On Saturday, Gulfstream Park will host its signature day of the winter/spring meet by presenting five graded stakes on the 12-race program, highlighted by the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher's Rule heads up a field of 11 in the Florida Derby. The son of Roman Ruler brings a 4-race win streak into this 1 1/8-mile contest in which it will be the first time he has gone beyond 1 1/16 miles. The only other entrant with enough stakes earnings to make it into the Kentucky Derby field is Radiohead, trained by Rick Dutrow.
The graded stakes action begins in the 7th race with the running of the 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Miss, a G2 for 3-year-old fillies on the dirt. The small but very contentious field has attracted Amen Hallelujah, who comes off a winning performance in the G2 Davona Dale, rolling home by 6 ¼ lengths. The highly-regarded Christine Daae steps up into stakes company after an allowance win.
The Bonnie Miss is followed by the G3 Rampart, then the G3 Appleton. The Swale, a G2 seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds precedes the Florida Derby. In the Rampart, it's hard to see past Unrivaled Belle; she had three consecutive wins last year on dirt and in her most recent outing, she took on stiffer competition in the G2 La Canada at Santa Anita where she finished fourth on the synthetic surface. Others to watch in this 1 1/8-mile contest are a pair from the Marty Wolfson barn, Miss Singhsix and Champagne Eyes.
The Appleton has a field of nine older horses going postward on the turf at 7 ½ furlongs. Kiss the Kid, at 5-2, is the slight morning-line favorite over Rahy's Attorney who is 3-1. Rick Dutrow has D'Funnybone in the Swale; the highweight under Edgar Prado, he will be the one to beat, coming off an impressive winning effort in the G2 Hutcheson last month.
Graded stakes presented at Santa Anita this weekend will be Saturday's 1 ½-mile marathon G2 San Luis Rey for 4-year-olds and up, and on Sunday, the Santa Ana (G3) for older fillies going 1 1/8 miles. Both events are on the turf. Neil Drysdale could have a big weekend with Bourbon Bay in San Luis Rey and Cat by the Tale in the Santa Ana. San Luis Obispo (G2) winner Bourbon Bay faces a field of ten, including Unusual Suspect and Sudden War, second and third in the San Luis Obispo. Tuscan Evening will be favored in the Santa Ana, and indeed, she has beaten Cat by the Tale twice at a flat mile, but perhaps the tables will be turned at the longer distance.
New York has been hit especially hard by adverse weather conditions during this Aqueduct meet. Last week's G3 Cicada was rescheduled for this week and will hopefully go off without a hitch. Bickersons, the only graded stakes winner in the race is the 7-5 favorite. She won the G2 Forward Gal, and followed that up with a fourth-place finish in the G2 Davona Dale, where she was beaten by the red hot Amen Hallelujah.
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