Weekend Stakes Preview 4/17

Coolmore Lexington Stakes last chance for Derby Points

Horses looking to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby will get their last crack at some points on Saturday as the $200,000 Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland.  Grade 3 winner Mr. Speaker will be making his first venture over a synthetic surface in the Lexington and he’s a proven turf runner.  He won the Grade 3 Dania Beach at Gulfstream before giving the dirt a try in the Holy Bull Stakes, a race he finished seventh in.  He went back to the turf last time out and finished a game second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach and his connections have elected to give him one more try on the Derby Trail.  Mr. Speaker drew the rail in the Lexington and right next to him will be Solitary Ranger who has assembled a nice resume over the synthetic surfaces, including a big win in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.  He didn’t fire much in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes, but he was up close to a solid pace that day so he could be forgiven and could be better if nobody goes with him early on.  Todd Pletcher will send out three runners including the undefeated Divine Oath who is two for two over the Gulfstream grass.  The Pletcher trained Supermonic scored a huge win at Keeneland just a few days ago on April 13th so he’ll be wheeling back quickly to try and pick up those precious points.

The Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes is the headliner of the two undercard and drew a very solid field of ten.  Newsdad is coming off a big win in the Pan American at Gulfstream and he’s 2 for 3 over the Keeneland course.  Winning Cause is another one who’s had success at Keeneland with three wins from five starts in his career in Lexington.  The Giant’s Causeway Stakes is at five and one half furlongs on the grass and drew a big field of eleven and looks wide open.  Ageless is a solid closer and even though she’s drawn out in post eleven, if she can work out a trip she’ll be rolling.  Free As a Bird also got a tough draw in post ten but she should be closer up and she’s run well at this distance. Selections for the Coolmore Lexington

  1. Mr. Speaker
  2. Solitary Ranger
  3. Divine Oath

Longshot: Ami’s Holiday Selections for the Ben Ali

  1. Newsdad
  2. Red Rifle
  3. Winning Cause

Longshot: Joha Selections for the Giants Causeway

  1. Free As a Bird
  2. Ageless
  3. To My Valentine

Longshot: Believe in Charlie

Game on Dude headlines the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic

Game on Dude is back to defend his crown in the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic on Saturday night as part of a huge night at Charles Town Race Course.  Game on Dude will once again have to beat Clubhouse Ride who finished second last year and is back to take on Game on Dude once again in the 2014 edition.  Game on Dude is usually right on the lead or just off it, but this year’s Charles Town Classic has some serious other pace runners including Moreno, Lucy’s Bob Boy and Ruler of Love.  All three will be up front but it could be Moreno who sends the hardest as he’s very much a need the lead type.  Mike Smith will ride Game on Dude who will be looking for his seventeenth career score and a win would put him just to just about $7,000,000 in career earnings.  Clubhouse Ride was getting to Game on Dude last year in this race and while he only has one win in nine stars since the CT Classic last year, he’s always knocking on the door and could be a player here, especially if Dude doesn’t get the trip early on.

The $200,000 Sugar Maple Stakes is the undercard headliner and offers up a talented field of ten to wager on.  The venerable My Pal Chrisy will be making her first star at Charles Town and she’s coming off a very strong second in the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes.  Saturday Nthe Park could be a sneaky tough one in here as she has a ton of speed and has a win at the challenging seven furlong distance. Selections for the Charles Town Classic

