On Saturday, Gulfstream Park will host five sprint stakes, including three Grade 3 affairs–the Mr. Prospector, the Sugar Swirl and the Old Hat. The Spectacular Bid and the Turf Sprint are also on the card. The Old Hat will feature newly turned 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs, including seven with unblemished records. Carphonic and Cuff Me each won their maiden and stepped it up with stakes victories, while Dances With Ashley will try to keep her win streak intact with this stakes debut after beating the competition in allowance company last out.
In the Mr. Prospector, it's hard to see past Munnings; after two consecutive wins this past summer in Grade 2 stakes races, he took on stiffer competition where he finished third in three tries, all on sloppy main track surfaces. He looks well-spotted here and will have his usual rider, John Velazquez. Others to watch in this six-furlong contest are Past the Point, who missed by just half a length in his last out, the G3 Bold Ruler, and Custom for Carlos, winner of the Bet On Sunshine at Churchill Downs last November.
The Sugar Swirl, counterpart to the Mr. Prospector, has nine fillies and mares going postward, six of them boasting of victories in their most recent starts. Favoritism, however, may go to Thunders Dove who had a five-race win streak broken by Indian Blessing in the G2 Gallant Bloom last September. She has not raced since. Another entry to consider is Pretty Prolific, who was runner-up in the G1 Test at Saratoga two starts back. The Sugar Swirl was previously known as the First Lady Handicap and renamed this year in honor of the Stronach Stables' luminary, who won the 2008 First Lady.
Graded stakes action at Santa Anita this weekend will be Saturday's G2 San Pasqual for 4-year-olds and up, and on Sunday, the Santa Ysabel (G3) for 3-year-old fillies. Both events are 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track. In the San Pasqual, Furthest Land, the upset winner of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, makes his 2010 debut. The Smart Strike gelding is three-for-three on synthetic tracks and has shown an obvious affinity for the Santa Anita surface. Hard not to like him here, though he'll be challenged by the likes of Bold Chieftain, Cherokee Artist and Nownownow, who has a tough assignment after being on a layoff since March.
Evening Jewel, from the Jim Cassidy barn, is high-weighted at 122 lbs. in the Santa Ysabel. Her opponents will be carrying 114 or 116 lbs. and include Zilva, Whispering Hush, Crisp, Harissa and Ellafitz.
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