Lau­rel Park: Bar­bara Fritchie

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Nick For­tuna

OLDS­MAR, Fla. – Trainer Mark Casse has a strong hand for Fes­ti­val Pre­view Day on Satur­day at Tampa Bay Downs, where he’ll send out Whata­won­der­flworld in the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes and Tepin in the Grade 3, $150,000 En­deav­our Stakes.

The En­deav­our, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for older fil­lies and mares, will be the first start for the 5-year-old Tepin since she de­feated males in the Breed­ers’ Cup Mile on Oct. 31. Tepin, who won an Eclipse Award as the top fe­male turf run­ner of 2015, has been train­ing steadily at Palm Mead­ows ahead of her 2016 de­but.

The En­deav­our is the key lo­cal prep for the Grade 2 Hills­bor­ough Stakes on March 12.

Whata­won­der­flworld will be look­ing to stretch his win­ning streak to four races in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, which is for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. The race is the key lo­cal prep for the big­gest race of the meet, the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 12. Last month, Whata­won­der­flworld won his stakes de­but in the $100,000 males’ divi­sion of the OBS Cham­pi­onship Stakes at the Ocala Train­ing Cen­ter, which has a

The Grade 2 Bar­bara Fritchie at Lau­rel Park on Satur­day has an eerily fa­mil­iar ring to it. In 2015, the lo­cally based Lady Sa­belia faced a red-hot 4-year-old ship­per who went off fa­vored. Last year, that role was filled by Sam’s Sis­ter. On Satur­day, it will be Hot City Girl.

Even the weather fig­ures to be about the same for this edi­tion of the Fritchie. The cold­est tem­per­a­tures of the sea­son are ex­pected this week­end, just in time for Lau­rel’s two-day Win­ter Car­ni­val.

Noth­ing would make trainer Robin Gra­ham or own­ers Frank and Vir­ginia Wright hap­pier than if the Fritchie re­sults mir­ror those of last year, when Lady Sa­belia took jockey Ho­ra­cio Kara­manos to the lead and never looked back while win­ning by 1 1/2 lengths.

“It would be huge to re­peat in this race,” Gra­ham said. “When­ever you can win a graded stakes at home, it’s spe­cial. And this is such an old race, it seems to have al­ways been around.”

The Fritchie has been run since 1952. Four horses have won the race twice, the most re­cent be­ing Xtra Heat in 200203. Xtra Heat, the cham­pion 3-year-old filly of 2001, won 26 of 35 ca­reer starts.

Lady Sa­belia, 6, has raced only 18 times. Her 10 wins in­clude seven stakes. She comes into the Fritchie off vic­to­ries in the Willa On the Move Stakes at Lau­rel and the Pump­kin Pie at Bel­mont Park.

Gra­ham and the Wrights have dis­cussed re­tir­ing Lady Sa­belia, but those plans are on hold.

“If ev­ery­thing stays the way it is now, we’ve kind of de­cided

to run her again this year,” Gra­ham said. “The rea­son she’s do­ing what she is now is be­cause the Wrights gave her time when­ever she needed it. There was never an agenda or a plan. We’ve al­ways just run her when she was right.”

Lady Sa­belia is dis­tinc­tive on the track be­cause she races with a plas­tic bub­ble over her right eye, which has been sus­cep­ti­ble to ul­cers since the end of her 3-year-old sea­son. Her eye flared up fol­low­ing her Dec. 5 win in the Willa On the Move.

“It’s just one of those things,” Gra­ham said. “There’s never any warn­ing, but it will swell up and make her un­com­fort­able. Hav­ing been poked in the eye my­self, I know an in­jured eye will make you feel bad all over.”

Gra­ham said Lady Sa­belia’s eye is fine now and that the 10-week break be­tween races is not a con­cern. Lady Sa­belia has won fol­low­ing much longer lay­offs three times in her ca­reer.

“She has a ton of class,” Gra­ham said. “She lis­tens to what you want her to do, and then she does it.”

Santa Anita: Pair of Grade 2s

AR­CA­DIA, Calif. – There are two Grade 2, $200,000 stakes for older horses on Satur­day – the Santa Maria Stakes for fil­lies and mares at 1 1/16 miles and the Ar­ca­dia Stakes at a mile on turf.

The Santa Maria field has eight pro­jected starters, in­clud­ing Bir­datthewire and Yahilwa, who were se­cond and third in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes for fil­lies and mares on Jan. 16. Taris, the La Canada win­ner, is ex­pected to start in the Grade 1 Santa Mar­garita Stakes on March 19.

Other prob­a­ble starters for the Santa Maria are Big Break, Gas To­tal, Kyr­i­aki, Liv­ing The Life, Star Act, and Tara’s Tango.

The Ar­ca­dia Stakes will have a small field. The list of run­ners is led by Om, a three­time stakes win­ner on turf in the se­cond half of 2015. Trained by Dan Hen­dricks, Om won the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile for 3-year-olds on Dec. 26.

His op­po­nents in the Ar­ca­dia are ex­pected to in­clude Bolo, Ob­vi­ously, and Prospect Park.

Bolo has not started since fin­ish­ing ninth in the Bel­mont Derby last July. He was vanned off af­ter that race.

Ob­vi­ously was se­cond by a neck in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 9. Prospect Park won the Grade 3 La Jolla Hand­i­cap on turf last Au­gust but has not raced since fin­ish­ing third as the 1-5 fa­vorite in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in Au­gust.

Trainer Clifford Sise said last week that the Ar­ca­dia Stakes is a prep for the $1 mil­lion Santa Anita Hand­i­cap on March 12 for Prospect Park.

