This week, Picks and Ponderings goes back to Turfway — albeit only virtually, this time. Turfway’s card on Saturday features a pair of three-year-old points races, the $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) (previously the Spiral Stakes) for open company and the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3) for fillies. Both races offer 20-8-4-2 points to its top four finishers, good for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks respectively. As recently as last year, the races had been 50-point preps, though their points were lowered in light of the fact that the Polytrack has not in recent years tended to attract horses who made a major splash come the first weekend in May. Still, that didn’t hurt field size one bit: both races drew large, competitive fields.
Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s pair of three-year-old preps at Turfway, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Oaklawn’s spur of the Derby trail continues this Saturday with the Rebel Stakes. The race offers a purse of $900,000, in addition to Road to the Kentucky Derby points (50-20-10-5) for its top four finishers.
Inaugurated in 1961, the Rebel Stakes currently serves as the third of four steps on Oaklawn’s road to the Kentucky Derby. The race has constantly featured top-class horses. American Pharoah (2015) began his sophomore campaign in the race — a year that continued with a Triple Crown win, a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) win, and both Champion Three Year Old Male and Horse of the Year honours. Though he is the only Triple Crown winner to have won the Rebel Stakes, a host of other three-year-old champions have won this race, including Temperence Hill (1980), Smarty Jones (2004), Curlin (2007), Lookin at Lucky (2010), and Will Take Charge (2013).
Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Rebel Stakes, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
I didn’t make it down to Tampa for the Sam F. Davis (G3) like I had the last two years, since the harness meet at Hawthorne was still going on. But, that just means I’m off to Tampa a different weekend — specifically, this one, for the Tampa Bay Derby (G2)!
Over at Picks and Ponderings, I preview the day’s feature race, and share my selections and longshots for every stakes race on the card. For the record, my most bullish play of the day is Rafting in the Challenger Stakes. He has come back so well this winter, he’s proven himself a horse for the Tampa course, and he should be able to stay in close range of a pace that shouldn’t be especially fast. Rafting should also be a bit of a price, as class-dropping War Story stands to take plenty of action.
I’m happy to chat about my selections, or anything else about the card, in the comments or on Twitter. And, make sure to follow along on Twitter (@rogueclown) all weekend, since I’ll be posting pictures and Periscopes from the track starting on Friday!
This year, the Gotham Stakes will be run for the 67th time, offering a $300,000 purse as well as Kentucky Derby points (50-20-10-5) to its top four finishers. The race, which takes its name from an old nickname for New York City, was inaugurated at Jamaica Racetrack in 1953 before being moved to New York City in 1960. Long a one-turn mile on the Aqueduct main, it was moved to a mile and a sixteenth on the inner starting in 2006, and moved back to its historic one-turn mile trip for this year.
In its history, one Triple Crown winner counts the Gotham among his triumphs; the immortal Secretariat won it in 1973.
Read more at Picks and Ponderings, and sound off with your thoughts on the Gotham in the comments!
The San Felipe Stakes (G2) will be run for the 81st time this year. It is a Road to the Kentucky Derby race, with not only a $400,000 purse up for grabs but also 50, 20, 10, and 5 Kentucky Derby points available to the top four finishers. Originally inaugurated in 1935 for colts and geldings aged three and up, the race was restricted to three-year-olds starting in 1941, and opened up to fillies as well starting in 1952. Run at distances as short at six furlongs during its history, it has held steady at its current 1 1/16 mile distance since 1952. Over the history of the San Felipe Stakes, five winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby later that year: Determine (1954), Affirmed (1978), Sunday Silence (1989), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), and California Chrome (2014). Bob Baffert has been the most successful trainer of all time in the San Felipe. He has won the race six times, most recently with Mastery (2017).
Keep reading at Picks and Ponderings, and let me know your thoughts on the San Felipe (G2) in the comments!
This year marks the 30th running of the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park. It has always been a 1 1/16 mile race for three-year-old fillies. It first earned a grade 3 rating in 1990, and has carried that status every year except for 2003-2007, during which it was once again ungraded. This year’s renewal offers a $200,000 purse, as well as Road to the Kentucky Oaks points (50-20-10-5) for fillies in the top four places.
Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s Honeybee Stakes (G3), and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
This Saturday features four different three-year-old preps at three different tracks: three Kentucky Oaks prep, and a Kentucky Derby prep as well.
Over at Picks and Ponderings, I preview all four of the points races: the Fountain of Youth (G2) and the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream, the Busher Stakes at Aqueduct, and the Santa Ysabel (G3) at Santa Anita.
Read my previews, and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Good luck this weekend!
It’s that time of the year again — time to look back over the year that was, and to recognise the best Illinois-bred Thoroughbreds.
Over at Picks and Ponderings, I share my Illinois Champions ballot, and discuss my rationale for why I voted how I did in each category. Give it a read, revisit the best Illinois horses of 2017, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Picks and Ponderings has kept a close eye trained on the three-year-old points races, but there are none this week. Far be it from us to go on hiatus, though: especially since we’re hitting the road this weekend! We’re off to Florence, Kentucky, making our maiden voyage to Turfway Park, so follow along with @picksponderings for photos, notes, and updates!
We are keeping up with the three-year-old theme, of course. The feature of the race week is the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, the local prep for next month’s Grade 3 Jack Ruby Steaks (née Spiral Stakes).
Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Friday’s John Battaglia Memorial, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
We’ve already visited the Big Easy and the City by the Bay this weekend — but with Presidents’ Day on Monday, the Derby trail winds to Oaklawn Park for the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, the second of four preps during this winter’s Hot Springs meet. Though the Kentucky Derby points haul isn’t huge — it’s the final 10-4-2-1 — the $500,000 purse is massive for a Grade 3.
The Southwest Stakes will be run for the fifty-third time this year. The race was run in 1959, 1962, and then every year from 1968 to the present day. Originally a sprint, the race was extended to a mile in 1984, and then to its current 1 1/16 mile distance in 2013. The first year in which it was a key Derby prep was 1992: though 17/1 D. Wayne Lukas bomb Big Sur wired the field that day, second-place Pine Bluff won the Preakness, and third-place Lil E. Tee took home the roses on the first Saturday in May.
Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Southwest Stakes, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!