  1. Long River
  2. Game on Dude
  3. Clubhouse Ride

Longshot: Ruler of Love Selections for the Sugar Maple

  1. Saturday Nthe Park
  2. Quiet Success
  3. My Pal Chrisy

Longshot: More Than a Cruise

Illinois Derby is Hawthorne Headliner

Hawthorne Race Course in Chicago will have the biggest day of the season on Saturday with the Grade 3 Illinois Derby the showcase event.  Even though the race doesn’t offer any Kentucky Derby points, the Illinois Derby drew eight three year olds including Midnight Hawk who has been a player in the Derby prep season.  He was second in the Sunland Derby last time out and before that was second behind the great California Chrome in the San Felipe Stakes.  Midnight Hawk figures to be a big favorite based on his proven record of competing well in graded stakes events.  King Cyrus tried Grade 2 Louisiana Derby last time out and finished a well beaten seventh for trainer Todd Pletcher.  He’ll pick up the riding services of Rosie Napravnik on Saturday and King Cyrus should appreciate the class drop.  Class Leader could be a horse who jumps up and contends as he has two flashy wins in a row at Fair Grounds, albeit not in stakes ranks.  James Graham will ride the Neil Howard trainee and even though they drew the outside post, with a long run to the first turn they shouldn’t lose too much ground.

The Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap for the older fillies and mares and two of the toughest competitors drew the inside two stalls as Sonja’s Angel has worked her way up the class ladder with three consecutive strong starts.  Flashy American drew post two and should be coming from off the pace and should appreciate the long stretch at Hawthorne.  She’s 2 for 4 at the distance and gets the services of veteran Chicago rider Chris Emigh.  The Todd Pletcher trained Ana Luisa will get some attention because of her high profile connections as well as because she’s competed against two tough fields since coming to the States. Selections for the Illinois Derby

  1. Midnight Hawk
  2. Class Leader
  3. King Cyrus

Longshot: Emmett Park Selections for the Sixty Sails Handicap

  1. Flashy American
  2. Ana Luisa
  3. Dixie Strike

Longshot: Gamay Noir

Finger Lakes and Prairie Meadows open up on Friday

Racing from Finger Lakes in Upstate New York and Prairie Meadows in Iowa will get underway on Friday as both tracks open up for their respective meets.  Finger Lakes offers lots of claiming action for the next eight months as they race Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday schedule with first post at 1:05pm EST.  Thursdays are added to the mix in mid May.  Prairie Meadows races Thoroughbreds up until August 9th on a Thursday through Sunday schedule, with racing at 7:30pm EST on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and a matinee card at 2:00pm EST on Sundays.  The big season headliner is the Iowa Festival of Racing which is conducted on June 27th and 28th and features the Iowa Derby, Iowa Oaks and the Cornhusker Handicap. 

Saturday Stakes Action at


Race 6                  Howard B. Noonan Stakes                   3:20pm EST


Race 7                  Miami Mile                                         4:00pm EST

Charles Town

Race 7                  Webb Snyder CT Dash                       7:45pm EST

Race 8                  Original Gold Stakes                           8:15pm EST

Race 9                  Confucius Say Stakes                         8:45pm EST

Race 10               Robert Hilton Memorial                       9:14pm EST

Race 11               Sugar Maple Stakes                            9:45pm EST

Race 12              Charles Town Classic                          10:30pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 8                  Lincoln Stakes                                   5:02pm EST


Race 5                  Third Chance Handicap                       4:43pm EST

Race 6                  Robert Malaro Stakes                         5:12pm EST

Race 8                  Sixty Sails Handicap                            6:10pm EST

Race 9                  Illinois Derby                                     6:42pm EST


Race 7                  Giants Causeway Stakes                     4:11pm EST

Race 8                  Ben Ali Stakes                                   4:42pm EST

Race 9                  Coolmore Lexington Stakes              5:13pm EST


Race 5                  Stormy Blues Stakes                           3:02pm EST

Race 8                  Primonetta Stakes                             4:26pm EST

Race 9                  Henry Clark Stakes                             4:55pm EST

Race 10                Federico Tesio Stakes                        5:25pm EST

Remington Park

Race 8                  Lacio Bird Stakes                               10:02pm EST

Race 9                  Bob Moore Memorial                           10:28pm EST

Race 10               Remington Park Derby                        10:54pm EST

Race 11               Remington Park Futurity                     11:20pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 8                  La Puente Stakes                              7:00pm EST

SunRay Park

Race 8                  Russell and Helen Foutz Distaff          6:18pm EST


Race 8                  Star Shoot Handicap                          4:37pm EST

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