Laurel Park, Santa Anita, Golden Gate & Gulfstream Park

Matt Carter

February 15th, 2013

Laurel Park – Barbara Fritchie Handicap

Santa Anita – Santa Maria Stakes

Golden Gate Fields – El Camino Real Derby

Gulfstream Park – Mac Diarmida Stakes

Laurel Park – Barbara Fritchie Handicap Nicole H Looks to Rebound

Saturday’s feature race at Laurel Park is the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap for fillies and mares.  The seven furlong race drew a field of 10, led by morning line favorite Nicole H.

Nicole H has been an ultra-consistent mare during her racing campaign.  She has run 29 times with 10 wins, 11 seconds and 2 thirds with earnings of almost $800,000.  She was in the midst of a three race win streak before a head defeat as the 1-2 favorite in a stake race at Aqueduct.

Nicole H ran in the Fritchie last year, losing by a neck as the odds-on favorite.  The concern is that she may be due for a break and there is no posted work after her last race.

Bold Affair is one of many horses for courses at Laurel with four wins in six starts.  She won the What A Summer Stakes over the track last month and has come back to work a bullet five furlongs last Wednesday.  Expect jockey Abel Castellano to push the five-year-old mare right to the lead.

Onepointhreekarats is two-for-two at Laurel and defeated Bold Affair in a stake race over the track in December.  That was her last start, but she has won three straight races and has been working well in the mornings.  By Medaglia d’Oro, Onepointhreekarats is another with early speed.

Withgreatpleasure and Morrow Cove are the closers and should get a great pace set up.  Withgreatpleasure has not won since August 2012 and she may be best around two turns.  Morrow Cove, on the other hand, is a live long shot.

Morrow Cove has won at this seven furlong distance before, storming from off-the-pace to win a $75,000 stake race at Aqueduct in November.  The Yes It’s True filly is two-for-three around one turn at a mile or less with her only loss coming to Zo Impressive, who is  Grade 1 winner.

My Wandy’s Girl may be the filly to beat.  The Kentucky-bred won 13 of her 17 career races in Puerto Rico before coming to the U.S. last year.  In two starts at Aqueduct, My Wandy’s Girl won a $75,000 stake race then was third in the Grade 1 Gazelle.  Seven furlongs should be well within her scope if she can work out a trip from the rail.

Nicole H may get her toughest challenge yet.  Rounding out the field are Funnys Approval, Dance to Bristol, Ms. Cuisen’ and Celtic Chant.

Post time for the Barbara Fritchie is 3:55 ET.


Santa Anita – Santa Maria Stakes Grade 2 Fillies and Mares

A field of only six will line up for the 71st running of the Grade 2 Santa Maria, but it should be a great race with Book Review, Lady of Fifty and Snow Fall between 8-5 and 2-1 on the morning line.

Book Review was installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite coming off a win in the Grade 1 La Brea and a second in the Grade 2 La Canada.  The La Canada is a throw-out race, but the class of Book Review at this distance still needs to be questioned.

Three times the Giant’s Causeway filly has run a route of ground, but one was around one turn at Belmont Park.  In her other two routes around two turns, Book Review has a second and a fifth.  Now, she did win around two turns at Charles Town, but that was at seven furlongs, which appears to be her best distance.  Also she is dependent upon the pace and, on paper, there does not appear to be a lot of speed in the Santa Maria.

Snow Fall is likely to make the early running after running nearly wire-to-wire in the Paseana Handicap over the track last month, scoring the best win of her career.  The connections though well enough of the daughter of War Front to run her in the Grade 1 Acorn and Grade 2 Delaware Oaks as a three-year-old in 2011.  Too bad bettors won get the $11.00 mutuel like they got last time.

Lady of Fifty is the other contender, who ran a surprisingly poor race in the La Canada.  Two starts back she won the Grade 2 Bayakoa at Hollywood Park and a $66,000 race at Santa Anita.  She did encounter a little bit of trouble in the La Canada, but no one was eating More Chocolate that day. The positive thing for Lady of Fifty is that she has come back to work three times since then including a bullet six furlong drill a week ago.

The other three fillies in the race; Great Hot, Private Affair and Going for a Spin look like they will be rounding out the superfecta.  Perhaps Going for a Spin is the one to key in that spot as she has been in-the-money in 20 of her 28 career starts.  She is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who is also the trainer of Snow Fall.

First post on Saturday at Santa Anita is 3:30 ET with the Santa Maria, carded as race four, scheduled to go off at 5:02.


Golden Gate Fields – El Camino Real Derby Bob Baffert Sends Two North

The northern California prep trail for the Kentucky Derby is well underway, ending this Saturday with the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby.  The nine-furlong race drew a field of nine with four horses shipping up from So Cal including two trained by the Hall-of-Famer Bob Baffert.

Manando gets top billing for Baffert off his third place finish behind Goldencents and Den’s Legacy in the Grade 3 Sham last month.  Two starts back the Bluegrass Cat-colt broke his maiden in wire-to-wire fashion over a pair of next out winners.  Aaron Gryder gets the call this time and must avoid a speed duel with Wildcat Moon and Rush In.

