Weekend Watch: Louisiana, Sunland Derby cards lead way

March 23, 2019 08:45am

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


Fair Grounds, Race 8: 3:24 p.m.

Copper King
, a half-brother to millionaires Dullahan and Mine That Bird, will attempt to do one better here after second on debut. He was bumped out of the gate last out and still recovered to run well. At 5-1 on the morning line, he could be a steal.

Fair Grounds, Race 10: 4:34 p.m.

The stubborn Silver Dust
won the Mineshaft Handicap (G3) last out and will look to keep it going in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap. Last year’s Ohio Derby (G3) winner Core Beliefs makes his 2019 debut here. Last seen finishing fifth in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), he is the 6-1 fourth choice in an evenly matched field of 11 including the 1-2 finishers of last year's Louisiana Derby, Lone Sailor and Noble Indy.

Fair Grounds, Race 11: 5:10 p.m.

The Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) sets up an interesting matchup between Synchrony, who is undefeated over the Fair Grounds lawn, and Bricks and Mortar, the winner of the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) who might just be a different kind. But don't overlook in this one the millionaire Divisidero. With such a talent favored, bettors should at least get a decent price on Synchrony and Divisidero.

Fair Grounds, Race 12: 5:44 p.m.

Serengeti Empress
is the 6-5 morning line favorite as she tries to complete the Rachel Alexandra (G2)/Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) double. In the Rachel Alexandra, she went right to the lead and never looked back, winning by a geared down 4 ½ lengths. The second and third place finishers, Liora and Eres Tu respectively, are back to try once more to run down the front-running favorite on the road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Oaklawn Park, Race 9: 6:09 p.m.

The Gazebo Stakes attracted an intriguing bunch of six runners, including a pair we know from the Derby trail -- Gray Attempt and Six Shooter -- cutting back out of the Southwest (G3). Nitrous also shows up here for Steve Asmussen, who had the Tapit colt at Sunland Park last time for a two-turn win in the Riley Allison Derby but has him back at 6/8 of a mile here.

Gulfstream, Race 12: 6:10 p.m.

Last seen in the Holy Bull (G2), Federal Case cuts back to six furlongs to lead
 a short field of five in the Hutcheson Stakes (G3). As a 9-5 morning line favorite, the Todd Pletcher trainee adds blinkers, with this race potentially setting him up to go long again somewhere down the line.

Fair Grounds, Race 13: 6:13 p.m.

War of Will
looks to become the latest to sweep each of the Lecomte (G3), Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) when he headlines the last Kentucky Derby prep on that last going 1 1/8 miles. Because you probably want to go more in-depth on the feature, check out my Head to Head handicapping covering the full field.


Sunland, Race 8: 5:57 p.m.

Graded stakes placed
Heavenhasmynikki will pass on the Harry Henson Handicap  as the favorite with Santa Anita Park to card the Beholder Mile (G1) next weekend. Favoritism in this mile race on the Sunland Derby undercard should then slide to the Manitoba-bred underdog story, Escape Clause, who has in recent months relocated from Canada to win stakes at both Del Mar and Santa Anita.

Sunland, Race 9: 6:27 p.m.

Sunland Oaks looks like a one-filly show with Simon Callaghan-trained Bellafina entered, but expected to wait for the Santa Anita Oaks (G1). Racing fans will still get to see Grade 1 winner and half-sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Chasing Yesterday, make her 3-year-old debut in the Kentucky Oaks prep.

Sunland, Race 11: 7:30 p.m.

Bob Baffert will also send out the favorite in the
Sunland Derby (G3) in multiple stakes winner Mucho Gusto. The Mucho Macho Man colt leads a field of 10 that includes Anothertwistafate, the El Camino Real Derby (G3) winner switching to dirt, and Hustle Up, a New Mexico-bred and local stakes hero trained by Todd Fincher, who won this race a year ago with Runaway Ghost.


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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.

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