Barry Faulkner's US Racing Preview

Barry Faulkner has selections with analysis for Saturday night's Stateside action from Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, Laurel, Santa Anita and Tampa Bay Downs - Live on Sky Sports Racing.

BARRY'S ANALYSIS FROM Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, Laurel, Santa Anita and Tampa Bay Downs for
Saturday 15 February 2020


We can look forward to another stakes packed night on Sky Sports Racing Stateside on Saturday and I’ve looked at half a dozen cracking races that kick off shortly after domestic coverage from Newcastle is done and dusted. We close our proceedings with the Royal Delta G3, an eight and a half furlongs race for fillies and mares but, before that two-turn test, it is speed all the way. The five sprints include a couple of well-established G3s at Laurel in Maryland – the Barbara Fritchie inaugurated in 1952 and General George, first run in 1973; a listed event from Tampa Bay Downs, one of pair of stakes from the Florida track, together with an intriguing New York bred contest from Aqueduct.

With 2020 beginning to flex its racing muscles across the pond there are some interesting returners going into battle for the first time this year up against others who have already started their campaigns. That makes it a fascinating night to try and find a winner or two.

All the best in YOUR quest for a profitable night…


Laurel Race 7 (8.20pm)
Barbara Fritchie Stakes G3 – Fillies and mares - 4 year olds and upwards - Seven furlongs - Dirt

Half a dozen older distaffers have been entered for this $¼million contest and it looks a tight race.

Unsurprisingly Saguaro Row (2) has been put in as morning line favourite after excelling in three winter runs at Aqueduct, where she collected a couple of listed events, both at seven furlongs, one in November, the other last month. Between those two she finished runner-up in a G3 going a mile where her stamina let her down late on. She’ll need speed to run at but that should be provided by Blue Eyed Girl (3) and Victim of Love (5). The former is going for a four timer after taking a starter and the first two levels in open allowance company but, stating the obvious, this is a different level altogether.

Victim of Love (5) has swapped verdicts with Needs Supervision (6) in a couple of local stakes events with the former taking the honours last time out going six and half furlongs. Both of them got bumps at the start but the impact on the latter appeared more severe. She eventually got rolling from an impossible position without threatening to win. An extra half furlong would certainly have helped her chances as she showed when winning a Listed event here at the end of November.

Anna’s Benefit (1) is a real trip specialist who has won eight of her eleven runs at seven furlongs and finished 3rd in the other three. By way of comparison she’s eight from twenty two at other distances. Last year was a stellar one for this lass locally as she won nine of her eleven starts, although seven of them came in state-restricted ranks and this is a proper step up in grade.

The field is completed by Majestic Reason (4), another who arrives with a local stakes win to her credit. That came at six furlongs and on all the form she’s shown so far, that seems to be more of her trip than this long sprint distance.

BARRY'S SELECTION
Saguaro Row (2)
EXOTIC BETS
Reversed Exacta (2 Bets) Saguaro Row (2) and Needs Supervision (6)

BET ON US RACING
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Laurel Race 8 (8.49pm)
General George Stakes G3 – 4 year olds and upwards - Seven furlongs - Dirt

The lads get the chance in their division of the two $¼million contests on the Laurel card and one of them stands out, so I have to start with him.

Firenze Fire (6) is clearly the most accomplished runner in this field. He has a G1 score on his CV, albeit back in this juvenile days and, although he hasn’t hit those heights since, he has added two G3s and four listed successes to his win column. He closed his 2019 campaign with two victories at that level, one at Penn National and one at Aqueduct just before Christmas. He’s been away since and arrives off three less than strenuous works. This looks to be a relatively paceless race and, although he’s not an out and out front runner, I could see Irad Ortiz, who travels to Maryland for the ride, being happy to drive the engine. He will have to significantly underperform not to win.

The local prep for this race is the Fire Plug Stakes and three of the challengers used that event four weeks ago and finished in the three trifecta spots. Honor The Fleet (5) beat Three Over Deuces (7) a neck into 2nd with Tiz He The One (8) a further ¾ lengths back in 3rd. Over an extra 110 yards here, I could see the strong running – two for two at the trip – Tiz He The One (8) coming out on top of the trio this time but whether that will be enough for any more than a minor share of the purse is open to question.

Cases could be made for Wonderful Light (2), a potential pace partner for Firenze Fire and Majestic Reason (4). I worry about the trip for the former who has run out of gas when tackling this distance in the past, meaning that he would need a soft time on the front to thrive. Majestic Reason (4) was sent off as favourite for the 2019 renewal of this event, finishing a well beaten 7th in a disappointing four race season. However, he showed enough early on in a G3 at Aqueduct last month to provide encouragement that, on his third run back from a lay-off, he could be ready to fire a decent shot.

