We turned the first page of the 2021 calendar this week and look what we have here for the first Saturday of February, a pair of Triple Crown preps on the East Coast.
The Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct and Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs – along with potentially the Grade 2 San Vicente out West at Santa Anita Park – could yield some runners to discuss for the first Saturday in May. The Sam F. Davis anchors a stakes-heavy card at Tampa, site of the Super Bowl the next day between the hometown Buccaneers and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.
There’s plenty of other good racing to occupy your time awaiting Sundays big game, with good cards at Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Fair Grounds and beyond.
We’ll start overseas, where the clock continues to tick down to the Cheltenham Festival.
Here’s your primer, presented by Thoroughbred Racing Calendar, for Saturday, Feb. 6. Stay healthy and good luck.
Name of the Day. Oh, what the hell, let’s be political here. We’re going with Getaway Trump in the opener at Musselburgh.
Leopardstown. Race 1. 8:05 a.m. The Grade 1 novice hurdle kicks off a stellar card in Ireland. Willie Mullins unleashes Gaillard Du Mesnil, a sweet winner of a maiden hurdle after graded placings in France. The 5-year-old cost a cool €250,000 in 2019. Mullins sends out four in the opener.
Sandown. Race 1. 8:15. Sandown changed its card from a mix of hurdle and chase races to all chases because of weather. It’s still touch and go. If it’s a go, sit back and enjoy. Dolos and Caribean Boy lead the opening handicap chase.
Leopardstown. Race 2. 8:35. Mullins and Townend continue the barrage with Chacun Pour Soi. The 9-year-old rides a three-stakes win streak into the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Dublin Chase. Mullins has three of the six, including Ryanair Chase winner Min.
Lingfield. Race 4. 8:45. One of our all-time favorites, Red Verdon, makes his 42nd start in the Betway Winter Derby Trial. The 8-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid is the longshot of a tough group of five that includes Bangkok and Felix.
Sandown. Race 2. 8:50. The Grade 1 Virgin Bet Skilly Isles Novices’ Chase attracts a scintillating group of novices trying to book a ticket to Cheltenham. Messire Des Obeaux missed nearly three years of racing, he’s made up for lost time with two wins this season. This is his acid test against Shan Blue, Hitman and Dame De Compagnie.
Leopardstown. Race 3. 9:10. The hits just keep on coming. The Grade 1 Irish Arkle Novices’ Chase. Mullins says this is his best novice contingent ever, well, here are some of the bullets in his chamber. Energumene, Franco De Port (owned by Bruton Street V), Unexpected and Blackbow.
Sandown. Race 3. 9:20. The millionaire Bristol De Mai takes on Gold Cup winner Native River and Gold Cup runner-up Santini in an absolute belter of the Virgin Bet Cotswold Chase.
Wetherby. Race 4. 9:30. Main Fact had his win streak snapped in the Long Walk Hurdle, the son of Blame drops a notch to the Grade 2 William Hill Cleeve Hurdle. Nothing given away on Saturdays as On The Blind Side, Ask Dillon, Itchy Feet and others add wood to the fire.
Leopardstown. Race 4. 9:45. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, there is nothing like a handicap chase in Europe. Twenty line up here, ranging from Ordinary World, carrying 164 including jockey Sean Flanagan, to Scheu Time, carrying 143 and jockey Kevin Brouder.
Leopardstown. Race 5. 10:15. The Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle and the one and only Honeysuckle. The 7-year-old mare is still undefeated with a 10-for-10 career mark, including last year’s edition of this Grade 1 stakes.
Leopardstown. Race 6. 10:50. Don’t touch that dial – 22 go forward for the Ladbrokes Hurdle. Look out for Jesse Evans, if he draws in from the 23 slot.
Leopardstown. Race 7. 11:25. The Grade 2 Goffs Future Stars National Hunt Flat serves as the finale of an electric card of racing.
Aqueduct. Race 1. 1:00 p.m. Clever Fellow made debut January 2019 and his second start Feb. 20, 2020. Now 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky makes start No. 3 in 7-furlong state-bred maiden.
Kempton. Race 5. 1:30. Ocean Wind nearly went to Saudi Arabia for a big purse but opted to stay home for the Unibet conditions stakes going 2 miles. “Ocean Wind is as ready as we can get him at home, although I suspect he will come on a bit for the run, win, lose or draw,” trainer Roger Teal said. “He is just one of those horses who doesn’t tell you much at home, which can be typical of a lot of the decent horses. He surprises us nearly every time he goes to the track and we don’t know where the ceiling is for him yet.”
Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 1:37. Soglio, a graded stakes competitor in 2019, stretches out to 11 furlongs in search of second straight win for Steve Klesaris in grass starter. He’s 4-for-8 on the course.
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 5. 1:50. Two-turn maiden for 3-year-olds looks strong with runners for Todd Pletcher, Christophe Clement, Ian Wilkes, Bill Mott, Arnaud Delacour and Kenny McPeek.
Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:36. Graded stakes winner La Signare, a close fifth in last fall’s Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational for Brendan Walsh, makes 2020 debut against Great Island, Logic N Reason and others in Grade 3 Suwannee River.
