Four days of Cheltenham in the books and we go seamlessly into a huge Saturday of racing here in the States with a loaded card at Oaklawn, a strong edition of the Honey Fox at Gulfstream and the Grade 1 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita.
Plenty of activity on the track and off, with a decision expected sometime over the weekend about possible sale of interest in unbeaten Social Inclusion from owner Ron Sanchez. Pioneerof the Nile colt whipped Remsen winner Honor Code earlier this week, setting Gulfstream track record for 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.97.
Here's your cheat sheet for Saturday, March 15.
Laurel Park. Second Race. 1:03 p.m. Shalane, a 4-year-old filly by Fairbanks co-bred by track and field aficionado Barry Irwin of Team Valor International, runs in $15,000 claiming race for older females going 1 mile the same day Shalane Flanagan competes in the U.S. 15-kilomter (9.3 miles) championship in Jacksonville, Florida.
Read about the Gate River Run - U.S. 15k championship.
Gulfstream Park. Third Race. 2:03. The gangs all here for 7 1/2-furlong maiden on the grass. Pink Poppy, full brother to classic starter Liquidity, makes debut for Chad Brown. The Careless Cat flew home in last and was second for Graham Motion. My Fashion debuts for Mark Casse and Lady Lavery does the same for Kiaran McLaughlin. Plenty of others to choose.
Gulfstream. Fourth Race. 2:32. Zinzay was sharp winner at Saratoga last summer and second in Grade 3 Jessamine at Keeneland. Smart Strike filly makes seasonal debut for Rusty Arnold in allowance company going 1 1/16 on the grass.
Fair Grounds. Second Race. 2:58. Mardi Gras is over, purses are being cut and the Louisiana Derby is still a few weeks away, but the show goes on in New Orleans. Two by Kitten's Joy and not owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey - Turf Kitten for Mike Maker and Risk and Return for Tom Amoss - are part of 11 entered in about 1-mile maiden on the grass. The Ramseys did breed both though.
Gulfstream. Fifth Race. 3:01. Florida-bred maiden looks like another one for Todd Pletcher and Javier Castellano, who team with Discreetly Elusive.
Santa Anita Park. First Race. 3:30. Fans of delightful baked goods will be on board Cronut, who drops in for the first time.
Laurel. Eighth Race. 3:55. Knit One Purr Too chased Jonesin for Jerry, who goes in Cicada at Aqueduct, last time and looks good out in 5 1/2-furlong allowance optional for Dane Kobiskie. Jump Two, winner of two of three, and Florida transplant Princess Marela wouldn't be a surprise.
Fair Grounds. Fourth Race. 3:55. Shane Ryan of Castleton Lyons, owner of two-time winner Propelleroneway, is enjoying Barclay's Premier League season by his beloved Chelsea. He could be in great spirits if they get 3 points closer to the title versus Aston Villa Saturday and again if homebred Malibu Moon filly can win about 1 1/16-mile allowance optional on the turf.
Gulfstream. Seventh Race. 4:03. Elmutahid once flirted with classics potential, chasing Orb in last year's Fountain of Youth. Transferred by Shadwell from Kiaran McLaughlin to Chad Brown, Street Cry colt hasn't been out since April's Clader Derby.
Laurel. Ninth Race. 4:24. Seven entered in $100,000 Caesar's Wish going 1 mile. Steady N Love won by 20 3/4 last time. Yes you read that right.
Oaklawn Park. Sixth Race. 4:45. The Razorback a little later on the card is the prep for the Oaklawn Handicap but this 1 1/16-mile allowance might be even tougher with Bourbon Courage, Guilt Trip, Sabercat, Win Willy and Voodoo Storm in the field.
Aqueduct. Eighth Race. 4:43. Phil Schoenthal tried to stretch out Miss Behaviour in last fall's Delta Downs Princess and it didn't work so well for Grade 2-winning daughter of Jump Start. She's back sprinting today and looks tough in Cicada. Mamdooha is on a roll with three straight wins, including Ruthless at track and trip. Sustainable was no match for Gracer in Dearly Precious and Jonesin for Jerry returns to New York for first time since last summer's Schuylerville.
