Weekend Lineup Presented By Del Mar Ship & Win: Final Countdown - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Weekend Lineup Presented By Del Mar Ship & Win: Final Countdown

Champion Forte at Churchill Downs

As the 3-year-olds make their final preparations for next weekend's Run for the Roses, there are five graded stakes races on offer this weekend across the United States.

Keeneland's meet closes out on Friday with the Grade 3 Bewitch the highlight, while Churchill's meet opens Saturday with the listed Roxelana.

The West Coast features all the graded action on Saturday and Sunday, both at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields. The G3 Providencia, G2 Santa Maria, and G3 Wilshire are the highlights at Santa Anita.

A field of nine has been assembled for the signature race of the Winter/Spring meet at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif.: the Grade 3, $250,000 San Francisco Mile. For 3-year-olds and up at one mile on projected firm turf, the 'Mile is one of six stakes races on the Gold Rush Weekend Saturday, April 29 card at Golden Gate.

Live racing returns to Laurel Park on Saturday as well, including five stakes races, while a pair of stakes will be offered at Oaklawn Park.


8:07 p.m. – Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita Park

Fresh off a sharp allowance score at one mile, Bob Baffert trainee Adare Manor heads a field of six older fillies and mares going a mile and one sixteenth in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita. A gate to wire winner at odds of 1-2 on March 31, Adare Manor posted a solid 92 Beyer Speed Figure in what was her second start of the year. Idle prior to her 4-year-old debut here on Feb. 18, a seven furlong allowance in which she ran second at 4-5 she'll be making her 10th career start on Saturday.

Keith Abrahams' homebred Kirstenbosch, a game nose winner of the G3 La Canada Stakes three starts back on Jan. 15, will be handled for the fifth consecutive time by Kazushi Kimura, as he'll return from his base at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto to ride here on Saturday. Trained by John Sadler, Kirstenbosch was most recently third, beaten one length in the G3 Monrovia at 6 ½ furlongs on dirt April 8 and she's well positioned to bring her best in the Santa Maria.

Although her resume is light in terms of graded stakes experience, Big Switch, most recently second, beaten a head by Adare Manor in a one mile allowance March 31, appears to be a solid fit in what will be her second graded stakes assignment. Big Switch is a two-time statebred stakes winner making her ninth career start at age four. By Mr. Big out of the Malibu Moon mare Two Faced Moon, Big Switch, who is unbeaten in two tries at a mile and one sixteenth, will once again be forwardly placed with Joe Bravo back aboard.

Santa Maria Entries

9:24 p.m. – Grade 3 San Francisco Mile Stakes at Golden Gate Fields

A field of nine has been assembled for the signature race of the Winter/Spring meet at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif.: the Grade 3, $250,000 San Francisco Mile.

In search of his first San Francisco Mile win, trainer Phil D'Amato campaigns a legit contender in 4-year-old gelding Balnikhov, who was last seen finishing off the board in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in March. As a 3-year-old in 2022, Balnikhov won the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar and the Grade 3 Bryan Station at Keeneland. He makes his second start of the year in the San Francisco Mile with Southern California based pilot Umberto Rispoli set to ride.

A second Southern California conditioner, George Papaprodromou, ships two horses for the 2023 'Mile. 7-year-old gelding Bob and Jackie is an old pro who finished third in the Grade 3 American earlier this month. His most significant win to date came in 2021 in the 9-furlong Grade 2 San Gabriel. Stablemate Flavius makes his first start off a year vacation. A multiple minor stakes winner, the War Front ridgling was last seen finishing off the board in the 2022 Frank Kilroe Mile. Jose Valdivia Jr. hops aboard Bob and Jackie while locally based rider Evin Roman is set to navigate Flavius.

The Leonard Powell trained Dicey Mo Chara came up a length short in the Grade 2 Charlie Whittingham on Santa Anita Derby Day and cuts back a quarter mile for this eight-furlong event. His last victory came three starts ago in the Grade 2 San Gabriel in December. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke has the call aboard the 5-year-old European bred gelding.

A handful of locals are game to challenge the out-of-town invaders. The Ed Moger Jr. conditioned Tarantino is multiple Grade 3 placed on dual surfaces and most recently finished as the runner up in a second level allowance at Santa Anita in March. Rio King was a runaway winner of a first level allowance at Golden Gate and takes a major class hike in the San Francisco Mile. Tesoro's last winners circle visit came one year ago on Gold Rush Weekend Saturday in a salty second level allowance. The same can be said for Il Bellator, though he won the California Derby against 3-year-olds on Gold Rush Weekend 2022. Tesoro makes his first start off a six-month layoff while Il Bellator makes his first afternoon appearance in over eight months.

San Francisco Mile Entries


7:30 p.m. – Grade 3 Wilshire Stakes at Santa Anita Park

Irish-bred Quattroelle seeks her third graded stakes victory of the year as she heads a wide-open group of seven in the Grade 3, $100,000 Wilshire Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita. Trained by Jeff Mullins, Quattroelle will again be ridden by Hector Berrios, who has patiently guided her to consecutive come-from-behind scores at one mile on grass in the G2 Buena Vista March 4 and the G3 Megahertz on Feb. 4. A 5-year-old mare, all five of Quattroelle's wins have come on the Santa Anita turf.

Idle since winning the G1 American Oaks at a mile and one quarter on turf her Dec. 26, Phil D'Amato's Irish-bred Rhea Moon, who rallied from off the pace to take the G3 Autumn Miss at one mile on turf two starts back on Oct. 29, will be after her fourth consecutive win as she steps up into older company on Sunday.

D'Amato is also well represented by Brazilian-bred Macadamia, who, in her first North American graded stakes assignment, finished a troubled second, beaten a half length by Quattroelle in the G2 Buena Vista on March 4 and will be ridden for the first time by Diego Herrera.

Fresh off the best race of her career, California-bred Closing Remarks is yet another distaffer who rates a huge chance in the Wilshire with regular rider Joe Bravo back aboard for Carla Gaines. A dazzling 1 ½ length winner of the G2 Royal Heroine at one mile on turf April 1, this 5-year-old Harris Farms homebred mare by Vronsky earned a career-top 92 Beyer as the 6-5 favorite.

A maiden $30,000 claiming winner going 7 ½ furlongs on turf four starts back at Turf Paradise on Dec. 19, Very Scary is a very legitimate threat on the lead or thereabouts for trainer Ian Kruljac. A 4-year-old filly by the Curlin stallion Connect, Very Scary, in her first stakes assignment, was most recently third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Closing Remarks in the Royal Heroine on April 1.

Wilshire Entries

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