They call it Super Saturday for a reason. This Saturday was a huge day of racing with a full card of stakes races at Santa Anita include the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap. Plus, we had the first two stakes at Keeneland and the Wood Memorial.
We'll start with Santa Anita, where we had a full day of racing and no injuries, then head to Keeneland where they had record attendance and finally Aqueduct for the showdown in the Wood Memorial.
$200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes
The Evening Jewel is a 6 1/2 furlong race for three-year-old fillies on the dirt. SNEAKING OUT bobbled at the start but went to the front with NAUGHTY TIGER. SNEAKING OUT faded a bit to allow VIOLETTE SZABO to dual it out with NAUGHTY TIGER along the backstretch. With a quarter to go SNEAKING OUT made a quick and decisive move from the third spot on the outside and created a large four length distance between her and DR WYSONG. SNEAKING OUT finished first by 2 1/2 lengths followed by DR WYSONG. Third place was a photo finish between RUBY BRADLEY and VIOLETTE SZABO, but RUBY BRADLEY pulled out the place. The final time was 1:18.07 with a quarter of :21.96 and and a half of :45.29.
$400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1)
The Santa Anita Oaks is a 1 1/16th mile race for three-year-old fillies on the dirt. The Santa Anita Oaks started out as a five-horse field, but STIRRED scratched early in the day to make it a four-horse field.
The field broke cleanly with the four horses running abreast for a short distance until CHASING YESTERDAY settled slightly behind the pack. Turning from the backstretch, FLOR DE LA MAR took the lead briefly and then BELLAFINA came from the outside down the stretch. FLOR DE LA MAR fought to stick with BELLAFINA but couldn't keep up. CHASING YESTERDAY faded behind the pair. BELLAFINA finished well ahead of the pack by four lengths followed by FLOR DE LA MAR and CHASING YESTERDAY third. SLEWGOODTOBETRUE finished fourth.
BELLAFINA earned 100 points moving her well up the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard.
$200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes
The Royal Heroine Stakes is a one-mile turf race for four-year-old mares and up. At the break, MS BAD BEHAVIOR flies out to the front but settles for second behind SMOOVIE. At the first turn, MS BAD BEHAVIOR goes off course and runs herself out of the race. SMOOVIE and CORDIALITY run neck and neck on the backstretch. SMOOVIE leads into the far turn but CORDIALITY takes over.
At the top of the stretch, CORDIALITY leads, but out of the pack VASILIKA comes on strong! VASILIKA opens up on the stretch trailed by MEAL TICKET and SPACE TALK. RAVEN'S LADY finished fourth and CORDIALITY finished fifth. The final time was 1:33.53. VASILIKA is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by jockey Flavien Prat.
$200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes
The Echo Eddie Stakes is a 6 1/2 furlong race on the dirt for ages three and up. LISTING gets to the front with LIEUTENANT DAN, TAPE THE WIRE and PRODIGAL SON running alongside. Down the backstretch LIEUTENANT DAN battles for the lead with TAPE THE WIRE and PRINCIPE CARLO. Turning for home LISTING comes after LIEUTENANT DAN. But down the rail, LIEUTENANT DAN is coming for home with a huge effort. He was trailed by PRINCIPE CARLO trying to keep the lead for second. It was a photo finish for third with LISTING prevailing.
$1 Million Santa Anita Derby (G1)
The Santa Anita Derby is 1 1/8th mile test on the dirt for three-year-old colts. As a prep race for the Kentucky Derby, the race was worth 100 qualifying points. The field of six included four top contenders with GAME WINNER, INSTAGRAND and ROADSTER all looking to bring home the title and a prestigious one at that. Just last year, JUSTIFY won the Santa Anita Derby to make his entry into the Derby and went on to win the Triple Crown.
At the quarter pole, it was GAME WINNER, INSTAGRAND and ROADSTER all fighting to make it to the wire. INSTAGRAND on the rail and GAME WINNER in the middle. ROADSTER storms down from the outside and takes the Santa Anita Derby just ahead of GAME WINNER and INSTAGRAND third. NOLO CONTESTO finished fourth.
This was a huge win for ROADSTER as he came into the race with zero points towards the Kentucky Derby and exited with 100. The final time was 1:51.28 with a quarter time of :23.34 and a half time of :47.84.
$600,000 Santa Anita Handicap
PRIME ATTRACTION set the pace with fractions of :24.24 and :49.23. GIFT BOX rated behind in second while MCKINZIE sat in third. Around the far turn, GIFT BOX cruised past PRIME ATTRACTION and MCKINZIE immediately went after him on the outside. From the three-sixteenths pole, the pair battled head to head to the end with GIFT BOX taking the win by the edge of a nostril in a photo finish. The 53-1 longshot, MONGOLIAN GROOM, finished third.
$500,000 Ashland Stakes - Keeneland
At the start, it appeared that LADY KATE and JAYWALK bumped, but JAYWALK persevered and went to the lead. Coming around the turn, she maintained a lead by about a neck but was pressured by OUT FOR A SPIN. At the top of the stretch JAYWALK maintained a lead by a head, but OUT FOR A SPIN put her move on and RESTLESS RIDER came from the outside. OUT FOR A SPIN and RESTLESS RIDER dueled down the stretch with JAYWALK still fighting on the rail. At the wire it was OUT FOR A SPIN, the longshot winning at 52-1! RESTLESS RIDER held on for second and JAYWALK finished third.
While it was not quite the redemption from the fourth-place finish at Gulfstream, JAYWALK still earned some points towards the Kentucky Oaks. OUT FOR A SPIN earned 100 points putting her in fifth place on the leaderboard. RESTLESS RIDER moved to the 8 spot and JAYWALK is in 10th place.
$1 Million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) - Keeneland
SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN took the early lead with VEKOMA close behind setting a half mile time of :47.03. The two continued to lead into the far turn, but coming out of the turn VEKOMA made his move and quickly opened up with no test from SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN down the stretch. In a photo finish for second, WIN WIN WIN made the cut for second just ahead of SIGNALMAN in third.
VEKOMA earned 100 points towards the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with 40, 20 and 10 points being distributed to the rest of the field respectively. The second place finish locked WIN WIN WIN's spot in the Derby.
$750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) - Aqueduct
At the start, the 51-1 longshot, JOEVIA, cut to the inside from the outside 11 post, causing OVERDELIVER to clip TACITUS from behind. Recovering quickly, TACITUS settled into the fourth spot on the backstretch. JOEVIA and NOT THAT BRADY battled up front, posting fractions of :23.62 and :46.91. At the quarter pole, TAX quickly passed NOT THAT BRADY and TACITUS rallied four wide. TACITUS and TAX pulled away from the field with TACITUS in front by a head at the eighth pole before pulling away with a clear 1 1/4 length lead to take the win. The final time was 1:51.23. TACITUS is unbeaten in two starts and on a three-race winning streak. JOEVIA was disqualified.
TACITUS now has 150 points towards the Derby, with a secured spot. TAX picked up 40 points, also securing his spot on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.