However, of more interest to me is Wicked Trick (9). This lad took sixteen goes to leave maiden ranks behind which he did in a moderate maiden claimer at Saratoga last summer but since then it’s been onwards and upwards. Claimed by Linda Rice out of a winning start in a $16,000 non-winners of two claimer, which he won, he added four more win notches on his barn door on his next four starts! His speed figures have increased in a nicely incremental style in each those runs and he could just be one of those who took a while for the proverbial penny to drop and I’m going to stick him in my exacta play.

BARRY'S SELECTION
Firenze Fire (6)
EXOTIC BETS
Straight Exacta (1 Bet) Firenze Fire (6) over Wicked Trick (9)

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
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Tampa Bay Downs Race 8 (8.59pm)
Pelican Stakes Listed – 4 year olds and upwards - Six furlongs - Dirt

This is cracking renewal of this contest which is run as a listed contest for the first time. A strong field sees no fewer than five of the nine declared runners making their 2020 returns.

Mucho (1) – eleven weeks, Debbie’s Passion (2) – fifteen; Wind Of Change (3), a Brazilian G3 winner – nineteen; King Humor (4) eleven and Killybegs Captain (7) – sixteen are the quintet trying to get the job done first off the bench.

Killybegs Captain (7) won this event in 2019 when making every pole a winning one. That was a particularly gutsy score as he turned back a strong bid before drawing away at the end of the race. Overall 2019 was a good one for this lad and he had a G3 in the locker by season’s end when taking the De Francis Memorial at Laurel in September, where he had He Hate Me (9) 4 lengths back in 3rd.

He Hate Me (9) was sent off as favourite in Maryland and suffered bad interference on the turn for home on that occasion which basically scuppered his chances. He moved south and took in the Sunshine Millions Sprint Preview and the race itself without excelling himself in either. However, both those runs came off mini freshenings and here he’ll line up here just four weeks since his last start. He should certainly be fitter than some.

Of the other returners Mucho (1) was in excellent form in a couple decent allowances in Kentucky in November and has had a solid work tab in preparation for this. It will be no surprise if Bill Mott has got this lad ready to do himself justice and he should be on every short list.

Debbie’s Passion (2) has just four races on his CV and his speed figures improved significantly with each subsequent race and a similar forward move here puts him right in the mix. His trainer backed off his morning work just before Christmas but he has put in four solid drills in the last four weeks and is an interesting prospect.

King Humor (4) has questions to answer after bolting at Ocala in late November. He can be given a chance on four earlier winning efforts on the spin.

BARRY'S SELECTION
He Hate Me (9)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets


Aqueduct Race 8 (9.25pm)
Broadway Stakes (NY Bred) – Fillies and mares - 4 year olds and upwards – Six furlongs - Dirt

Six older lasses have been entered for this $100,000 state-bred contest and a competitive sextet they make.

Out of Orbit (1) is an out and out front runner going route trips but I’m not sure whether she will have that luxury here. She won at this grade back in August at Saratoga but that was over nine furlongs and I find it a bit of a stretch to see her being as potent sprinting.

Cash Offer (2) won her first stake event going seven furlongs at the beginning of the year, with Kept True (5) a length back in 2nd. Since moving to New York for her second careers start she has thrived in the state bred programme in the Empire State, winning four and taking the runner up spot on five other occasions, with a 3rd on her other start for good measure!

Bluegrass Jamboree (3) interests me. She had a go in a state-bred stake two back but a tardy start put paid to her chances – she’s not the sharpest away at the best of times but she was particularly pedestrian there. However, go back to this time last year and her speed figure when winning an open entry level allowance puts her in with an excellent chance in this here. Last time out she finished 1¼ lengths 2nd to Kept True (5) just before Christmas but gets a two pounds pull in the weights here and there looks to be plenty of pace for her to run at.

Hayfield (4) has been a popular gal hereabouts. She has been claimed in six of her last seven starts, switching between many of the top barns at the NYRA tracks along the way. All six races were non-winners of two allowance events with a $40,000 claiming option and she won the most recent three. She is closely matched with both Cash Offer and Kept True and Kendrick Carmouche will be looking forward to getting aboard for the first time in two years.

Kept True (5) got caught late on by Cash Offer last time out. That was over seven furlongs and this lass was only caught well inside the final furlong. She is not guaranteed to get the front to herself here with potential speed spoiler Stonesintheroad (6) in the field but the shorter trip and a six pounds swing in her favour in the weights clearly advertise her chances.

