There are only three American graded stakes races this weekend, the Tropical Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and the La Canada and Las Cienegas Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. All are Grade 3 events run on Saturday.
Here is a brief look at all three races. All times are Eastern.
Saturday, Jan. 9
4:49 p.m. – $100,000 Tropical Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park
The Tropical Turf, for 4-year-olds and upward going one mile on turf, features the return of Analyze It, coming off a career worst performance in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 3. Off for nearly two years from November 2018 until September 2020, the 6-year-old Point of Entry horse trained by Chad Brown finished eighth as the favorite under Tyler Gaffalione. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Saturday. Prior to that effort, he won his comeback race, the G3 Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth Park. Three years ago, Analyze It was only beaten three-quarters of a length by Expert Eye when third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile. Ride a Comet came back for his own two-year layoff for trainer Mark Casse to win consecutive races at Woodbine on synthetic, including the G2 Kennedy Road. He won the G2 Del Mar Derby in 2018 before going on a lengthy hiatus.
The Tropical Turf will be the fifth race in the Rainbow 6, which will have a mandatory payout on Saturday and is expected to have a wagering pool in the millions of dollars.
6:35 p.m. – $200,000 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita
Fighting Mad has quietly compiled a record of five wins, one second and one third from nine starts for trainer Bob Baffert. The 5-year-old mare by New Year’s Day threw in the towel last out when overtaken by both Harvest Moon and Hard Not to Love in the G2 Zenyatta Stakes, but she figures to be out winging on the front end again on Saturday.
Trainer John Shirreffs is going with the up-and-coming jockey Ricky Gonzalez on Hard Not to Love, the quirky Hard Spun mare who has been ridden by Mike Smith in her last seven starts. She’s won five of 10 lifetime but has lost four straight after winning the G2 Santa Monica over seven furlongs last February. Chilean-bred Sanenus, a G1 winner in her native country, returns to California after making two starts at Churchill Downs last fall and could spring a surprise.
7:05 p.m. – $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes at Santa Anita
Intriguing lineup with Brazilian-bred Jolie Olimpica back to defend her title for Richard Mandella, who also has up and comer Superstition in the line-up for this filly and mare turf sprint. If the race sets up for a closer, watch out for Neil Drysdale-trained Oleksandra, the Australia-bred 7-year-old mare who will be flying late under Joel Rosario. Lighthouse was a dynamo on the Kentucky Downs turf course in September, winning the Music City Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths and Umberto Rispoli rides the turf as well as any jockey in the game.
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