Twinspires.com Weekend Stakes: Where To Watch
The road to the Kentucky Derby continues this weekend with three graded preps on Saturday at three different tracks. The Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis is on tap at Santa Anita, Golden Gate will host the G3 3 El Camino Real Derby, and the Sam F. Davis (G3) will take place at Tampa Bay Downs. While it looked liked Cash Call Futurity winner Comma To the Top would square off against Tapizar, winner of the Sham, Peter Miller, trainer of the former, is opting for the El Camino Real Derby. That will leave Steve Asmussen-trained Tapizar the overwhelming favorite in the nine-furlong Lewis. Before capturing the G3 Sham on Jan. 15, the talented son of Tapit annexed his maiden by over 10 lengths. Other opponents include Thirtyfirststreet, winner of the Cal Breeders’ Championship, and Wegner, who comes from Bob Baffert’s barn off a sharp maiden win.
Comma To the Top owns a five-race win streak that began at Golden Gate last October, and it’s hard to see anyone else winning the El Camino Real. Among those facing the son of Bwana Charlie are the top three finishers of the California Derby run here on Jan. 15—Positive Response, Jakesam, and Bluegrass Reward.
Tampa Bay’s Sam F. Davis is part of a 12-race card that also includes the G3 Endeavour and the $125,000 Florida Oaks. The Davis has two horses with the same connections as that of previous Kentucky Derby winners; one of those is Brethren, a WinStar Farm homebred trained by Todd Pletcher, the winning combination of Super Saver. A son of Distorted Humor, Brethren won his two starts as a juvenile and makes his stakes debut here. The other, like 2007 Derby winner Street Sense, is Jim Tafel-owned and Carl Nafzger-trained Beamer, who won his maiden over this strip. Among other hopefuls looking toward the first Saturday in May are Monzon, Washington’s Rules, and Watch Me Go.
A contentious field of 10 will go to the post for the Endeavour, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for older females. Scolara, conditioned by Bill Mott, has been made the morning-line choice at a tepid 3-1. She hasn’t been in the winner’s circle since March, but exits a nice third-place effort in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf. The Quiet American daughter faces Kiss Mine, C.S. Silk, and Silver Reunion, among others.
In South Florida on Saturday, Tackleberry wheels back from his Jan. 29 win in the Sunshine Millions Classic to take on seven others in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Championship. Tackleberry is the pride and joy of his owner and trainer, Luis Olivares. His charge relishes being on the front end the whole way, and he’s proven his versatility by winning at distances from five furlongs to nine furlongs; this will be his first attempt at seven panels. Tackleberry’s race previous to the Sunshine Millions was the one-mile G3 Hal’s Hope on Jan. 8, where he finished fourth, beaten nearly six lengths by Soaring Empire, who will be his major opposition here. Marty Wolfson has a pair entered; Coffee Boy is three-for-five lifetime, but hasn’t been on the track for seven months, and Gaucho, a successful performer in the optional claiming ranks who may be a little overmatched here.
Santa Anita’s Saturday card also features the G2 Santa Maria, for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Last year’s winner, St Trinians, is back in an attempt to defend her title. In the interim since that victory, she has raced just twice, running sixth as the favorite in the Santa Anita Handicap and runner-up to Zenyatta in the Vanity, which was eight months back. Others in the Santa Maria line-up are Mona de Momma, back-to-back graded stakes winner, and Washington Bridge, who has put together a three-race win skein coming into this.
A pair of graded stakes are to be run Sunday—the G3 Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream and the G2 La Canada at Santa Anita. The Hurricane Bertie is a sprinting affair (6 1/2f) on dirt for fillies and mares, and has drawn a field of seven, including Tar Heel Mom, Hilda’s Passion, and Ms Vanenzza, the top three from the Jan. 15 G3 Sugar Swirl. North Rodeo comes out of the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint where she finished sixth, but just two lengths back.
Champion Blind Luck will try to snap her recent bridesmaid status in the La Canada against five other 4-year-old fillies. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has run second in her last three outings, which include the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, and most recently, the G2 El Encino. Also coming into this race from the El Encino is the winner, Always a Princess, and the third-place finisher, Fashion Trend. Another entrant here to consider is Harmonious, making her dirt debut. Trained by John Shirreffs for Marty and Pam Wygod, Harmonious was just a nose shy in the G2 Robert Frankel on New Year’s Day. Also entered here is Life Well Lived, making her first appearance in graded company.