Fair Grounds. Race 3. 2:58. More Than Unusual, daughter of More Than Ready who finished second last time out in the Tropical Park Oaks, ships in from Florida and drops in class for 7 1/2-furlong allowance on the grass.
Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:10. Todd Pletcher, atop the trainer standings by wins and purses at the Championship Meet, sends out high-dollar duo of Dupuis ($700,000) and Democracy ($400,000) in 6-furlong maiden.
Fair Grounds. Race 4. 3:27. Unanimously, a Louisiana-bred Tapit colt who cost $300,000 in 2019 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, looks to make it two straight for WinStar and Steve Asmussen in 1-mile state-bred allowance.
Tampa. Race 8. 3:30. Get Smokin nearly went all the way in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, losing the lead late and finishing three-quarters of a length back in fourth. He will no doubt employ same front-running style in Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes against the likes of Fancy Liquor, Admission Office, Greyes Creek and Armistice Day.
Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:41. Positively Awesome, unbeaten Jacks or Better Farm homebred son of Awesome Of Course, makes first start since June 2019, in 6-furlong optional against With Verve, The Tabulator, Joe Di Baggio and Yodel E. A. Who.
Aqueduct. Race 7. 3:55. Tough to sort out the eight New York-bred fillies and mares in this 7-furlong allowance.
Fair Grounds. Race 5. 3:56. Michael Stidham looks tough in 5 ½-furlong turf maiden for 3-year-olds with first-time starter in Plutonium and second-timer Gershwin.
Tampa. Race 9. 4:02. Gulf Coast would have been tough with Honorifique in the $150,000 Suncoast. Rodolphe Brisset shipped the former up New York this week for Sunday’s Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct, keeping the filly at one turn for now. That leaves the latter in the potential spotlight.
Santa Anita Park. Race 3. 4:03. Moonlight d’Oro appreciated the added distance last time winning at Los Al and now she takes on multiple stakes winner Kalypso and Moraz in Grade 3 Las Virgenes.
Aqueduct. Race 8. 4:25. The Grade 3 Withers, with 10 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate to the winner and a big piece of the $250,000 purse. Harold Wyner slipped into town New Year’s Day and took the Jerome with Capo Kane, who comes back from Parx for this 9-furlong test that also attracts Todd Pletcher’s duo of Donegal Bay and Overtook, Chad Brown’s Risk Taking and New York-bred stakes winner Eagle Orb.
Tampa. Race 10. 4:32. New York Girl handled her U.S. debut Dec. 31 at Guflstream and now we’ll see if she can handle Counterparty Risk in the Grade 3 Lambholm South Endeavour.
Santa Anita. Race 4. 4:36. Acclimate, ninth in Bricks and Mortar’s Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2019, set for third start off layoff in Grade 2 San Marcos. Small and select field also includes Masteroffoxhounds, Salvator Mundi and Oscar Dominguez.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:44. Field of 11 3-year-olds, including Juddmonte Farms’ Higher Quality, entered in 1-mile maiden.
Fair Grounds. Race 7. 4:54. Darain ran well in U.S. debut and should get it done here in turf allowance that also draws 2020 New York Stallion Series Cab Calloway division winner Jolting Joe for his first start of 2020.
Tampa. Race 11. 5:02. Overflow field for the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis for would-be Tampa Bay Derby and potentially even Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Nova Rags won the prep for Bill Mott and stretches out to two turns for the first time. Known Agenda finished distant third in the Grade 2 Remsen in stakes debut for Todd Pletcher, who also entered maiden-claiming winner Millean.
Oaklawn Park. Race 7. 5:09. Royal Daaher chased Hidden Scroll last time and comes back in 13 days for 6-furlong optional. He breaks from rail in field of eight that also includes 2019 Saratoga Special winner and Champagne runner-up Green Light Go, who makes first start since mid-May and first for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer; and multiple Grade 1-placed stakes winner Shoplifted for Steve Asmussen.
Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:16. Hear My Prayer, Victory Kingdom and Lady’s Island finished 1-2-3 in Abundantia Stakes New Year’s Day and return for $100,000 Ladies’ Turf Sprint Stakes.
Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:40. Steve Asmussen upset Whitmore in last year’s King Cotton Stakes with Share The Upside and looks to make it back-to-back with Strike Power from the rail. His two main threats are immediately to his outside in Seven Nation Army and Flagstaff.
Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:14. Freedom Fighter, not seen since breaking his maiden at 1-2 odds Aug. 1 at Del Mar, makes return in Grade 2 San Vicente against stablemate Concert Tour and Cal-bred maiden winners The Chosen Vron and Found My Ball.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 6:46. Sombeyay liked the change in scenery winning turf optional last time out and takes step back up to stakes company in Grade 3 Thunder Road. Prep for next month’s Kilroe also draws Bob And Jackie, Hembree, Hit The Road, Border Town and Campaign.
Charles Town Races. Race 2. 7:32. Adding Machine ran well in comeback last month and takes on six others in state-bred allowance going 4 1/2 furlongs.
Turfway Park. Race 7. 9:16. A dozen led by Scabbard, Krewe Chief, Golden Dragon and Candy Store entered in two-turn optional.
Charles Town. Race 7. 10:02. Still going strong? Why not, the Super Bowl doesn’t start until late in the afternoon Sunday. Finish things off with two-turn allowance for West Virginia-breds.