US Stakes Racing Review
After a great night’s racing at Gulfstream, pride of place must go to Mshawish, who took the $0.5m Donn Handicap by 2 lengths. Mshawish seems to love Gulfstream at this time of the year as his only other Grade 1 win came on this day last year where he took the Gulfstream Park Turf over the same trip. Keen Ice, on the other hand, did not seem to enjoy the track but he was given time to settle and finished well. Despite Dale Romans protestations, you do get the feeling that Keen Ice’s major target is the World Cup in Dubai next month.
In the Gulfstream Park Handicap, The Pizza Man was considered a good thing to deliver the dough for his supporters and went off a shade over even money. He looked to be in a menacing position coming into the straight but was a little one-paced and could finish only fifth, beaten 3 ½ lengths. Lukes Alley (who we highlighted in our preview) was rewarded for his consistency in these events finishing well to wear down Shining Copper to prevail by a neck.
Over at Santa Anita, there was another $0.5m race in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes. In truth, this was a below par renewal of the race as the major players in this division were injured or otherwise engaged. More weight was given to this argument by the fact that the race was won by Hoppertunity (who has lost his last 9 stakes races), beating imperative, who has not won in 22 months. Despite the winless streaks, these two horses were probably the class in the field.
In the valuable Las Virgenes Stakes, Songbird was expected to win and she duly routed the field winning with head in chest by an easy 6 ½ lengths. She recorded some great fractions, much quicker than the boys in the Robert B Lewis on the same night. The sky looks the limit for this daughter of Medaglia d’Oro but, according to connections, will not include the Kentucky Derby.
On the turf, the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes went to Flamboyant. Having won the Grade 2 San Gabriel at Santa Anita last time out, Flamboyant was the class horse in the race. However, he has been inconsistent in the past and has never won two races back to back and this fact probably resulted in his apparently generous price of 2.8/1. Perhaps with age comes consistency and, hopefully, stamina as the plan is for the horse to step up in trip to 1 ½ miles in the San Luis Rey in March.
It was Louisiana Premier Night at Delta Downs, with over $1m in prize money up for grabs. Only the opening race on the night had prize money of less than $65,000. The feature race on the night, The Championship over a mile and a sixteenth was expected to go to The Pickett Factor, who had been running so well of late. However, he seemed to get caught up in a speed dual up front and eventually had to give way to Stormdriver, who returned odds of 6.4/1
Sea Vow looked to be the answer in the Prince Stakes as he came into it on the back of 3 classy wins. However, he tried to go the pace with Icy Gentleman from a wide draw and had nothing left when Icy Gentleman drew away on the second turn to win by 3 ¼ lengths at a healthy price of 10.7/1.