The Winter Olympics in Sochi are winding down and it’s almost March. Triple Crown prep races get a little tougher, a little more important and with plenty more consequences for those who fare well and those who don’t. The Risen Star and Fountain of Youth are on tap, with big fields and plenty of would-be contenders looking to secure coveted points to gain a spot in the gate the first Saturday in May.
The day also brings wagering opportunities, namely in the form of the Rainbow 6. It plays like a pick six, with a twist. The only way it’s paid out is if there’s just a single winning ticket. The pool grew to more than $1.22 million Friday, and could get to $2 million Saturday. Dip a toe or dive in.
Here’s your cheat sheet for February 22. Sean and Tom mixed it up.
Fairyhouse. First Race. 8:25 a.m. Eenie, meenie, miney, moe. Willie Mullins, Ireland’s Todd Pletcher, unleashes three for the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle. Take your pick – Abbyssial, All Pepper and Adriana Des Mottes. Aidan O’Brien, yes that Aidan O’Brien, counters with Plinth, 1-for-2 so far in his hurdle career.
Kempton. Second Race. 9:05. Solid 4-year-old hurdlers clash in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle. Duroble Man, Solar Impulse, Activial, Agreement, Alcala, Commissioned…tomorrow’s stars.
Kempton. Third Race. 9:40. Balder Success, 3-for-5 over fences, tries to keep trainer Alan King’s revival going in the Pendil Novices’ Chase.
Newcastle. Third Race. 9:55. Old-timers try to turn back time in the Betfred Eider Handicap Chase. Junior, Wyck Hill, Tarquinius, Our Island…
Kempton. Fourth Race. 10:15. Undefeated over hurdles, Irving goes for his fourth consecutive win for Paul Nicholls. Dubai Prince, a graded stakes winner on the flat for Godolphin, searches for his second hurdle win for trainer John Ferguson. Yes, that John Ferguson.
Lingfield. Fourth Race. 10:30. Grandeur, winner of the Twilight Derby and the Hollywood Turf Cup here, makes his 5-year-old debut in the Winter Derby Trial Stakes.
Kempton. Fifth Race. 10:50. Thirteen chasers spar for $166,000 in the 3-mile Betbright Chase.
Fairyhouse. Sixth Race. 11:20. Seabass, third in the 2012 Grand National and 13th in the 2013 version, seeks his ninth career victory for father/daughter team Ted and Katie Walsh.
Gulfstream Park. First Race. 12:40 p.m. Fountain of Youth card gets off to good start with nice allowance-optional on grass for 3-year-olds. Just about everyone’s got one in here, so take your pick.
Aqueduct. Second Race. 12:54. Second half of the early double is allowance-optional going two turns with Irsaal going for Shadwell and Kiaran McLaughlin. Next.
Gulfstream. Second Race. 1:07. Nick Zito starts two colts new owner Joseph Moss paid big dollars for last May in Alexndeed, first timer by Afleet Alex, and Tightly Bridled, Unbridled’s Song colt who hasn’t been close in three starts. Ralph Nicks won last Saturday with a firster, can he do it again with Delta Warrior?
Gulfstream. Third Race. 1:35. Kingston Jamaica makes U.S. debut for Todd Pletcher after leaving Ballydoyle yard of Aidan O’Brien. Son of superstar sire Galileo was third and fourth in a couple group stakes in 2012.
Aqueduct. Fourth Race. 1:52. Early stakes action as New York-breds tangle in King’s Point. This one looks like Zivo vs. Comandante vs. Awesome Vision. Feels like a replay of something else.
Fair Grounds. Second Race. 2:00. Broken Spell returns to the turf – where she raced in four straight stakes to end 2013 season – and goes again in allowance company for Calumet-Lukas.
Gulfstream. Fourth Race. 2:03. The hits keep coming. Normandy Invasion was the wise-guy pick in last year’s Kentucky Derby and ran credibly to finish fourth. Eligible for a-other-than and gets it here, going 1 mile on the main track. Watch last year’s Kentucky Derby.
Laurel Park. Fifth Race. 2:28. Saturday Night Live fans will be on board Simmadownnow. Long layoff for this 4-year-old Candy Ride filly. Check out the classic SNL clip, with reference to a “switch.”
Gulfstream. Fifth Race. 2:32. Two-turn maiden with Triple Crown nominees, pedigrees, connections, you name it.
Laurel. Sixth Race. 2:56. First of two rescheduled races on the card, along with Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie later in the card, John B. Campbell features odds-on Managed Account against four others.
Fair Grounds. Fourth Race. 2:58. Connections and pedigree of Sam-Son Farms’ Deceptive Vision – by A.P. Indy out of Canadian champion Eye of the Sphynx – says nothing but class. She makes turf debut here in allowance-optional going about 1 1/16 miles against good field that also includes With a Twist, Liz Pendens and Anahauc.
Gulfstream. Sixth Race. 3:01. Some in this 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional might show up in stakes next time. Pletcher goes with two Tapits with one start and one win, Constitution and Matterhorn. Team Valor’s Mexikoma starts his campaign, about three months removed from decent sixth in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Calder. Sixth Race. 3:30. Veteran Ducduc is still going strong, the 8-year-old aims at win number 12 in this optional claimer for trainer Bisnath Parboo.
Gulfstream. Seventh race. 3:31. Tough allowance-optional on turf to kick off the Rainbow 6. It’s a 20-cent minimum bet. The pool was at $1,220,451.42 after racing Friday and it carries until there’s just one winner. Pick six winners and be the only one to do so and the pool is yours.
