Weekend Stakes Preview 4/9

Arkansas Derby tops Oaklawn’s Closing Weekend

The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby will close out another season of racing at Oaklawn Park on Saturday as the event tops a huge twelve race card. Eight three year olds will go in the Derby including American Pharoah who crushed his rivals last time out in the Rebel Stakes. American Pharoah has rattled off three straight huge wins and figures to be an overwhelming favorite. One new runner he’ll have to contest with is Far Right, who won the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn earlier this meet. Far Right employs a deep closing style so he might need someone to press American Pharoah early on as that runner had a brutally easy trip in the Rebel. American Pharoah is owned by Zayat Stables and they will also send out Mr. Z. Mr. Z hasn’t won in a long time but he’s been regularly competitive in stakes level events. He got crushed last time out in the Louisiana Derby so he’ll have to bounce back, but his effort in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn was solid.

The $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap is the top event on the undercard and drew a very competitive field of ten runners. Race Day came to Oaklawn last time out and beat several of these rivals in the Razorback Handicap. He’s drawn the rail for the Oaklawn Handicap and it appears Golden Lad might be the biggest challenge of any of the new shooters to try Race Day. Golden Lad took home top honors in the Essex Handicap and is 2 for 3 at Oaklawn Park. Tapiture will look to get back to his solid form in the Oaklawn Handicap. After running a courageous second in the BC Dirt Mile last year he laid an egg in the Razorback, finishing fifth.

The Northern Spur and Instant Racing Stakes make up the rest of the stakes action on Saturday and post time at Oaklawn is 1:30pm EST. Selections for the Arkansas Derby

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

Longshot: Madefromlucky Selections for the Oaklawn Handicap

  1. Tapiture
  2. Race Day
  3. Carve

Longshot: For Greater Glory

Lexington Stakes tops Keeneland weekend

The Lexington Stakes is the Keeneland Saturday feature and offers up some last chance Kentucky Derby points to the three year olds. The mile and one sixteenth event offers a $250,000 purse and drew a field of seven runners including Divining Rod who drew the rail. Divining Rod finished third most recently in the Tampa Bay Derby behind Carpe Diem. He set the pace that day, but he might have to work a little harder to get the lead in this race as there is some other speedy types. Tiznow RJ makes his way to Keeneland by way of Sunland Park as he was last seen running fourth behind Firing Line who crushed him that day. His best effort was three back when he finished a good third in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds. He’s a stalker and if he gets the right setup he could have a say at the wire. Bob Baffert sends out Fame and Power who got a huge speed figure for his maiden win last time out at Santa Anita. He’ll be trying two turns but being a Juddmonte owned and Baffert trained runner, you can bet he’ll get support at the windows.

The Grade 1 Jenny Wiley goes off just before the Lexington and Hard Not To Like is returning to defend her crown. She won the race last year at 13/1 and this year gets the services of Irad Ortiz. Hard Not To Like won the Grade 3 Endeavor Stakes at Tampa in her prep for this and she looks to be a big contender in this spot. Ball Dancing comes into the Jenny Wiley off a pair of second place finishes, both in graded company. She finished a good second behind Stephanie’s Kitten in the Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa in her last start and her only start at Keeneland previously saw her run second in the Grade 1 QEII Cup.

The Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes drew just six runners and it’s an interesting mix. Millionaire Golden Ticket is looking to get back into form after three not so great efforts. Protonico, who was second in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap is trying to rebound off a horrendous Donn Handicap that saw him eased down the lane. Farhaan was fifth in the Ben Ali last year but followed that up with a stakes win at Saratoga. He’s been off since then but his trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has been heating up as of late and is 26% off long layoffs. Selections for the Lexington

  1. Fame and Power
  2. Divining Rod
  3. Donworth

Longshot: Quimet Selections for the Jenny Wiley

  1. Hard Not To Like
  2. Filimbi
  3. Ball Dancing

Longshot: Eden Prairie Selections for the Ben Ali

  1. Protonico
  2. Farhaan
  3. Irish You Well

Longshot: Neck’n Neck

Woodbine, Lone Star, and Evangeline all open up this week

April and May not only bring springtime weather, they also bring lots of racetracks opening up for spring and summer meets. This week it’s Evangeline Downs (April 8th), Lone Star (April 9th) and Woodbine (April 11th) all opening up. Evangeline features big fields and great wagering opportunities and races at 6:40pm EST Wednesdays through Saturdays throughout the spring and summer. Lone Star races Thursday through Saturday nights at 7:35pm EST and Sundays at 2:35pm EST.

Woodbine will race Saturdays and Sundays for the first few weeks with Fridays coming on board on April 24th. Wednesday night racing will commence in late May as Canada’s premier track goes until the end of November. The Queen’s Plate is July 5th with Grade 1 races like the Woodbine Mile and Northern Dancer coming up later in the year on September 13th.

Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes tops Santa Anita Saturday

The Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes and the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Stakes top a Saturday card at the Great Race Place. The Kona Gold is a sprint race and there are some really fast runners including Masochistic. Masochistic doesn’t have a lot of stakes experience but he’s blindingly fast from the gate and it will be catch me if you can for the others. Spirit Rules has been competing very well in Cal bred stakes action and will try and step up to graded stakes company. Iggy Puglisi rides Spirit Rules and they’ve made quite the team.

The Grade 2 Las Cienegas Stakes goes six and a half furlongs down the hill and drew a field of eight runners. Go West Marie looms the big favorite after a pair of stakes wins going down the hill. She’s steadily performed well going down the hill with 3 wins from 6 starts and finished third in the other three tries. Blingismything is shortening up from mile races and with the cutback and her tactical speed she could be a very tough runner in the Las Cienegas. Selections for the Kona Gold

  1. San Onofre
  2. Spirit Rules
  3. Masochistic

Longshot: Sahara Sky Selections for the Las Cienegas

  1. Blingismything
  2. Go West Marie
  3. Heaven’s Stairway

Longshot: Theater Star

Saturday Stakes Action at


Race 8                  Top Flight Handicap                           4:57pm EST


Race 6                  Pretty Jenny Stakes                        5:20pm EST

Race 8                  Land of Lincoln Stakes               6:20pm EST


Race 5                  Ben Ali Stakes                              2:38pm EST

Race 7                  Giant’s Causeway Stakes           3:40pm EST

Race 9                  Jenny Wiley Stakes                      4 :46pm EST

Race 10               Coolmore Lexington Stakes        5:18pm EST

Lone Star

Race 5                  Wayne Hanks Memorial              9:27pm EST


Race 7                  Oaklawn Handicap                    4:56pm EST

Race 8                  Instant Racing Stakes                5:32pm EST

Race 10              Northern Spur Stakes                6:41pm EST

Race 11             Arkansas Derby                        7:18pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 5                  Kona Gold Stakes                     5:30pm EST

Race 8                  Las Cienegas Stakes                 7:00pm EST

Sunland Park

Race 3                  West Texas QH Juvenile            3:47pm EST

Race 5                  B of A Challenge Championship   4:40pm EST

Race 9                  Czaria Handicap                        6:28pm EST


Race 8                  Woodstock Stakes                    4:39pm EST






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