Weekend Stakes Preview 3/13

Rebel headlines huge Saturday at Oaklawn Park 

Three year olds in Arkansas will take their next big crack at getting some Kentucky Derby points on Saturday as the $600,000 Grade 2 Rebel Stakes headlines a huge three stakes card at Oaklawn.  The Rebel drew eight runners including Southwest Stakes winner Tapiture.  Tapiture dominated the Southwest Stakes by four and one quarter lengths in what was his first race of 2014.  Ricardo Santana will once again be on board of Tapiture for trainer Steve Asmussen and he figures to be a logical favorite.  He’ll be squaring off against both Strong Mandate and Ride on Curlin who were second and third behind him in the Rebel last time out.  Kent Desormeaux will pick up the mount on Ride on Curlin while Joel Rosario will again fly in to ride Strong Mandate.  New in the field is Kobe’s Back who is coming off a tremendous win sprinting in the Grade 2 San Vicente last time out.  Kobe’s Back drew the far outside post and will get the riding services of Jose Lezcano as Joel Rosario who was aboard for the win in the San Vicente stays with Strong Mandate.  The San Vicente was Kobe’s Back’s first time over a dirt surface so if he takes to the distance he could be a major player Saturday.

The Grade 3 Razorback and the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes are the two big undercard stakes events and both drew some talented runners.  Taptowne is as solid as they come in terms of the Midwest Handicap division and is the co-highweight along with Called To Serve as both will carry 117 pounds.  Taptowne is coming off a big win at Penn National while Called To Serve will be making his first start in just over a year.  Last time he was seen he was third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap behind Game on Dude.

In the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes sees the return of the mighty Close Hatches.  A multpie Grade 1 winner, Close Hatches ran a brilliant second behind Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.  Close Hatches will be making her Oaklawn but if she comes back anywhere near her best she’ll be tough to beat.  Don’t Tell Sophia comes into this race hot as a pistol and has two straight stakes wins at Oaklawn.   She’s 4 for 6 in her career in Arkansas so she certainly has a home field advantage on this field. Selections for the Rebel

  1. Tapiture
  2. Strong Mandate
  3. Kobe’s Back

Longshot: Hoppertunity Selections for the Razorback

  1. Taptowne
  2. Govenor Charlie
  3. Right To Vote

Longshot: Golden Lad Selections for the Azeri

  1. Close Hatches
  2. Don’t Tell Sophia
  3. On Fire Baby

Longshot: Flashy American

Grade 1 Santa Margarita tops stakes double at Santa Anita 

The top older fillies and mares on the west coast have assembled and will compete at 9 furlongs in the Grade 1 $350,000 Santa Margarita Stakes.  A pair of recent Grade 2 winners at Santa Anita will clash in this race, with Santa Maria winner Iotapa taking on La Canada winner Spellbound.  Iotapa has never been off the board in eight career starts and she’s already Grade 1 placed in her career.  Spellbound was an upset winner of the Santa Maria and she’ll be trying to run from way off the pace which is her style.  So players will want to see how the traditionally speed favoring Santa Anita strip is playing on Saturday.  Fiftyshadesofhay is another who is very consistent and while she hasn’t won in her last four starts, she’s been putting in decent efforts and should get some support at the windows.

The Irish O’Brien Stakes features older fillies and mares going down the hill with recent stakes winner Ciao Bella Luna heading up the pack.  Ciao Bella Luna was close up throughout in her win in the Sunshine Millions Filly Turf Sprint.  Look for jockey Rafael Bejarano to employ similar tactics on Saturday as she should sit behind Boller Bomb and Tribal Spy early on.  Boller Bomb is shortening up and could appreciate the trip going down the hill. Selections for the Santa Margarita

  1. Iotapa
  2. Let Faith Arise
  3. Fiftyshadesofhay

Longshot: Stanwyck Selections for the Irish O’Brien

  1. Boller Bomb
  2. Ciao Bella Luna
  3. Could Be Trouble

Longshot: Tribal Spy

Honey Fox is Gulfstream Saturday Feature

As the Gulfstream season continues at a frantic pace this winter, Saturday’s feature is the Honey Fox Stakes for older fillies and mares on the grass and the race drew an extraordinary field.  Defending champ and Grade 1 winner Centre Court is coming into the race off a layoff and was not impressive in her last three starts last summer.  She won this race off a similarly long layoff last season and if trainer George Arnold has her ready she could be dangerous.  But he’s only hitting at 7% off an over 90 day layoff.  Tapicat is returning to Gulfstream Park for the Honey Fox and she’s certainly enjoyed her time in South Florida as she’s a perfect 3 for 3 over the Gulfstream green.  She flew out west for the Grade 2 Buena Vista last time out and was a strong closing third.  Parranda is another who likes Gulfstream as she’s 6 for 11 locally and most recently won the Grade 3 Suwannee River.  She’s won 4 of her last 5 and this may well be her toughest test to date. Selections for the Honey Fox

  1. Parranda
  2. Tapicat
  3. Kitten’s Point

Longshot: Sonja’s Angel

Saturday Stakes Action at 

Delta Downs

Race 10                  Borgata Stakes                         10:18pm EST

Fair Grounds

Race 8                  Colonel Power Stakes                5:55pm EST

Golden Gate Fields

Race 7                  Camilla Urso Stakes                   6:45pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 10                Honey Fox Stakes                     5:36pm EST

Laurel Park

Race 9                  Caesar’s Wish Stakes                 4:25pm EST


Race 8                  Azeri Stakes                             5:52pm EST

Race 9                  Razorback Stakes                      6:27pm EST

Race 10               Rebel Stakes                            7:04pm EST


Race 11               SLM Big Daddy Stakes               11:20pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 4                  Irish O’Brien Stakes                   5:00pm EST

Race 7                  Santa Margarita Stakes              6:30pm EST

Tampa Bay

Race 9                  Wayward Lass Stakes                4:19pm EST

Turf Paradise

Race 4                  Tempe Handicap                      5:58pm EST

Race 7                  Scottsdale Handicap                 7:31pm EST


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