Weekend Stakes Preview 3/12

American Pharoah returns in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn

Last year’s champion two year old American Pharoah will make his three year old debut on Saturday as he tops the list of seven runners in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes. The Grade 2 event is the headliner on a great card that includes the Razorback Handicap and the Azeri Stakes on the undercard as all the top horses in Arkansas prep for the Racing Festival of the South in April. American Pharoah has been installed as the 1/2 morning line favorite for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza. American Pharoah won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity last year before taking the Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita. An injury put him on the sidelines and he returns in the Rebel. His main competition in the Rebel looks like it might come from the two inside posts. The Truth Or Else finished up a very good second in his first start of 2015, the Southwest Stakes where he was beaten less than a length by Far Right. He made a huge sweeping move before flattening out a bit late. It was his first start at Oaklawn and he and Calvin Borel could improve second off the layoff. Todd Pletcher sends out Madefromlucky who is coming off a pair of very good wins in his last two races, both at Gulfstream Park. Pletcher has had success shipping to Oaklawn so this one could be dangerous, but will have to step up to beat American Pharoah.

The $300,000 Azeri Stakes sees the seasonal bow of Untapable who was the dominant filly in the country last year. She won four Grade 1 races including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She holds a big class advantage on her rivals on Saturday including Oaklawn specialist Sugar Shock. Sugar Shock is 4 for 5 at Oaklawn Park including a pair of Grade 3 wins and most recently took home a sprint win in the American Beauty Stakes. Mufajaah also loves Oaklawn Park as she’s 4 for 6 there and last time out beat a few of the rivals she’ll see Saturday in the Bayakoa Stakes. She likes to come from way off the pace and should be rolling late.

The Grade 3 Razorback Stakes sees last year’s Southwest Stakes Tapiture make his 2015 season debut. Last time out he finished a very good second behind Goldencents in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He’ll be taking on a very tough field including Ride on Curlin, Carve and Race Day. Ride on Curlin finished second in the Essex Handicap last time out and has never been off the board at Oaklawn Park. Carve won the Fifth Season at Oaklawn on opening weekend and is 4 for 7 over the Oaklawn oval. Race Day ships in for this race and is coming off two big figure efforts at Gulfstream Park for trainer Todd Pletcher. Whether he can maintain that level at Oaklawn is the question with him. Selections for the Rebel

  1. American Pharoah
  2. The Truth Or Else
  3. Bold Conquest

Longshot: Paid Admission Selections for the Azeri Stakes

  1. Untapable
  2. Sugar Shock
  3. Mufajaah

Longshot: Flashy American Selections for the Razorback

  1. Carve
  2. Ride on Curlin
  3. Tapiture

Longshot: I Got It All

Grade 1 Santa Margarita tops Santa Anita Saturday

Seven fillies and mares will line up in the Grade 1 $400,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita. All are looking for their first Grade 1 win including the red-hot Warren’s Veneda who has rattled off two big wins. Last time out Warren’s Veneda dominated in the Grade 2 Santa Maria and beat a few of the rivals she’ll face on Saturday like Uzziel and Thegirlinthatsong. The well traveled Dame Dorothy will make her west coast debut for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Bobby Flay. She’s 5 for 6 in her career and will get the riding services of Rafael Bejarano for the first time. Cassatt is another runner who will be making her Santa Anita debut and she’s been in smashing form lately. She has good early speed and is coming off a win in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Stakes. She’s won at 5 different tracks so even though it’s her first time at Santa Anita, she’s proven she can run wherever they take her.

The Irish O’Brien Stakes drew a field of seven runners going down the hill at Santa Anita, including Go West Marie. Go West Marie is coming off a win in the Sunshine Millions and she seems to have found a new lease on life coming from way off the pace. Down the hill that puts her at a tactical disadvantage, but if she can finish like last time, she’ll be tough in here. Bert’s Melody has won two straight races since being switched to the turf and will shorten up to six and a half furlongs here. If she can get the lead she could be very tough to catch with that added fitness. Selections for the Santa Maria

  1. Cassatt
  2. Warren’s Veneda
  3. Dame Dorothy

Longshot: Uzziel Selections for the Irish O’Brien

  1. Go West Marie
  2. Bert’s Melody
  3. Qiaona

Longshot: Demonica

$100,000 Correction Stakes tops Aqueduct Saturday card

The $100,000 Correction Stakes for filly and mare sprinters is the Saturday feature at the Big A. It marks the return of Mamdooha for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Mamdooha won four straight races before hitting the sidelines for just short of a year. She returns here and if she’s matured and comes back ready she merits some consideration. Isabelle looms the likely favorite after two nice wins over the inner track at Aqueduct, including a score last time out in the Broadway Stakes. She is 5 for 8 in her career and goes for trainer Bill Mott who should have her primed for this effort. Aireofdistinction could be an interesting play in this race as she goes second time for trainer David Jacobson. She ran a good second in the first start for his barn and he’s 21% with a horse for the second time. Selections for the Correction Stakes

  1. Aireofdistinction
  2. Isabelle
  3. Mamdooha

Longshot: Expression 

Saturday Stakes Action at


Race 4                  Correction Stakes                     2:48pm EST

Delta Downs

Race 10                Borgata Stakes                         10:40pm EST

Golden Gate

Race 7                  Camilla Urso Stakes                   6:45pm EST


Race 4                  Any Limit Stakes                       2:30pm EST

Race 11                Silks Run Stakes                       6:00pm EST


Race 7                  Azeri Stakes                             5:21pm EST

Race 8                  Razorback Handicap               5:57pm EST

Race 10                Rebel Stakes                            7:06pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 5                  Irish O’Brien Stakes                   5:30pm EST

Race 8                  Santa Margarita Stakes              7:00pm EST

Sunland Park

Race 9                  New Mexico State Handicap       6:28pm EST

Turf Paradise

Race 4                  Scottsdale Handicap                  5:55pm EST

Race 7                  Tempe Handicap                      7:50pm EST

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