WEEKEND STAKES: WHERE TO WATCH brought to you by KBC Horse Supplies
The Jackpot’s generous $750,000 purse has attracted runners from such high-profile barns as Steve Asmussen (Grand Slam Andre), Rick Violette (Litigation Risk) and Todd Pletcher. Pletcher has one of the top contenders in this race with Rule, who will be ridden by John Velazquez. Rule, a son of Roman Ruler, broke his maiden at Belmont and scored by a handy nine lengths over the Delta Downs strip in the Jean Lafitte. Shipping in from Southern California is Gallant Gent, whose 7th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile merits him consideration here, especially with Kent Desormeaux aboard. Also entered in the 1 1/16-mile affair is Uh Oh Bango, a close second in the G3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs in his last out.
The counterpart to the Jackpot is the one-mile Delta Princess for fillies. Installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite is Truth and Justice, a winner in her last three starts. The daughter of Is It True won the Sorority at Monmouth and the Presque Isle Downs Debutante, both in September, and most recently, the My Trusty Cat at Delta Downs. Second- and third-place finishers in the My Trusty Cat are also entered here—Bella Diamante and Best Reward, respectively. At 3-1 is Joanie’s Catch, who posted a win and two runner-up finishes in her last three starts, all stakes races at Calder. Another possibility is Quiet Temper; though a maiden, she’s finished second in her three outings, all in open company in New York.
Saturday’s Hollywood Park feature is the G2 Bayakoa Handicap, for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the Cushion Track surface. Life is Sweet, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, was slated to run here, but her connections have decided to rest her in anticipation of a 2010 campaign. Instead, John Shirreffs, who knows a little about training horses, has entered Zardana, who last ran in the G2 Las Palmas, the race that immediately followed that electrifying run of the Ladies’ Classic. Zardana was never a factor in that race and now returns to a synthetic surface after ten turf starts. Briecat won the Bayakoa last year in a 13-1 upset. Since then, the only win she has posted was in the Adoration at Del Mar. In her last out, the G1 Lady’s Secret, she was crushed by Horse of the Year candidate Zenyatta after setting a leisurely pace throughout. Also in the field of 11 are two others coming out of the Las Palmas, Cat by the Tale (3rd) and Teamgeist (6th), a multiple Group 2 winner in her native Argentina.
On Sunday at Hollywood Park, sprinters will be in the spotlight in the G3 Vernon O. Underwood and it may be a John Sadler exacta. He trains both Machismo, who appears to be the dominant speed in this 6-furlong contest, and Noble Court, the probable favorite. Noble Court was last seen in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint where he broke last in the field of 14 but made up ground in the late stages to finish 4 ¼ lengths behind wire-to-wire winner California Flag. Look for Noble Court to be flying in the stretch, dueling with his stablemate to the wire.