Weekend Stakes Preview 4/16

Shared Belief tops the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic

Shared Belief will venture outside of California to Charles Town on Saturday night as he tackles eight rivals in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. Shared Belief is coming off a dominating win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and will once again be ridden by Mike Smith. The question marks for him will be shipping to the east coast as well as the tight turns at Charles Town which is a bullring style track. He’ll once again have to reel in Moreno who is in the Classic and finished third in the race last year. Moreno finished second behind Shared Belief in the Santa Anita Handicap and figures to be gunning for the lead in this spot. Imperative won this race last year but he’s been in terrible form as of late and was beaten by Shared Belief in the Santa Anita Handicap last time out. He’ll have to turn it around big time, but maybe returning to Charles Town is exactly what he needs. Vyjack will also join the field in the Charles Town Classic and will be making just his second start of the year. He didn’t fire in his seasonal debut at Aqueduct last time out, but he should be fitter with that race under him and his best race certainly makes him a player in this spot.

The $150,000 Sugar Maple Stakes is the top undercard event on the 12 race program that kicks off with a special early post time of 12:45pm EST. David Jacobson sends down Frivolity who has been a solid runner on the east coast, winnign races at Laurel Park and Aqueduct. This is the biggest race of her career, but she’s coming into the race in good form and has been given a breather. Nesso was third in the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks last year and ships up from Tampa Bay Downs off a big optional claiming win. Flattering Bea might have the home field advantage as she’s 5 for 7 in her career at Charles Town and comes off of a handicap win at the track in her last start. Selections for the Charles Town Classic

  1. Shared Belief
  2. Moreno
  3. Vyjack

Longshot: General A Rod Selections for the Sugar Maple Stakes

  1. Flattering Bea
  2. Frivolity
  3. Nesso

Longshot: Found

Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes tops Keeneland Saturday

Another weekend of great racing is on tap at Keeneland Race Course and the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes is the feature event. The mile and one half turf event drew a field of eleven runners including the defending champion of the race Unitarian. Unitarian closed from tenth in this race last year to get up for the win and most recently won the 2 mile Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He likes to come from well off the pace so he might need some help up front early, but his late kick is furious. The speed could come from the swift My Afleet who is returning from a layoff since winning the $250,000 Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs last September. He broke his maiden at Keeneland in his only try over the course and did it in wire to wire fashion. Cary Street is an interesting entry in this spot as he’s only tried the grass once and it was a very dull effort. But the distance is his thing, he’s competed quite well in long distance type races including a Grade 2 win at a mile and three quarters at Santa Anita. Could be his connections are hoping for a wash off the grass or they are trying to wake him up with a surface switch.

Both Java’s War and Optimizer are looking to get back on track in the Elkhorn. Java’s War won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last season but he hasn’t been close in a race since then. He fared well on turf earlier in his career though so the surface switch might provide a little wake up. Optimizer gave Wise Dan a big run when they met in the Bernard Baruch last year and he’s coming into this race fresh off a layoff from October. Selections for the Elkhorn

  1. My Afleet
  2. Dynamic Sky
  3. Unitarian

Longshot: Cary Street

Saturday is the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne

Even though it’s not a Kentucky Derby prep race, the $400,000 Illinois Derby is still a very prestigious race and drew a field of nine. The Grade 3 event is led by Cross the Line who was fifth in the Santa Anita Derby last time out. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was also second in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby before that and figures to be the favorite in the Illinois Derby. Bob Baffert will ship over Whiskey Ticket who is just a maiden winner, but that was his lone career start and if he improves, he could be a big player. Another Santa Anita shipper is Verraco who is coming off a very good win at Santa Anita. Elvis Trujillo will take the mount and he seems to be better the more he stretches out. Selections for the Illinois Derby

  1. Cross The Line
  2. Verraco
  3. Whiskey Ticket

Longshot: Kantune

Emerald Downs opens on Saturday

Racing from the great Northwest will kick off on Saturday as Emerald Downs begins the annual Spring/Summer meet. First post on the weekends is 5pm EST and Friday nights join the mix in May with a first post time of 9:45pm EST. The signature event will once again be the Grade 3 Longacres Mile which will be run on Sunday August 16th.

Santa Barbara Stakes tops Saturday Santa Anita Stakes Double

The $150,000 Grade 3 Santa Barbara Handicap is the feature on Saturday at Santa Anita and drew a talented field of nine. Diversy Harbor is the big name as she’s a graded stakes winner and has run well against some of the top grass fillies in Southern California. This will be a bit of a stretch out for her to a mile and a quarter but her one start at 10 furlongs she ran a good second in the Grade 1 American Oaks. Three Hearts drew the rail in the Santa Barbara and is coming off a very big performance where she ran second in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes. She should be forwardly placed and might just get first run on the deeper closers. Queen of the Sand was fourth in that Santa Ana Stakes and prior to that finished second in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes.

The La Puente Stakes on the grass for three year olds heads the undercard with Papacoolpapacool looking for his third straight win. He took the Pasadena Stakes last time out by a length and a half over Anytime Anyplace, who he’ll face again in this spot. Anytime Anyplace drew the rail and has speed so look for him to once again set the pace. He dueled last time and that could be what cost him the win in the Pasadena, so a more relaxed trip in here could equal a better finish. Selections for the Santa Barbara

  1. Three Hearts
  2. Diversy Harbor
  3. Queen of the Sand

Longshot: Habibi Selections for the La Puente

  1. Anytime Anyplace
  2. Papacoolpapacool
  3. Ride Hard Cowboy

Longshot: Hero Ten All 

Saturday Stakes Action at


Race 2                  Distaff Handicap                       1:51pm EST

Race 5                  Woodhaven Stakes                   3:24pm EST

Charles Town

Race 1                  Coin Collector Stakes                 12:45pm EST

Race 3                  Caixa Electronica                       1:37pm EST

Race 5                  Original Gold Stakes                  2:29pm EST

Race 6                  Confucious Say Stakes               2:55pm EST

Race 9                  It’s Binn Too Long Stakes          4:20pm EST

Race 10              Robert Hilton Memorial Stakes    4:50pm EST

Race 11              Sugar Maple Stakes                   5:20pm EST

Race 12             Charles Town Classic                 6:05pm EST


Race 5                  Sixty Sails Handicap                   4:42pm EST

Race 9                  Illinois Derby                            6:40pm EST


Race 9                  Elkhorn Stakes                         5:13pm EST

Mahoning Valley

Race 6                  Austintown Filly Sprint               3:04pm EST

Race 7                  Howard B. Noonan Stakes         3:32pm EST


Race 4                  Geisha Stakes                          2:34pm EST

Race 6                  Stormy Blues Stakes              3:30pm EST

Race 7                  Primonetta Stakes                    3:58pm EST

Race 9                  Tessio Stakes                              4:55pm EST

Race 10               Henry Clark Stakes                    5:25pm EST


Sam Houston

Race 9                  Bank of America Texas Ch.         10:46pm EST


Santa Anita

Race 4                  La Puente Stakes                     5:00pm EST

Race 7                  Santa Barbara Handicap             6:30pm EST



Race 8                  Whimsical Stakes                      4:38pm EST





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