Forget Groundhog Day, three things mark the start of spring for me.
1. The Daytona 500
2. Major League Baseball's pitchers and catchers reporting to camp
3. Kentucky Derby/Oaks Prep races with a major uptick in the stakes racing
The Daytona 500 is next Sunday, February 17th.
The Oakland A's pitchers and catchers will be the first to report camp on Monday,
February 11th, the Seattle Mariners on the 12th and just about everybody else on the
13th. Spring training will be in full swing by the 18th with the A's and Mariners getting
together for the first exhibition game on the 21st.
Stakes races explode in numbers this Saturday with 17 that offer prize money of at
least $100,000. Delta Downs is the busiest race track with 10 stakes races, six of which
are for at least $100k.
The full schedule also includes the Kentucky Derby prep race SAM F.
DAVIS STAKES at Tampa Bay Downs and two Kentucky Oaks prep qualifiers;
the LAS VIRGENES STAKES at Santa Anita and the
SUNCOAST STAKES at Tampa Bay Downs.
Currently second in Kentucky Derby qualifying with 18 points and $685,085 in
winnings, KNICKS GO headlines Tampa's SAM F. DAVIS
STAKES. A field of 10, three-year-olds with run 1 1/16th-miles on Tampa's
main track with the winner adding 10 points to their Kentucky Derby qualifying points,
four points are awarded for second, two for third and one for finishing fourth.
At 5-2, KNICKS GO is the lukewarm, morning-line favorite to take
home the prize in the 11th race, estimated post-time is 5:25 pm Eastern. He performed
poorly in his last race, finishing 11th out of fourteen, 18 lengths behind the winner -
ouch. In his defense, it was KNICKS GO's first race on a sloppy
track. Maybe he doesn't like mud kicked into his face?
Since his off-track debacle on November 24th, KNICKS GO has
put in three strong workouts at Tampa, including two bullets. If he reverts to his second-
place form at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he could get back to the winner's circle.
That's the way our handicapper sees it in our pro-subscribers' bonus
"KNICKS GO stunk it up on the slop in his last race, a
return to a fast track should help him return to the winners' circle. SO
ALIVE won his last at Tampa after being bumped at the start, dueling
and giving up the lead in the stretch. WELL DEFINED has had
two bad races in a row. If he can find his back-class from three races back, he'll
be a major force. FIVE STAR GENERAL has won two in a
row. He'll have to show he can handle the major step up in class."
The other big qualifying race at Tampa this Saturday afternoon is the
SUNCOAST STAKES. Nine fillies will try to earn their first Kentucky
Oaks points by running 1-mile and 40-yards in the ninth race on dirt. The winner
receives 10 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks; again, second gets four points, two
for third and one for completing the superfecta.
It's another race where the oddsmaker doesn't see a clear-cut favorite.
SWEET DIANE (PP: 9 ML 3-1) gets the slight nod over
WINNING ENVELOPE (PP: 2 ML 7/2). From a numerology
standpoint, that's a lot of nines for SWEET DIANE: ninth race, nine
horses and the ninth post. From a brief online search, nine is the "most worldly and
sophisticated of all numbers," according to numerology.com.
Hey, don't laugh. Any horse player will tell you, whatever it takes to find a
Well, maybe our handicapper isn't into numerology and uses numbers in a different
way as he has a horse making her second start on top.
(fast forward to 14:51)
"LADY KATE won her debut on January 12th coming
from five back to win by 1/2 length, recent works suggest she'll be sharp in race
number two. SWEET DIANE is a nose and neck away from
being undefeated in three races. POINT OF HONOR blasted
the highest, last race speed rating in her debut and 6 length win. A repeat could
be a repeat. WINNING ENVELOPE's trainer Chris Block wins
non-graded stakes at 17%."
While no BIG names, at least so far, are running in the SUNCOAST
STAKES, BELLAFINA will look to move to the top of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks
leaderboard with a win the LAS VIRGENES STAKES. Oddsmakers
think it is nearly a forgone conclusion, placing 2/5 morning line odds on
It's not that she's without competition, MOTHER MOTHER (PP: 4
ML 7/2) is currently ranked 13th on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard and
ENAYA ALRABB is ranked 19th. In just a five-horse field, all three are
likely to pick-up Oaks qualifying points in the LAS VIRGENES
STAKES, but we don't foresee any of the other four getting in
"BELLAFINA has won four out of six races, and when
she wins, she tends to win by a lot. ENAYA ALRABB lost her
last, a G1, by a head. MOTHER MOTHER finished second to
BELLAFINA by 8 1/2 lengths in her last race and behind
ENAYA ALRABB by a neck two races back. CALF
MOON BAY looks to be in better current form than