As we say most weeks, we’ll take the good, bad, ugly or indifferent as long as we at least get a few winners sprinkled in here and there. Every (most) Monday we look back at last week’s Saturday Special to see if we did uncover any winners and hint at some good stories to come.
Plenty of winners this week, although we didn’t get overly rich since several were odds-on chalks. Here goes, for those scoring at home:
Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 2:05. Nobody wants to go 9 furlongs on the grass? Allowance for older fillies and mares attracts only seven; perhaps My Girl Corey scared them off.
• All seven started and My Girl Corey proved that those who stayed away made the right choice, winning by 4 3/4 lengths as the 7-10 favorite.
Aqueduct. Race 3. 2:20. Classy Class tried graded sprint company in last two starts and returns to allowance ranks for 6-furlong tilt that draws just four others.
• The return didn’t help Classy Class, who finished third after leading into the lane, as Eighty Three won by a head over Never Gone South.
Oaklawn Park. Race 2. 2:38. Connections of several in this two-turn allowance flirted with notion they might be classics contenders with recent stakes tries. Back to more realistic spot but it isn’t an easy one. Totality looks better than his 10th in the Grade 3 Lecomte so we’ll give him another shot.
• Highly likely that Warrior’s Club, 11th in the Grade 3 Southwest this winter at Oaklawn, makes return to graded company for D. Wayne Lukas after winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Stand And Cheer. Son of Warrior’s Reward races for the Churchill Downs Racing Club, so you know they’ll try and do anything they can to get to the first Saturday in May back home.
Aqueduct. Race 5. 3:20. Portfolio Manager, third in the 2015 Champagne as a maiden, broke his maiden in late November and makes first try against winners going 6 furlongs.
• Portfolio Manager checked in third in his first start since breaking his maiden – he’d actually started against winners, in the said Champagne, so apologies to our readers – and Do Share won at 3-2 for Linda Rice.
Parx Racing. Race 8. 4:04. Here’s something you don’t see every day, or at every track. Siralfredthegreat makes first start since Sept. 14, 2014, without a trainer or owner change, and with a steady string of works.
• Siraflredthegreat will need to wait until Tuesday after racing was canceled Saturday due to track conditions.
Laurel Park. Race 7. 4:10. The stakes action gets underway with state-bred fillies and mares in $75,000 Conniver. The last time Bawlmer Hon faced Maryland-breds she won an allowance race in late November by 10 1/2 lengths.
• Next Best Thing appreciated running with Maryland-breds a bit more, winning second straight, while Bawlmer Hon finished third as the odds-on choice in field of five.
Oaklawn. Race 5. 4:14. Field of eight 3-year-old fillies for 1-mile maiden. What A Star ran well in debut, finishing 3 1/2 clear of Sameeha in late January debut, and after the latter came back and ran well again that effort looked even better. Graduation time for daughter of Line Of David.
• Sameeha continued to improve and topped longshot Crimon Frost by 3 lengths for Shadwell Stable and Danny Peitz. What A Star didn’t show up, finishing fourth.
Laurel. Race 8. 4:40. Sonny Inspired returns to Maryland, after winning at Charles Town last time, for $75,000 Not For Love.
• Laki wound up as 2-1 favoite and ran to his odds, winning by 1 ¾ lengths for his fourth straight victory for Damon Dilodovico and jockey Horacio Keramanos. Sonny Inspired finished second.
Oaklawn. Race 6. 4:45. Gary Stevens is back – did you see him win last Saturday aboard Shehastheritestuff at Santa Anita? – and he rides Love That Lute for Jack Van Berg in this 3-year-old allowance going 1 mile.
• Stevens is indeed back and Van Berg is far from done with his career; Love That Lute registered upset victory over favored Jerrid at nearly 18-1.
Aqueduct. Race 8. 4:50. Hot City Girl gave her connections reason to stay in training with victory over state-breds last time in Broadway. Daughter of City Zip returns to open company ranks in $125,000 Correction and she meets a few tough foes in Clothes Fall Off, Disco Chick and Kalabaka.
• Clothes Fall Off indeed showed she would be tough, romping by 4 1/4 lengths for her second victory in the Correction Stakes after also taking it in 2016 for Cheyenne Stables. Disco Chick, Hot City Girl and Kalabaka followed her under the wire.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 5:08. We’re curious if King Power is named for Leicester City’s ground, the Thai retail group or something else entirely. Son of To Honor And Serve makes debut in 6-furlong maiden that also draws entries from barns of Eddie Kenneally (Burgameister), Michael Matz (Winter Union), Todd Pletcher (Tolstoy) and Mark Casse (Souper Wish).
• No clues still about King Power – although Leicester City did win again over the week to continue to go well clear of the drop zone, beating West Ham United 3-2 – who finished a well-beaten ninth of 10. None of the high-profile barns got it done as Troy Wismer sent out Classic Cotton, off since Aug. 6 at Saratoga, to win at 12-1.
Laurel. Race 9. 5:10. Twisted Tom, New York-bred son of Creative Cause who won last time at Aqueduct, ships down to take on locally based sophomores in $100,000 Private Terms. O Dionysis carries the flag for Maryland, off 3-length score in Miracle Wood.
• Twisted Tom made the ride back to New York an enjoyable one, just edging favored O Dionysus by a nose on the wire as the 4-1 second choice.
Oaklawn. Race 7. 5:21. Terra Promessa is a win machine in Hot Springs, compiling a 5-for-5 mark that includes four stakes. She’s the standout in Grade 2 Azeri, which didn’t draw any shippers from California and only two from out of town in Eskenformoney (from Florida) and Power Of Snunner (from Louisiana).
