Weekend Lineup Presented By Sky Racing World: Older Horses Take Center Stage At Oaklawn - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Weekend Lineup Presented By Sky Racing World: Older Horses Take Center Stage At Oaklawn

David Cabrera celebrates winning the 2022 Essex aboard Rated R Superstar

A pair of graded stakes races for older horses at Oaklawn Park are the highlight of this weekend's racing action in North America, including the six-furlong Whitmore (G3) for sprinters and the 1 1/16-mile Essex Handicap (G3) for routers. Each race drew a competitive field of 10, and the weather forecast should leave the track dry and fast for Saturday's card.

Laurel Park offers five stakes races worth $450,000 on Saturday's card, headlined by the $100,000 Private Terms for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Beyond The Wire for 3-year-old fillies. Gulfstream has a pair of sprint stakes scheduled for Saturday, the Hutcheson for 3-year-olds on the dirt and the Silks Run for older horses on the turf.

Other significant stakes action around the country on Saturday includes the Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct; the McCann's Mojave at Golden Gate; the Liz Bracken Memorial at Rillito Park (part of NYRA's Cross Country Pick 5); and the China Doll Stakes at Santa Anita.

Sunday's action includes the Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct and the Sensational Star Stakes at Santa Anita.

Meanwhile, south of the equator, fans of Tom Petty and of America's most recent Triple Crown winner will be attracted to an undefeated filly, when Rosehill Racecourse hosts the world's richest race for 2-year-olds this Friday night in Sydney, Australia. Learning To Fly, a daughter of Justify, is second wagering choice for the US$3.25 million Golden Slipper Stakes. Among four other Group 1 races on a stellar card, the spotlight will shine on record-breaking Horse of the Year Anamoe. The card will broadcast live on FanDuel TV and is available to stream on the Sky Racing World App (First Post 9:10 p.m. ET/6:10 p.m. PT).

Saturday

4:33 p.m. – Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park

The Private Terms at about 1 1/16 miles is the next step in Laurel's series of stakes for 3-year-olds following the one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 18 and preceding the $125,000 Federico Tesio going 1 1/8 miles April 15, a 'Win and In' qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

His connections will get a further indication of how far Coffeewithchris wants to go when their multiple stakes-winning sophomore attempts two turns for the first time. Coffeewithchris won't have to contend with his main rival in the Private Terms, Brittany Russell-trained Prince of Jericho, who is sitting this one out to await the Tesio. Coffeewithchris beat Prince of Jericho in the Miracle Wood and Dec. 30 Heft and was second to him in the Jan. 21 Spectacular Bid.

The Miracle Wood was the longest race to date for Coffeewithchris, a gelded son of 2014 Preakness and Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up Ride On Curlin that Salzman purchased for just $2,000 as a yearling in October 2021. Coffeewithchris has made nine of his 10 starts in Maryland, including stops at Pimlico and Timonium, and ran fifth in the 2022 Hickory Tree at Colonial Downs in his stakes debut. The Private Terms will be his sixth consecutive stakes attempt and fourth in a row with Jaime Rodriguez, battling for leading rider at Laurel's winter meet. They drew outermost Post 8 at topweight of 124 pounds, yielding six pounds to each of their rivals.

While Russell is giving Prince of Jericho a breather until the Tesio, she will be represented in the Private Terms by Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds' Circling the Drain, a Triple Crown-nominated Maryland homebred that is entered to make his stakes debut. Circling the Drain, by West Coast out of the Cozzene mare Who's Cozy, has two wins from four starts, both coming at the Private Terms distance. He was a front-running graduate by seven lengths in a Dec. 9 maiden claimer second time out, and exits a rallying two-length optional claiming allowance triumph Feb. 20.

The other Triple Crown-nominated horse in the Private Terms is Dixiana Farms homebred Hayes Strike, trained by Preakness and Belmont (G1) winner Ken McPeek. Hayes Strike has a one-mile maiden win last summer at Ellis Park to his credit and also at 2 ran second to Two Phil's in the Street Sense (G3) and third behind Instant Coffee in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), horses respectively ranked 13th and ninth on the current Kentucky Derby (G1) points leaderboard.

Private Terms Entries

5:22 p.m. – G3 Whitmore Stakes at Oaklawn Park

Tejano Twist leads a field of 10 for Saturday's six-furlong Whitmore Stakes, most recently having finished second to Gunite in Oaklawn's King Cotton. Gunite followed that win with a hard-fought second in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia, flattering Tejano Twist's form for trainer Chris Hartman.

Hartman has also entered Edge to Edge, a two-time allowance winner at this Oaklawn meet, who will be returning to stakes competition for the first time since his juvenile season.

Cogburn is the second choice on the morning line for trainer Steve Asmussen, having won an allowance race at Oaklawn after an eight-month break from the races. Prior to that, the son of Not This Time finished second in the G3 Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico, beaten just three-quarters of a length.

Whitmore Entries

5:54 p.m. – Grade 3 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park

Saturday's $500,000 Grade 3 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park brings together a field of 10 with nine million dollars in career earnings between them.

Leading the field in that category is 2022 Essex winner Rated R Superstar at $1.8 million, entering the race off a fourth place finish in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap last month. Rated R Superstar also won the Essex in 2019, and finished second in the race in 2021. At 10 years old, Rated R Superstar has won 13 of his 67 lifetime starts.

The Razorback was won by Last Samurai, which boosted his earnings to $1.6 million. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the five-time winner is the 5-2 favorite on the morning line with recent fourth-place finishes in the G1 Pegasus World Cup and G1 Clark Handicap.

Next is Silver Prospector, no slouch with $1.1 million in career earnings including the 2020 G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. The Steve Asmussen trainee's confidence should be up after an allowance win last month at Oaklawn.

Classic Causeway has banked $1.1 million, the bulk of that when winning the G1 Belmont Derby on the grass last summer. He'll run on dirt here for trainer Ken McPeek, looking to overcome a four-race losing streak.

Second choice on the morning line is Bill Mott trainee Vittorio, a 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper entering his first stakes race. He was most recently second to Charge It, beaten 1 1/2 lengths in an allowance at Gulfstream after an eight-month break from the races.

Essex Entries

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