Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita & Oaklawn Park

Matt Carter

March 15th, 2013

Gulfstream Park – Honey Fox Stakes

Oaklawn Park – Rebel Stakes

Santa Anita – Santa Margarita Stakes

Santa Anita – San Luis Rey Stakes


Gulfstream Park – Honey Fox Stakes Fillies and Mares on the Turf

The feature race on Saturday at Gulfstream Park is the Grade 2 Honey Fox Stakes for fillies and mares, three-years-old and upward. The one-mile race drew a field of nine led by multiple Grade 1 winner Samitar.

Samitar, bred in England, began her career overseas and won some of the best races Europe has to offer. She won a graded stakes as Ascot two years ago as a maiden and won the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh in 2012. She ran three times in the U.S. last year, highlighted by a win in the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont Park.

Two times the daughter of Rock of Gibraltar has run against Centre Court, who is also in the Honey Fox, and twice Samitar has been beaten. Third time's the charm? It will be tough off the five month layoff.

Centre Court comes in off a similar layoff, four months, and looks to build on her solid three-year-old season where she won four of eight races with four seconds to boot. Five of those races were graded stakes with wins in the Grade 3 Regret, Grade 2 Lake George and Grade 2 Mrs. Revere. She has experience over the Gulfstream Park turf course with a second in a maiden race one year ago. Centre Court has tactical speed and gets regular pilot Julien Leparoux to ship in from California for the ride.

The connections of Samitar had to be excited when they saw all of the pace signed on for Saturday's race.

Channel Lady won her last race in wire-to-wire fashion, the Grade 3 Suwannee River over the track, Pianist won her only stake race last year in making all and Frontside appears to only know one way to go and that's to the lead.

Of the three, Channel Lady and Pianist may be able to relax early. Two starts back in the Grade 3 Marshua's River, Channel Lady sat just off the early pace, but was unable to get the job done, losing by just a half-length. The English Channel filly has four wins, three of them from off-the-pace.

Pianist looked like a front-running type, but then was able to sit second in her last race and now will be better fit second off-the-layoff. The Chad Brown-trained filly gets John Velazquez in the irons as regular jockey Javier Castellano opts for Channel Lady.

Those are the principle players; Class Included, Heavenly Landing, Namaskara and Star Torina complete the field with post time scheduled for 5:35 ET.

Oaklawn Park – Rebel Stakes Super Ninety Nine Looks to Repeat

The three-year-olds take center stage again in Hot Springs on Saturday when the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes will be run. The second local leg en route to the Arkansas Derby features the winner of the Southwest, the first leg, Super Ninety Nine.

For much of the day when the Southwest was run the track was fast with clear skies, but shortly before the Grade 3 race the rains poured down, leaving a sloppy, sealed track for the Southwest. Super Ninety Nine, bred for an off-track, loved the slop and romped home to an 11 and one-quarter length victory. The son of Pulpit came out of that race to work two swift drills and will once again be the favorite, even though there is other pace and he will be breaking from the far outside in post 11.

Delhomme, Title Contender and Oxbow are the other speed in the race and they can bring it to the favorite early.

Delhomme makes his first start of 2013 after finishing third in the Grade 2 Remsen last November at Aqueduct. Trainer Todd Pletcher has his go-to riders back in Florida so he named Garrett Gomez to ride. With Gomez in the irons expect the son of Dixie Union to be taken back in the early stages and make one run late. Gomez is fantastic with getting runners to relax early and explode late.

Title Contender is a familiar face to Baffert having been in his stable since the debut at Del Mar in July. Title Contender is also by Pulpit, but may be a cut below his former stable mate. In his last start, an allowance race at Oaklawn, Title Contender could not hold off the late run of Carve, who is two-for-two in his career and is entered in the Rebel on Saturday.

Oxbow ran fourth, beaten only a half-length, behind the million-to-one long shot I've Struck a Nerve in the Grade 2 Risen Star in his last start, but may have been best. The Awesome Again colt was five-wide around the first turn and battled all the way home down the long stretch at Fair Grounds. He is drawn just inside of Super Ninety Nine and jockey Mike Smith knows how to win a graded race at Oaklawn Park. In 2012 Smith won the Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister, who was, coincidentally enough, trained by Bob Baffert.

D Wayne Lukas is the trainer of Oxbow and the Hall-of-Famer also has Will Take Charge, who was a dull sixth in the Southwest. Two back he won the Smarty Jones by a neck over Texas Bling, also in the Rebel, but his class has still not been determined.

Carve and Treasury Bill may be the ones with most upside and worth a look, Carve more so because Treasury Bill is coupled with Title Contender. Carve drew off with ease when he beat maiden claimers over the track in January and was claimed by Steve Asmussen, who wasted no time and ran him back against allowance runners three weeks later. Now a month after that with three strong works showing and Carve may just upset the apple cart.

Rounding out the field are Hardrock Eleven, Den's Legacy and Stormy Holiday.

Going as race 10 on the 11-race card, post time for the Rebel on Saturday is 6:48 ET.