• We missed on this one pretty badly as Streamline, who’s never run a bad one at Oaklawn, topped Eskenformoney by 1 length at 12-1 for trainer Brian Williamson and owners Nancy Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds. Power Of Snunner finished fourth as Terra Promessa ran fifth as 3-10 favorite after a troubled trip.
Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:39. One of the three graded stakes for older females on the same day – the Grade 2 Inside Information is at least a sprint going 7 furlongs. Curlin’s Approval had her way with opposition in last two starts, victories in Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie going 7 furlongs and Grade 2 Royal Delta going two turns. She shortens back up and looks tough again.
• Curlin’s Approval didn’t show up, running wide and finishing fifth as the odds-on choice while Distinta registered upset victory under John Velazquez.
Laurel. Race 10. 5:40. The 3-year-old fillies take their turn in $100,000 Caesar’s Wish. The popular Crabcakes tries to get back on track after losing to Kentucky shipper in Wide Country last time, while Jenda’s Agenda ships in for Larry Jones off two nice wins at Fair Grounds. Don’t count out debut maiden winner Tickled Pink or Shacklefords Lady either, she’s 2-for-2 at Penn National.
• Crabcakes scratched – we’re certain there will be crab cakes around for Preakness week – and Jenda’s Agenda made it three in a row as the 2-5 favorite.
Fair Grounds. Race 8. 5:53. Insurgent ran well in first two starts, both around two turns like this 1-mile and 70-yard maiden, before getting freshening after the Churchill meet. One of two for Steve Asmussen, along with La Maquina Gris. Brendan Walsh looks to continue good meet with Multiplier.
• Walsh’s strong meet continued as Multiplier got it done by 1 3/4 lengths over Combat Controller. That’s 10 wins at the meet for Walsh, from 58 starters.
Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:57. What happened to the grade for the Essex Handicap? A longtime graded stakes, this year’s edition isn’t officially but it’s got a graded-stakes caliber field. Grade 1 winner Mor Spirit ships in from California for Bob Baffert off good second in Grade 2 San Antonio, Dazzling Gem comes from Brad Cox’s string at Fair Grounds and Grade 2 winner Madefromlucky represents Todd Pletcher and looks to give Cheyenne Stables a bit of a lift after the loss of Mastery from the Triple Crown trail last week.
• Cheyenne Stable got its boost when Clothes Fall Off at Aqueduct and only a small lift when Madefromlucky finished third. Mor Spirit made Baffert look wise in shipping West and the bettors even smarter winning as the 1-2 favorite. Longshot Domain’s Rap finished second at a big price.
Laurel. Race 11. 6:10. Love the time change. Last week everything would have been finished in Maryland, but not this week with the $75,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial closing the card. Matt King Coal shipped down from New York for Linda Rice in mid-February to win allowance and looks to make it two in a row. Same for Bodhisattva, upset winner of the John B. Campbell.
• Matt King Coal and Afleet Willy slugged it out in the stretch, literally, before the former won by a head for his first stakes victory. Son of Cool Coal Man now sports a 4-for-8 record lifetime, with two seconds and a third. Bodhisattva couldn’t capture the same magic of last month, finishing sixth of seven and well back.
Fair Grounds. Race 9. 6:23. Brad Cox, atop the trainer standings as the meet starts to wind down, drops King’s Ghost in for $40,000 off more than eight months off in 1-mile allowance-optional.
• King’s Ghost provided Cox with another winner and wasn’t claimed in 1 1/4-length score over Vagabond Princess. He paid $9.40, hope you were paying attention.
Santa Anita Park. Race 7. 6:30. Cal-bred fillies and mares go 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill in $100,000 Irish O’Brien. Enola Gray is 2-for-2 on the course and 5-for-6 against Cal-breds.
• Nothing better than a specialist when playing turf races; we only wish we could have gotten a better price than 2-5 on Enola Gray, who won easily by 4 lengths from Desert Steel.
Golden Gate Fields. Race 7. 6:45. Coniah’s last three starts came in Grade 2 Raven Run, $300,000 Zia Park Oaks and Grade 1 La Brea, for three trainers. She’s with Bill Morey now and is the one to beat in $50,000 Camilla Urso going 6 furlongs.
Oaklawn. Race 10. 7:06. One could argue the Grade 2 Rebel is the best Kentucky Derby prep of the year so far. Petrov, Lookin At Lee and Uncontested lead the local contingent against top West Coast shippers American Anthem, second in the Grade 3 Sham in just his second start; and Royal Mo, winner of Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis for John Shirreffs last time out. And don’t forget Malagacy, all he’s done is win his two starts for Todd Pletcher by combined 22 lengths. Who’s the pick? Tough to go against Bob Baffert on the ship to Oaklawn, so it’s American Anthem.
• Not so sure it looks like the best prep now that the dust has settled. Malagacy ran his record to 3-for-3 with professional victory under Javier Castellano and bolstered Todd Pletcher’s list of classic candidates. How about the rest? Petrov (fourth), Lookin At Lee (sixth) and Uncontested (eighth) were non-factors, American Anthem was a disastrous 10th and Royal Mo only one spot ahead of him. Maybe Keith Desormeaux will be back on the Triple Crown trail after Sonneteer finished second for Calumet Farm, just ahead of Steve Asmussen’s Untrapped.
Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:30. Vale Dori rides four-race win streak, three of those victories in Grade 2 stakes, into the Grade 1 Santa Margarita. Finest City, champion female sprinter and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint last year, stretches out to two turns for the first time on the main track off stylish comeback victory in Grade 2 Santa Monica. Looks like it’s between those two.
• The race indeed boiled down to those two, with Vale Dori punching another notch in her belt with a 1 1/2-length victory. No shame in defeat for Finest City, who was 9 1/2 lengths clear of third-place Autumn Flower. Maybe Vale Dori takes her show on the road and lands next in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom?