Weekend Stakes Recap

Cancelled was the most popular word of the day on Saturday as Laurel, Oaklawn, and Aqueduct cancelled all or part of their racing programs as a fierce winter storm wreaked havoc on a large portion of the country.  Ironically, in California and Florida, the Sunshine Millions program was run before a back-drop that made the moniker fitting.

Some of the highlights of the Sunshine Millions races included:

– This Ones for Phil was 53 weeks removed from a breakthrough performance in the Sunshine Millions Dash and he was once again victorious in this year’s Sunshine Millions Sprint.  He battled nose and nose with Pashito the Che from the half-mile pole in and prevailed by a whisker.  Click here to view the Sunshine Millions Sprint.

-Sweet Repent scored her fifth victory in a row in the Sunshine Millions Distaff as she tracked a solid pace and took over when ready in the stretch drive.  She has now earned three consecutive Beyer figures over 100 and is rapidly earning her way into the conversation of 2nd tier distaffers for the rest of the year.

-Trainer Tom Proctor knew he was bringing a made hand to the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf and Tight Precision rewarded him with a work(wo)manlike victory.  She has now earned three wins in a row and is certainly improving with experience.

-Bold Chieftan didn’t have the cleanest of trips but when there was a narrow gap in mid-stretch viewers were treated to an exhibition of why Russell Baze is known as “Russell the muscle.”  He forced this son of Chief Seattle through the opening and he held gamely over the Canadian invader Palladio. 

There were two graded stakes run on Sunday, one at Gulfstream and one at Santa Anita.  The former was won with overwhelming ease by Bickersons, who had last been seen getting pummeled by Blind Luck out west in the Hollywood Starlet.  She is clearly a better horse on conventional dirt and has tremendous potential as a sprinter/miler.

The Santa Monica was the first Grade I of the year at Santa Anita and Gabby’s Golden Gal, one of four Grade I winners in the field coming into the race, earned this one with style.   She stalked the pace, took over when ready and ultimately pulled away late.  She undoubtedly benefited from being a part of a glacial pace but is a filly with talent who’s proven to be capable on both synthetics and dirt.

Be sure to check back here on Tuesday for installment #1 of the Derby Countdown where I’ll discuss my Derby top 10 as of the 1st of February.

Enjoy the Santa Monica Handicap!


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