Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl parties dominate the attention spans of the masses here in the U.S. this weekend. Fortunately the big game – as the NFL prefers anyone to refer to it if doing so to promote something other than the game – is Sunday and there’s plenty of good racing Saturday to curb those appetites.
Gulfstream celebrates its 75th anniversary – check out the great giveaway Peb poster (left) – and hosts the Hutcheson for 3-year-olds. Tampa Bay Downs runs the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and Aqueduct rolls out four stakes, including the Grade 3 Withers.
Here’s your cheat sheet for Feb. 1.
Laurel Park. Second race. 1:03 p.m. August: Osage County didn’t make the cut as a nominee for best picture but August Osage, a 6-year-old gelding by Indian Charlie, might get top billing in this 6-furlong race for claimers $6,250 to $6,000.
Aqueduct. Fourth race. 1:52 p.m. Darley and Tom Albertrani send out Costela, first-time starter by Any Given Saturday out of champion Riboletta in this 6-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies.
Laurel. Fifth race. 2:28 p.m. New York-bred gelding Minnie Punt won the 2009 New York Stallion Spectacular Bid Stakes and 2010 Kingston Stakes and competed in stakes company as recently as last June and goes for a $5,000 claiming tag here. Claimed by Kieron Magee off David Jacobson last time, 8-year-old son of Gold Fever sports a bankroll of $256,294.
Gulfstream Park. Fifth race. 2:36 p.m. Debut of Sassicaia, colt by Bernardini out of Hishi Aspen, by Forestry, who brought final bid of $1.6 million at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of selected 2-year-olds in training. He goes in this 6 1/2-furlong event for owner Robert LaPenta and trainer Chad Brown.
Aqueduct. Sixth race. 2:50 p.m. Strapping Groom surprised last year in Forego and will not be anywhere close to his 15-1 price that day in Grade 3 Toboggan.
Aqueduct. Seventh race. 3:20 p.m. The Busher Stakes has been a pretty good indicator of form for the 3-year-old filly division of late, producing the likes of Princess of Sylmar, It’s Tricky and Little Belle in three of its last six editions. The connections of the nine entrants in the 1 1/16-mile stakes hope so. Bobby Flay’s Fierce Boots prepped with win in Busanda and could be tough again. We’ve also been hearing good things about Vero Amore since last summer.
Tampa Bay Downs. Seventh race. 3:24 p.m. Plenty of familiar names in this about 1 1/8-mile turf allowance with Auntie Martha, a War Pass filly out of Auntie Mame, the Street Boss filly Pepper Ridge and Arch filly South Shore standing out.
Gulfstream Park. Seventh race. 3:34 p.m. Speaking of football, since Vince Wilfork’s New England Patriots didn’t make the big show he might take in Great Minds’ appearance in this 7 1/2-furlong turf maiden. Three-year-old colt by Stroll returns to the grass after two races on dirt at Aqueduct.
Aqueduct. Eighth race. 3:50 p.m. Dozen older fillies and mares in $100,000 Correction going 6 furlongs. I’m Mom’s Favorite looked on her way to bigger things after win in Miss Preakness then lost in graded company in New York. Off since seventh in the Grade 1 Test and now in barn of Butch Reid.
Tampa Bay. Eighth race. 3:55 p.m. First of three straight stakes – the $100,000 Suncoast for 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile and 40 yards on the main track, drew overflow field of 12. Could be a big day for Flay and Pletcher, who go with Dame Dorothy in this spot.
Turfway Park. Seventh race. 4:04 p.m. We wrote about 2009 Champagne winner Homeboykris in last week’s Saturday Special. He was entered for a $20,000 tag that day, Turfway canceled due to the weather and he didn’t run. The 7-year-old gelding is back Saturday, in a 1-mile allowance-optional and again for a price of $20,000.
