The Eclipse Awards were handed out for the 50th time Thursday night – did any of your favorites win, are you still howling about those that didn't or abstensions? – and now we can officially consider 2020 complete. Thank goodness, right?
We’re already a month deep into 2021 and with eyes on the Kentucky Derby a little more than 90 days away some significant preps for the opening jewel of the Triple Crown are on tap this week. The Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita Park figure to shakeup the current points leaderboard for the Kentucky Derby and send too-soon-prognosticators into change mode for their top 10 lists.
In the more near future we’ve starting zeroing in on the Cheltenham Festival in March and Sean launched his Road to Cheltenham series this week with some memorable moments he’s experience at the world’s best jump meet. A cold snap overseas – we know the feeling here on the East Coast of the U.S. – altered and scrapped some meetings this week but there’s still plenty of time to prep for Cheltenham.
With that we’ll start the final January primer of 2021 overseas, with jump racing from Doncaster, plus bonus action from South Africa, before meandering back to the U.S. for strong cards at Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Aqueduct and Oaklawn to fill your day on the weekend before the Super Bowl.
We almost forgot, and perhaps you did, too. Don't forget to order a calendar for 2021 right here.
Name of the Day
Fern Hill. Doncaster. Race 4. By Dylan Thomas, out of Water Rock, the 6-year-old is named for the 1945 poem.
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, Jan. 30. Stay healthy and good luck.
Doncaster. Race 2. 8:30 a.m. With Cheltenham abandoned, this is the best jump action you’ll find. And this makes six…Shishkin rides a five-race win streak into the Grade 2 Lightning Novices’ Chase. The margins – 11, 11, head, 23, 13. The head was a thriller in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Kenilworth. Race 7. 8:35. Without a lot of action in England, go south. The Grade 1 Cape Flying Championship in South Africa.
Fairyhouse. Race 4. 8:58. Royal Kahala, trained by Peter Fahey, rides a three-race win streak into her graded stakes debut in the Race Displays Mares’ Novice Hurdle. Like always, Willie Mullins stands in the way with Gauloise.
Kenilworth. Race 8. 9:15. Captain’s Ransom has only lost once in her five-race career, the daughter of Captain Al should take the Majorca Stakes.
Doncaster. Race 4. 9:40. Who knew there were Bob Hope fans in Ireland? Bobhopeornohope, a 6-year-old Irish-bred, seeks his third consecutive win while taking on Grade 2 foes in the River Don Novices’ Hurdle. David Bass and Kim Bailey teamed up to win a Grade 1 last weekend.
Kenilworth. Race 9. 10:10. Queen Supreme looks strong in the Grade 1 Cape Town Met.
Doncaster. Race 5. 10:15. One For The Team hit our Racing Post Horse Tracker at some point last season. “Serious horse. Resolute gallop. Great mover.” He’ll need all three as he takes on a tough group in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase.
Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 11:45. We missed being in South Florida this year for the Eclipse Awards and Pegasus World Cup, just like we’ll miss out on Holy Bull Day. The five-stakes card starts with turf sprint claimer on the grass.
Aqueduct. Race 1. 12:20 p.m. Teetotaler, daughter of Uncle Mo and Grade 1 winner Artemis Agrotera cost $500,000 in 2019 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale, makes start No. 3 and should graduate in 1-mile state-bred maiden.
Gulfstream. Race 3. 12:41. Todd Pletcher unveils War Front first-time starter Mubtadaa in 5-furlong turf maiden that also attracts Wora and My Sea Cottage from Mark Casse and Hillbilly Logic from Wesley Ward.
Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:10. The Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy opens the stakes. Kentucky Pharoah enters off back-to-back wins at the track and trip, including 3-length win in the Dania Beach Jan. 2, while Never Surprised puts 2-for-2 mark on the line in first start since winning Central Park in late November at Aqueduct.