Wildcat Moon set the early pace in the California Derby, but could not hold off the late charge of the favorite, Zeewat, who is entered right back in the El Camino Real.  Zeewat can make it a huge weekend for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the state of California.  By Harlan’s Holiday, Zeewat has won four of his six career starts and is a perfect two-for-two in routes at Golden Gate.

Zeewat will be doing his best running late, as will be Carving, who is the other Bob Baffert trainee.

Carving has not been out since a sixth place finish in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December and does not have the typical Baffert fast works.  So why is he a threat? Well because you never throw out a Baffert, especially when it is co-owned by his wife and skiing star Bode Miller.  Not to mention, Victor Espinoza gets the mount, who teamed up with Baffert to win the Kentucky Derby aboard War Emblem.  Just don’t expect a wire job on Saturday.

The other two shippers to the Bay area are Counting Days for trainer Carla Gaines and the Patrick Gallagher trained Dice Flavor.  Both are long shots, but could hit the board at prices.  Dice Flavor is the preferred of the two.

The final starter in the race is Nina’s Dragon from the Lloyd Mason barn and he is worth a long look at a decent 12-1 morning line.  The California-bred has only one win in three starts, but on running lines looks like he will love the nine furlongs.  The only negative is seasoning, which can often times be overcome with talent.

Pot time for the El Camino Real Derby on Saturday is 7:22 ET.


Gulfstream Park – Mac Diarmida Stakes Grade 2 Turf Marathoners

The two feature races on Saturday at Gulfstream Park are on the turf and with the rain on Friday may be run on the main track, but if left on, they are two strong races led by the $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes for older horses.

A field of 10 will go postward for the 11-furlong race with Newsdad, Lucky Chappy, Ioya Bigtime and Amira’s Prince all between 3-1 and 6-1 on the morning line.

Newsdad was a nose away from winning this race last year and comes in to the race Saturday off nearly a four month layoff.  It’s possible he needs a race, but if a very classy horses with earnings approaching half a million.

Amira’s Prince has won back-to-back race since coming to the U.S. from Ireland and may be the colt to beat.  He is bred to run all day and has been dazzling in his two wins.  John Velazquez once again has the mount for trainer Bill Mott.

Lucky Chappy is another coming off a layoff, having not run since the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby against three-year-olds in November.  He also started his career overseas, in Italy, but is winless in eight U.S. starts.  By High Chaparral, Lucky Chappy runs all day long so the distance will not be a problem.

Several years ago these turf stakes were all about front-runners and on Saturday Ioya Bigtime will try to follow in their footsteps.  The problem is that there appears to be other speed in the race; Teaks North Belo Acteon and Fifty Proof.  Teaks North can probably take back and sit just off, but the other three may get in each other’s way.

Nikki’s Sandcastle, even in defeat in his last, is on a roll right now.  He has won two of his last six races with the losses coming by a combined four lengths.  The six-year-old gelding was second behind Newsdad on the polytrack at Keeneland in October so the class experience is there.  Now is the time to take on the big boys.

Twilight Eclipse, first start since mid-November, and Shkspear Shaliyah, winless in a long time, complete the field.

Post time for the Mac Diarmida is 5:05 ET.


Thoroughbred Racing Action

Great racing action from across the country this weekend.  Watch these races all on BetAmerica.com.

Saturday– February 16
  • Gulfstream Park: Mac Diarmida Stakes - G2, $150,000, 4yo & up, 11f turf
  • Gulfstream Park:  The Very One Stakes - G3, $100,000, 4yo & up f&m, 11f turf
  • Santa Anita:  Santa Maria Stakes - G2, $200,000, 4yo & up f&m, 8.5f
  • Golden Gate:  El Camino Real Derby - G3, $200,000, 3yo, 9f
  • Laurel Park:  Barbara Fritchie Handicap - G2, $250,000, 3yo & up f&m, 7f
  • Laurel Park:  John B. Campbell Handicap, $125,000, 3yo & up, 9f
  • Fair Grounds:  Sarah Lane's Oates Stakes, $60,000, 3yo, 8f turf
  • Oaklawn Park:  Bayakoa Stakes, $100,000, 4yo & up, f&m, 8.5f
  • Tampa Bay Downs:  Tampa Bay Stakes - G3, $150,000, 4yo & up, 8.5f turf
  • Sunland Park:  Peppers Pride Handicap, $100,000, 4yo & up f&m, 8f
  • Turf Paradise:  Phoenix Gold Cup, $75,000, 4yo & up, 6f
Sunday – February 17
  • Gulfstream Park:  Sabin Stakes - G3, $100,000, 4yo & up, 8.5f
  • Santa Anita:  San Vicente Stakes - G2, $150,000, 3yo, 7f
  • Oaklawn Park:  Spring Fever Stakes, $60,000, 4yo & up, 5.5f