Read about Miss Behaviour's trip to Delta Downs.
Watch the 2013 Schuylerville.
Tampa Bay Downs. 10th Race. 4:48. Nine-year-old Hold On Smokey has five wins over the Tampa turf. The rest of the field has two. Old veteran will be tough from the rail in 5-furlong allowance-optional and he's in for $40,000.
Santa Anita. Fourth Race. 5:00. Three of first four under the wire in Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint are back for Irish O'Brien sprinting down the hillside turf course.
Gulfstream. Ninth Race. 5:05. Pinball hasn't lost in more than a year, a string of four victories for Bill Mott. Son of Unbridled's Song good on turf or dirt. This one's turf, against the likes of Mills, Tiz Gianni, Racing Aptitude and Rocking Hall.
Tampa. 11th Race. 5:17. House horse Step Aside Boys, disqualified from win last month, tries again for Stella Thayer and Graham Motion. 1-mile turf maiden also draws Sister in Arms from Payson Park for Christophe Clement.
Gulfstream. 10th Race. 5:36. Rusty Arnold put Centre Court up for the season after two poor efforts at Saratoga and she returns to defend crown here in the Grade 2 Honey Fox. If she's as good as she was last winter defeating Samitar and others it will be deep water for Tapicat, Kitten's Point, Parranda and Effie Trinket. If not it's pretty wide open.
Watch Centre Court win the 2013 Honey Fox.
Oaklawn. Eighth Race. 5:52. The return of Close Hatches, the best 3-year-old filly in the country last not named Beholder or Princess of Sylmar and that might even be debatable. No cakewalk in the Grade 2 Azeri with $1,000 wonder mare Don't Tell Sophia, On Fire Baby and Flashy American in the group.
Watch the 2013 Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Read about $1,000 yearling buy Don't Tell Sophia.
Fair Grounds. Eighth Race. 5:55. Field of eight for turf sprint Colonel Power Stakes. Looks like good showdown between Sum of the Parts, winner of his last two on grass after 12th in Breeders' Cup Sprint on dirt, and Gantry, veteran main-track sprinter who does have a win on grass.
Santa Anita. Sixth Race. 6:00. Dynaformer firster Dynesque for John Shirreffs cost $900,000 at 2012 Saratoga sale. She's second foal out of Grade 3 winner Super Freaky, who tried Zenyatta back in 2008 Lady's Secret.
Watch Zenyatta win the 2008 Lady's Secret.
Gulfstream. 11th Race. 6:07. Pedigrees and prices galore in maiden finale going 7 1/2 on the grass. Pletcher starts $675,000 firster Lawn Party for Stonestreet and George Bolton, Shug McGaughey sends out Forensic (by Medaglia d'Oro out of Criminologist), and Ian Wilkes tries again with Affluent's daughter Innate Grace.
Oaklawn. Ninth Race. 6:27. Here's the Grade 3 Razorback. First two from the Essex are back in Right to Vote and Street Spice, along with Taptowne, Govenor Charlie and comebacker Called to Serve. Todd Pletcher might spoil it for all with Golden Lad.
Santa Anita. Seventh Race. 6:30. Iotapa could get good stretch going for John Sadler in Grade 1 Santa Margarita. She'll need as good an effort as she put in winning Grade 2 Santa Maria last time to handle familiar foes Let Faith Arise, Stanwyck and Fiftyshadesofhay. Richard Mandella counters with Spellbound.
Santa Anita. Eighth Race. 7:00. Small but quality field of graded stakes types for 9-furlong allowance on turf. Glen Hill Farm, Tom Proctor and Gary Stevens are killing it and team up with Procurement.
Oaklawn. 10th Race. 7:04. Featured Grade 2 Rebel. Another Kentucky Derby prep with a lot of points on the line. Big purse, too, $600,000 that eight will vie for. Kobe's Back looked as good as any 3-year-old earlier this year in San Vincent. Strong Mandate looked as good as any 2-year-old last year in Hopeful. They might be running for second against Tapiture.
Watch Kobe's Back win the San Vicente.
Watch Tapiture win the Southwest.
Watch Strong Mandate win the Hopeful.