It should be a terrific Saturday of stakes racing at Belmont Park, Santa Anita, and Churchill Downs. Here are some thoughts on today’s action:
Shug McGaughey has a couple of major players in the older horse ranks. Code of Honor and Performer were good last year, but I don’t think we’ve seen their best yet. The 4-year-old campaigns begin on Saturday.
#9 Code of Honor, an odds-on favorite in the Westchester (G3), will be a single in my multi-race wagers. #2 Performer will offer more betting appeal than his stablemate in the Carter H. (G1). Listed as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line choice, his odds won’t be too short with Vekoma and Mind Control taking betting action, and I am excited to back him in the 7-furlong test.
#8 Getmotherarose ran well on Belmont’s turf last year, winning thrice, and the stalker should receive a prime setup with Jakarta likely to guarantee a solid pace. Getmotherarose has moved forward at age 4 for trainer Tom Bush, winning her graded stakes debut in the Honey Fox (G3) two back, and I won’t count the troubled trip against her last time. She returns to her favorite course and is listed at 10-1 in a competitive affair.
Santa Anita Derby
#6 Honor A. P. looks set for a big performance. A maiden winner in his juvenile finale, the John Shirreffs-trained son of Honor Code was spotting experience and fitness to rivals when returning from a five-month layoff in the San Felipe (G2). He ran well for second, offering a bold middle move into a threatening position by upper stretch, and weakened late behind the loose-on-the-lead Authentic.
Circumstances will be different Saturday. Shooters Shoot, who is drawn inside Authentic, has registered century-topping Brisnet E1 and E2 numbers in his last two starts and should be involved from the break. Authentic must not only stretch out to 1 1/8 miles, he’s also likely to face pressure for the first time this year.
Honor A. P. should relish the added ground and be tighter off the comebacker. After working 7-furlongs in mid-May, promising sophomore has logged three consecutive 6-furlong moves in preparation. I like his chances from off the pace.
Hollywood Gold Cup
#4 Brown Storm is a front-running threat. The Chilean import made his first three U.S. starts on turf before switching to the main track in the Santa Anita H. (G1), and his form continued to improve with a respectable fourth-place effort. With Midcourt removing blinkers and Improbable adopting stalking tactics in the last few starts, Brown Storm has a chance to be lone speed. And he’s eligible to keep moving forward for Michael McCarthy with a strong showing.
#3 Bayerness looked superb in a pair of Churchill starts last fall, romping over maiden rivals in her debut and defeating Swiss Skydiver in an entry-level allowance, but she did not resemble herself when opening the year in the Feb. 29 Davona Dale (G2), quickly checking out of the action after flashing speed at the break.
She’s capable of much better. Bayerness has cranked up her training in recent weeks, recording a trio of bullet works, and I look for a return to form. Florent Geroux sticks with the chestnut for Cherie DeVaux, who has won 3-of-7 starts this meet.