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Led by several stakes races in California, let’s take a look at my picks for many of the biggest races on the racing calendar this weekend. We’ll start with three races on Saturday’s card at Santa Anita, including the historic San Juan Capistrano, as well as a pair of sprint stakes from Woodbine and Churchill Downs. Finally, on Sunday at Belmont Park, the Grade 3 Poker Stakes completes the featured lineup.
Here is a look at the six races and my top selections in each.
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Red King, last year’s winner, the speedy Acclimate, and Ward ‘n Jerry, winner of his last two starts, figure to vie for favoritism in a field of six set to go to the post for the marathon distance of 1 ¾ miles on the grass in Saturday’s San Juan Capistrano.
A 4 ¼ length winner of last year’s edition and a close third in the 2019 running, Red King clearly can handle the trip, but hasn’t won since last summer’s Del Mar Handicap. Acclimate, meanwhile, exits a sharp second in the Grade 2 Charlie Whittingham, while Ward ‘n Jerry moves up in class off two straight allowance wins at Santa Anita Park.
Our Pick – Pillar Mountain – Upset selection will be making his first start for trainer Bob Hess.
A winner of two consecutive stakes races at Golden Gate Fields in his last two starts, the Peter Miller-trained None Above the Law looks to be the one to beat among nine California-bred 3-year-olds when he returns to Santa Anita on Saturday for the $150,000 Snow Chief Stakes.
Ferrariano and Found My Ball could provide the toughest competition to the favorite in the 9 furlong turf race on Saturday. The pair finished only a neck apart in a one mile turf allowance race at Santa Anita on May 14.
Our Pick – None Above the Law – With plenty of speed in here, look for a strong late run from the gray son of Karakontie.
The multiple stakes winner I’m So Anna heads a field of eight California-bred or sired fillies set for Saturday’s $150,000 Melair Stakes at Santa Anita.
A winner of the Campanile Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on April 25 in her most recent start, the daughter of Fast Anna will pick up the services of leading rider Flavien Prat.
While none of the eight have the credentials of the likely favorite, the 1 1/16-mile Melair still looks to be a wide-open race with numerous potential winners.
Named after a very talented California-bred filly from the past, among her accomplishments, Melair defeated a full field of males in the Silver Screen Handicap of 1986, which included the champion Snow Chief.
Our Pick – Fi Fi Pharoah – Daughter of American Pharoah appreciated the extra distance last time when defeating open company.
Artie’s Princess and Boardroom, two of the top female sprinters in Canada last season headline a field of eight starters set to go postward in the Whimsical. The 6-furlong main track event for older fillies and mares will be the seasonal debut for both talented 4-year-olds.
The pair has met twice before, with Artie’s Princess getting the win both times and accounting for Boardroom’s only two career losses. Multiple stakes winners Amalfi Coast and Summer Sunday are two more than should get plenty of betting support on Saturday.
Our Pick – Artie’s Princess – Has started each of the past two years off with big performances.
Led by a trio of graded stakes-winning mares, a field of six has been entered for Saturday’s Roxelana Stakes at Churchill Downs. Last year’s winner of the Derby City Distaff, Bell’s the One is the only Grade 1 winner in the field, but the recent winner of the Grade 3 Winning Colors, Sconsin, could go off the favorite in the 6 ½ furlong sprint.
Also in the field is the 2020 winner of a pair of graded stakes, Four Graces. The compact field is rounded out by Jungle Juice, Miss Mosaic and Shesomajestic.
Our Pick – Sconsin – Her recent form at Churchill Downs is too good to deny.
Raging Bull, who began his season by rolling to victory in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland in April, will be the one they all have to beat in a field of nine older turf horses set for Sunday’s $250,000 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Poker will be the first start outside of Grade 1 company for more than two years for the classy son of Dark Angel, as he looks to improve upon his 7-of-18 lifetime record. Chief among his competition will be the 4-year-old Get Smokin, who won the Seek Again over the same course and distance four weeks ago, and is a two-time stakes winner at Belmont.
Our Pick – Raging Bull – Cannot look past the class of this multiple Grade 1 winner.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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