Friday, 03 January 2014 11:33

Weekend Preview by Jason Beem

Written by Jason Beem
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Weekend Preview 1/3—1/4


 First racing card of the new year kicks off Friday Night at 6pm!

Racing returns to Northlands Park on Friday night and it will be the first card of the new year, with nine races on the program.  The 8th race is the Friday Night feature drew a field of 8 with Gts Selene looking to score wins on back to back weeks.  Gts Selene was strong going wire to wire at this level last time out and will face the two runners up from that race, Overnight Success and American Passion who ran second and third.  New to the fold will be Skade who was given the role of morning line favorite at 2/1 odds.  Skade had a very good summer at Alberta Downs and has struggled since coming to Northlands Park, including a seventh place finish last time out at the $6,000 claiming level.  Overnight Success was second in a qualifier two weeks back before running a nice second behind Gts Selene in a race that basically had the entire field in the same spots the entire way around. 


Daytime racing returns to Northlands on Saturday at 1pm

Racing under the lights will continue on Friday nights at Northlands Park but Saturdays will shift to afternoon cards as 1pm will be the first post time each week.  The feature event on the Saturday card looks like a good one as Smooth Criminal and Who Doesn’t will get to match up.  Smooth Criminal had won the Open Pace two weeks in a row before scratching last week.  Who Doesn’t took the opportunity to go wire to wire to collect his first Open Pace win of the season.  Who Doesn’t drew snuggly down on the inside this week so don’t be surprised if Travis Cullen once again hits the accelerator early on in the race to get a positional advantage, even though Smooth Criminal also likes to get to the early lead.  Also the old veteran Timberline Court looks to be maybe finding his stride of old as he’s put together a pair of runner up finishes in his last two starts.  The now 9 year old Gerry Hudon runner had been struggling for quite a while before starting to find his legs a little bit.  He’ll have to keep improving to catch up with the top two.  Gable Blue Chip is back again and should be a contender for the underneath spots, but he hasn’t had a win since earlier this summer at Alberta Downs. 


North American Simulcast Racing Preview


Big Stakes Saturday at Gulfstream Park


Gulfstream Park will showcase three added money events as part of a big Saturday of racing in South Florida.  Three year old sprinters will take center stage in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at six furlongs as the 10th race on the card.  Corfu won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special last summer and was second in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park as well.  After a dull fifth place finish at Laurel last time he’s coming back to make his first start in South Florida for Todd Pletcher.  Corfu is a need the lead type, so whether or not he can make the lead is the big question for him.  Most of the other early speed seems to be lined up to the outside with each of the 5 through 8 posts featuring speed types.  Elusive Blueboy is drawn on the far outside and is coming off a stakes win at Calder Race Course.  His first two tries of his career were at Gulfstream where he won on debut and then ran a very good second in an allowance event that earned him a very strong speed figure.  Giancarlo has raced only at Calder and has just the maiden win, however sometimes coming over from Calder can be advantageous because it’s a deep and tiring track.  


The Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes drew just a field of six three year old fillies to go six furlongs, but what the race lacks in field size it makes up for in talent.  Zensational Bunny comes down from Woodbine with a perfect 2 for 2 record and a stakes win in her pocket.  She’s drawn the number 2 post, just outside of Sweet Whiskey who was last seen running second in the Grade 2 Matron at Belmont Park.  Milam should also be a big contender as she just scored a big allowance win at Churchill Downs last time out.  The Grade 3 Marshua’s River will pit eleven older fillies and mares going a mile and a sixteenth on the grass.  Abaco comes into the race off a Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs, a race that saw him fly from way off the pace to get the win.  He was second in the Suwannee River last year at Gulfstream Park, a Grade 3 event.  Somali Lemonade will make her Gulfstream debut and she was once a head away from winning a Grade 1 race.  But her last four starts, all against graded rivals, have resulted in two 5th place and two 6th place finishes, so maybe the change of scenery will help.  Rose To Gold is intriguing as well as she’ll be making her second start over the grass.  She was 5th in the My Charmer at Calder last time out in her grass debut, a race she led in until mid-stretch. 


Northlands Selections for the Spectacular Bid Stakes

  1. Giancarlo
  2. Corfu
  3. Hollywood Talent

Longshot: Elusive Blueboy


Northlands Selections for the Marshua’s River

  1. Angelica Zapata
  2. Abacco
  3. Deannaallen’skitten

Longshot: Somali Lemonade


Northlands Selections for the Old Hat

  1. Milam
  2. Sweet Whiskey
  3. Zensational Bunny

Longshot: Side Street



Trio of Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday


Saturday’s at Santa Anita always mean great stakes action and this Saturday will feature a trifecta of added money events.  The Grade 2 San Gabriel is easily the best race on the program, with 10 runners set to go 9 furlongs on the grass.  Jeranimo is back to defend his title in this race and Rafael Bejarano will be on board looking for his sixth straight victory in this race.  Jeranimo actually won this race in 2010 again.  He is however coming into this race off three straight poor performances.  The last was a little bit better though as he closed to finish seventh only beaten three and a half lengths in the BC Turf Sprint.  Arctic North will be shortening up to a distance that he’s a perfect 2 for 2 at.  He’s been competing in marathon events in his last two starts back east, but will be returning to So. Cal as well as returning to a mile and one eighth.  Dubai You XYZ has been a very strong force in the allowance/optional claimer events and even tried the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile earlier this year and didn’t disgrace himself.  He could be ready to step up into the graded winners category sooner than later. 


The earlier stakes on the card drew very small fields with the Grade 2 Santa Ynez featuring just four runners and none of them are stakes winners.  Taste Like Candy was however second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes which certainly might give her a class edge.   A speed edge may belong to Crushed Velvet who was a big maiden breaker for Bob Baffert in her debut.  The Midnight Lute Stakes features five runners in what looks like a very evenly matched group.  Midnight Transfer will be shortening up from a pair of route races and he’s had great success sprinting before.  Anillo and Cyclometer both have lots of early speed so look for them to be battling up front early on. 


Northlands Selections for the San Gabriel

  1. Jeranimo
  2. Dubai You XYZ
  3. Willyconker

Longshot: Utopian


Northlands Selections for the Santa Ynez

  1. Taste Like Candy
  2. Crushed Velvet
  3. Uzziel


Northlands Selections for the Midnight Lute

  1. Midnight Transfer
  2. Cyclometer
  3. Anillo
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