  1. Street Story
  2. More Than Beauty
  3. Wicked Dixie

Longshot: Xray Vision Selections for the Fifth Season (Saturday)

  1. Jaguar Paw
  2. Cyber Secret
  3. Ted’s Folly

Longshot: Stachys

Sham Stakes starts the road to the Santa Anita Derby

The $100,000 Sham Stakes is part of a stakes double at Santa Anita on Saturday afternoon.  The Sham Stakes is the first stakes for the newly turned three year olds and will be run at a mile and was the race last year that propelled Goldencents on to his huge three year old campaign.  Six horses will compete including Life is a Joy who is the only stakes winner in the field.  Life is a Joy took home the Palmer Futurity at Fresno and was just second in the King Glorious Stakes at Hollywood Park.  However the likely favorites could be a pair of first out maiden breakers who are drawn to the outside.  Midnight Hawk was a strong winner for Bob Baffert and Mike Smith and they won at the tricky seven and one half furlong distance.  Midnight Hawk has drawn the far outside and just outside of Top Fortitude who also won his debut nicely.  Top Fortitude racked up a big speed figure when he rallied from off the pace to break the maiden at six and a half furlongs.  Kayla Stra will be back on board for trainer Kory Owens.

The San Pasqual Stakes is a $200,000 event for the older boys at a mile and a sixteenth and is the first stop on the road to the Santa Anita Handicap in March.  Blueskiesnrainbows drew the number 2 hole and is coming off a solid win in the Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood.  He was second in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon and owns a solid record over the Santa Anita course.  Rousing Sermon has also had great success at Santa Anita and will look to put in his closing move.  Rousing Sermon is 3 for 8 at Santa Anita and was just third behind Blueskiesnrainbows in the Native Diver.  Blueskiesnrainbows didn’t face any real pace pressure early on in that race, so the presence of Majestic City and a couple other horses who have some decent early speed might set it up for Rousing Sermon. Selections for the Sham

  1. Midnight Hawk
  2. Top Fortitude
  3. Life is a Joy

Longshot: I’ll Wrap It Up Selections for the San Pasqual

  1. Rousing Sermon
  2. Blueskiesnrainbows
  3. Drill

Longshot: Blingo

Hals Hope and Ft. Lauderdale are Gulfstream Saturday Stakes 

The Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes headlines a stakes double card at Gulfstream Park on Saturday afternoon.  The Ft. Lauderdale drew ten runners, but two of them are main track only entrants.  Slumber is dropping out of a pair of Grade 1 events so he should appreciate the class drop.  The Juddmonte owned runner will be making his first start at Gulfstream Park debut and tends to like to run from off the pace.  Nikki’s Sandcastle has always been solid from off the pace and is coming off a splendid win in the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes.  Summer Front shipped out to the west coast and just missed by a nose in the Grade 2 Citation Handicap.  Off that confidence builder he could be a big player in this spot.

The Grade 3 Hal’s Hope drew ten runners and Nikki’s Sandcastle is cross entered in the race.  As is Csaba who is one of the main track only runners in the Ft. Lauderdale.  Csaba tends to do his best running up on or near the lead so look for him to be prominent throughout in a race that doesn’t have much early speed.  Jackson Bend hasn’t seen the winner’s circle since early 2012 but he continues to run pretty well as a 7 year old.  He’s coming off a second place finish in the Sunshine State Stakes and should be a contender if he runs one of his better races.  Simmstown is coming off two big wins including a stakes score at Calder.  He’s getting the acid test on Saturday but he is 2 for 2 at a mile. Selections for the Ft. Lauderdale

  1. Summer Front
  2. Slumber
  3. Nikki’s Sandcastle

Longshot: Utley Selections for the Hal’s Hope

  1. Csaba
  2. Simmstown
  3. Uncaptured

Longshot: Purple Egg

Saturday Stakes Action at

Fair Grounds

Race 9                  Costa Rising Stakes                            5:55pm EST


Race 9                  Ft. Lauderdale Stakes                         4:33pm EST

Race 10                Hal’s Hope Stakes                              5:03pm EST


Race 8                  Fifth Season Stakes                          5:38pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 5                  Sham Stakes                                     5:30pm EST

Race 8                  San Pasqual Stakes                          7:00pm EST


Race 10               La Senora Stakes                               6:00pm EST

Tampa Bay

Race 7                  Minaret Stakes                                  3:25pm EST



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