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.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Rebel
- Strong Mandate
- Kobe’s Back
BetPTC.com Selections for the Razorback
- Govenor Charlie
- Right To Vote
Longshot: Golden Lad
BetPTC.com Selections for the Azeri
- Close Hatches
- Don’t Tell Sophia
- 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.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Santa Margarita
- Let Faith Arise
BetPTC.com Selections for the Irish O’Brien
- Boller Bomb
- Ciao Bella Luna
- 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.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Honey Fox
- Kitten’s Point
Longshot: Sonja’s Angel
Saturday Stakes Action at BetPTC.com
Race 10 Borgata Stakes 10:18pm EST
Race 8 Colonel Power Stakes 5:55pm EST
Golden Gate Fields
Race 7 Camilla Urso Stakes 6:45pm EST
Race 10 Honey Fox Stakes 5:36pm EST
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
Race 4 Irish O’Brien Stakes 5:00pm EST
Race 7 Santa Margarita Stakes 6:30pm EST
Race 9 Wayward Lass Stakes 4:19pm EST
Race 4 Tempe Handicap 5:58pm EST
Race 7 Scottsdale Handicap 7:31pm EST