After the frigid temperatures last weekend forced cancellations of both Friday and Saturday’s races, the $75,000 Northlands Filly Pace will be run Friday night and the $75,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby Final will go on Saturday. Keep the Dream will be the morning line favorite in the Filly Pace and is coming off a good second place finish in her elimination two weeks back. She was second behind Gts Selene who will break from the number eight post-position for Travis Cullen. Gts Selene opened up a huge lead early on in the race and just kept on finding more and more speed in the elimination. Keep the Dream took a serious run at Gts Selene, but Gts Selene held on to win by a length and a half. Contesta Hanover won her elimination two weeks back, but it was completed two seconds slower than the Gts Selene elimination. Contesta Hanover made a backstretch move that proved to be a winning one in that elimination so we’ll see if Gerry Hudon employs a similar tactic this week, as he’ll take over in the bike for trainer Keith Clark who will keep the drive on Keep the Dream. As far as closers to watch out for, Barona Lilac put in a very nice close in the elimination to finish third and she’s a juicy 10/1 on the morning line.
In the Western Canada Pacing Derby on Saturday night they will all be chasing Big N Bad. The three year old is coming off a huge win in his elimination, a race that saw him pull clear down the stretch to win by six and three quarter lengths. Jim Marino will once again be in the bike for Big N Bad who drew comfortably down on the rail. Play Me Right could be Big N Bad’s biggest early pace rival in a race where tactics could play a big role in the finish. Beren Hanover is also a runner that has good speed and has been in solid form over the recent weeks, including a win in the second elimination last time out. Prior to that he took home the Open Pace the week before, so he’s coming into the Western Canada Pacing Derby in very good form.
North American Simulcast Racing Preview
Grade 1 CashCall Futurity tops huge Hollywood Park Saturday
The last Grade 1 in the history of Hollywood Park will be run this Saturday when thirteen two year olds tackle the mile and one sixteenth $750,000 CashCall Futurity. The Grade 1 event drew some of the top two year olds around including two of the possible favorites, who drew right next to each other in Shared Belief and Tap it Rich. Shared Belief arrived at Hollywood Park after a huge maiden score at Golden Gate Fields and proceeded to crush his rivals in the Hollywood Prevue last time out. Corey Nakatani will once again ride for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and while the distance may be the big question, speed and ability are not. Shared Belief was dominant in the Hollywood Prevue and put up a big speed figure. Tap It Rich finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was closing well at the end against the top two year olds in the world. He’s proven at two turns as both races have been around two bends, but this will be his first time over the synthetic course.
Tamarandois coming off a big score in the Real Quiet Stakes last time out at Hollywood Park. He’s already run seven times this year and has three victories, so seasoning is certainly not the issue. Bond Holder won the Grade 1 Frontrunner at Santa Anita earlier this year and was a decent fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 12/1.
The Native Diver Handicap and Hollywood Turf Cup are the two main undercard events. The Native Diver Handicap drew some tough old veterans, but it might be Hear the Ghost, a lightly raced three year old who gets some of the attention. He was a big winner of the San Felipe this year before going to the bench with an injury. He came back with a strong second in an allowance event against older runners, which could set him up for a big run. He’ll have to take down Setsuko who’s coming in off a huge layoff and Blueskiesnrainbows who was just second in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon. The Hollywood Turf Cup drew just six runners including the very fast Temeraine. Temeraine has taken on some of the top turfers in the country in recent starts, finishing fifth in the Arlington Million and 5th in the Canadian International. The class relief will make him very tough in this spot.
Northlands Selections for the CashCall Futurity
- Shared Belief
- Tap it Rich
Northlands Selections for the Native Diver Handicap
- Hear the Ghost
- Soi Phet
Northlands Selections for the Hollywood Turf Cup
- Arctic North
Longshot: Irish Surf
Sugar Swirl highlights Gulfstream program on Saturday
The $100,000 Sugar Swirl is the Saturday feature as Gulfstream Park now gets into the winter portion of the season. The top barns are all returning to South Florida and the Sugar Swirl drew some quality names. R Free Roll figures to go favorite coming off a huge win in the $100,000 Bold World Handicap that saw her go wire to wire and put up a big speed figure. She bested Heart Stealer that day who will be back to challenge in the Sugar Swirl. R Free Roll has run at Gulfstream Park just one time and it was a decent second place finish in a stakes last season. Heart Stealer scored in her last start at Gulfstream Park, a huge ten length win against allowance/optional claimer. Classic Point is an interesting runner as she was keeping tabs with some tough company in New York this past summer. She was second just a neck behind Dance To Bristol in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss before running a very good fifth in the Grade 1 Ballerina. She seems to be at her best when she’s up close to the lead and she got back to her frontrunning style last time when beaten just a neck in the Punkin Pie Stakes at Belmont. But this race is loaded with speed, so it could turn into a contest of who can work out the best trip.
Northlands Selections for the Sugar Swirl
- Munnings Sister
- R Free Roll
- Heart Stealer
Longshot: Twice Told Tale
Saturday is Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds
Fair Grounds will be celebrating the Louisiana bred runners on Saturday with ten stakes events on the card for the state breds. String King will take his game off the grass and onto the dirt and try the $150,000 Classic. He’s been the king of the grass for state-breds lately but he’s going to try the Fair Grounds main track for just the second time and his first try was a clunker. He’ll have to take on Sunbean and Populist Politics who will both get some serious consideration. Sunbean was on the Kentucky Derby trail for much of last year. After some time off he showed up back with Louisiana breds at Evangeline and took home the top spot in the Louisiana Legends Mile. He has three wins from five starts over the Fair Grounds main track so we know the home course will suit him well. Sunbean won the Gold Cup Classic at Delta last time, besting Populist Politics who was favored that day. Populist Politics found himself further back than usual and still came running that day, so expect him to maybe be a little closer on Saturday.
The card gets underway at 11:30am with three quarter horse stakes events before getting into the thoroughbred portion of the card, with stakes for all levels on grass and the main track.
Northlands Selections for the Louisiana Champions Day
- Populist Politics
- Skip the Pinot
Longshot: Hud’s Rebellion