Aqueduct. Ninth race. 4:20 p.m. Samraat headlines Grade 3 Withers with 3-for-3 record. Noble Causeway colt was flattered Friday when Deceived, who was thrashed by 19 1/2 lengths in Damon Runyon, won an a-other-than for New York-breds by 8 1/4 lengths. Uncle Sigh, another New York-bred, comes off similar smashing win but that was against maidens. Classic Giacnroll and Scotland, second and third behind Noble Man in Grade 2 Jerome, are back for another try.
Tampa Bay. Ninth race. 4:25 p.m. Plenty of Harpoon (the beer) will undoubtedly be consumed in Southeastern Vermont for the Super Bowl and the Tapit colt Harpoon could also do some damage in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis. Vinceremos, cross entered in Hutcheson, could be second entry along with Harpoon for Pletcher. No Derby “points” but a definite steppingstone to the first Saturday in May.
Santa Anita Park. Third race. 4:30 p.m. Usually pretty tough to get allowance races on main track to go but they got six for this, including last year’s San Felipe Stakes winner Hear the Ghost and 2012 Blue Grass Stakes fourth Holy Candy.
Gulfstream Park. Ninth race. 4:33 p.m. The $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint features plenty of crafty veterans, including Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up Tightend Touchdown and the 11th-place finisher from that same race in Spring to the Sky. Varsity and longtime partner Joe Bravo could say plenty about the outcome. Read about them here.
Turfway Park. Eighth race. 4:33 p.m. The 96Rock Stakes has been called many things over the years. The most memorable is the WEBN Frog Stakes, name for the popular Cincinnati radio station that sponsored the event. It’s got another radio partner this year, but didn’t go with the name “Pure Rock Stakes.” The race is a prep for the Spiral, another race to go through a metamorphosis of names through years later in the meet, and the Ramseys’ Artemis Coalmine is the one to beat.
Tampa Bay. 10th race. 4:55 p.m. Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes marks the return of Seal Cove, who won a loaded allowance-optional race early in the Saratoga meet. He beat Turallure, Hoofit, Paris Vegas, Mr. Commons, Vitoria Olimpica and Beau Choix that day. Full field also includes Salto, Philly Ace, Riding the River, Guys Reward and Looking Cool. Read bout Seal Cove’s 2013 victory at Saratoga.
Gulfstream. 10th race. 5:03 p.m. Bill Mott thought enough of Long On Value, a son of Value Plus who brought just $3,000 as a yearling in 2012, to run him twice against Grade 1 company in the Hopeful and Champagne after taking over his training in the summer. He meets tough group here, led by Wildcat Red, Trail Blaze, C. Zee and Gambler’s Ghost.
Fair Grounds. Eighth race. 5:25 p.m. Hunch players need to sneak a peak at Polar Plunge in the $60,000 Happy Ticket, mainly because that’s what is seemingly going on at winter carnivals all over the East Coast this weekend and because that’s what New Orleans has felt like the last few days.
Oaklawn Park. Eighth race. 5:38 p.m. The Martha Washington is always a decent 3-year-old filly stakes and a worthy prep for the Fantasy later in the meet. Several impressive last-out winners in this 1-mile event, including Euphrosyne, Kiss Moon, Ireland, Street Story and Cheerful Commander. Only one can win (usually).
Santa Anita. Seventh race. 6:30 p.m. Major steppingstone to the Santa Anita Oaks and possibly the Kentucky Oaks in Grade 1 Las Virgenes, won last year by eventual champion 3-year-old filly Beholder. No champs in here – at least not yet – but Streaming looked as good as any 2-year-old in the country last year with pair of victories. Taste Like Candy isn’t far behind. Strong race.
Santa Anita. Eighth race. 7 p.m. Stretching out 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Regally Ready has worked so far – he’s won twice in three starts at a mile on grass – and trainer Steve Asmussen tries the same in here with Unbridled’s Note. Both are legit threats in Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes, along with Winning Prize, Suggestive Boy and No Jet Lag.