By US Racing Team
A trio of Kentucky Derby preps, each awarding qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the first four finishers, highlight Saturday’s racing schedule, along with the $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) for older horses.
In addition, there are three Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep races [two Saturday, one Sunday] offering qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the first four finishers.
The Derby preps are the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.
The Oaks preps are the $250,000 Busher Invitational at Aqueduct and the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, and the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita on Sunday.
America’s Day at the Races, in partnership with Fox Sports, will air live coverage over the weekend from races at Aqueduct, Oaklawn Park, Tampa Bay Downs, Santa Anita Park, and the Fair Grounds.
Saturday’s telecast on Fox’s FS2 will run from 5-6 p.m. ET, and Sunday’s coverage on FS2 runs from 1:30-6:30 p.m.
All three Derby preps are scheduled to be televised.
Here’s a brief rundown of the races, with estimated post times listed by Eastern Standard Time (ET).
SANTA ANITA PARK
Life Is Good or Medina Spirit? Both colts trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert top a field of seven in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Derby prep and steppingstone to the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 3. Life Is Good, 2-0, comes into the race off a win in the Sham (G3) in January; Medina Spirit, winner of the Robert B. Lewis (G3), was a closing second to Life is Good in the Sham. Keep an eye on The Great One for trainer Doug O’Neill.
An iconic race for most of its 80-plus year history, the Big ‘Cap will feature the undefeated but oft-injured Maxfield in a field of eight. High-weighted at 124 pounds, the Godolphin homebred opened his 4-year-old campaign with a win in the Mineshaft (G3) at the Fair Grounds. He has won all five of his career starts for trainer Brendan Walsh. Also entered s Express Train, winner of the 1 1/8-mle San Pasqual (G2) on Jan. 20.
Also: $400,000 Kilroe Mile (G1) for older horses on turf. Field of 10 with Smooth Like Strait the early favorite (Race 9, 7:26 p.m.)
Trainer Ken McPeek has a pair of 3-year-old flies for this Oaks points qualifier — Tabor Hall and Oliviaofthedesert, the more accomplished of the two with an allowance win and the Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park on Dec. 18. The Honeybee is the final local prep for the Fantasy (G3) on April 3.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS
A field of 12 has been entered for the 1 1/16-mile Derby prep, with Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s Candy Man Rocket the likely favorite off his win the Sam F. Davis (G3) last time out. Hidden Stash and Boca Boy, third and fourth, respectively in the Sam F. Davis, will challenge again.
Also: $225,000 Hillsborough (G2) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Magic Attitude, Micheline and Court Return highlight the field (Race 8, 4:25 p.m.); $200,000 Florida Oaks (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on turf. Be Sneaky, Domain Expertise, Mia Martina and Oyster Box are among the entries (Race 10, 4:55 p.m.)
Miss Brazil, winner of the Ruthless Stakes, is the 2-1 favorite for trainer Tony Dutrow in this field of six going a mile for a purse of $250,000. Also entered are a pair from trainer Chad Brown’s barn, Search Results and The Grass Is Blue.
Trainer Chad Brown sends out Nyquist Stakes winner Highly Motivated and maiden winner Crowded Trade. And Hall of Famer trainer Bob Baffert sends Freedom Fighter to New York following the colt’s runner-up finish in the San Vicente. Wipe the Slate also ships in from California for trainer Doug O’Neill.
Also: $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap (G3) for older horses going six furlongs. Share the Ride is the slight favorite in field of six. (Race 7, 4:02 p.m.); $125,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational for older fillies and mares going 1-mile. Lake Avenue and Portal Creek highlight the field (Race 8, 4:36 p.m.)
$75,000 Hutcheson Stakes for 3-year-olds going 6 furlongs. Roderick looks to be the favorite in a field of seven. (Race 9, 4:14 p.m.)
SANTA ANITA PARK
Santa Ysabel Stakes
Post time: 5 p.m. (Race 4)
Looking for his sixth win in this 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sends out three of the five entries – including favorite Kalypso, winner of the Santa Ynez Stakes and second in the Las Virgenes (G3). His other entries are Beautiful Gift and Heels Up. Michael McCarthy trains the other two starters, Moraz and A Real Hero.
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.