BetPTC Weekend Stakes Preview – Feb. 21, 2015

Fountain of Youth Stakes tops massive Gulfstream Saturday

 The $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes tops a huge eight stakes card at Gulfstream Park on Saturday afternoon. The $400,000 feature is the final local prep for the $1,000,000 Florida Derby which comes up next month. Upstart and Frosted will rematch after finishing 1-2 in the Holy Bull last time out, along with several other runners from that race. Upstart dominated the Holy Bull winning by 5 and a half lengths and cementing himself as the probable favorite in here. Frosted was second but was never going to get to Upstart who had the better trip and got first run and was just the best horse. This race is at the same mile and one sixteenth distance as the Holy Bull so something will have to give for someone to take down Upstart. The new X-factor could be Itsaknockout who is 2 for 2 and has been very impressive thus far for trainer Todd Pletcher. His last race was a dominating five length win against allowance optional claimers and Luis Saez will once again be on board to ride.

Eclipse Award winner Main Sequence will make his 2015 return to the races on Saturday in the $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes. Main Sequence is a perfect 4 for 4 since coming to the US with all four wins being Grade 1 events. Twilight Eclipse stands out as his main challenger in the Mac Diarmida. He’s finished second or third behind Main Sequence in all four of those races, so while he’s been close, he will have to figure out a way to turn the tables. The Grade 2 Davona Dale is one of the features on the undercard and features a very talented field of 14. Birdatthewire won the prep for this race, the Grade 2 Forward Gal and did so in impressive fashion. Lassofthemohicans rallied for second that day at a price and will also deserve a look in here. Overall the Davona Dale is loaded with fillies with tons of upside.

Long On Value has been given the role of high weight in the Canadian Turf Handicap, another race that is stacked with a huge field. Ring Weekend drew a tough post in the 14 hole and is looking to rebound after shipping out west to Santa Anita where he finished sixth in the Twilight Derby. Jack Milton returns in the Canadian Turf as he hasn’t been seen since September at Woodbine. He’s well traveled and owns a win at Gulfstream Park for trainer Todd Pletcher. Good Deed comes into the Ladies Sprint Stakes with a pair of very solid wins in a row. She ships down from Fair Grounds where she last out went wire to wire in the Pan Zareta Stakes. Bill Mott will send out Mean Season in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Handicap and he has been a monster thus far. He’s never trailed at any point in his three race career and figures to be the one they have to catch on Saturday. Irish Mission beat several of the rivals she’ll face in the Very One Stakes last time out when she won the La Prevoyante. She’ll have to beat Kitten’s Point though who comes back to Gulfstream off a stakes win at Santa Anita and is 2 for 4 at Gulfstream with a Grade 3 win.

BetPTC.com Selections for the Fountain of Youth

  1. Upstart
  2. Frosted
  3. Itsaknockout

Longshot: Danny Boy

BetPTC.com Selections for the Canadian Turf

  1. Ring Weekend
  2. Online
  3. Long on Value

Longshot: Excaper

BetPTC.com Selections for the Mac Diarmida

  1. Main Sequence
  2. Twilight Eclipse
  3. Artic North

Longshot: Change of Command

BetPTC.com Selections for the Davona Dale

  1. Jacaranda
  2. Cavorting
  3. Skipalute

Longshot: Lassofthemohicans

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BetPTC.com Selections for the Turf Sprint

  1. Good Deed
  2. Jewel of a Cat
  3. Love Train

Longshot: True Romance

BetPTC.com Selections for the Gulfstream Park Sprint

  1. Mean Season
  2. Happy My Way
  3. Speechify

Longshot: C. Zee

BetPTC.com Selections for the Very One Stakes

  1. Irish Mission
  2. Riposte
  3. Caroline Thomas

Longshot: Always Kitten

Saturday is Risen Star Day at Fair Grounds

Saturday is the final prep for the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby as the Risen Star Stakes will be run at the Fair Grounds. A field of ten three year olds will line up for the headliner in what is sure to be a fantastic day of racing down in New Orleans. Imperia has been given the role of morning line favorite at odds of 7/2 and is coming off a second place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last time out. This will be his three year old debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Jockey Mike Smith will ship in to Fair Grounds for the mount. JS Bach was a big maiden special weight winner in his last start at Gulfstream and he figures to get a lot of attention off of that win. International Star won the Lecomte Stakes last time out at Fair Grounds, a race several of the starters in the Risen Star are coming out of. He came bursting through on the rail that day and caught War Story, who is also in the Risen Star.

The Rachel Alexandra Stakes goes just before the Risen Star and Fair Grounds has proved to be fertile ground for developing three year old fillies in recent years. Ten runners will go in the Rachel Alexandra with Shook Up given the role of 7/2 morning line favorite. Shook Up finished second behind Lovely Maria last time out in an allowance/optional claiming event and both are back here in the Rachel Alexandra. Grade 1 winner Angela Renee is making her three year old debut in the Rachel Alexandra. She won the Grade 1 Chandelier last season and finished third in the Grade 1 Demoisselle last time out in November. Her trainer Todd Pletcher is good in every training category however he’s 33% when taking off the blinkers, a move he’s trying with Angela Renee in this spot. The Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap drew eleven runners with horses coming in from all parts of the country. Three horses are coming out of the John Connelly Memorial including runner up Trace Creek. Villandry ran off the board as the favorite in the Colonel EL Bradley Stakes and will look to rebound in this spot. Handicappers will have to decide if his first start over the Fair Grounds turf was an anomaly or if he just didn’t take the ground.

Hard Aces took home the Louisiana Handicap and will look to go back to back in the Mineshaft Handicap. He beat the venerable Fordubai that day and they’ll both have to contend with Red Rifle. Red Rifle was last seen winning the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup and he’ll make his Fair Grounds debut on Saturday for trainer Todd Pletcher.

BetPTC.com Selections for the Risen Star

  1. International Star
  2. War Story
  3. Tiznow RJ

Longshot: St. Joe Bay

BetPTC.com Selections for the Rachel Alexandra

  1. Angela Renee
  2. Shook Up
  3. West Coast Belle

Longshot: Lovely Maria

BetPTC.com Selections for the Fair Grounds Handicap

  1. Pyrite Mountain
  2. Skyring
  3. Trace Creek

Longshot: Dreams Cut Short

BetPTC.com Selections for the Mineshaft Handicap

  1. Red Rifle
  2. Hard Aces
  3. Nates Mineshaft

Longshot: Quadrivium

 Hawthorne opens up on Friday

Hawthorne Race Course in Chicago will open up on Friday for the annual winter/spring meet. Live racing will run Fridays and Saturdays in February with Sundays being added to the mix in March and Wednesdays being added in April. Headlining the meet as always is the Grade 3 Illinois Derby for three year olds on Saturday April 18th. The $400,000 event annually draws some of the best three year olds in the Midwest. First post time at Hawthorne each racing day will be at 2:50pm EST.

Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park rescheduled for Sunday

The $300,000 Southwest Stakes for three year olds was cancelled this past Monday due to freezing temperatures at Oaklawn Park. The race has been rescheduled for this Sunday with many of the participants originally entered scheduled to run. Both JS Bach and War Story who were originally entered will go to Fair Grounds for the Risen Star. Morning line favorite Far Right will return and Mike Smith is expected to ride. He is coming off a win in the Smarty Jones Stake at Oaklawn in his last start. He finished ahead of Bayerd that day and Bayerd is also expected to compete in the Southwest Stakes on Sunday.

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