Weekend Lineup Presented By Hialeah Park NHC Qualifier: Listed Stakes Action From Coast-To-Coast - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Weekend Lineup Presented By Hialeah Park NHC Qualifier: Listed Stakes Action From Coast-To-Coast

This weekend's stakes racing action comes from the likes of Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream, Oaklawn, and Santa Anita.

Points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks are on the line in New York, with five fillies lined up to tackle the $200,000 Busanda Stakes. Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher will saddle a pair, while the field's lone maiden, Affirmative Lady, will garner plenty of attention after her narrow defeat in the G2 Gazelle.

A pair of seven-furlong stakes races for 3-year-olds top Tampa's Saturday card: six are entered in the $125,000 Pasco, with trainer Mark Casse's one-two punch of Grade 3 stakes winner Champions Dream and Ontario-bred stakes winner Armstrong expected to be formidable; and eight are entered in the $125,000 Gasparilla, including the 1-2 finishers in the Dec. 3 Sandpiper Stakes, trainer Michael Yates's Dorth Vader and conditioner Robert G. Smith's Awesome Pic.

Two Florida-bred stakes races highlight Saturday's card at Gulfstream, the Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf with a field of nine and the Sunshine Sprint with a field of seven.

Older horses take to the track in Oaklawn's Fifth Season Stakes on Saturday, drawing a competitive group of 10 including graded stakes winners Ginobili, Rated R Superstar, Silver Prospector, and King Fury. While the Fifth Season is the most lucrative race Saturday at Oaklawn, perhaps the most intriguing race is the fourth, a $104,000 entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds at one mile that has lured a field of eight, including 6-5 program favorite Verifying for his 2023 debut.

Verifying, who was purchased for $775,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is a half-brother to champion and multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Midnight Bisou. Verifying is among maybe a dozen Kentucky Derby prospects for trainer Brad Cox and already has four qualifying points after finishing second in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) at 1 mile Oct. 1 at Aqueduct. He exits a troubled sixth-place finish in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at 1 1/16 miles Nov. 4 at Keeneland.

After Santa Anita cancelled Saturday's card due to an exceptionally rainy forecast, the Grade 3 La Canada Stakes was brought back for Sunday's card and drew the same field of six fillies and mares. Bob Baffert trainees Under the Stars and Ganadora, off the board in the G1 La Brea, get a class drop and some extra distance in the La Canada.


3:47 p.m. – Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct

The Busanda is a qualifying event for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 5 at Churchill Downs, offering 20-8-6-4-2 points to the top-five finishers.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will send out graded-stakes placed Gambling Girl and maiden winner Aniston in the nine-furlong test for sophomore fillies. Aniston (Curlin) enters her stakes debut off a second-out graduation on Nov. 25 at the Big A in her first start contesting two turns, saving ground a close third-to-fourth down the backstretch and sliding up the rail near the quarter pole to draw away a 4 3/4-length winner. New York-bred Gambling Girl (Dialed In) enters from a third-place finish in the nine-furlong G2 Demoiselle on Dec. 3 in her open-company and two-turn debut.

Despite being the lone maiden in the field, AMO Racing USA's Affirmative Lady is sure to garner plenty of attention following a narrow runner-up finish in the Demoiselle for trainer Graham Motion. The gray or roan daughter of Arrogate raced in the clear from fifth while five-wide down the backstretch before launching her bid around the far turn. She established command at the stretch call, but finished a neck behind Julia Shining. She earned four points towards the Kentucky Oaks from her Demoiselle effort, sitting at No. 19 on the leaderboard.

Busanda Entries

5:22 p.m. – Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn

Program favorite Ginobili and 2022 winner Rated R Superstar are among 10 older horses entered in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes at one mile.

The Southern California-based Ginobili raced twice at the 2020 Oaklawn meeting and recorded his biggest career victory to date in the $200,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs in August 2021 at Del Mar. Ginobili was then trained by Richard Baltas, but is now under the care of trainer Peter Miller. In his first start for Miller, Ginobili finished second, beaten a head by stablemate Get Her Number, in a Nov. 20 allowance sprint at Del Mar. It marked Ginobili's first race in almost a year following a physical setback, Miller said.

Millionaire Rated R Superstar will be making his 10-year-old debut for four-time Oaklawn leading owner Danny Caldwell. A late-running son of Kodiak Kowboy, Rated R Superstar bankrolled $600,266 last year after winning 4 of 9 starts. Rated R Superstar opened 2022 with a victory in the Fifth Season and won Oaklawn's $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles in March. He exits a victory in the $100,000 Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial Stakes at 1 mile and 70 yards Dec. 17 at Remington Park.

Fifth Season Entries


6:30 p.m. – Grade 3 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita Park

After finishing off the board in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes going seven furlongs on opening day Dec. 26, Bob Baffert's Under the Stars and Ganadora will stretch out to two turns and receive class relief in the La Canada Stakes over 1 1/16 miles.

Ganadora, a $1 million auction purchase as a yearling, attended a sharp opening half mile of 44.2 seconds in the La Brea before fading to fifth under John Velazquez. Two starts back, the 4-year-old Quality Road filly went two turns in the one-mile Dark Mirage at Los Alamitos and romped by eight lengths on Sept. 18. The lightly raced Ganadora sports a record of 5-3-0-0.

Under the Stars was the more fancied of these two Baffert runners in the La Brea but was never a factor. The 4-year-old Pioneerof the Nile filly stalked the pace along the inside under Flavien Prat before dropping anchor and finishing last of seven. With Prat landing on Natural Colour in the La Canada, Santa Anita's leading rider Juan Hernandez will be reunited with Under the Stars on Saturday. Under the Stars, twice a Grade 2 winner in 2022, has a record of 3-2-2 in 10 starts and earnings of $357,520 for owners Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith.

La Canada Entries

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