Weekend Watch: Fair Grounds' Risen Star day leads the way

Weekend Watch: Fair Grounds' Risen Star day leads the way
Photo: Hodges Photography

Each weekend, Horse Racing Nation previews the top races to tune into coast to coast and runs down the main contenders. Post times are all in Eastern Time.

Tequilita tops the Royal Delta at Gulfstream

Now 5 years old, 
Tequilita closed out her 4-year old season with a convincing win in the Rampart (G3) here at Gulfstream back in December. Back for her 2019 bow, she tops the Grade 3 Royal Delta Stakes
. She will face a short field of just six rivals including Mexican Grade 1 winner Jala Jala and Comely (G3) winner Blamed
. The favorite drew the rail and looks primed to begin the year with a victory. Post time is 5:12 p.m.

Triple Crown hopefuls and veterans abound at Fair Grounds

Later on the card, the 3-year olds will compete for Derby points, but a pair of Triple Crown veterans will first square off in the Grade 3
Mineshaft Handicap to kick off the graded action in Louisiana. Lone Sailor and
 Flameaway are familiar names having competed in last year's spring classics, continuing on through the fall. 
Lone Sailor went on to win the Oklahoma Derby (G3) while Flameaway got the rest of the year off after a disappointing eighth in the Smarty Jones (G3) at Parx. 
Quip, also entered here, is expected to scratch after drawing the outside post in a field of 13.

Speaking of last year’s Triple Crown runners,
Combatant continues to try to find a new home on the turf in the Grade 3
Fair Grounds Handicap. He was a solid third in Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) on the lawn to close out 2018, but that marked his best-ever finish on that surface. Synchrony is back to both defend his title in this event and keep his perfect record on the Fair Grounds lawn in tact. The top three runners from Fair Grounds' Colonel Bradley are all in this as well as Sunshine Millions Turf winner Big Changes.

Grade 1 winner and half-sister to Triple Crown champion American Pharoah
Chasing Yesterday would have topped the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes. But she won't make the trip to Louisiana, leaving Silverbulletday winner Needs SupervisionTempted (G3) hero Oxy LadyGolden Rod (G2) winner Liora and Demoiselle (G2) winner Positive Spirit to battle it out. Many in this field are making their seasonal debuts, and you can't forget about the potential brought by Serengeti Empress, a Grade 2 winner by open lengths last fall.

War of Will
has to overcome an outside post in order to complete the Lecomte-Risen Star Stakes double. The race drew an overflow field with also-eligible Gun It drawing in thanks to the defection of Kingly. My Head to Head handicapping feature includes a more in-depth analysis of the field which, as with its female counterpart a race earlier, pays out points toward a bigger prize this year at Churchill Downs.

G3 Mineshaft 5:25 p.m.

G3 Fair Grounds Handicap 5:57 p.m.

G2 Rachel Alexandra 6:29 p.m.

G2 Risen Star 7:02 p.m.

Easier Derby points available at Golden Gate

El Camino Real Derby has retained its status as an official Kentucky Derby prep race despite having little impact on the field lately. This year's even, however, does also award a "Win and You're In" spot to the Preakness Stakes. Trainer Bob Baffert sends out Kingly, a full brother to Grade 2 winner Mohaymen, in hopes that he will take to Golden Gate’s Tapeta surface. On the morning line, he is narrowly favored over local runner Anothertwistafate, who is perfect in two starts at Golden Gate. Nine furlongs will determine the winner. Post time is 6:54 p.m.

Santa Monica comes up loaded

The Grade 2
Santa Monica Stakes could easily be one of the best races of the year so far. In posts one through four, bettors can choose in order from the rail out, dual Grade 1 einner Paradise Woods, last year’s Santa Monica winner Selcourt, Grade 1-winning sprinter Marley’s Freedom and Grade 1 winner Dream Tree. All four like to run on or near the lead, leading me to believe that this seven-furlong affair could get heated from the start. Post time is 7:09 p.m. 

Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

Top Stories

The 1 1/4-mile Grade 2 $200,000 Suburban Handicap...
Eclipse Award-winning mare  Monomoy Girl   will ki...
The Los Alamitos Derby (G3) on Saturday is Califor...
Got Stormy rides a three-race losing streak headin...
July is set to kick off with a bang, and we’re not...