Santa Anita – Santa Margarita Stakes Joyful Victory Back in California

Two graded stake races on the Saturday card at Santa Anita; first up the Grade 1 Santa Margarita for fillies and mares, three-years-old and upward. The nine-furlong race drew a field of six, but contention runs deep.

The first favorite in the race is Joyful Victory, who is coming off an easy win in the $400,000 Ladies’ Classic at Sam Houston. Before that win she was actually riding a five-race losing streak going back to March 2012 including a second place finish to Love and Pride in the Grade 1 Zenyatta last September. Joyful Victory has been working a hole in the win at Fair Grounds and ships in as the mare to beat.

Joyful Victory will likely be making the pace, but she may have company with Great Hot and More Chocolate.

Snow Fall was expected to make the pace in the Santa Maria, but jockey Gary Stevens had theft on his mind and sent Great Hot straight to the front. The five-year-old Orientate mare ran the best race of her career and cruised to a measured half-length victory. This race is tougher, but she may just be up to the task. Those blinkers sure did work.

More Chocolate skipped the Santa Maria, but her win in the La Canada in January was just as impressive. The Malibu Moon filly was making her first start on the dirt after seven straight turf races to begin her career and responded well, winning by just under two lengths in near wire-to-wire fashion. With the added pace on Saturday, jockey Martin Garcia may opt to sit just off the pace, especially drawn outside in post six.

Snow Fall was bet well in the Santa Maria off her daylight win in the Paseana Handicap; however, had no response when roused. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer puts the blinkers on his mare for the first time in hopes of a rebound. She may just be a cut below grade one status.

Brushed by a Star finished second to Joyful Victory at Sam Houston and now gets more pace for her late kick. The five-year-old mare was one a front-running fiend, but proved in her last three starts, all under Corey Lanerie, that she is not one dimensional. Hopefully new pilot Victory Espinoza gets the memo.

The Only Key and 30-1 outsider rounds out the field. Post time for the 76th running of the Grade 1 race on Saturday is 6:35 ET.

Santa Anita – San Luis Rey Stakes Grade 2 Turf Marathon

The second of the graded stake races on Saturday at Santa Anita is the Grade 2 San Luis Rey, a test of stamina at 12-furlongs on the turf course. A solid field of nine will line up for the race; let’s take a look.

Slim Shadey is a fan favorite and will always get attention at the windows. The five-year-old gelding has been first or second in nine of his 26 career starts with earnings of over $600,000. He won the Grade 2 San Marcos at 10-furlongs in his last race by a length and should once again be out on the pace. Hall-of-fame jockey Gary Stevens has the call.

Interaction was rallying with power in the San Marcos, but the wire came up too soon and he fell just short. That is now the sixth straight loss for the Argentine-bred seven-year-old so perhaps he leaves himself with too much to do in the early stages. The added distance surely will help the son of Easing Along.

The one thing the connections of Interaction can be happy of was the entry of front-runner Bright Thought. The horse that could have been claimed for $25,000 back in November at Laurel Park is now 7-2 in a Grade 2 race. He has won his last two on the turf with wire-to-wire runs and may even be in front of Slim Shadey early. It should set up very well for the closers.

Bourbon Bay is a seven-year-old gelding who has maybe seen better days, but he is seven-for-ten on the Santa Anita turf including a win in his race last year. He has been off since December; however, and could be pointing for the San Juan Capistrano next month, which is at 14 furlongs.

All Squared Away is probably one for the gimmicks at 8-1 on the morning line as he runs well in the graded stakes, but always comes up short. His last two wins were in allowance races and the biggest victory of his career was as a three-year-old in the Grade 3 Lexington when he won at 70-1.

The remaining three horses in the race are Tiz Gianni, 20-1, and a pair of 12-1 shots, Fire With Fire and Huntsville. Fire With Fire and Huntsville love to finish second and always seem to fall short. Tiz Gianni, on the other hand, has one less victory as those two combined , but gets the class test on Saturday.

It will be tough to defeat the favorites, but if any jockey can do it, it’s Rosie Napravnik.

Carded as race eight on the nine-race Saturday card, post time for the San Luis Rey is 7:07 ET.


Thoroughbred Racing Action

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

Saturday– March 16
  • Gulfstream Park:  Honey Fox Stakes - G3, $100,000, 4yo & up f&m, 8f turf
  • Oaklawn Park:  Rebel Stakes - G2, $600,000, 3yo, 8.5f
  • Oaklawn Park:  Azeri Stakes - G3, $150,000, 4yo & up, 8.5f
  • Fair Grounds:  Happy Ticket Stakes, $75,000, 4yo & up f&m, 5.5f turf
  • Fair Grounds:  Colonel Power Stakes, $75,000, 4yo & up, 5.5f turf
  • Laurel Park:  Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes, $125,000, 3yo & up, 9f
  • Tampa Bay Downs:  Wayward Lass Stakes, $50,000, 4yo & up, 8.5f
Sunday – March 17
  • Santa Anita:  Irish O'Brien Stakes, $100,000, 4yo & up f&m, 6.5f turf
  • Gulfstream Park:  Inside Information Stakes - G2, $150,000, 4yo & up f&m, 7f