From one coast to the other, here's a look at some this weekend's top stakes races.
$200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic
We start in Florida at Gulfstream Park for the Sunshine Millions Classic. Defending champion, JAY'S WAY set the pace with fractions of :24.17 and :47.68. SOUPER TAPIT settled behind the pacesetters with DALMORE on the inside and WEISSER on the outside. JAY'S WAY continued to lead in the final turn, but in a decisive move, jockey Valazquez moved to the outside to allow SOUPER TAPIT to take the lead. Responding down the stretch, SOUPER TAPIT captured the win in 1:50.62. JAY'S WAY held on for second with DALMORE following.
$150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf
Next we have the 16th running of the 1 1/16th mile Sunshine Millions Turf for four-year olds and up. HE'S BANKABLE showed early speed and set the pace while CLASS AND CASH stalked in second and BIG CHANGES held on out three wide. CLASS AND CASH took the lead in the far turn, but BIG CHANGES made a move as well to take the lead as they straightened for home. BIG CHANGES held that lead to the wire to win in 1:40.48. SECOND MATE closed in for second just ahead of ARCHER ROAD by a neck.
$200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (G2)
The $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita featured the return of the 7-year-old gelding and sprinter ROY H. In a small field of six older horses, ROY H broke cleanly from the outside, tracking stablemate CONQUEST TSUNAMI and rival ST. JOE BAY. The leaders clocked fast fractions of :21.44 and :44.35. A determined Roy overcame the leaders in the far turn and galloped to the wire in hand. This ROY H's second straight Palos Verdes win for trainer Peter Miller, who stated "He's the Lebron James of sprinters." Miller plans on trying for Dubai next.
KANTHAKA finished second in his first start against with CONQUEST TSUNAMI finishing third.
$100,000 Astra Stakes (G3T)
The Astra Stakes marked both jubilation and devastation at Santa Anita yesterday. The race started off with INDIA MANTUANA establishing the early lead, stalked by PLEIN AIR. She maintained the lead with ease, but at the final turn PLEIN AIR managed to edge past. However, Flavien Prat managed to get PANTSONFIRE to the outside and with a strong hand surged past the leaders. With great determination and the finish in sight, she flew to the wire. K P PERGOLISCIOUS in a photo finish with LYNNE'S LEGACY third. This was the first graded stakes win for the five-year-old mare.
The devastation occurred in the stretch on the first pass when Kent Desormeaux pulled up AMBOSELI. The mare suffered a fatal accident and was vanned off.
$200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3)
The Lecomte started with MALPAIS setting the pace and setting the open quarter fraction of :24.33 and with MANNY WAH edging ahead at the half in :49.22. At the three quarters mark, WAR OF WILL let his natural speed move him past the competition showing there was a reason his odds were 8-5. Despite bad positions four wide on the first turn and five wide on the second, the colt had plenty left in him on the drive for home. He took the win with a final time of 1:43.44 and galloped out happily. HOG CREEK HUSTLE finished second and MANNY WAH finished third two lengths back.
The win in the Lecomte marks what is perhaps a first notch in the three-year old's campaign for the Derby. While he had already proven he could place on the turf, but he showed his true talent on the dirt. Trainer Mark Casse is very excited with the win and even made some predictive comments most trainers would avoid, "We have a big chance to win the Derby this year. I don't usually say things like that, so that tells you what I think of him."