Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on racetracks coast-to-coast. Racing was cancelled last Saturday at Santa Anita; all three graded stakes will be run this Saturday, Feb. 13, in addition to the Grade 2 Santa Maria. Santa Anita's 10-race program will feature five stakes races, including the G1 Las Virgenes and a pair of Grade 2s, the Strub and the Robert B. Lewis. The Las Virgenes has attracted a field of six 3-year-old fillies to go once around the all-weather track. Blind Luck will be heavily favored based on her final three starts in 2009—she won the G1 Oak Leaf before finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and ended the year with a seven-length win in G1 Hollywood Starlet. Among those taking on Blind Luck will be Crisp, winner of G3 Santa Ysabel, and Switch, third in G2 Santa Ynez.
The first two finishers in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic will square off in the G2 Santa Maria, the 8th race on the card. In the 1 1/16-mile dirt test, Life Is Sweet will make her 2010 debut against Florida invader Mushka.
Trainer Bob Baffert has his eyes on a couple prizes Saturday. If Misremembered can prove himself in the Strub, he'll head for the Santa Anita Handicap, more familiarly known as the Big 'Cap, next month. Misremembered, a ridgling son of Candy Ride last ran second to M One Rifle in the G1 Malibu. The nine-furlong Strub, for 4-year-olds, has also attracted Smart Bid and Rendezvous, second and third, respectively in the G2 San Fernando.
Baffert hopes to have yet another Kentucky Derby prospect with Tiz Chrome. The son of Tiznow comes into the 1 1/16-mile Robert B. Lewis with just two starts, but his debut at Churchill Downs and his winning performance in the Stuka Stakes at Hollywood were eye-catching. Facing him will be Eoin Harty-trained American Lion, also a son of Tiznow, who won the Hollywood Prevue.
At Gulfstream Park on Saturday, a pair of graded sprints will be featured—the G3 Hurricane Bertie, for older fillies and mares going six-and-a-half furlongs, and the G2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, seven furlongs for males, four and up. The first three finishers from the G3 Sugar Swirl (Pretty Prolific, Warbling and Tar Heel Mom) are entered in the Hurricane Bertie, as well as a pair shipping in from California, Pinkarella and Kays and Jays. Barring wet track conditions, Munnings will be favored in the Sprint Championship, despite his lengthy absence from the track.
Tampa Bay Downs will host two G3 stakes on Saturday. The spotlight will be on Rule in the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis. The WinStar Farm homebred has a three-race win coming in, including his most recent win in the Delta Jackpot. Lady Shakespeare takes on an overflow field in the Endeavour, a 1 1/16 mile race for older fillies and mares.
The 1 1/8-mile G2 La Canada on Sunday's Santa Anita program has attracted a full field of 14 4-year-old fillies, including Stardom Bound, runner-up in the El Encino. Among those facing her are Pretty Unusual, winner of the El Encino, and Unrivaled Belle, who beat Stardom Bound last November in the Gazelle.
On Monday's Presidents Day card at Laurel, two graded stakes will be presented–the Barbara Fritchie (for fillies and mares) and General George Handicaps. Both are G2 races, run at seven furlongs on the dirt. The General George has such familiar names as The Roundhouse and Ah Day in the entries; Royale Michele, assigned high weight of 121 lbs., takes on a full field in the Barbara Fritchie, spotting her rivals four to 11 lbs.
Holiday racing at Santa Anita will feature the G2 San Vicente, for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs on the Pro-Ride surface, and the G2 Buena Vista Handicap, whose probable entries include Cat by the Tale and Tuscan Evening. The Buena Vista is a one-mile turf affair for older fillies and mares.
The most interesting of the Feb. 15 graded stakes may by the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park for 3-year-olds going one mile. Shipping in from California are Conveyance, Cardiff Giant and Domonation, the first three finishers in the San Rafael Stakes.
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