Fair Grounds. Sixth Race. 3:55. Turf Kitten, colt by Kitten’s Joy bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, goes for owner Al Pike and trainer Mike Maker. Bet against at your own peril in this about 1-mile maiden.
Tampa Bay Downs. Eighth Race. 3:55. Seven-year-old Action Andy, a Marylander the rest of the year, goes for his 12th career victory, taking on eight foes in the Super.
Turf Paradise. Second Race. 3:55. The Arizona Oaks? Wow, didn’t even know they had one. Afsana ships in for Darley and Eoin Harty while the locals are led by Lazy Daisy May and Jet Set Kitten. Plus, the host track is an ST client (hope you got your calendars).
Calder. Seventh Race. 4:00. Write a stakes, Todd Pletcher shows up. Co Cola won her debut before finishing second in two stakes, she’s 5/2 in the Pica Slew.
Aqueduct. Ninth Race. 4:17. Rescheduled Stymie brings together Farhaan, Mail and Percussion, plus four others.
Laurel. Ninth Race. 4:24. Centrique ships from South Florida off pair of victories and gets Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Carrasco for Northeast return.
Fair Grounds. Seventh Race. 4:25. Plenty of sire power and strong connections in 6-furlong maiden. Firsters for Mike Maker (Strategic Retreat), Steve Asmussen (Tiz Marvelous) and Malcolm Pierce (Butterfly Strike) could challenge favored Glacken Too for Bret Calhoun.
Calder. Eighth Race. 4:30. Calm Water returns to the main track in search of her maiden win for Juddmonte and Bill Mott.
Gulfstream. Ninth race. 4:31. Grade 2 Davona Dale kicks off stakes program in Hallandale Beach and Malibu Moon filly Onlyforyou puts unbeaten record on the line. Todd Pletcher trains her and 9-5 choice Stopchargingmaria. The Chief goes for another upset with House Rules, stylish maiden winner earlier in the meet.
Fair Grounds. Eighth Race. 4:55. Eden Prairie handled some of these last time in Marie Krantz and no reason to see her stumbling in the Bayou Handicap, first of five straight stakes.
Gulfstream. 10th race. 5:01. Lot of time between starts for Rydilluc but he was so impressive over the course last winter it’s hard to ignore Medaglia d’Oro colt. He meets older for the first time, however, including the likes of Salto, Reload, Bad Debt and Mr. Online, all capable.
Tampa Bay Downs. 11th Race. 5:22. There’s nothing like a filly maiden on the turf at Tampa. Purse: $24,000. Stallions: Kitten’s Joy, Medaglia d’Oro, Empire Maker, Tapit, War Front…Owners: Strawbridge, Lael, Namcook, St. George, Claiborne, Adele Dilschneider…Trainers: Mott, Motion (2), Sheppard, Weaver, Proctor, Oliver…
Fair Grounds. Ninth Race. 5:25. Streaming was supposed to be the one in Las Virgenes but lost. Untapable looked like a good one for the Hollywood Starlet but lost. Got Lucky took three tries to break maiden. Ria Antonia wasn’t supposed to be the one in Juvenile Fillies but got put up and paid $66.60 to boot. Decent renewal of Rachel Alexandra Stakes.
Gulfstream. 11th Race. 5:31. Big field assembled for Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth, so many with classics aspirations. Commissioner eked out win over Top Billing in last and those two tangle again, with Wildcat Red, General a Rod, Almost Famous and We Miss Artie in the mix. Forgotten horse is always Casiguapo, who we liked last year before the Champagne and might take a stab with again.
Fair Grounds. 10th Race. 5:55. Fair Grounds Handicap gets a couple cross-entered in Mineshaft later in the card, but they all might be running for second against Daddy Nose Best. Unitarian is ultra-consistent and is part of good Pletcher team in New Orleans Saturday.
Gulfstream. 12th Race. 6:01. Maiden claimer on the turf to finish off the Rainbow 6 and Perky Kitten drops in for $75,000. Bill Mott’s got one that goes first-time tag in Great Minds, and hard to look past Ghost to Ghost, Ringold, Street Chief and maybe even Aheadofthecurve at a price from the outside.
Santa Anita. Sixth Race. 6:02. European imports Diaminda, Deity, Royal Empress and Villeneuve try to ruin Brazilian-import Baruta’s American debut for Richard Mandella.
Fair Grounds. 11th Race. 6:25. Derby dreams anyone? Overflow field of 16 entered, only 14 can run and one is already out (Bond Holder, body sore after shipping). Vicar’s in Trouble destroyed some of these in prep last time. Tougher group today, with Rise Up making his return and Intense Holiday coming off strong performance in Grade 2 Holy Bull.
Turf Paradise. Seventh Race. 6:27. My Rochester, 2-for-3 for trainer Robertino Diodoro (love his name), represents the best local chance in the Turf Paradise Derby. Surprisingly, there aren’t any shippers for the $75,000 stakes.
Fair Grounds. 12th Race. 6:55. Prayer for Relief disappointed when third behind fellow Mineshaft entrants Fordubai and Grand Contender. He’s still giving weight, but not as much.
Santa Anita. Eighth Race. 7:07. California-bred fillies run off the hill for $100,000 in the Sensational Star.
Sam Houston. Second Race. 7:26. Still going strong, veteran Caberneigh tries to earn his 12th career win in this optional claimer on the turf.
Charles Town. Fifth Race. 8:50. Maiden fillies seek graduation. Maybe there’s a Dance To Bristol in here.
Sam Houston. Sixth Race. 10:10. Louisiana-bred Heitai ventures from his comfort zone (three wins in last three starts against Louisiana-breds), taking on five rivals, including eight-time winner Triumph And Song in the Sam Houston Sprint Cup.