Two stops this weekend, let’s start in California.
In the 6th at Santa Anita it’s the Grade 2 $400k San Felipe. On paper, it appears to be a showdown between BOLT D’ORO and MCKINZIE. BOLT was the top two year old last season with a pair of Grade 1 victories in California and was sent off as the betting choice in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but suffered a wide trip on a speed favoring track and finished 3rd. He has burned up the track getting ready for his three year old debut, highlighted by a 46:4 half mile drill just five days ago. MCKINZIE is unbeaten after three tries – albeit one via DQ – and goes for the always strong Baffert stable. Another who has worked sharply, and should be plenty fit with two seven furlong drills under his belt. There should be plenty of early speed for either of these horses to stalk in the early going. KANTHANKA seems to be the only one who is capable to pull off an upset, with two straight wins, but the latest coming after the speed collapsed and set him up perfectly.
The Grade 3 $300k Gotham at Aqueduct looks to be a more wide open race with a handful of horses who can win it. The morning line choice is FREE DROP BILLY coming off his runner up finish in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. He likes to get rolling late, and has a new rider in the irons with some local experience. FIRENZE FIRE has done his best work in New York, with a win in the Jerome and a solid runner up in the Withers. He has a flexible running style and has his win rider back aboard. ENTICED follows FREE DROP BILLY from Florida after an even 4th in the same Holy Bull. He drew the outside in the field of nine, and will have to improve. BEAUTIFUL SHOT kicked off his career with a pair of victories, before a third in the Grade 3 Bob Hope. It proved to be a strong race as both of the top two finishers came back to win their next starts. He has worked well in California and will ship across the country for a trainer who has success doing so.
Just a couple months away now from the Kentucky Derby, which is also opening day here at Northlands Park Racetrack and Casino!