Gulf­stream: Royal Delta

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The main story line in the Royal Delta Stakes at Gulf­stream Park will fo­cus on whether San­diva can make the same re­mark­able turf-to-dirt tran­si­tion pulled off re­cently by her Al Shaqab Rac­ing sta­ble­mate Mshaw­ish.

There are op­pos­ing train­ers who will do their best to foil that. One is Dale Ro­mans, who will send out Gam­blers Rose as one of the longer shots in the Grade 2, $200,000 Royal Delta, which will be run Satur­day as the only graded race here be­tween now and Foun­tain of Youth Day on Feb. 27.

“She’s train­ing good, and we’re hop­ing to get some graded black type for her,” said Ro­mans, who has the dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing been the last trainer to de­feat Wise Dan (with Sil­ver Max) and Amer­i­can Pharoah (with Keen Ice). “Plus, you never re­ally know about horses try­ing some­thing for the first time.”

His ref­er­ence is to San­diva, the likely fa­vorite in a prospec­tive small field for the 1 1/16mile Royal Delta. The 5-yearold San­diva has never raced on any­thing but turf in 18 ca­reer starts. Mshaw­ish also had never raced on dirt un­til last fall and now has gone 2 for 3 on it, cul­mi­nat­ing with a power- ful vic­tory here last Satur­day in the Grade 1 Donn Hand­i­cap. Both horses are trained for Al Shaqab by Todd Pletcher.

Be­sides San­diva and Gam­blers Rose, other fil­lies and mares def­i­nite for the Royal Delta in­clude Best Be­hav­ior and Pen­with, both two-length win­ners of their re­spec­tive last starts at Gulf­stream. Best Be­hav­ior, trained by Marty Wolf­son, won the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl on Dec. 26, while Pen­with, trained by Kiaran Mclaugh­lin, re­turned from a lay­off of nearly a year with a Jan. 21 al­lowance tri­umph.

Aqueduct: State­bred stakes

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – There was some al­lure for trainer and part-owner Jimmy Iselin to ship Wil­let to Mary­land for Satur­day’s Grade 2, $300,000 Bar­bara Fritchie Stakes at Lau­rel. A win would have been her first in a graded stakes, and she could have earned enough money to sur­pass the $1 mil­lion mark in purse earn­ings.

But the specter of sub­freez­ing tem­per­a­tures in Mary­land and the chance to run Wil­let out of her own stall at Aqueduct made Satur­day’s $100,000 Broad­way Stakes a more at­trac­tive propo­si­tion for Iselin. Thus, Wil­let was one of six New York­bred fil­lies and mares en­tered Wed­nes­day for the Broad­way at six fur­longs.

The Broad­way, which will go as race 3, shares top billing on Satur­day’s nine-race card with the $100,000 Hay­nes­field for New York-bred 4-year-olds and up. First post Satur­day is 12:50 p.m. East­ern.

Wil­let is 8, and Iselin in­sists that she will be bred this spring. Curlin and Tiznow are the lead­ing stal­lion prospects, ac­cord­ing to Iselin. How­ever, Iselin be­lieves Wil­let is sound and happy, at­tributes she dis­played on a chilly Wed­nes­day morn­ing while gal­lop­ing over the in­ner track.

“The only rea­son we’re run­ning is be­cause she’s re­ally do­ing well,” Iselin said. “I wanted to run in the Bar­bara Fritchie, but I’m not go­ing to ship down there in 1 de­gree tem­per­a­tures. She’s not the kind of horse I want to ship to a new en­vi­ron­ment.”

Tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected to be frigid in New York on Satur­day as well, which could put the Aqueduct card in jeop­ardy.

Wil­let has made all 29 of her starts in New York. She has 10 wins, 8 sec­onds, and 6 thirds. She is a five-time stakes win­ner but is win­less in eight graded stakes at­tempts. In 2012, she was beaten a neck in the Grade 2 Go for Wand at Aqueduct. In 2013, she fin­ished third in the Grade 1 Bal­le­rina.

Irad Or­tiz Jr., who won the 2015 In­ter­bor­ough on Wil­let and was on her for a third­place fin­ish in al­lowance com­pany last out, has the call again Satur­day. Though Or­tiz is named to ride Won­der Gal in the Bar­bara Fritchie, it is ex­pected that he will stay in New York pro­vided Aqueduct con­ducts rac­ing.

Wil­let drew post 3 in the Broad­way. Also en­tered were My­fourchix, Tricky Zippy, Make the Mo­ment, Blithely, and Court Dancer.

Trainer Rudy Ro­driguez en­tered Good Luck Gus and Royal Posse in the Hay­nes­field Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Good Luck Gus, the win­ner of the Albany Stakes at Saratoga in Au­gust, is com­ing off a third­place fin­ish be­hind Em­pire Dreams and Saratoga Snacks in the Alex M. Robb here on New Year’s Day. He won the Da­mon Run­yon Stakes over the in­ner track as a 2-year-old in 2014.

Royal Posse, the win­ner of the Claim­ing Crown Jewel in De­cem­ber at Gulf­stream Park, is com­ing off a se­cond-place fin­ish be­hind Ma­jes­tic Af­fair in the Jazil Stakes here on Jan. 16.

“He ran a very good race,” Ro­driguez said. “The other horse just ran bet­ter than us.”

Irad Or­tiz Jr. will ride Good Luck Gus from post 5. Ju­nior Al­varado is named on Royal Posse from post 4.

The oth­ers en­tered in the Hay­nes­field are Saratoga Snacks, Ostrolenka, Fox Rules, Jo­han­nes­burg Smile, and West Hills Gi­ant.

The Hay­nes­field will go as race 8.


Whata­won­der­flworld, who won the OBS Cham­pi­onship, will go in the Sam F. Davis Stakes.

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