Stakes Duo Saturday, San Vicente Sunday

7 Feb

Three-year-old fillies with their sights set on the Kentucky Oaks get the top billing Saturday at Santa Anita in the $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (G2). As one might guess, it’s a five filly affair with Bob Baffert holding a pair of aces in Gingham (6/1) and Stellar Sound (5/1). But not so fast pardner, as it’s trainer Richard Baltas who’s holding the nuts in Venetian Harbor, who’s been installed as the heavy 2/5 morning-line favorite after a runaway 10-length win in her main track debut on Dec. 29.

Having drawn just a field of five, the Las Virgenes is carded as the 5th of 9 races and will go to post at approximately 2:28pm.

The real main event for horseplayers is the $100,000 Thunder Road Stakes for four-year-olds and upward going a mile on the turf course. Contention in this 10-horse field runs deep with last year’s winner, True Valor (7/2), being installed as the tepid morning-line favorite.

Among a number of potential price plays includes Northern California invader, Mugaritz (8/1), who hails from the powerful Jonathan Wong barn and gets “Money” Mike Smith in the saddle. Mugaritz is an impressive 8 for 14 lifetime and two-for-two on turf, and seems unlikely to remain at his sticker price of 8/1.

Back class belongs to River Boyne (5/1) who is seeking his first win in over a year, but boasts an impressive 6 for 11 record over the track and is 7 for 20 at the distance for trainer Jeff Mullins. And in a field with an abundance of front-running speed, the tactical advantage could belong to closer Frontier Market (4/1), who joins the John Sheriff’s stable after a couple of in-the-money finishes for Chad Brown in stakes company back East.

Post time for the Thunder Road, which is carded as the 7th of 9 on Saturday, is approximately 3:31pm. The Rainbow 6 Jackpot stands at $135,744 heading into the weekend at the GRP.

NADAL, STORM THE COURT CLASH IN SAN VICENTE

The SoCal Road to the Kentucky Derby heats up Sunday when Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ Storm the Court squares off against Bob Baffert’s latest impressive maiden winner, Nadal, in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes (G2). The seven furlong test is the first stepping stone on the road to the Santa Anita Derby on April 4, with the middle rock being the $400,000 San Felipe (G2) on March 7.

The San Vicente six-pack also includes Cal Cup Derby winner Fast Enough, and maiden winners Ginobili, Party Town, and Ra’ad, who also hails from the powerful Baffert Barn. Sunday’s main event is carded as the 7th of 8 races, and goes to post at approximately 3:30pm.

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