Stonesintheroad (6) returns to state-bred ranks having had four goes to get out of open level entry level allowance ranks, which she accomplished at Parx last time out. She looks likely to be on or part of the pace and can’t be discounted returning to a state restricted contest.

BARRY'S SELECTION
Bluegrass Jamboree (3)
EXOTIC BETS
Reversed Exacta (2 Bets) Bluegrass Jamboree (3) and Hay Field (4)

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets


Tampa Bay Downs Race 10 (9.59pm)
Minaret Stakes – Fillies and mares - 4 year olds and upwards - Six furlongs - Dirt

The fillies’ division of the six furlongs trip hasn’t kept pace with the lads’ version class wise or in terms of prize money but it has attracted one lass with a graded stakes already win on her CV.

That mare is Lady’s Island (3). She pummelled eight rivals in the Sugar Swirl G3 at Gulfstream Park in the middle of December, a performance that resulted in her being sent to post as 6-4 favourite when taking on seven males in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. Unfortunately, she could not hold second favourite Extravagant Kid there but it was still an excellent effort. Back in calmer waters, she has an obvious favourite’s chance but a word of caution is required; she is unlikely to get a soft time on the front with a number of the opposition who usually race prominently. However, being the probable speed of the speed may be enough to get the job done.

Midtown Rose (6), Puntsville (7), Bijouie Girl (10) and Proposition (12) should guarantee an honest pace.

Midtown Rose (6) won a minor stake at Gulfstream Park this time last year but hasn’t yet shown the level of form required to take this.

Puntsville (7) is interesting on her first Florida start having plied her trade largely in Illinois. Without a win last year, she has some bits and pieces of form in her back catalogue that would make her interesting at a price.

Molto Bello (4) isn’t without a chance and clearly likes this surface having taken a minor stake here just over a year ago. She has run to a decent standard of form when in the right class but has been ironed out in two runs in graded company. This is more her level.

If there is a closer who may be capable of causing an upset, it’s Into Chocolate (9) who has moved from California to the barn of Bill Mott. Her last start in the Golden State came at the end of December when she closed well to take an entry level allowance over six and half furlongs. With so much speed on offer here, she gets the perfect set up for her run style.

BARRY'S SELECTION
Lady’s Island (3)
EXOTIC BETS
Combination (Boxed) Exacta (6 Bets) Lady’s Island (3), Molto Bello (4) and Into Chocolate (9)

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets


Gulfstream Park Race 11 (10.04pm)
Royal Delta G3 – Fillies and mares - 4 year olds and upwards – One mile and ½ furlong - Dirt

Two fillies and four mares have been entered for this eight and half furlongs main track test and one of them is an particularly interesting returnee.

The last time Restless Rider (4) ran was in the Kentucky Oaks G1 at the beginning of May last year. She was sent off as second favourite for that contest after an excellent juvenile campaign where she finished no worse than 2nd in six starts. She won the Alcibiades G1 before running 2nd to Jaywalk in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies G1. Her 2019 return came in the Ashland G1 at Keeneland and she failed by only neck to add another top-level success to her CV at the course. It looked an excellent effort and it was little surprise she was sent off at the price she was. As it turned out she ran an absolute clunker, never getting involved at any stage and passing under the wire with just one of her thirteen rivals behind her. A planned return was deferred when she developed a quarter crack and it must have been tempting for connections to retire their valuable breeding commodity with a G1 score already under her girth. However, they have persevered and if she returns to the trajectory she was on before Churchill Downs, she could make them all go here and her works provide plenty of encouragement that could be the case.

Coach Rocks (2) is making her first start for trainer Todd Pletcher. Previously with Dale Romans took the Gulfstream Park Oaks G2 over this course and distance a couple of years back. She finished 2nd in a G3 at Monmouth Park last year and is certainly no back number and it will be interesting to see whether her new abode suits.

Golden Award (5) has been tenderly handled by trainer Bill Mott who has tried to give his charge plenty of time between her races and his approach worked well in 2019. She won a couple of G3 events and finished 3rd in another. She’s run well here, albeit in allowance ranks but is another whose works say she’s ready to rock.

Cookie Dough (6) is a solid performer who came within ½ length of adding a G3 to her CV, going a mile here in November. Her conqueror there won on her next start stamping the form as valid. She likes to race on the lead so we should see her early but my main concern regarding her chances is that she doesn’t look guaranteed to get the trip unless she gets a soft time of it on the lead.

BARRY'S SELECTION
Restless Rider (4)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets


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