Weekend Stakes Preview 2/6/14

Will Take Charge returns in the Donn Handicap on Sunday

Will Take Charge will kick off his 4 year old campaign on Sunday in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.  The Saturday card will offer not only the Donn but the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and the Grade 2 Hurricane Bertie Stakes.  Will Take Charge drew the number 2 post and comes into this race off a huge second half of 2013 that culminated with his nose defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a big win in the Clark Handicap against Game on Dude.  He certainly didn’t scare away all of his challengers in the Donn as eleven horses entered the race.  Revolutionary was third in the Kentucky Derby and was off the second half of 2013 with an injury.  He returned last month to win an optional claiming event at Gulfstream.  Bourbon Courage doesn’t win a whole lot but he always seems to put in a big run and be a contender in big races like these.  Romansh was beaten a couple times by Will Take Charge last year but when he runs a big one like he did last time out, he could be very dangerous.  What could be interesting is the pace scenario as there isn’t really a true pacesetter in the cast.  Lea could be a tough horse who ends up on the lead and he’s coming off a smashing win in the Hal’s Hope, which was his first start at Gulfstream Park over the main track.

Amira’s Prince will make his return in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.  Amira’s Prince ran off three straight wins last season at Gulfstream Park including a win in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida.  He’s been off for almost 11 months though, so it will be interesting to see if he’s ready to roll.  Todd Pletcher will send out Grade 1 winner Boisterous who will be looking to get back on track after three straight disappointing performances.  Imagining brings in two straight wins to the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.  He’s never ran at Gulfstream Park but does lure Joel Rosario to ride.  Groupie Doll should be a big favorite in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes.  She’s going to be making the last start of her career and will take a lot of wagering strictly because of her past record.   She ran a good 4th in the  Grade 1 Cigar Mile but is only 1 for 4 at Gulfstream Park.  Heart Stealer could be the main upset chance and just won the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl at Gulfstream. Selections for the Donn Handicap

  1. Lea
  2. Will Take Charge
  3. Revolutionary

Longshot: Bourbon Courage Selections for the Gulfstream Park Turf

  1. Amira’s Prince
  2. Imagining
  3. Summer Front

Longshot: Tetradrachm Selections for the Hurricane Bertie

  1. Heart Stealer
  2. Groupie Doll
  3. Five Star Momma

Longshot: Jamaican Smoke

Robert Lewis Stakes headlines stakes trifecta at Santa Anita

The Robert Lewis is the next stop on the way to the Santa Anita Derby and drew some of the top three year olds on the west coast including the undefeated Midnight Hawk.  Midnight Hawk took home the Grade 3 Sham in his last start and cemented himself as a probable favorite in Saturday’s $200,000 Bob Lewis.  Midnight Hawk goes out for Bob Baffert who is no stranger to success with three year olds and will be ridden by Mike Smith.  Midnight Hawk has a fair bit of speed but there are other speedy runners in this field.  Chitu on the far outside will be making his first try around two turns and has been showing sprint speed so he’ll likely send hard for jockey Martin Garcia.  El Nino Terrible is just a maiden breaker but did so wire to wire going a mile and a sixteenth.  Midnight Hawk should sit in third early on and if those first two don’t make the distance, he’ll get first run on the come from behinders.  Candy Boy is coming off a good second place finish in the CashCall Futurity behind Shared Belief who would be a huge favorite in this spot.  Candy Boy made a huge middle move in that race and will once again be ridden by the legend Gary Stevens.

The Grade 2 San Marcos and the Grade 2 San Antonio are also on the card.  The San Marcos drew 14 runners and is absolutely loaded with quality runners.  Lucayan and Temeraine are both coming out of the Hollywood Turf Cup and even though Temeraine had the perfect trip and got first run, Lucayan came and ran him down to get the win.  They’ll both have to beat the veteran Jeranimo who is coming off a win in the Grade 2 San Gabriel.  Vagabond Shoes is also a big contender and he should be flying from off the pace.  One concern for Vagabond Shoes is that he’s 0 for 4 at Santa Anita.  Game on Dude will make his return in the San Antonio, a race he won last year.  He’ll be a huge favorite in this race and as always with him the question is whether someone will go with him early.  Blueskiesnrainbows has won two graded races in a row and has lots of early speed so it will be interesting to see if those two hook up early. Selections for the Robert Lewis

  1. Midnight Hawk
  2. Cool Samurai
  3. Candy Boy

Longshot: Diamond Bachelor Selections for the San Marcos

  1. Temeraine
  2. Lucayan
  3. Vagabond Shoes

Longshot: Dubai You XYZ Selections for the San Antonio

  1. Game On Dude
  2. Blueskiesnrainbows
  3. Majestic Harbor

Longshot: Willyconker

Gulfstream Saturday topped by a pair of Grade 3’s

A pair of Grade 3 Stakes events will get top billing on Saturday as the Suwannee River Stakes and the Gulfstream Park Sprint will be run.  The Suwannee River drew a field of eight to go the nine furlongs on the Gulfstream grass and the race will include the North American debut of Riposte.  Riposte is a Juddmonte runner for trainer Bill Mott who was a Group 2 winner at Ascot.  Two starts back she was beaten by The Fugue, one of the best turfers in the world.  Joel Rosario will take the mount on Riposte.  Abaco looks to be the top local option as she’s become a very consistent closer in these turf events.  Abaco was second in this race last year and won the Grade 3 Cardinal at Churchill two starts back.  She was fourth in the most recent start in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River.  Caroline Thomas was only ¾ of a length from winning the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II last time out.  She’s gotten some time off and comes back here at Gulfstream, a track she’s won over before.

Laugh Track was second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and will look to get back on track in the Gulstream Park Sprint.  Laugh Track came back in the Cigar Mile which was an ultra tough field and was well beaten.  He’ll make his Gulfstream debut in the Gulfstream Park Sprint.  Singanothersong has won two straight at Gulfstream including the Mr. Prospector last time out.  He’s 3 for 7 career at Gulfstream and will be a big player on Saturday.  Jackson Bend is a Grade 1 winner and hasn’t tasted victory in over a year.  But he’s still been competing and could be a player if he runs his best race. Selections for the Suwannee River

  1. Riposte
  2. Abaco
  3. Caroline Thomas

Longshot: Parranda Selections for the Gulfstream Park Sprint

  1. Singanothersong
  2. Brujo de Oileros
  3. Laugh Track

Longshot: Caltron

Saturday Stakes Action at

Golden Gate

Race 7                  California Oaks                          6:45pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 10               Suwannee River                       5:01pm EST

Race 11              Gulfstream Park Sprint               5:31pm EST


Race 5                  Donna Freyer Stakes                    2:14pm EST

Race 7                  Christopher Elser Memorial        3:07pm EST

Sam Houston

Race 8                  Bucharest Stakes                      11:02pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 5                  San Antonio Stakes                    5:30pm EST

Race 7                  San Marcos Stakes                    6:30pm EST

Race 8                  Robert Lewis Stakes                   7:00pm EST

Sunland Park

Race 10               El Diario Handicap                     6:03pm EST

Tampa Bay

Race 7                  Manatee Stakes                       3:25pm EST


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