There is a huge Saturday on tap in the Thoroughbred racing world. Here are a few hillbilly turf writer picks and pans…
The Gotham Stakes- Firenze Fire and this one turn mile at Aqueduct might be like a coon dog and a full moon…made for each other. Yes, the rest of the field is pretty good too, but this Jason Servis trained colt is two for two at this distance at the big A. Burn baby burn.
Hillsborough Stakes- This mile and an eighth on the Tampa Downs grass for older females looks fantastic. A turf test that seems tastier than a bag of Sweet Heat Golden Flakes, a case can be made for at least six of the ten entrants. We like the Kenny McPeek trained Daddys Lil Darling cause she has been tough on the turf and also because my daughter says so.
Tampa Bay Derby- How important is this Kentucky Derby prep?…I think this time of year these races are all like an extra box of shotgun shells at a dove shoot…priceless. If Flameaway can duplicate his success in the Sam Davis he would have plenty of points to make the Derby. Problem is, he’s not nominated for the Kentucky Derby. If he wins again, and we think he can, it’s gonna be water down the wrong pipe time for his owners…cough up the late fee money.
Frank E. Kilroe Mile- I think Santa Anita is one of the most beautiful places on earth and days like these prove me right. This one mile trip over the turf will be a big test for the Mark Casse trained World Approval.Regarded as the best grass horse in the States by many, he has been pretty good over the last 8 months. We think this is gonna go the same as the Cannon County hog calling contest…take the local sooey sayer. Om is a California regular that has Mike Smith in the irons. Having won the one mile Thunder Road Stakes last month at the Great Race Place we say take him in his own back yard.
San Felipe Stakes- Another showcase for Kentucky Derby hopefuls, we have to wonder if this is going to be like the turkey shoot at the old Almaville Market. You know, a lot of strutting and smack talking, but in the end, the biggest gun takes home the bird. McKinzie has been one of the high caliber Brownings in the Bob Baffert barn, but Bolt d’Oro has looked like a long barrel 12 gauge himself. There are a few question marks about the Bolt and he may not make the start if the rain hits. No matter who gets in the gates, we think McKinzie has the biggest boom right now.
Santa Anita Handicap- The Big Cap is one of the most iconic races on the calendar. Having lost a bit of its luster because of the big money race in Dubai later this month, we still think this is a showcase. This edition can be compared to the barn door when cousin Joe Bob got into the moonshine…left wide open. Yes, Accelerate, Hoppertunity, and Mubtaahij are all grade 1 winners that can get t done, but let’s take Curlin Road across the board for a payday.The mile and a quarter distance is good for this Doug O’Neill trained runner and he has finished in the top three in six of his last eight starts with three wins.