Aqueduct. Race 4. 1:50. Field of five led by veterans Share The Ride and Pete’s Play Call line up for the Grade 3 Toboggan. Stan The Man chased that pair when second in his last two starts and would be the value in the short field.
Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:10. Todd Pletcher ran Likeable in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile off mid-September maiden win and after Frosted colt showed speed he faded to next-to-last of 14. He’s back from the rail here in the Grade 3 Claiborne Farm Swale against the likes of Drain The Clock, By George and Poppy’s Pride.
Gulfstream. Race 7. 2:44. Full field of 12 3-year-olds for 1 1/16-mile maiden on the grass.
Laurel Park. Race 7. 3:23. Interesting cast of 11 3-year-olds for 1-mile optional, including several who return to more sensible company after disappointing stakes tries.
Gulfstream. Race 9. 3:46. The 3-year-old fillies take their turn in the Grade 3 Forward Gal. Shadwell homebred Zaajel looked good winning 7-furlong maiden Dec. 20 and goes same trip here with an outside draw.
Laurel. Race 8. 3:53. Alwaysmining tries again, dropping down to optional company after ninth off the layoff in the Jennings.
Oaklawn Park. Race 5. 4:06. Coach, trained by recently crowned Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, makes 2021 debut in $200,000 Martha Washington with eyes on the Fantasy and possibly Kentucky Oaks down the road. Daughter of Commissioner won her first three before a third in Grade 2 Golden Rod and looks tough against five others entered in 1-mile stakes.
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 8. 4:10. Nothing like a turf maiden for 3-year-old fillies at Tampa – Into Mischief, American Pharoah, Uncle Mo, Curlin, Liam’s Map … Godolphin, Stonestreet, e Five, Brant, Generazio.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:18. Con Lima tries to run turf record to 3-for-3 in Grade 3 Sweetest Chant, but fairly deep water with Honey Pants, White Frost, Domain Expertise and Director’s Cut among the seven others in the field for 1-mile stakes.
Gulfstream. Race 11. 4:50. The Grade 3 Holy Bull headlines the card and nine would-be Kentucky Derby hopefuls take their swings in 1 1/16-mile stakes. Amount and Prime Factor jump from maiden ranks to stakes company off daylight debut scores, Grade 3 Iroquois winner Sittin On Go returns after being off the board in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Jockey Club to close 2020 season and Greatest Honour figures to again show he appreciates more ground.
Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:40. The $150,000 American Beauty marks return of multiple graded stakes winner Frank’s Rockette, last seen finishing 11th against the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Daughter of Into Mischief stands out in this group along with 2019 American Beauty winner and fellow comebacker Amy’s Challenge.
Fair Grounds. Race 7. 4:54. Plenty of high-dollar purchases and well-bred homebreds in 6-furlong maiden for 3-year-olds.
Santa Anita Park. Race 5. 5:33. King Guillermo ships to the West Coast for Grade 2 San Pasqual off fourth in Grade 1 Cigar Mile. Winner of last year’s Tampa Bay Derby finds Idol, runner-up in Grade 2 San Antonio, and Grade 1 Malibu runner-up Express Train waiting for 9-furlong stakes.
Fair Grounds. Race 9. 5:52. In Good Spirits ran well in first two tries on the grass in New Orleans and drops back to optional company for turf sprint for older fillies and mares.
Santa Anita. Race 6. 6:05. Speed Pass, off since last February, takes on Loud Mouth, Parimony and two others in 6-furlong optional.
Oaklawn. Race 9. 6:10. Fans of what happened on Wall Street this week might be on board Rob The Rich in 6-furlong allowance while the more traditional types should be warm to Impossible Task and American Mandate.
Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:37. Medina Spirit made up ground on his Bob Baffert-trained stablemate Life Is Good last time when second in the Grade 3 Sham and takes on another graded stakes-winning stablemate Spielberg in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis. Doug O’Neill counters with strong entry of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Hot Rod Charlie and Wipe The Slate while John Shirreffs sends out Parnelli and Waspirant both from the Sham.