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Four Kentucky Derby preps, "Big Cap" at Santa Anita top weekend horse racing

Nysos, shown winning the 2023 Bob Hope Stakes, is the favorite in Sunday's San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. Benoit Photo, courtesy of Santa Anita
Nysos, shown winning the 2023 Bob Hope Stakes, is the favorite in Sunday's San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. Benoit Photo, courtesy of Santa Anita

March 1 (UPI) -- Four Kentucky Derby preps, the first two finishers from November's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the "Big 'Cap" at Santa Anita compete for attention in weekend horse racing.

On the international scene, it's "Super Saturday" in Dubai, the final Trials Day for the All-Weather Championships in England and the middle leg of the Hong Kong Derby series. Barbados hosts its signature race, the Sandy Lane Gold Cup.

Saturday's Santa Anita program was pushed back to Sunday because of the weather forecast. No delay here. Let's get going ...

The Road to the Roses

Newgrange, shown winning the 2023 San Antonio Stakes, is the favorite for Sunday's Grade I Santa Anita Handicap. Benoit Photo, courtesy of Santa Anita
Newgrange, shown winning the 2023 San Antonio Stakes, is the favorite for Sunday's Grade I Santa Anita Handicap. Benoit Photo, courtesy of Santa Anita

Weekend action includes three major stops along the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" -- Saturday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park and $300,000 Gotham at Aqueduct and Sunday's $400,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita.

Each offers 50 points to the winner with the minor placings accruing 25, 15, 10 and 5 points.

A fourth event, on the Turfway Park all-weather, has a more modest payout grid.

Sunday's $400,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita features probably the best 3-year-old in the land who will not run in the Kentucky Derby.

Nysos, undefeated and untested after three starts, heads a three-colt entry trained by Bob Baffert, also including stakes-proven Wine Me Up and promising social climber Imagination.

It doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to see them finishing 1-2-3 with only two others in the race. But with Baffert-trained horses banned from Churchill Downs, what will they be doing on the first Saturday in May?

Someone will have to step up in Saturday's $400,000 Grade II Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park and there are several prospects.

Dornoch has not been seen in the afternoon since winning the Grade II Remsen on Dec. 2 at Aqueduct.

Locked won the Grade I Breeders Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 7 and was third, beaten 6 3/4 lengths, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in his most recent.

Frankie's Empire and Le Dom Bro exit a 1-2 finish in the local Swale Stakes.

Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Gotham at Aqueduct has a field of 13, and it's instructive that the morning-line favorite, Just a Touch, is making only his second start. The Justify colt won on a sloppy track at Fair Grounds on Jan. 27 going only 6 furlongs. Obviously, the others haven't inspired a lot of confidence

Epic Ride tops the crowded morning line for Saturday evening's $150,000 John Battaglia Memorial on the Turfway Park all-weather course.

The Path to the Oaks

Undefeated Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Eclipse Award winner Just FYI headlines a field of promising fillies for Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Into Champagne and Leslie's Rose also are undefeated.

Jody's Pride came up just a neck short of Just FYI in the Breeders' Cup and makes her return as the odds-on favorite in Saturday's $200,000 Busher at Aqueduct.

A dozen 3-year-old fillies are drawn into Friday's $150,000 Cincinnati Trophy on the Turfway Park all-weather course and another pair linger on the also-eligible list.

Classic

You won't find a much better-matched field than the seven lined up for Sunday's $500,000 Grade I Santa Anita Handicap. The morning-line odds range from the 5-2 favorite, Newgrange, to "long shot" Reincarnate at 8-1.

Back East, four wins and two seconds from six starts and a switch to Richard Dutrow Jr.'s barn suffice to make Petulante the morning-line favorite for Saturday's $150,000 Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct, even if the Arrogate gelding has compiled most of that record well down the class ladder.

Turf

Easter, Du Jour and Goliad feature on the morning line for Sunday's $400,000 Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita.

Easter rides a three-race win streak for trainer Phil D'Amato, Du Jour had back-to-back wins for Baffert before finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Mile and Goliad takes a big class jump after two victories over the course and distance.

Also on the Saturday turf agenda are the $125,000 Grade III Canadian Turf at 1 mile and the $200,000 Grade II Mac Diarmida at 1 3/8 miles and the $175,000 Colonel Liam for 3-year-olds, all at Gulfstream Park, and the $100,000 Black Gold for 3-year-olds at Fair Grounds.

Filly & Mare Turf

The ladies of the lawn get Sunday's $200,000 Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita and three events Saturday at Gulfstream Park -- the $175,000 Grade III Herecomesthebride for 3-year-old fillies, the $150,000 Grade III Honey Fox and the $150,000 Grade III The Very One Stakes.

Sprint / Dirt Mile

Tumbarumba, Steal Sunshine and Wit all have claims in Saturday's $200,000 Gulfstream Park Mile.

Rotknee, Durante, Super Chow and the venerable Manny Wah all rate a chance in Saturday's $175,000 Grade III Tom Fool at Aqueduct.

Around the world, around the clock

Hong Kong

Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Cup is the second leg of the 4-year-old Classic Series that culminates in the BMW Hong Kong Derby.

Dubai

Super Saturday in Dubai, the penultimate meeting of the Carnival and a chance for some outsiders to earn their way into the big races on World Cup night, March 30. In reality, it looks more like a showcase or proving ground for a few potential stars.

England

Lingfield Park on Friday hosts the second of two All-Weather Championships Trials Days with four winners from the first round returning in search of lucrative repeats.

The initial win qualified a horse for a £30,000 should it win on finals day on Good Friday. Winning on both trials day would up the potential bonus payout to £75,000.

Barbados

Saturday' Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup is billed as the most prestigious race in the Eastern Caribbean and drew horses trained by Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and Barbados native Saffie Joseph Jr.